Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Two Legendary Class Acts!

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

During My 41 years in Sports Media, I’ve had the privilege of working with some unbelievable Communications/Media Relations Professionals.

To list them all would be virtually impossible and defeats the purpose of what I’m attempting to accomplish with this story.

But the two individuals I’m going to talk about, I met through some close colleagues and were extremely helpful when I launched the South Florida Tribune two years ago. 

I would highly doubt it that they’ll ever meet because they’re in different sports. But you never know.

Early this year, they decided to step aside from their current roles after many years of dedication to their respective employers.

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The first person I want to talk about is former Sebring International Raceway legendary Media Director and Track Historian Ken Breslauer. He served in this role for 35 years. Breslauer graduated from the University of West Florida and was a Sports Writer for the Pensacola News-Journal.

After serving as editor of the largest trade magazine in the beer distribution industry for five years, he began his career at Sebring. His 1996 book on the history of Sebring’s 12-Hour race earned the Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association Book of the Year Award.

He recently wrote a book “Sebring” which is The Record Book of America’s Legendary 12 Hour Sports Car Endurance Race.

When I was working at the Tampa Tribune from 1984-86, a staff led by Editor Tom McEwen always sent multiple writers to this race that’s scheduled during the third week of March. Being from the Midwest, I had never heard of it.

I always knew about the Rolex 24 Hour Race at Daytona International Raceway. One of the main people who always covered the Sebring Race is a former Tribune Colleague, Herb Branham, who worked for the Daytona International Raceway’s History Department. I worked extensively with Herb during our time together at the Tribune.

We’ve stayed in touch throughout the years but when I got the itch to cover Sebring’s 12 Hour Race, I contacted Herb and he gave me Breslauer’s email address and phone number.

I contacted Ken and he wasted no time getting back to me. 

At the time, I had an Internet Radio Show for the WEIN Network called the Sports Exchange with Peter Wein and had formed The South Florida Tribune.

I invited Ken on the show to promote the race then covered the event on site with Wein and Candy Ebling in the studio.

Initially, I was supposed to cover the Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL, working with the Lex Joon Crew, but that situation fell apart at the last minute. 

Breslauer credentialed us on short notice. 

This credential from Ken was the first one ever for the South Florida Tribune.

But when I got to Sebring, I commuted the 2.5 Hour Drive each way for thee days in a row. I did live reports and interviews with the drivers and we worked out of a loud tent.

Mind you, I knew nothing about Endurance Racing but Breslauer and his successor Kelsi Miller took the time to educate me about the dynamics of this sport. 

Unlike NASCAR, Indy Cars and Formula One where you know the winner in a matter of hours, this race is more about the manufacturer’s than the drivers. The drivers are certainly a huge part of this. But IMSA Racing is just a totally different animal.

Breslauer has been a great teacher and more importantly, he’s become an even better friend! 

Now I’ve covered three races and when Ken retired in March, Sebring named the Media Center after Breslauer and gave him a Rolex Watch for all of his years of dedication. This year’s race weekend occurred from March 18-20, Thursday-Saturday. 

Our coverage of Sebring dating back to 2019, has been predicated around doing broadcasts to preview the race with editorial to follow, along with being on their Media Distribution List. 

My three races have been interesting because in 2020, COVID-19 forced the Sebring Race to be run later in the fall and this event decided the championship.

When you have a 12 hour race, there is no telling how much you can learn about Motor Sports from a person that has been to over 30 Indianapolis 500’s. He even joked to me that you’ve become a good student and are dangerous now that you know about this, then we both smiled. And to survive a race, Sebring had plenty of complimentary caffeine drinks and candy products for that sweet tooth.

While I’ve covered my fair share of other races as a writer and attended them as a fan, I’ve come to the realization that I’m hooked on Road, Endurance Racing and thanks to Breslauer, I talk about it all the time.

If you haven’t been to Sebring then put it on your bucket list because it’s an incredible race track build around an airport.

Very few people know that Auto Racing is My Passion! I have paid for ride alongs on other tracks going at fast speeds and plan to do more down the road.

Although I always cover the major sports, we exist in life through automobiles and there is always the speed element especially when we’re on the interstates. 

When I drive on the interstates or highways at higher speeds and change lanes, it drives my wife nuts and she plays with her tablet and phone.

Besides, being from the Motor City, I’ve been around automobiles my entire life covering races and having family members working in the industry keeps me in that automobile mindset.

Thanks for everything Ken! 

I look forward to seeing you again especially now that you’ve got me hooked with Endurance Racing! In some ways, I do endurance driving when I constantly take trips by vehicle around the country.

Anybody that meets Ken Breslauer is a better person!

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The next person I want to talk about is former Jacksonville Jaguars Senior Vice President of Communications Dan Edwards. 

Edwards, an original Jaguars executive who has exclusively led the Jaguars communications department throughout the existence of the franchise has taken on a new role as Senior Vice President of Jacksonville Tradition and Alumni.

Edwards is a 27-year veteran of the Jaguars, who arrived in Jacksonville in 1994, shortly after the NFL granted the city an expansion franchise in 1993. Edwards has spent 37 years in the league. He spent 10 years working with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and the league office.

Edwards began his NFL Career as a public relations intern in the NFL Office in New York after receiving a scholarship from NFL Charities. 

He spent the 1984 football season working in publicity for the Miami Dolphins, who played in Super Bowl XIX that year before joining the Steelers.

