Veteran NFL writer Don Banks died in his sleep on Sunday morning the day after covering the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.
Banks, 56, was in Canton, Ohio, and is survived by his wife, Alissa, and his two sons, Matt and Micah.
Banks was best known for his 17 years with Sports Illustrated and recently joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal to cover the NFL. His first column for the paper — on how appearing on “Hard Knocks” affected the 2018 Cleveland Browns — ran online Saturday and in Sunday’s print edition.
“Words can’t express the depth of sadness the Review-Journal staff feels for Don’s family and friends,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “Beyond a sportswriting institution, Don was a dedicated husband and father and a class act. No NFL journalist commanded more respect. The sport has lost one of its finest storytellers.”
By all reports, Banks was excited about his new job and in good health. Paramedics found Banks unresponsive in his hotel room and pronounced him dead.
Banks spent time covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots along with the league as a whole, and was well-regarded among his colleagues. He also wrote for The Athletic, NFL.com and Minneapolis Star Tribune, among other outlets.
Colleagues and teams reach out in support
After touching the lives of so many fellow reporters and teams, there was an outpouring of emotions and thoughts regarding Banks. Here is a quick snapshot of the stories people shared.
Gutted by this. Just spent two Browns practices with Don and he was so excited for his new gig. An amazing writer and man, and my thoughts are with his family https://t.co/4cKDSAcJhI— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) August 4, 2019
I didn’t know Don Banks especially well. But in the past 6-7 years we always chatted when we were at the same events. And when I was out of work, he reached out to check on me.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) August 4, 2019
Such a nice man and a terrific reporter. I’m just hurt and stunned at his death. Far too young.
Don Banks was the best guy and everything that was right with our profession. This sucks. Rest In Peace and prayers for his family. Will pass along info as it comes re donating.— Greg Bishop (@GregBishopSI) August 4, 2019
Don Banks, longtime NFL reporter, dies at 56 | Las Vegas Review-Journal https://t.co/4sFcssh8sF
When The MMQB began, Don Banks wrote a regular column called “The Conscience.” He was that both in his job and beyond. He was kind, encouraging and wise; one of the very best people you could be honored to know. https://t.co/PntoYUZxMd— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) August 4, 2019
When I got NFL beat for the WSJ, I went to two minicamp practices in Philly and Baltimore--luckily, Don Banks was at both and basically gave me a roadmap on how to operate when I was absolutely clueless. His patience and advice was incredible that week and I think about it a lot.— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) August 4, 2019
We are brokenhearted over the loss of Don. Aside from being a phenomenal writer, he was a kind, caring & loyal friend. He held himself to the highest standards of journalism and earned the utmost respect across the National Football League. We will miss him dearly. https://t.co/KgMNLca0FK— Chiefs Communications (@ChiefsPR) August 4, 2019
I admired @DonBanks so much for the way he handled his exit from Sports Illustrated. He didn't feel sorry for himself -- just busted his ass, continued to write his column with the same expertise and professinoalsim, and finally landed a dream job at the Las Vegas-Review Journal— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 4, 2019
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