A powerful true story of loss and hope by one of the biggest names in sports media.
On September 11, 2001, Joe Maio went to work in the north tower of the World Trade Center. He never returned, leaving behind a wife, Sharri, and 15-month old son, Devon. Five years later, Sharri remarried, and Devon welcomed a new dad into his life.
For thousands, the whole country really, 9/11 is a day of grief. For Adam and Sharri Maio Schefter and their family it’s not just a day of grief, but also hope. This is a story of 9/11, but it’s also the story of 9/12 and all the days after. Life moved on. Pieces were picked up. New dreams were dreamed. The Schefters are the embodiment of that.
This book will give voice to all those who have chosen to keep living. It’s gratifying and beautiful. But also messy and hard. Like most families. Except that one day every year history comes roaring back. How do you embrace that? How do you honor that?
The Man I Never Met is also a peek at Adam Schefter, the man behind the headlines and injury reports; a real person who has a real family. His book will follow in the path of recent ESPN books by Tom Rinaldi and the late Stuart Scott – books that have transcended sport to examine the raw emotion of life.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||Signed Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
ADAM SCHEFTER is one of the most influential voices in football today. He is ubiquitous across all of ESPN’s platformsTV, radio, and digital. And his more than 7M Twitter followers are the most of any personality in footballplayer, coach, or journalist. He lives in New York.
MICHAEL ROSENBERG is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of the critically acclaimed War As They Knew It. Most recently he is the collaborator on Joe Buck’s memoir, Lucky Bastard.
Read an Excerpt
It is the fall of 2017, and we are getting ready to renovate our house. This is not surprising. We are always renovating. My wife, Sharri, can't seem to stop. She loves our house on Long Island, but she is never satisfied with it.
This time, she wants to expand one room, combine two others, enlarge and enclose a patio, and build an attic for storage. I don't entirely understand why we are doing this, but it is what Sharri wants, and I try to do what I can to always make her happy.
Before this renovation, she starts cleaning out her home office. She discovers an old Oxford-brand composition notebook, the kind with the mottled black-and-white cover that you might have used for your spelling or math homework in elementary school.
It is a journal.
Now, I should point out: I have kept my own detailed journal for most of my life. I started doing it when I was in college. My roommates and I were having the greatest time of our lives, but it was all becoming a blur. I struggled to remember the fun we'd had just a week earlier. It bothered me. I decided to keep a log of my actions and thoughts — just a stream-of-consciousness record of my days. On work trips, I keep my journal. On vacation, I keep my journal. It's become as much a part of my day as eating or sleeping; it is something I always get done.
Maintaining a journal has not always been easy, but it is all there for me, every day of my life since 1990, separated into monthly files, every year, on my computer.
Sharri does not keep a journal. She teases me about mine: Did you remember to write that you went to the bathroom? But I can go back and find the name of a restaurant where I ate in Los Angeles or my hotel in Philadelphia. I can read about stories I worked on as an NFL reporter — first, covering the Denver Broncos, and then as a league insider for the NFL Network and ESPN. I can learn from my professional and personal experiences.
More importantly, I can go back and remember how I felt at any point in my life. Pride, sadness, frustration, loneliness, joy ... they're all in there. I can read about where I was, take stock of where I am, and connect the two to measure personal growth.
In her home office, Sharri picks up the journal. What is noteworthy about this journal is that it is not mine.
It is hers.
On the cover, she has written one word: Devon.
Inside, there is a single journal entry. It begins:
This journal for you will never be perfect, the words, the sentences, may not be proper, but it's important you know a little or a lot about your Dad. I'm writing today, Sept. 9, 2002, and as I write I'm watching my peaceful and very beautiful son asleep on my favorite seat outside my swing. You are only 27 months old and who knows when you will read this. Our Dog Riley lays beneath the swing keeping a watchful eye on everything. It is, as I now call them, a "beautiful Sept. 11 morning," no clouds, only sun, just like that day.