During Edward’s nine years with the Steelers, the last seven as public relations director, the team’s public relations staff received the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Writers of America. Edwards has worked with the NFL staff at 27 Super Bowls and one Pro Bowl.

How did I meet Edwards? 

My best friend and adopted older brother Chip Namias was Edwards mentor with the Miami Dolphins in 1984. 

I met Namias in 1982 working with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and followed him to the Miami Dolphins. As Edwards arrived in 1984, I actually moved to Tampa to continue my education at the University of South Florida, so Dan and I actually missed each other by about a month.

I have remained in touch with Namias through the years, and then got to know Edwards a little covering the Detroit Lions when they made their rare appearances in Jacksonville. We talked a little bit and I enjoyed speaking with Dan. Edwards also knew another close colleague of mine and that’s Bill Keenist of the Detroit Lions.

In 2015, I attempted to cover a Miami Dolphins vs Green Bay Packers Game for the Detroit Monitor, but my contact Harvey Greene moved to a different department, therefore I was denied.

Harvey is another person that I enjoyed working with through the years.

The following year, the Packers played in Jacksonville on September 11, 2016 and I reached out to Dan because I wanted to cover this game and bring a photographer. 

Dan found a way to accommodate this double request and then told me that whenever you want to cover us, I’ll find a way to make room for you. 

He did in a big way because I had an opportunity to cover the Jaguars 10-3 Wild Card Win over the Buffalo Bills on January 7, 2018 at EverBank Field. 

This is the year that the Jaguars advanced all the way to the AFC Championship and were just minutes away from defeating eventual champion New England, led by Tom Brady.

You talk about a Man Of His Word, Dan Edwards is a Man of His Word and Much More!

In 2016, a good friendship was formed.

I would cover a lot of games making the five hour trek from the Fort Lauderdale area to Jacksonville. I enjoyed the drive because it was not only an opportunity for me to continue doing what I love doing covering the NFL, but more importantly I was working with a class act!

During this period covering the Jaguars, the team experienced it’s fair share of ups and downs, but more importantly I achieved a milestone. 

When I covered a Houston Texans game, I went up to Dan, shook his hand and gave him a hug. I said, thanks to you, I’ve now covered every NFL Team! 

He smiled and we enjoyed a few good moments.

When the situation presented itself, I made sure that we had a chance to take a few photos together and he was totally fine with it.

There isn’t a PR/Communications Department that I would drive five hours and commute it each way to see a training camp practice. I covered one draft with the Jags and stayed three days.

For the first three years, I was covering the Jaguars for the Detroit Monitor. 

But during the draft, as the newspaper industry was declining, I informed Dan that I formed the South Florida Tribune and told him about the change which took place in 2019.

As he has through the years, I was always on the team’s Media Distribution List and we remained there. 

I told him that I undertook this challenge and my plan was to market the team in South Florida.

Dan appreciated where I was coming from and supported me and the change. The plan has worked out well because we’re going real strong and gaining more momentum. 

When the situation presented itself, I would go cover road games with the Jaguars. Dan made sure I was taken care of. 

Ironically, I have covered some Jaguars and Dolphins games at Hard Rock Stadium and we joked around about my shorter 30 minute drive down the Florida Turnpike.

Dan always thanked me for coming up to Jacksonville to cover his team and my response to him was thanks for giving me the opportunity to do so. 

I actually enjoyed taking the trips because it got me out of the rat race of South Florida. The drives gave me tons of time to meditate. I feel like I have lived out of hotels my entire life.

When Namias came to town, we would go out to dinner and talk about the Dolphins and Jaguars. I told him that as it stands, I’d rather cover the Jaguars over the Dolphins because Dan and his entire staff always treated me great! 

Chip looked at me and said that I’m glad things are working out and can see where you’re coming from. 

Nobody knows what the future holds so I wouldn’t begin to speculate in terms of working with the Dolphins covering games.

Last season, COVID-19 threw everything a loop, therefore, the press box capacity in all sports was reduced.

The 2020 NFL Season was tough because I couldn’t attempt to cover much more than three games because My mother was terminally ill and passed away two days after Thanksgiving on November 28. 

I was staying in Michigan for two weeks in an Extended Stay Hotel up until her death and days after her funeral. 

It was tough living out of a suitcase and with the restaurants doing only carry outs, going grocery shopping and cooking meals in the room. That was all my wife and I could do to get through this situation.

Through it all, Dan still accommodated me three times and one of those games was against the Detroit Lions. What was weird about the Lions game was now I was credentialed by the home team and on this day, felt more distance towards the Lions which suited me just fine!

The last game I covered was on December 27, 2020 against the Chicago Bears. 

The Jaguars lost to the Bears 41-17 and it was interesting that this game occurred against a team that I covered plenty working with the Lions in the NFC North.

At the moment, I haven’t reached out to Dan’s successor Amy Palcic yet, though I will in the coming weeks. 

Amazingly enough, TIAA Bank Field is now the NFL Stadium that I’ve been to the most! I owe that to Dan Edwards.  

You can rest assure, game or no game, I plan to return there to see Dan!

Like Ken Breslauer, Dan Edwards are “Two Legendary Class Acts” and thanks to Herb Branham and Chip Namias, I’ve had the privilege to work with them and they are both lifelong friends!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can subscribe for free to see his broadcasts on The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

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