Wow…we lost Jerry McKinnis. Very tough. Wish I knew he was hurting, would have loved to have visited him. Maybe that’s a selfish thought, I don’t know….
Anyhow, no way this space can do any kind of justice to his bassin’ life, so just gonna tell you a few Jerry stories — just my own experiences and opinions:
1. Jerry was a gentleman.
He and I disagreed, usually passionately, over some things. But he was always respectful and I hope I was too because he deserved it. I really appreciated the fact that our disagreements never went to another level. We could argue one day, then the next day he’d invite me to the first Elite event or whatever.
Similar: When I was at BassFan, he recommended me for the old ESPN BassCenter and Loudmouth Bass shows even though I know he felt I/BassFan was a thorn in his side right then. That takes character, vision, some level of humility and seeing the big picture.
We didn’t disagree all the time, it’s just the only time he’d call is when he had an issue — lol but true! ‘Bout the only thing we agreed on was that Steve Bowman could be a pain in the rear…. Okay we never talked about it but I know we both felt the same way. Bowman! Love and hugs brother.
2. He kept the long game in mind.
He was never afraid to speak his mind, but one time I saw him bite his tongue big-time with some ESPN yahoos, back when ESPN owned B.A.S.S. Because I was younger and more fiery then (and didn’t know the Lord), I thought he was being weak. But I realized a long while later that he was playing the game the way he had to play it right then, and it was a longer-term game than ESPN was playing. Very wise.
You can see how many lessons I was learning from Jerry…and Bowman was another lesson: Jerry wasn’t afraid to hire folks with strong points of view that might not agree with his own. (Either that or Bowman lied that he graduated from Harvard? HAHAHA Bowman!)
3. He helped folks…
…and had an eye for talent. Gave my bud from MI, a guy named Mark, a chance at co-hosting the Bassmasters TV show with living legend Tommy “el Toro” Sanders. Believe he gave that Canadian fishing TV host — Dave something — a chance too with that whole MC gig. So far they’ve worked out pretty dang well.
[Here’s Jerry being serious while that MI dude ain’t…maybe can’t!]
Jerry found a lot more folks too, whose names you don’t know: I’ve always felt that the JM folks are the best at what they do in this biz.
About TV: You can’t name someone who did more — or even as much — for outdoor TV or bass fishing TV than Jerry. No way, no how. He did WAY more than we know.
4. He encouraged little ol’ me.
Back when I had the idea to cover bass fishing in a new way on this new-ish Internet deal — called it BassFan.com — I thought I needed a partner in the deal — because I was broke! So I went to Little Rock to meet with Jerry and Bowman.
They both 100% understood that BassFan was a good idea, but after thinking hard about it — like for a week — Jerry realized he couldn’t do it and also do either FLW or B.A.S.S. TV, a decision he was wrestling with at the time. So he passed on it. I was bummed but encouraged: I had basically nothing but an idea, and Jerry McKinnis actually dug it!
Btw, at our meeting Jerry yelled at his wiener dog so dang loud it scared the tar outta me (and the dog). Bowman didn’t even flinch, which I now think was from too much duck hunting….
5. He helped build FLW and save B.A.S.S.
Jerry (and his folks) was THE key in helping Irwin Jacobs launch the FLW Tour with the wrapped boats and in-the-boat TV, and much more. Fast forward a decade or 2 and Jerry saved — or at least helped save — B.A.S.S. Yep saved: It was the Recession, ESPN had beaten the old gal up pretty bad, someone had to step up in pretty bad biz conditions to save the whole deal.
His former co-owners ponied up $$$, but they were pretty much just money guys (my 2c). Jerry was the only one who knew the fishing biz, bass fishing and some of the players, and brought his whole TV/tourney/digital operation (JM Associates) along for the ride…which is a story in itself.
He also brought JM’s entrepreneurial spirit to the post-ESPN B.A.S.S., which in my opinion was a big benefit.
Hole up — pause it there. Just that #5 alone is huge.
Lot more I could say, but will finish with these thoughts:
> Jerry couldn’t have done everything “right” in everyone’s opinion. No one can and none of us have (especially me). Speaking for myself, I only have great gratitude and love for Jerry.
> Everyone in bass fishing — you, me, everyone — influences bass fishing. For real. That said, Jerry influenced it way more than most of us ever will. What an opportunity he was given, and I believe he made the most of it — or real close.
> I love the fact that probly no one person can list all he’s done for fishing, and I bet he couldn’t either…and wouldn’t care to.
> I gave Jerry a hug at every Classic. Not because he wanted one, but because he deserved it. (Shoot I just got choked up.)
If some more stories jump out at me, I’ll share ’em. Btw should mention: The Fishin’ Hole ran from 1980 til 2007. Amazing. And I believe Jerry actually pitched the show to this new cable channel he thought had a lot of potential: ESPN.
Thank you Jerry. Lord, please bless the McKinnises and the other folks really missing Jerry right now.