Renowned New Orleans Sports Writer Peter Finney Dead At 88, Mayor Landrieu Issues Statement
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Peter Finney, a sports writer whose award-winning career in New Orleans spanned nearly 70 years, died Saturday at the age of 88.
His death was confirmed by the Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, which is handling funeral arrangements. His longtime former employer, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, reported that he died at his New Orleans home.
Finney began his career with the New Orleans States-Item in 1945 and joined the Times-Picayune through a newspaper merger in 1980. He was the Times-Picayune's lead columnist for decades until his retirement in 2013.
He covered the first game the New Orleans Saints ever played, in 1967, and their only Super Bowl, in 2010. His career encompassed all of LSU's national football titles, which occurred in 1958, 2003 and 2007.
Finney wrote about 15,000 articles. A selection was republished in a book this year. It included his coverage of LSU Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon's touchdown return against Mississippi on Halloween 1959 and Saints kicker Tom Dempsey's game-winning, NFL-record 63-yard field goal in 1970.
He profiled some of the most famous athletes of the past century, including boxer Muhammad Ali; golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods; basketball stars Pete Maravich and Shaquille O'Neal; football stars Joe Namath, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Archie Manning, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning; Olympic track champion Jesse Owens and more.
And while New Orleans has never been home to Major League Baseball, Finney profiled many of the sport's biggest stars, including Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
Finney attended more than three dozen Super Bowls. Having covered a Saints franchise that didn't have a winning season in its first two decades, and didn't win a playoff game until its 34th season, he summed up New Orleans' first trip to the Super Bowl this way: "Finally, all the comedy, all the catcalls, all the misery during the reign of the bag heads, have given way to Kismet."
Finney also published books about the first 100 years of LSU football and a book about Maravich's extraordinary college basketball career at LSU.
The Louisiana Sports Writers Association's columnist-of-the-year award was recently renamed for Finney, who also was honored with lifetime achievement awards from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame.
Finney was born in New Orleans, where he attended Jesuit High School and Loyola University. He began his career by covering American Legion baseball shortly after high school.
One of Finney's six children, son Peter Finney Jr., became a journalist whose career included a stint as a sports writer for the New York Post before he returned to New Orleans to work for the Clarion Herald, where he is executive editor. Another son, Dr. Tim Finney, is an orthopedic surgeon and a former team physician for the New Orleans Saints.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
On Saturday, August 13, Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued the following statement about the passing of longtime Times-Picayune sportswriter Pete Finney:
“Pete was a true New Orleans legend.
“For decades, fans of our beloved New Orleans Saints, LSU Tigers and Tulane Green Wave looked to Pete to sum up the emotions after both exhilarating wins and tough losses. He provided the people of this city and state with a front row seat to the biggest sports moments of the last century.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family, as well as with his extended family at the Times-Picayune.”