While watching the Bengals – Browns game tonight on CBS/NFL Network I was saddened to hear of the passing of Billy Driber, a film maker and executive at NFL Films.
I had the privilege of getting to know Billy during my tenure at the NFL. He was a great guy with an amazing joie de vivre. He truly enjoyed what he did for a living, spending many many Sunday afternoons on the sidelines filming NFL games. I seriously doubt he ever called it work. He always had a smile on his face. The other lasting memory I have of Billy is how he loved his bright yellow Corvette – a cool car for a cool dude.
I hadn’t stayed in touch with Billy since leaving the NFL, but one of the funny things in the social media age is every once in awhile your memory will get jogged of an old friend/work associate. You’ll get a message on Linked In that someone you hadn’t thought about in awhile had just looked at your profile. Or you’ll look at a Facebook post by a friend and see a comment by someone else from your past.
In a similar vein, I got an email message a couple years ago from Linked In notifying me that “Billy Driber Just Endorsed You for . . .” It made me laugh, because I hadn’t talked to or seen Billy in several years. And I wasn’t even sure that he had any reason to know whether I was competent or not in the skill for which he had endorsed me. I sent him an email through Linked In and said something like “Dude, nice to hear from you! What is with the endorsement?”
His brief response “Eh, thought I’d throw you a bone!” That was Classic Billy – I could picture the broad smile on his face as he typed it.
A couple of additional emails followed back and forth, during which time he told me he’d been diagnosed with an illness (I can’t remember the details, but I knew it wasn’t good – the report I saw today said cancer).
We exchanged a few additional emails after that time, I’d touch base to tell him I was thinking about him and hoped he was doing well and he’d respond that he was giving it a good fight. It’s been awhile since the last of those exchanges. So it was definitely a shock when I saw them put up his picture during the game, saying something like “the whole NFL Family mourns the loss of Billy Driber.”
I’d go one further and say the whole NFL extended family and anyone who had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years is saddened today with the news of his passing.
Here is an article on him from the New York Times about 11 years ago:
Billy Driber was a great human being. He is a person I am blessed to have known. May he Rest in Peace.