Bears, colleagues mourn the loss of journalist John “Moon” Mullin

In the spring of 2009, John Mullin and Melissa Isaacson left the Chicago Tribune as part of a series of layoffs due to challenges facing the newspaper industry.

They had covered – some might say dominated – the Bears had been fighting together for almost 10 years. Already quick friends and successful journalists, Mullin and Isaacson began meeting for breakfast each week to sympathize, to go out, to laugh, to cry, to plan what was to come.

Mullin, who became Bears Insider for NBC Sports Chicago, began teaching journalism at local colleges. He encouraged Isaacson, who continued to enjoy her 10 years of writing for ESPN.com, to continue the same and invited her to speak at one of his classes at DePaul.

“There was such an obvious joy in teaching him,” Isaacson said. “He was the first professional journalist I saw up close as a teacher. And the thought that you can do both and do both well made a huge impression on me.

“The relationship he had with his students was so wonderful and so natural. They had such respect for him. In the same way he is with his friends, he had such an easy way with his students. It made a lasting impression on me. I knew this was something I wanted to do. And I wanted to do it like him. “

Mullin, 74, died Sunday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his family has confirmed. First diagnosed at the end of 2019, Mullin surpassed expectations with positivity and his ubiquitous curiosity, always looking for new information and discoveries.

Just last week, he told hospital staff that the illness was a “blessing” because it helped him learn new things about himself.

The outpouring of love and support for this long-running event on the local media scene, and in particular the Bears and NFL victory, came as no surprise to anyone who knew the man most called the Moon. His last days were filled with a steady stream of visitors to his hospital room and a lot of laughter.

Earlier this year, Mullin excitedly shared an email with friends promoting his Attitude Over Cancer videos on YouTube. Go watch the series here. They are a master class in courage and grace.

In an email asking for help in promoting the series on Twitter – Mullin had friends from all walks of life, including sports, media, music, cycling and education – he again used the word “blessed” to describe his status and said his simple mission in making short, inspiring videos.

“The goal is just to help someone who is battling cancer – or something else, really,” Mullin wrote. “There is no money unless a sponsor comes, in which case every penny goes to a pancreatic cancer test to kill this little monster. My goal for the last two years has been to keep the beast off in a cave until we get the silver bullet to kill it. This thing can win because we still don’t have the firepower to kill it. But he won’t beat me. “

And it didn’t happen.

Mullin played golf. He was riding a bicycle. He is fishing. He played the guitar. He travels with his wife Carolyn.

He lived.

To know Mullin meant to know kindness. And generosity. And such a spirit for life.

In 2005, the editors of the Chicago Tribune asked me to try the Bears rhythm, considered the biggest in the paper. With our first son on the road, my wife wanted me to try it for less travel.

I loved covering the NBA, but I reluctantly accepted, knowing it would put me in a booth next to Mullin in Halas Hall.

I immediately got into the big news. Cedric Benson, selected in the first round of the team, organized the longest contract in the history of the franchise. I had no sources, no connections, nothing.

But I had Mullin.

To this day, I am convinced that I received a call back because Mullin told these people to call me. I once asked him if that was true, and he just smiled, that ubiquitous gleam in his eyes.

Mullin, who began his coverage of the Bears in the Daily Herald, was a monster and a bulwark. Do not distort his kindness and generosity due to lack of competitiveness. He liked to be first. But most importantly, it requires to be accurate and fair.

“John was one of the most professional, hard-working, football-educated and representative sports writers I’ve worked with in 17 years as a head coach,” former coach Dave Wanstead told NBC Sports Chicago this week.

In fact, Mullin’s knowledge and recollection may have been surpassed only by his ability to create real relationships.

“What a nice man,” Kyle Long told NBC Sports Chicago this week. “He never wanted anything from me, even when he was sitting in my locker waiting for me to come in from matches and training. We enjoyed our company for some reason. He used to hang out at my house and we smoke or drink. He was from the old school, the man you want to get an ounce from, because there won’t be many Moon Mullins walking around this Earth.

Mullin was known for avoiding media bickering and going to interview line-ups. He often felt that they had some of the best insights and were simply truly connected to them. Former All-Pro Center Olin Kreutz said this on Twitter last week “No one covered the Bears with more class and dignity.”

Mullin had this rare ability to cross the line between building relationships and maintaining objectivity.

“Apart from our work conversations, we spent a lot of time in cafes or on long bike rides, just talking about our families and other outside interests,” former general manager Ryan Pace told NBC Sports Chicago this week. “He is really good at what he does. But the most important thing is that he is just a very careful and caring person. He’s someone who makes you better just by being around him. “

Indeed, far from work is the place where Mullin made the strongest impression on people.

He prepared home-cooked food and drove from the suburbs to the city to serve it and lighten the burden on us when our first son arrived. A successful musician, he showered me with guitar accessories when I came across the instrument at the end of my life, and I enjoyed hearing stories about this son – now 16 – who took up the instrument and quickly overtook me.

Mullin’s hospital room became such a destination last week that visitors had to wait to give him a place and rest between appointments. He rejoiced at the company and smiled when he heard about his friends’ recent events.

“We are saddened to hear of the death of John Moon Mullin. “John has been an important part of our bear coverage over the years and has always been a careful and wise leader of our team,” said NBC Chicago / GM President Kevin Cross. “He was more than just a writer. He was a teacher. He was a leader among his peers and was an inspiration to us all. We will miss him a lot. All of us at NBC Chicago are sending our condolences to his family.

Because that’s Mullin’s thing: He was at his best, most fulfilling when he was surrounded by friends and family. When he shared his love for life. When he gave of himself. When he was teaching.

“It may seem strange to some that a man 15 years older than me will become one of my best friends, someone I trusted and respected, gossiped about, laughed at, laughed at, and laughed at. whom I relied on and admired in so many ways. But I never, ever thought about the age or gender difference in any way, “Isaacson said. “It simply came to our notice then. He was just a friend of mine. “

Isaacson really got into teaching. After working as an associate professor for eight years, she became a full professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in the fall of 2017. And when she received her promotion to associate professor this spring, she immediately called Mullin.

She felt the gleam in his eyes sparkle over the phone.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.