Doug Looney, who wrote the story on the troubled New England Patriots (page 28), describes his own athletic career as "abysmal." The memory of one high school tennis match is especially bleak. Looney played so badly, he says, that "by midmatch, my opponent was giving me suggestions."
Like Doug, like family. His wife, Mary Ann, "doesn't know the difference between a third down and a three-putt green," he says, "and long ago decided it wasn't important." Shannon Looney, 16, is, according to her father, "the family violinist." Doug describes his 19-year-old son, Mark, a sophomore at the Air Force Academy, as "a high school track guy who gave it up in favor of driving my car."
Needless to say, Looney doesn't talk shop much at home in Westport, Conn. But the familial lack of sporting skills doesn't prevent him from roaming all over to write about sports. Since joining SI in 1975, he has covered football ("I like nothing better than to be sitting back with my feet up, listening to Joe Paterno," he says), baseball, harness racing, tennis and just about every other sport. Looney has also written about point-shaving scandals ( Boston College, Feb. 16, 1981; Tulane, April 8, 1985), and the fiscal woes of Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett (Aug. 12. 1985).
Looney was raised in Boulder, Colo. "With my last name," he says, "I grew up to be the toughest kid on the block. O.K., O.K., so I was the only kid on the block." His father, Robert, is a former managing editor of the Boulder Daily Camera. In a piece Doug once wrote for SI on Colorado football, which was critical of Chuck Fairbanks, the coach at the time, he ruffled some feathers in his native state. But Looney isn't worried. "Now I'm free to visit whenever I like," Doug says, "as long as it's dark." In fact, with his infectious grin, Colorado drawl and penchant for swapping stories, Looney is welcome almost everywhere he goes. Being persistent doesn't hurt, either. Writer-reporter Armen Keteyian, who has worked with him, admires his "uncanny ability to quickly determine who the one or two key figures are, then find and interview them before anyone else does." Looney has a secret for tracking down elusive subjects. "It's amazing how many people are home at 4 a.m.," he says.