Neil W. Blackmon and the Yanks Are Coming Writers
A couple of weeks ago, I received a series of phone calls from Dan Seco, one of the mainstays of this website and for a long while, its Editor-In-Chief. My wife and I were out of town for the weekend with our 11 month old daughter, and I honestly thought Dan was just calling for a chat, as friends still do from time-to-time in the age of text messages and instant communication, so I let the phone calls slide. When I received a text indicating I should “call him as quickly as I can”, I thought it odd, but went about my business assuming I’d be able to call him the next day, which was a Monday. That Monday, I received another call from Dan, and finally realizing the oddity of receiving that many calls from him, I answered, still quite sure it was simply urgent business about the website– maybe an advertiser who wanted to pull something off the site or something of that nature. I couldn’t have more wrong. And I couldn’t more happy that I finally answered.
Dan told me that he had been in the hospital for several days after battling back pain and a persistent illness on and off through January and much of February. He thought, as New Yorkers often do, that the commute to Long Island was what was hurting his back. He thought, as northerners often do, that the illness was leftover flu or a bad cold. Eventually, he told me, the pain became so debilitating that it was difficult for him to walk, and he went back to the doctor. Several blood tests, MRI’s and CAT Scans later, the doctors had found a diagnosis. Dan had cancer, in his spine and lymph nodes under the arm.
Needless to say, the news was shocking. You hear and hear of kids and 20-somethings afflicted by this bastard of a disease but cancer affecting a person as young and vibrant as Dan isn’t real until, well, it affects someone you personally know, like Dan. Dan has since been released from the hospital, is at home and is doing quite well, surrounded by loved ones, friends and family. He has started an aggressive set of radiation treatments and will begin chemotherapy in the weeks that follow. His doctors have a plan. His personal outlook is vintage Dan: sunny, postive, forward-looking and unselfish. I don’t think if I were diagnosed with cancer, I would ask multiple times in a phone conversation how the person I was doing was feeling and handling it. Dan did.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to briefly write about what Dan means to this website. In 2008, when the US was eliminated from the Olympic tournament after Michael Orozco’s bad five minutes against Nigeria– Jon Levy and I decided we wanted to have a soccer website. We were both writers by degree, and of course we were entrenched, opinionated soccer fans. We thought highly of our opinions and our talents and thought we’d share them with other people. So we did. Of course, it was the “other people” part that took more time than we anticipated.
We met Dan a year or so later, when he came to the University of Florida to earn his masters degree in journalism. Dan need a masters thesis, and Jon and I had great content but needed a bright marketing and journalistic mind to rebuild the site, concentrate the content, and promote it to a wider audience. We turned the reins over to Dan, and under his leadership, off we went. When Dan took over, we were just another “blogspot” web address fighting for access. Within one year of him taking the reins, we were media-credentialed, reasonably well-read, linked up to various socia media outlets, and growing. Today, we’re still growing, are focused, content-driven and have most the media access we want. Our writers have done great things, but by and large, Dan deserves a lion’s share of this credit.
On a personal note, Dan has been a tremendous friend, and has managed to stay my friend while being my editor (not the easiest task). We’ve seen US games together as friends, as fans and as media members, and he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s nixed stories when he had to and encouraged others when he didn’t have to. When I wanted to write stories about English division football on a USMNT-focused website, Dan published them when they were half-good. When I wanted to write a story about the undocumented son of an illegal immigrant father who was a star soccer player in Atlanta, Dan encouraged it and helped put it together. Those are only a pair of concrete examples. The bottom line is Dan has always put his best foot forward for this website and for his friends. Of late, he had been busy with other ventures, writing about the NBA and MLB, but still handling a large portion of our Yanks Are Coming twitter account and our social media. Dan is talented, introspective and humble, and he’s been a great friend to me, to The Yanks Are Coming staff, and to US Soccer.
With that in mind, we are asking that y’all give back. Dan has consistently stood by us, and we’re going to stand by him while he kicks cancer straight in the ass. If the most important folks to Dan and to our site, our readers, would send along some well wishes to Dan in the comments section, and perhaps, if they can, Tweet support out to Dan at @DanielJSeco – with the Hashtag #YanksWithSeco – we’re quite sure Dan would greatly appreciate it. Dan has a great fight ahead of him, but he’s going to have friends, family, and the US Soccer community at his back.
We love you Dan. Get well soon.
— The Yanks Are Coming.