For someone I never met, I felt I knew Lew Katz very well.
At least well enough to call him Lew.
Four days after Dr. Peter Chodoff sat in his folding chair at Lincoln Financial Field and said to me, “Mike, I think you have a first-class blog” I got the same message in an email from Lew Katz: “Mike, I think you have a first-class blog. Keep up the good work and go Owls—Lew.”
Now I don’t know if that was just a heckuva coincidence or Dr. Pete and Lew talked, but I could not have been more flattered.
If there were ever two champions of Temple football during the darkest of dark times, it was Pete and Lew.
I guess you could add the late great Howard Gittis, who, as Board of Trustees’ chairman, thwarted every effort by then President David Adamany to drop football at Temple University.
Gittis, thankfully, was Adamany’s boss. When Gittis said jump, Adamany said: “How High?”
Gittis said he was not dropping football on his watch and fortunately he had allies in Katz and Chodoff. If he had not had those allies, Temple University would be NYU–a university in a big city without football.
That was only one of two emails I ever received from Lew Katz. The other one was steering me in the right direction toward my coverage of Temple joining the Big East on March 7, 2012. He then said he knew I worked at The Inquirer and asked me for my thoughts on how to improve the paper. I told him you cannot do wrong by going local, local, local and he said he felt the same way. He wasn’t very active on Facebook (and probably had too much else to do), but he did extend a friend request that I eagerly accepted. I am proud to have been one of his 351 Facebook friends. I’m sure he had 10x more “real” friends.
I then invited him to join our tailgates and he never did, but I knew he would eventually. I know he was proud of the way the Temple tailgate scene exploded during the Al Golden and Steve Addazio years. When he said he was looking forward to “kicking Villanova’s ass” on the football field with the Villanova president in attendance, I could not have been prouder of a fellow TU graduate.
Lew Katz “got” Temple, the same way John Chaney, Wayne Hardin, Skip Wilson, Pete Chodoff and Bruce Arians “got” Temple.
Our in-person meeting was only a matter of time and time ran out on Saturday night/Sunday morning when he died in a tragic plane crash.
It was my loss, and more importantly, Temple’s. RIP, Lew.