Jeff Dickerson, who covered the Chicago Bears for ESPN, died on Tuesday from complications of colon cancer at the age of 44.
Dickerson’s wife, Caitlin, died two years ago from melanoma, and the couple is survived by their 11-year-old son, Parker.
“JD was one of the most positive people you will ever meet,” ESPN deputy NFL editor Heather Burns said in a statement. “We all got together in October for an event, and there he was lifting our spirits and assuring us he was going to beat cancer. That’s just who he was. We are holding Jeff’s family, and especially his son, Parker, in our prayers.”
Dickerson’s friends and colleagues are remembering him as vibrant and helpful, in a competitive profession where that is not always the case.
“Everyone who knew Jeff Dickerson was better off for it,” tweeted Jon Greenberg of The Athletic. “I just can’t believe this is real.”
“So sad about @DickersonESPN, universally respected, admired and liked,” said Dan Pompei, also of The Athletic. “He leaves us all better for having known him. May the road rise up to meet you, my friend.”
“When I would be sent to grab Bears sound at Halas @DickersonESPN was always the most helpful, cheery, positive, make you feel comfortable, pleasant, happy to see you dude going,” tweeted Mark Carman, a video host for FanSided and host of the Bears postgame show on WGN. “Us media folks are rarely like that. JD was the man. Hard worker, strong character. Just brutal. #RIP.”
Dickerson had been a fixture at ESPN for 20 years, and in recent years was co-host of the “Dickerson and Hood” weekend show on ESPN Radio.
ESPN 1000 host Tom Waddle remembered Dickerson as selfless, and someone who showed grace amid his immense personal struggles.
“JD always wants to know how you’re doing,” Waddle said in ESPN’s obituary for Dickerson. “I’d ask him how he’s doing and his first response is, ‘How are you doing? How are [my daughters]?’ The dignity with which he has carried himself through some of the most difficult times any human being would be asked to go through, what his wife went through and the dignity and strength and grace that he showed at her side throughout all of this … I don’t know anybody I’ve met in my 54 years in life who has handled adversity over the last decade with more grace and strength and dignity than Jeff Dickerson. I know a lot of people go through [stuff]. I do. I’m sympathetic to all of it. But what Jeff Dickerson has had to go through the last decade is cruel.
“I never heard him once, whether it was what Caitlin was going through, with what he has had to go through, I never once heard him pity himself. Ever. Not once have I ever heard him say that this has gotten the best of me, that I didn’t deserve this. It’s amazing when faced with stuff like this, what strength some individuals have. I never heard a cross word, and it never felt like he thought he has been cheated out of anything.”