I've wanted to do this for a year now, but it was (too) hard. I feel a bit stronger now, a lot older, less tolerant of garbage. Part of me is ecstatic that you are too young to understand what happened to your Dad. The other part is Angry that you never got the chance to know this beautiful, beautiful man who loved you more than his own life!
How horribly unfair this world is. We were all robbed. Your Dad was only 32 years old. He never had a chance to survive those horrible people who did this.
She had stopped writing there.
* * *
The story you are reading is not just about September 11. We all know what happened on September 11.
This story is about September 12 — and every day after.
It is about finding happiness in the most unlikely places. Sometimes grief leads to love, sadness begets joy, and death makes a family grow larger. The worst days carry us toward some of the best. As much as we'd like to extricate one emotion from the rest, that is impossible.
This is a story about loss and comfort, about pain and beauty. It is about the steps we take because we want to, and the steps we take because we have no choice.
A lot of families have a story like that.
This is ours.CHAPTER 2
Two months before he died, Joe Maio moved into a new house. He was thirty-two years old, professionally successful, and personally happy, which didn't surprise anybody who knew him. Joe had a gift. He'd had it for so long that he could not remember a time when he didn't have it. The gift was this: He was the rare human being who, from the moment he was born, was completely comfortable in his skin.
It was a gift he could wrap up and hand to others without ever losing it himself. Joe did not care for the social lines that the rest of us draw. Even in his teenage years, when most of us are angst-ridden and unsure of ourselves, he easily mixed friends and family, or popular kids with unpopular ones. He seemed determined to help people overcome the insecurities that he did not have.
The gift gave him a quiet confidence that did not spill into arrogance. Joe expected to do well but not to be handed anything. He did not start fights but occasionally ended them. He sometimes drank alcohol socially but never did it to forget who he was. He liked to kid his friends just enough to let them know he liked them but not so much that it hurt their feelings, and he was wise enough to know the difference. And his gift meant that he could laugh at himself.
Before he moved into his new house, Joe had been living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his wife, Sharri, and their one-year-old son, Devon. They liked it there in the city. But Joe and Sharri had sensed it was time to get out, in the way that new parents sometimes get a feeling in their guts that they need a change for the sake of their child. Sharri saw a ten-year-old kid jaywalking on a busy Manhattan street, and she imagined Devon doing that in a few years. She heard city moms talk about fierce competition to get into the best grade schools, and she winced. She didn't want that.
The Maios decided to move to the safety and comfort of the suburbs. They just had to pick a suburb. Joe had grown up in New Jersey, and he wanted to go back. It made sense. His employer, a financial services firm called Cantor Fitzgerald, was planning to move his group out of the highest floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center to Rumson, New Jersey, in two years.
But Sharri wanted to move closer to where she grew up, on Long Island. This made sense, too. She listed all the reasons for Joe. He would be working most of the time anyway. She was a new mother who didn't have any friends in New Jersey. Her family was on Long Island. They could always move to New Jersey if Cantor Fitzgerald followed through on its plans.
Joe thought about it and agreed to move to Long Island. Now they just needed to find a house. They considered building one. New construction would have fit Joe's personality; he liked everything in his life to be clean and just right, from his hair to his clothes to his bedroom. Joe imagined a house with no highway noise, perfectly designed to suit their family. But building a house would take two years, and the Maios didn't want to wait that long.
They found the next-best thing: a house that had just been built. Joe liked that it was new — the floors were unblemished, the toilets not yet used. He was an orderly man, a bit of a germophobe, particular about his possessions. He liked having a house that was completely theirs.
Picture them there, in the summer of 2001: Joe coming home at the end of a long workday, Sharri waiting in the driveway with Devon and their wheaten terrier, Riley. When Joe got home from work, Devon would give his "Da-da" a huge hug. Sometimes Joe would sit Devon on his lap in the front seat of his car and play a song that made him think of Devon. It was called, "With Arms Wide Open," by the band Creed. The band's front man, Scott Stapp, had written the lyrics after he found out he was going to become a father: "With arms wide open/Under the sunlight/Welcome to this place/I'll show you everything."
