Boomer Esiason on HBO Real Sports Tonight

Ask me who the hardest-working man in sports is and I have a candidate: Boomer Esiason.

I've known Boomer since he came to the Jets, the team he rooted for as a kid growing up on Long Island. He arrived the year before I became a Jets beatwriter in 1994, and while his Green & White tenure didn't unfold the way he would've wanted, he was always hard-working, all-business, optimistic, forward-looking.

Every time I run into him on the NFL's highways and byways, it seems he's added another line to his bulging résumé — his daily radio show on WFAN, his appearances during the season on NFL Today on CBS and on the Westwood One game broadcasts.

And then there's all the work he does that many fans are aware of in the quest to fund research for a cure to cystic fibrosis. His son, Gunnar, of course, has CF. He recalled in a segment on HBO's Real Sports that airs for the first time tonight about how he considered retiring to spend more time with Gunnar and the rest of his family.

That sounds to me like something Esiason considered for about a second and then rejected as he took on the disease, and he wasn't sliding feet first. He brought to life the Boomer Esiason Foundation to fund research to find a cure for the disease. And Eric Allen, my partner here at, and I have covered the Empire Challenge that Esiason created in '96 to combat CF and support youth football in the New York metro area.

Gunnar, a 2013 graduate of Boston College, has become a great spokesman for the cause as well. As he says on the Website, "Because of BEF, I have been able to reach out to the CF community and try to reassure everyone who has been affected by this disease that CF isn't the end of the world if they don't want it to be. That has been my main goal."

You can meet Boomer, Gunnar and broadcaster Frank DeFord, who lost his daughter to the disease, in that inspirational HBO Real Sports show that debuts at 10 p.m. ET.

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