OSAMA BIN LADEN: There will be no grand statement about his death. This isn't the format. But this is the time to remember 10 years ago what happened after the attacks. What happened in the football world, the sports world, and how it played a part in the healing process.
I was a reporter for the New York Times and watching athletes in New York come together remains one of the more striking memories of my career. Giants and Jets players spent the initial days paying tribute to the heroic police and firefighters who died saving lives. Football players, and of course the Yankees and Mets, were in some ways leaders after the attacks. So were the sports leagues themselves. Paul Tagliabue, then the commissioner, made the wise decision to postpone games that weekend out of respect for the dead. He also listened to the wishes of players in the New York area who wanted the delay. Jets and Giants teammates, at Giants Stadium, could still see the smoke rising from the devastation days after the crisis.
Then, Tagliabue just as wisely got the games going again."The NFL is part of American life," Tagliabue said at the time. "We play one role in the healing process by playing our games, honoring the victims and heroes, and by saluting brotherhood, diversity and tolerance."
Giants players I interviewed were in tears on the phone. I've never heard Michael Strahan so emotional about anything and haven't since. I've known him for over 15 years.
The baseball players wore "NYPD" and "FDNY" hats during games. In the months to follow, New York football teams were cheered at the beginning of games in every stadium they entered.
I said sports can heal. In some ways, I understand part of that statement is ridiculous. Sports cannot heal a 9-11. Sports cannot bring back the dead but I saw firsthand how sports did allow people to express their pain, sympathy and patriotism.