Joe Maio was a great man. Devon was far too young to understand this, but it was true. Joe was not just great in the way we like to think our parents or spouses are great — everybody described Joe that way. He checked all the boxes. Smart. Charming. Good-looking. Athletic. Thoughtful.
And his gift meant that he had a quality that friends had never seen in anybody else: He made people believe that everything would always work out for him. Even more, he made them happy that everything would always work out for him.
And he made them think that if they stayed close to him, everything would work out for them, too. He didn't brag. He didn't act like he was better than other people. He pulled them along for the ride. This only added to their awe of him.
Joe had grown up in a happy family with his brother, Anthony, and their devoted parents, Paula and George. Their house in New Jersey was the house where all the other neighborhood kids wanted to hang out. It had a pool and a finished walkout basement with a wet bar, and everybody was welcome. It didn't matter if Joe's aunts and uncles and cousins were already there. It didn't matter if you were one of the coolest kids in school or if Joe was your only friend. If Joe liked you, you always could come hang out at his house.
Now Joe had a family and his own house. He was ready to build the kind of warm, loving environment that he had enjoyed as a child. His new house on Long Island was much bigger than the Maios' Manhattan apartment, and so parts of it were not furnished yet. Boxes were still unpacked. Pictures had not been hung on the walls. But the Maios were not worried about that. Sharri and Joe Maio had plenty of time.
* * *
Three weeks before he died, Joe Maio played golf on a Sunday. This was unusual for him. He absolutely loved golf, but he and Sharri had an agreement: He could play golf on Saturdays, as long as he teed off early and was home in the afternoon, but Sundays were for family time.
Joe worked hard all week. Sunday was their day together. This day was an exception, though. This was for the golf championship at his country club, Tam O'Shanter on Long Island.
Joe's friend Jordan Bergstein had just won the B flight championship at his Long Island club, Engineers. The B flight is for lesser golfers — the best of the pretty good — and Joe had ribbed Jordan endlessly for it. The B championship? Are you sure you want to tell people about that? It was like being the MVP of the junior varsity.
Jordan laughed along with Joe. Teasing was an essential part of their relationship and had been since they met when they were in college — Joe at Boston University, Jordan at American University. They met on spring break. The teasing went both ways, but Jordan knew that Joe had his back. Jordan had a degenerative eye condition, which made it hard for him to follow his golf ball in the air. He never had to ask Joe to do it for him. Joe just did it. Whenever Jordan lost track of the ball, Joe said, "JB, I got you."
And, teasing aside, Jordan knew that Joe Maio never wanted to win the B championship of anything. It was unfathomable to him.
When Joe was a kid, he was such a great skier that other skiers would actually stop on the slopes and watch him. When he was in high school, he had a dream of playing football for Penn State. He was not good enough to play at Penn State, but he believed he was supposed to do things like play football at Penn State. He called their football offices every day until he finally got a coach on the phone, before he ultimately wound up at Boston University. At Cantor Fitzgerald, he became the director of equity derivatives at an unusually young age, a rising star even compared to the firm's other rising stars.
At various stages of Joe's life, he wanted to drive the coolest car, wear the nicest clothes, eat at the best restaurants, date the prettiest girls — and not because he wanted to impress everybody else. He just wanted to experience the best. And when he started to take golf seriously as an adult, he expected to excel at it.
The 2001 Tam O'Shanter Club Championship came down to the final hole. Joe swung a little too hard at his tee shot and did not hit the ball well. His second shot flew over the green. His opponent made par and won.
George hugged his son and congratulated him on going so far. George had followed Joe around the course all day, which had surprised Sharri. To her, golf was one of Joe's hobbies. You don't follow somebody around for hours watching them practice their hobby, even if you love them. But when George watched Joe play golf, he saw something else. He saw Joe as a boy at River Vale Country Club in New Jersey, driving the golf cart before he was legally allowed to drive a car. He saw Joe as a teenager, starting to fall in love with the game. He saw all the weekend days they had spent together on the course, a love of a sport passed from one generation to the next.
Sharri asked George, "Are you really going to follow him around the course all day?"
