“No one — and I mean no one — was ever more loyal to his friends than Rob,” Kornheiser said. “He was always the guy you turned to when you were in trouble, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than helping people when they most needed to be helped. To him it wasn’t if you got it done, it was figuring out how you got it done. There was no such word as ‘no’ in Rob’s vocabulary.”
Rob wasn’t so much a fan of teams as he was of the people connected to those teams. When Patsos, another unofficial adopted son, left Maryland after 13 years as an assistant to Williams to become the coach at Loyola, Rob — for all intents and purposes — went with him.
“When I hired Jimmy, I didn’t realize Rob was part of the deal, too,” Joe Boylan, then the athletic director joked. “He was Jimmy’s general manager.”
Rob almost never missed a home game during Patsos’s nine seasons at Loyola. He never sat in one place during a game, constantly trying to find a spot that would bring ‘the Hounds,’ as he always called them, good luck. He often traveled with the team, too — thus the general manager label.
There were also teams Rob was not a fan of — because of the people connected with them. If you crossed Rob — or, worse, one of his friends — he was done with you. Rob could hold a grudge with the best of them.
On Sunday, Kornheiser and I were among the friends who went to see him at his Watergate apartment. Weak as he was, Rob insisted on getting out of bed. He couldn’t really talk, but he understood everything we were saying. At one point, Tony brought up the name of someone none of the three of us liked.
“I still hate him,” Tony said.
“Me too,” I said.
Rob’s eyes sparked for an instant. “Me too!” he said with all the energy he had left.
The cliché holds that a measure of a man’s life is how many people he has touched. When Rob’s funeral is held Sunday, it will be apparent how many lives — and how many different kinds of lives — he touched. Hundreds of police officers will be there. Coaches from all over the country will be there. Media members and lifelong friends will be there, too.
But they won’t just be there because Rob touched their lives. They will be there because, in many cases, he saved their lives. There is nothing better that you can say about someone than that.
For more by John Feinstein, visit washingtonpost.com/feinstein.