From Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes, 1968:
When Steve Owen, who coached the New York Giants from 1931 through 1953, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Oneida, New York, I debated for a day whether to make the trip south for the funeral. For a long time I had felt that I owed Owen such homage, and I'd never again be able to pay it. Envisioning the scene, I saw myself a kind of Owl-Eyes come to Gatsby's wake, a little aloof, sequestered from the one or two mourners, a curiosity weeping great, excited tears in the blue shade of funereal elms. The vision was as close as I came to such demonstrativeness.
In the hours after his death the newspapers began to name the many sports dignitaries who were to make their own pilgrimages to Oneida, the funeral began to assume the hues of an obligatory festive occasion, and I sensed that genuine grief would be distasteful in such surroundings. I did write a note to Owen's widow. Quoting Brutus on Cassius (I have said that I teach English -- pedagogically, I might add), I wrote with a tense, forced hand, I owe more tears to this dead man than you shall ever see me pay. Appearing over a signature she wouldn't recognize, the message, it occurred to me, was not only pretentious but might bewilder and embarrass Mrs. Owen.
In the end I did nothing to help put the ghost on its way. I had wanted to make the pilgrimage because it was Owen, as much as any other, who had brought me round to the Giants and made me a fan. Unable to conceive what my life would have been without football to cushion the knocks, I was sure I owed him sorrow. It occurs to me now that my enthusiasms might better have been placed with God or Literature or Humanity; but in the penumbra of such upper-case pieties I have always experienced an excessive timidity rendering me tongue-tied or forcing me to emit the brutal cynicisms with which the illiterate confront things they do not understand.
Tags: Fred Exley, Frederick Exley, A Fan's Notes