Tampa Bays’ airwaves will miss Duemig

by Gary Shelton on May 17, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Bucs

Friday, 4 a.m.

The air is quieter now.

The opinions are not as loud. The approval is not as gleeful. The disapproval is not as vicious.

Steve Duemig has left us, and we are poorer for his passing.

Duemig, the opinionated, irreverent, fearless, dogged voice of Tampa Bay Sports, has said goodnight. Duemig died Thursday after a battle with brain cancer. I'm surprised he didn't win.

We got along, mostly. That is, when he wasn't flaying me on the radio airways. But that's part of it. A good radio host often disagrees with the columnist for the major newspaper. And so we disagreed a thousand times, but there is an old saying. "If two men always agree, then one of them is not necessary."

Over the years, Steve had a lot of guests. But he didn't need them. His show was always at its best when Steve was talking, arguing, lambasting. He had a good voice, and was always convinced he was right. He could talk hockey, football, horse racing, golf, all with great conviction.

There was the time Steve had a source who told him, without question, that the Bucs were being sold. There were no qualifiers. It was going to happen. And then it didn't.

There was a time I was at the PGA Championship, and most of the leaders took turns blowing the tournament on the 18th green. These were the finest golfers on the planet, and they were putting like, well, me. So I had great fun with it the next morning. Steve, who was a far better golfer than I was, took exception. He dedicated an entire show to saying "let's see you make a put for millions of dollars on the line." I responded, "Sure, but let's also give me $20 million in the bank. That should lessen the pressure."

For a time, he was hard on then-Rays' manager Joe Maddon, talking about how the Rays had plateaued under his leadership. But it was a pretty good plateau, wasn't it?

There were the Dilfer wars. Now, if I was a quarterback of team in a town the size of the Bucs, the first thing I would do would be to hire the fiercest critic to do my show. That would dull the teeth of the criticism. But Dilfer didn't do that, and Steve made his life a living torment.  I remember I once did a column on the voices of Tampa Bay sports, and my segment on Deumig was a caller saying "Dilfer sucked." And Duemig responded with "No, he really sucks." And the caller said. "I think he really, really sucks." And Duemig said "he really, really, really sucks.

Then there was his defense of Alstott, a fine player who ran into a streak of fumbling at one point in his career. Duemig once blamed the other 10 offensive players for not recovering Alstott's fumbles.

Even in the brief time that I was on the airwaves, on a rival station, Duemig owned the radio in this town. His opinions carried weight, whether he was defending Mike Alstott's fumbling or criticizing Trent Dilfer's passing.

We did a segment together a couple of years ago. I was trying to get this website going, and he had lost a co-host. So we chatted about Tampa Bay sports. I'm biased, but I think it was an hour worth listening to. He was a radio host since 1991. I joined the Times in 1990. Together, we had seen a lot.

This is the truth. I never minded Steve criticizing me. It was his job, and I was a target. I would challenge this point or that one, but never his right to disagree. He would text me "going after you tomorrow." And I would be the guy in the dunking booth.

But he was never mean, and he was rarely not informed. He lit up the switchboard like no radio host before or after.

Maybe you didn't like him. Probably you did. He was as big as his opinions, as sharp as his thoughts, as relentless as the summer sun. He was the Big Dog, and a lot of people loved it when he barked.

I was one of them.

Goodbye, Steve. We'll miss you.

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