Family, friends, health, a good job - I have a lot to be thankful for. However, during this
holiday season, I'm especially thankful for two people who recently passed away:
Jason Cooper and John Martin. They were two special human beings who touched a lot of
lives and a made the world a better place with their kindness, friendship, and ability to get
along with, and make others feel welcome, no matter the walk of life they came from.
Cooper, 52, and Martin, 50, died within three months of each other. Cooper, who was
raised in New Canaan, CT., had a massive heart attack while Martin passed away after a
two-year battle with ALS. They were both universally loved for their character and respected
for their great talent in their respective vocations.
Cooper was a modern day Paul Bunyan - a mountain of a man who was country
boy strong. At 6'4, 250lbs, he could get out of bed, put 315 pounds on the bench, and easily
dial up 10 reps and say, "What else you got?" He was an extraordinarily gifted athlete with a
resume that included being a four-year starter as a tight end at Duke University AND being
an impact player on the lacrosse team. In this day and age, the millennials call that
"a major stud."
As great an athlete as Cooper was, he was a better person. And that's not hyperbole or cliché.
A former football teammate of mine at New Canaan High School, Cooper was humble, gracious,
and always interested in the well-being of others. And he was a magnet - attracting everyone
within his area code and beyond. If anyone ever had a reason to brag and say, "Well, I did
this...", it was Coop. The football gods seemingly poured him into a uniform and said,
"This is what an athlete should look like." But Cooper, who came home from Chicago to
coach high school football after a long career in finance, never bragged or talked about
himself - ever.He'd rather ask about others and see how they were doing than wax poetic
about his accomplishments. It's one of things that made Jason Cooper great.
talented as well, garnering five Emmy-awards for his work documenting the Red Sox,
Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics. We worked together for two years, traveling the country
covering the Patriots and their dynasty. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments
and memories to last a lifetime. Martin's lifetime was far too short, but he squeezed more
into it than most people could only dream of doing.
Martin, like Cooper, didn't have a circle of friends - he had a magnificent cavalry.
EVERYBODY loved Martin. You'd have to search far and wide to find someone to say
something bad about him - and if you did, rest assured, they'd be lying. In the
petty, jealous, and backstabbing world of television, JPM, as he was known by his friends,
had the uncanny ability to get along with everybody. Martin had such a great way about
him - always friendly and always genuinely caring about the lives of others. He had the
special gift of making you feel like he was your best friend - even if that was far from
being the case. JPM was simply amazing and you could say he had a million "best friends."
I am thankful for the lessons Martin gave us not only in the art of friendship, but during
his battle with ALS. There are terrible diseases, then there is ALS. It is brutal. It is vicious
It is unfair. JPM didn't deserve it. Nobody does. But he battled courageously and never gave
in to the disease. He wrote not one, but two books - the second focusing on his fight against
a disease that has never lost. During the darkest of days, Martin's flashed a smile that
could light up the entire city of Boston. He was a true warrior, but more importantly, a
true friend to so many people.
Life moves too fast these days and we always seem to be in a hurry to move on from
things. We often obsess over trivial stuff and don't appreciate gifts that are truly important.
I will always appreciate and be thankful for the friendship of Coop and JPM and the lessons
they taught us. I won't soon forget about it and I don't think their large cavalry of friends will ever forget about it, either.