It’s been 3 years since we lost ‘Ma Man’ Kevin Cadle, and the UK sports broadcasting scene still has a gaping hole in talent from his passing. We really miss you dude.
I first saw Kev hosting sports on Sky, and I thought ‘wow, this guy is actually really good.’
Having moved to London from North America, I was struck at generally how bereft the UK scene was for quality sportscasters. Flipping through Channel 5, BBC and Sky Sports the presenters not only seemed like that they had no experience or personality or presence, but they also seemed to be responsible for their own wardrobe.
One pundit on C5 was so bad, my friends and I would tune in just to watch the train wreck unfold. He was a pretty obese guy with a penchant for wearing tight purple sweaters, we nicknamed ‘Grimace’.
Kevin Cadle stood head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. Literally.
Kevin was always well dressed, dapper, and could helm a show as a proper presenter.
The more I got to know Kev, the more I was drawn into his aura. He epitomised cool, and his relaxed demeanour on screen was just as chill when you were having a drink with him.
This made him a ‘star’ in the UK, as fans genuinely gravitated towards him, because he was the man who helped them not only learn about North American sports, but love them.
One would think that this ‘fame’ would feed his ego as it did to several Sky Sports presenters, but it did quite the opposite. It made him appreciate the love from the UK, and he would spend hours talking to everyone who approached them, giving them his full attention and flashing that wonderful smile that charmed us all.
His laugh was something that could rip across a room, and as a comedian it gave me great pleasure in unleashing it in public. When he laughed, people looked (and usually laughed as well).
Few Sky Sports viewers knew just how famous Kevin Cadle was. Not only was he the most successful UK basketball coach in the history of the sport here, he is also recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records for his time coaching the Kingston Kings in the late 80s, early 90s.
Basketball might have been his jam, but he certainly knew how to butter up every other sport with a thoughtful and balanced voice of a true journalist.
Like many UK sports fans I was shocked when his role on Sky Sports was continually relegated. From watching him as the main host to being shuttered to the sidelines, or even worse reporting from empty bars under the auspices that he was the man on the street.
Several times Kevin would text me asking if I could send some fans down to the bar in focus that week as it was ‘dead-ass’. Of course I did, as I couldn’t stand the thought of such a respectable man being disrespected.
I wasn’t alone in this feeling, as all you had to do was pop onto social media to see a flurry of hashtags wondering where Kevin was.
When Kev was eventually replaced by different flavours willing to trek out to Osterley, fans across the UK felt like a family member was missing from the dinner table.
I pushed the Hippodrome to bring him down for appearances during Sunday nights, convincing them that his presence would spur on the fans that came down to watch the games.
Boy was I right!
Upon entering the theatre in the casino, all eyes turned to the big man, as did the whispers. Then the chants came ‘Kev! Kev! Kev’, he waved to the fans and happily acknowledged the genuine love in the room.
Not only that Kevin took a picture with everyone who asked. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
He would sit and talk with fans for hours about everything and anything.
Occasionally he would look up to the scores, but never took his focus off the most important person in the room, the person talking with him.
Once Kevin was eventually led out to pasture by Sky, I made it my mission to get him back on the telly.
Not only was Kev a British sporting icon, but sports fans really missed him on their screens.
UK television commissioners were less enthused however, citing a lack of ‘passion for American sports’ Kevin’s age, and alternatively suggesting younger, female presenters whose only media experience came from reality TV.
Undeterred, I continued pitching the show until we got some solid interest to develop a program in September 2017.
Sadly Kevin Cadle passed on October 16, 2017.
In November 2017 we hosted ‘Kev-Giving’ at the casino, honouring Kevin and giving thanks to him for all that he gave to us as British sports fans.
His family said a few words, some fans shed tears, and the casino raised money for his family in this time of need.
It’s been three years since his passing, and every year as the NFL season starts I think about him and what life would like here if we still had him in our lives.
He brought smiles to all UK sports fans, and enriched our viewing experiences with class, dignity and a huge beaming smile.
I miss my friend, and I’m angry with the way he was treated by the British entertainment industry.
But I also know that Kevin wouldn’t want me to be angry, he would want us all to remember the joy he brought us every time the camera light flicked on.
He will always be ‘Ma Man’, and we will always be his.
‘Never accept good over best’-Kevin Michael Cadle
-Wade McElwain is a comedian, TV producer and host of NFL in London live.