David Poole: Saluting a true pro

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

It is a sad and tragic day here at the NFC South blog. My friend and former co-worker David Poole has passed away.

Football is going to take a back seat the rest of today. The NFC South often is called the NASCAR division and we're going to talk NASCAR right now.

That's because David was NASCAR to me. I had the honor of working with David at The Charlotte Observer from 1999 until I left to come here last year. David was the NASCAR writer for the Observer, which by itself is a pretty lofty gig. But David made it even larger because he was the best of the best.

When I first got to Charlotte, I had no appreciation for NASCAR and, truthfully, didn't even think of it as a sport. When I left, I had tons of respect for the drivers, crew members and the fans, and absolutely agree that it's a sport. That's mostly because of David.

The man had an uncommon passion for NASCAR, and when you saw that, you had to respect it as a sport. I still don't count myself as a huge racing fan, but I've got a passing knowledge of the sport and that's because David made me read his work. No, he didn't force me physically. His excellent writing was a must read and he had a way of translating racing into terms I could understand.

I thank him for that and so should everyone else who ever read his outstanding work.

But I'm going to remember a couple of other things about David as well. Let's start with the Panthers going to the Super Bowl in January 2004. It was the biggest thing to ever happen to Charlotte and the usual football crew of Stan Olson, Charles Chandler, Scott Fowler, Tom Sorensen and myself suddenly got a lot of much-needed help for that week in Houston.

It came from the folks on the news side and our photographers. But, more than anything else, it came from the writers who covered other sports and suddenly were assigned to help with the Panthers.

David was at the front of that effort and that's when I realized what a total pro he was. The guy picked up stories and wrote them like he'd been a football writer all his life. He helped make the most hectic week of my life more tolerable and he also provided me with a lasting reminder of what teamwork was all about.

That's what I'm going to remember about David. That and the fact that David was more than a teammate. He also was -- and will always be -- a friend.