Closing time

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Friday is it for the Washington Times as a newspaper who services the sports fan.

Incredible, isn’t it?

An area the size of D.C./Maryland/Virginia will have only one newspaper traveling to San Diego this weekend for the Redskins finale, snapping my personal streak of 98 consecutive games and Times’ streak of more than a quarter-century.

Amazing, isn’t it?

A staff the quality of the Times, from designers and copy editors to columnists and beat writers to feature writers and management and whose alumni includes a current NFL general manager (Carolina’s Marty Hurney) and magazine’s current best golf writer (John Hawkins), has been kicked to the curb.

Unfathomable, isn’t it?

In early December, we disposable parts read between the lines when a 40-percent staff reduction was announced. Wednesday’s confirmation that sports was eliminated along with myriad other departments was just the final nail. We’ve all long since prepared resumes to pursue future employment.

As for myself …

Best-case scenario: I’ll have a new opportunity in the area sooner rather than later.

Realistic-case scenario: Showing a complete willingness to move anywhere, I’ll leave Washington to pursue a new job. As shown by my background (North Dakota to Kansas to New York to Virginia to D.C.), I’ll go where the work is.

This is what the Times allowed me to cover since I came aboard in August 2005: Every Redskins playoff/regular season game since 2005, four Super Bowls (including Patriots-Giants and Cardinals-Steelers thrillers), Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer (OT loss to Giants), two Capitals playoff runs (19 games, including three Game 7s), a Maryland women’s basketball championship (beating Duke in Boston), George Mason-Connecticut in the Elite Eight, Boston University’s overtime win over Miami in the Frozen Four, three Kentucky Derbys, one Daytona 500, one NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, one NFL player funeral (Sean Taylor), 29 states visited on the company dime and the crème le crème – 24 days in August 2008 covering the Beijing Olympics.

On to the acknowledgements (get ready for a ton of names) …

*The inner circle: From the Times, Mark Zuckerman (confidant extraordinaire, along with better half Rachel), Dan Daly (more on him later) and John Taylor (deputy sports editor, constant communicator when it came to Redskins coverage and a sounding board), and John Keim (Washington Examiner, always good for a ‘Seinfeld’ reference and willing accomplice when making fun of his middle son, Chris), Lindsay Czarniak (NBC 4, always there with advice and He Said/She Said blog partner) and Lauren Houlon (ESPN 980, who always answers her cell phone regardless of the hour).

*The fellow beat writer. Always ready with a fact of Redskins history, an agent’s phone number or a player’s salary cap figure was Dave Elfin, who I hope can continue in his role as Pro Football Hall of Fame voting member (without Dave, Art Monk wouldn’t be in Canton according to voters who witnessed Dave’s impressive presentation of Art two years ago in Phoenix).

*The boss: Mark Hartsell gave his beat writers latitude in every way imaginable, let people he trusted write things like Redskins Insider and embraced versatility.

*The co-workers: Bob Cohn, Mike Jones, Thom Loverro, Corey Masisak, Tom Knott, Ben Goessling, Patrick Stevens, Barker Davis and Dick Heller and a tip of the cap to our copy desk (headed by Scott Silverstein), design shop (headed by Harrison Goodman) and photo department (Peter Lockley and Michael Connor).

*The print colleagues: Jim Ducibella, Paul Woody, Howard Fendrich, Joe White, Ed Lee, Rich Campbell, Jason LaCanfora, Howard Bryant, Jason Reid, Barry Svrluga, Rick Maese, Mike Wise, Dan Steinberg, Tarik El-Bashir, Rick Snider and countless others.

*The TV colleagues: Kelli Johnson, Gary Carter, Dan Hellie, Sara Walsh and Dave Feldman.

*The radio colleagues: The ESPN 980 group – Andy Pollin, Steve Czaban, Steve Solomon, Marc Sterne, Kevin Sheehan, Doc Walker, John Thompson, Chuck Sapienza, Scott Linn and Frank Hanrahan; The 106.7 The Fan group — Chad Dukes, Matt Cahill, Oscar Santana, LaVar Arrington, Chris Kinard and Chris Russell. The Baltimore group – Jerry Coleman and Pat O’Neill.

*The PR guys: Zack Bolno, Mike Pehanich and Matt Taylor from the Redskins and Nate Ewell and Paul Rovnak from the Capitals.

*Finally two sentences about Dan Daly, who has become a trusted mentor and fountain of information about all things journalism: The best sports columnist in Washington. Period.

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— Ryan O’Halloran

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Ryan O'Halloran

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