Getting Cadled: A tribute by Mike Carlson

Posted Oct 16, 2017

Yesterday Kev was supposed to be in the Talksport studio doing the Jags game with Nat Coombs and me. I got a text from him Sunday morning saying he'd been to the emergency room with a virus, and wasn't feeling up to doing the show, making his unnecessary apologies. This wasn't like Kev, who was generally indefatigable, but I texted him back jokingly, as I was just out of hospital myself. I expected to see him in a few days, when I was going to do his new Sportsheads show with him. When I heard the news of his death, my first thought as the shock wore off was that it was the first time I'd ever heard from or about Kev when the conversation didn't generate a smile.

Kevin was above all fun. It was more than twenty years ago that we met doing End Zone, the World League of American Football magazine show on Sky, and for another decade he and I did WLAF/NFL Europe games together every spring. The thing with Kev as the host was he always kept you on your toes; one of his favourite tricks was to tell you he'd be asking you about the Monarchs' defense when we came out of the break; then he'd ask you about the Amsterdam offense, and chuckle off camera as you tried to adjust. I used to call it 'getting Cadled'.

Most of you know Kev was first off a basketball coach, and for a couple of years in the Nineties, he and I did Euroleague basketball for a satellite channel in the Gulf. We'd each call a weekly game, but during the final four playoffs we worked together, with my doing play by play and Kev the colour. I tried any number of times to Cadle him, but like I said, he was indefatigable, and I never really succeeded: nothing was going to put him off his game.

But my favourite times with Kev were quieter ones, when his positive thinking could lift me up. Especially in those years we both lived in northwest London, and he'd give me a lift home after late finishes at Sky. We'd be able to pick up the banter, and it was always a hoot and a half, in just that sort of way when you and someone you like share some common background, but also enough differences see things from different angles. But it was even better when the talk grew more serious. I see humour in things in a somewhat ironical way, Kev's perspective was always more positive, and no less funny.

He was big man, with a big personality, and he loved to share it. From the first time we went to Scotland to do a Claymores' game, and the legion of fans from his days coaching hoops up there crowded round, I could see there was a special connection there. Kev was successful as a motivational speaker, and it was easy to see why: his message was always upbeat, and he was always on message.

I can't tell you how shocked I am that we've lost him. The last thing I said to Nat Sunday night was about bringing Kev back in this Sunday. I was hoping to finally Cadle him. I won't get that chance. When we finished a Sportsheads taping a couple of weeks ago, we went off together and started talking about how much fun it had been, just like the old days. Those old days are now gone. I will miss him. And so will NFL fans, and sports fans, all round the UK. For anyone in this country who followed American sport, Kev was a star. And to me, I am proud to say, he was a friend.

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