George said, "One day, when Devon is doing this, you'll follow him."
* * *
Two weeks before he died, Joe Maio got into an argument with his wife. It was the kind of argument that could have lingered after Joe died, forever unresolved. He and Sharri had no way of knowing that he was about to die. They did not talk for a day. The silence was torturing both of them.
But while they were not talking, Joe was thinking. He was only thirty-two, and he was still learning what it meant to be married. Joe was used to running the show; he had been doing it, in virtually every social situation, since he was in elementary school. But he was smart enough to know when he was wrong and secure enough to admit it.
Joe found Sharri in the kitchen. Devon was in his high chair. The TV was on. Joe spoke first.
"I love you so much," he told Sharri. "I love our family, and I will do whatever it takes to make this work."
* * *
On the day that Joe Maio died, I woke up at 5:00 A.M. Mountain Time in my town house in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver. I was the Denver Broncos' beat writer for The Denver Post. I had just gotten back from a weekend in my hometown of New York — visiting family, seeing friends — and then covered a Monday Night Football game in Denver, which happened to be the very first game ever played at the Broncos' new stadium, then called Invesco Field at Mile High.
I was so tired that morning — Tuesday, September 11, 2001 — that I didn't even bother showering before heading to a local TV station, KUSA, for a quick on-air segment. I didn't realize it at the time (no one could) but it was one of the very last non-9/11 reports on that TV station, or any TV station in the country, for days.
Moments after my in-studio live shot, at about 6:45 A.M. Mountain Time, I went home. I lived about five minutes from the station. I walked in and went down to my office in the basement. I turned on KBCO radio. Just minutes later, I heard that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
It did not occur to me that it was a terrorist attack. I just thought, That's odd.
I sat in my basement office, listening to news updates on the radio about a crash that seemed like a random accident, and hopefully not terribly tragic. Then another plane hit the South Tower. And at that moment, everyone everywhere knew how serious this was. Only then did I leave my basement office to go upstairs to the living room to turn on my TV. I would sit there for hours on end, transfixed and demoralized. I watched and could not believe what I was seeing. It felt like Pearl Harbor for my generation — only more extreme.
Then a plane hit the Pentagon. And another one crashed in Pennsylvania. It felt like the entire country was under attack. Anything could be attacked next.
I was stunned, overwhelmed, at a complete loss. Weren't we all?
I quickly realized that I knew somebody who worked in the World Trade Center: one of my parents' closest friends, Billy Esposito. I called my parents, Shirley and Jeffrey, to see if they had heard if Billy was safe. They said nobody had heard from him. I was on the phone with my sister, Marni, all day. I didn't know what to do. I had planned to go exercise but didn't. I skipped lunch. I wrote a short story for the newspaper about the NFL possibly canceling that weekend's game.
President George W. Bush had grounded all planes while the country assessed the situation, but that night, as I was in bed, I could hear a plane patrolling the skies overhead. I knew the Air Force Academy was located about sixty miles south of my town house and wondered if what I heard was a simulated flight or another attack. I had no idea what was happening, but I knew this: I actually was scared to leave my own home.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Man I Never Met"
Copyright © 2018 Adam Schefter, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is very inspiring for all! Adam’s perspective is spot on. He is a remarkable human being and Sharri and Devon fortunate to have such a caring and compassionate man in their lives! I highly recommend this book!
I've always enjoyed Adam Schefter on ESPN, so I was very intrigued to read a book written by him. The book allowed readers a very personal look into a tragedy that touched the lives of anyone that lived in the United States on 9/11 in some way. I found myself laughing during parts of the book and also crying during other parts of the book ... and after finishing the book I found myself very thankful Adam Schefter allowed me, the reader, a chance to "peek inside" his life beyond ESPN. He is much more than the guy that reports on football and injuries. I was fortunate enough to receive a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was such a powerful read that I will also be purchasing a copy of the book.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Net Galley, and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have always been fascinated by things that have transpired from 9/11; especially relationships. I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. For me, it was just an "ok" read.
I have wondered about families of 9/11 and this bittersweet story answers it to some degree .