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Brian Goff: 1974-2019

April 25th, 2019 · 5 Comments · Football, LANG, London, NFL, Sports Journalism, The Sun

The last time I spoke with Brian Goff, I was a little annoyed with him, or so I thought.

Really, I was annoyed with myself.

See, Brian Goff did not annoy people. He was polite to the nth degree and seemed to have no enthusiasm for drama in the workplace. Or raised voices, for that matter. Or off-color words. Always looking for smooth sailing in his daily encounters, that was Brian Goff.

It could have been a function of his deeply held Christian convictions. Or perhaps he came from a home where everyone spoke with a quiet voice and abstained from “blue” language.

He came from a blue-collar background — I’m thinking West Virginia here — and he was working in an auto-parts store when we hired him as a clerk at the San Bernardino Sun, on the recommendation of the faculty adviser at the Riverside City College student newspaper, Dan Evans, a former Sun colleague.

That was in 1997. Brian and I were to work together for the next 11 years, and what we got from him was reliability, accuracy, enthusiasm and the work ethic of someone who loves what he does.

Brian died yesterday at the age of 45, which is much too young, in 2019. He had a heart attack in his home, and responders could never quite get his heart going again.

Leaving behind a lot of people who are going to miss him.

Even by his upbeat standards the past year had been a blessed one for Brian. He married a woman he first met during high school, in Riverside, and was only too glad to take her three boys — 11, 13 and 15 — into the family home.

He had continued success in the newspaper world. Over the span of a decade, a hard decade in print journalism, he made the climb from part-time clerk to “sports assignment editor” for the Los Angeles News Group, the umbrella organization for just about any daily newspaper in Southern California that isn’t the Los Angeles Times.

I was speaking with him, almost a month ago, as we were getting close to the end of the annual Sun Baseball League draft. When it was my turn, he would go to his Google Chat account to see what I wanted to do. Everyone was tired and I, certainly, was cranky, having opted to choose my team from a cramped hotel room near Gatwick Airport, in London.

I think the responsibility of taking care of one of the several owners not in the draft room (like me) in this case fell to Brian. Who was picking his own team, too, of course.

Anyway, I made a very silly mistake. I needed one more starting pitcher and one more reliever, planning to take the reliever first. I was considering two guys with four-syllable surnames — Jake Odorizzi and Adam Ottavino. I knew one was a starter and the other a reliever, but at that moment I couldn’t remember which was which.

I shouted at my computer screen that had Google Chat open on it, and said, “I want the guy who punked Babe Ruth!” Which was a pretty obscure bit of information, considering the Babe Ruth criticism had come months before.

When I did not hear a response on Google Chat, I said, “OK, give me Odorizzi.” (Did I mention that I could have taken 30 seconds and figured out which guy was the starting pitcher for the Twins and which was the relief pitcher for the Yankees? I didn’t do that. It was late. We all were spent.)

Next round (in a league of 12, drafting 336 guys in one six-hour session), I said I wanted SP Joey Lucchesi of the Padres. The guys at the other end of the line said, “You already have five starting pitchers; Odorizzi was your final starter. Can’t take Joey.”

See, I had gotten my O-pitchers wrong, in the previous round. Guy I wanted was reliever Ottavino; guy I got was starter Odorizzi. I was deflated. I took Ottavino, since Odorizzi was already in the league and I couldn’t have Lucchesi. Four picks later a competitor picked up the Padre I wanted.

Yes, annoying, and … who cares! At first, I assigned part of the blame to Brian, who wasn’t near his phone when I was demanding help with the “O pitchers.” But it was all me, not being prepared.

Luckily, I had many happy moments with Brian. “Need a score!” “Got it!” “Who has the 66ers box? “I do!” Like that, thousands of times over more than a decade.

We had one long outing together, and that was in January of 2003, for Super Bowl 37 — which was played in San Diego.

Both Brian and I were credentialed by the NFL for the game, and I picked him up in my Saturn and made the 100-mile drive to San Diego from the Inland Empire, day of game. I remember it as a bright, sunny day, and we had seats in the east stand, behind the uprights. It was fine. It was great. It was grand. I think Brian really liked being there.

His beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were not playing in this one, but a Super Bowl is a Super Bowl, and this was his first. Tampa Bay defeated Oakland 48-21, and we both did some writing, and filed and then spent another hour on the trip after the game. I was glad we had the time to converse like that.

Brian was so good at what he did because he anticipated what needed to be done. He didn’t need to be asked twice. And because he was such a good guy. Nobody disliked him. It was not possible.

And now he is gone, and the guys in our fantasy league, and his co-workers during his career, are among the many who are shattered at the news. The numbers of mourners will be much higher from his church. There was more than one Brian Goff: There also was the strong Christian trying to live the life of Christ.

Our deepest sympathies go to his family and to his friends. He will be missed.



5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chuck Hickey // Apr 25, 2019 at 11:32 AM

    Absolutely soul-crushing to wake up to this news this morning. One of the kindest, most loyal, most dependable people I have worked with in my career.

    He was one of the first people to reach out to me after my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew died in a plane crash in 2017 — even though we had not worked with each other for 17 years.

    But that’s who he was: Always there for others. He came in in 1997 and was dedicated to learn and improved and get better — and he did.

    It’s made all the more tragic after he found such happiness in marrying Tonya and welcoming in her three boys.

    Thank you, as always, for your touching words. He was a big part of our team in the late 1990s and into the 2000s and it’s a crushing loss for all of us from back then and those associated with him today.

    RIP, BGoff.

  • 2 Chuck Hickey // Apr 25, 2019 at 12:48 PM

    Beautiful tribute. A devastating loss for all who knew and worked with Brian. One of the kindest, loyal, dedicated, hardest-working people I’ve worked with in my career.

    He was one of the first people who reached out to me when I lost my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew in a plane crash in 2017 — and we hadn’t worked together for 17 years.

    When he was hired, he jumped right in and fit in with our group right away, wanting to learn and get better — and he did, leading to a great career and doing what he loved doing.

    He’s going to be greatly missed.

  • 3 Brian J Rich // Apr 25, 2019 at 7:47 PM

    I only know that my son loved and respected this man.
    And that is good enough for me…


  • 4 Chris Bayee // Apr 26, 2019 at 6:01 AM

    Quiet, dependable, consistent, trustworthy, hard working. BGoff. … You’ll be missed.

  • 5 danny summers // Apr 26, 2019 at 8:21 AM

    Well written, Paul. BGoff will be greatly missed. I was fortunate to know a little of Brian on a spiritual level. He was a mighty man of God. He really cared for people. I only wish I was around to know him on an even deeper level since I left for Colorado in the summer of 2001.

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