CHICAGO - Sharing a vulnerability uncommon among sports radio hosts, WSCR-AM 670's Dan McNeil laid himself bare in a post-midnight Facebook post Friday.
McNeil, 57, apparently was triggered by a text from a listener who informed him he had been selected in the listener's so-called dead pool in which the deaths of those chosen score points weighted toward the decedent's relative youth.
Despite initially seeming to laugh off the note as he might on the air - "Give the dude credit for a sound investment strategy; I'm a good 'value pick' in a pool like that" - McNeil responded with soulful ruminations on living with vices, mental health issues and suicide.
Then he shared the impact he imagined his death would have on his three grown sons.
"I must confess, this guy got to me," McNeil wrote. "I even cried a few times. Daydreaming about my sons' sadness over the void in their lives is an optic I'd just as soon avoid.
"What kind of human has so much contempt for a radio show, he wishes for - at the minimum, bets on - a guy's death? So, hoping that guy is reading this - as I did on the air, hoping he was listening - I want him to quickly meet my sons, now bereaved by the loss of their dad."
McNeil envisioned Van, 28, dumping his ashes up in Eagle Lake, Ont.
"I want him to do it in the water where he releases his next" muskie, he wrote, urging his eldest to "sing a fishing parody we did and laugh. Don't be blue. Be joyous over good times had."
McNeil said he hoped his youngest son, Jack, 24, would steer clear of sadness the first time he plays drums in front of a crowd of 500.
But most affecting were McNeil's reflections on autistic son Patrick, 25.
"His sadness is my biggest fear," McNeil wrote. "Fear isn't strong enough. It ... takes my breath away. He doesn't have typical friends. He's verbal, but not conversational. I am his life soulmate and he is mine.
"Patrick already has expressed being terrified over the eventual passing of loved ones. He's close to very few and my departure would be catastrophic for him. He still asks me to tickle him when he goes to bed. He has the spirit and doting eyes of a 5-year-old looking at daddy."
But McNeil also took unsparing and clear-eyed stock of himself as he edges toward the end of middle-age.
"I still smoke," McNeil wrote. "Still 30 pounds too fat. I love coffee. Exercise is finding the remote when it's lost in the sofa cushions. Publicly, I've been forthright about the toxins I've ingested. For decades.
"Mental illness runs in my family. I've been diagnosed depressive - and some other fancy polysyllabic word better defined by the phrase 'bi-polar lite.' I take a pysch med, Lamotrigine, and do talk therapy. I do my best to have gratitude therapy at least once a day."
McNeil then noted that the children of a parent who commits suicide are more likely to do the same.
"Bet the texter who took me didn't know I even had that on my dead pool candidate resume," McNeil wrote. "Sometimes I get defensive, but I don't think I'm fragile."
McNeil returned to WSCR-AM last year for the third stint there of his 30-year-plus Chicago sports radio career. He co-hosts with Danny Parkins weekday afternoons on The Score from 1 to 6 p.m.