Tim Davey, a former Calhoun High School wrestler who rose from Jets ballboy to team trainer and eventually National Football League operations chief, died Thursday. He was 58 and lived in East Meadow.
His wide-ranging responsibilities included playing-field surfaces and communications systems throughout the league, and the current playoff season was an especially busy time for him. Along with "a lot of tears around the office [Friday]," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "our other football operations people were really scrambling" to fill Davey's role.
Davey's brother, Mike, said no specific cause of death was cited, but Tim Davey had had a kidney transplant more than a decade ago and also had a heart condition.
"He was in pretty bad shape the last couple of years," Mike Davey said, though he continued a vigorous schedule working on stadium and field logistics for the NFL.
Dean DeMott, son of Davey's high school coach and formerly Davey's assistant at the NFL, called Davey "the go-to guy for game operations. Stadiums, services, all that stuff. The NFL will be at a big-time loss with him not around."
A longtime Nassau high school wrestling official, Davey also was widely known for providing NFL players and NFL paraphernalia at auctions and charities on the Island, and for mentoring youngsters.
"He always managed everything," Davey's brother said. "He managed the football team [in high school]. The helmets and the shoes were all perfect. He managed the school. That was his deal. When he took over something, that's the way it went."
Tim Davey was born July 18, 1951, in Rockville Centre, the third of six children. His proficiency as manager of his various high school teams prompted his coach to solicit a ballboy job for him with the Jets, who trained at Hofstra University then.
By the time he graduated from Lock Haven University in central Pennsylvania, Davey had taken courses in athletic training by mail and was promoted to trainer by the Jets. "He used to tape up Joe Willie [Namath]," Mike Davey said. "In fact, he had Namath to the house a couple of times."
When Joe Walton was hired as the Jets' head coach in 1983, Davey was let go by the team and worked briefly in the cleaning business. But he had befriended current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was a public relations intern for the Jets at the time, and both soon were working in the league office.
One of Davey's early assignments with the NFL was handling logistics for its springtime World League, based in Europe, and from there he was given a similar job with the parent organization.
"He was a mentor to me and to a lot of young guys," DeMott said. "What I would say about Timmy was that he was a fine example of what a person should be."
Never married, Davey is survived by his siblings Ed, Mike, Liz Burley, Mary Esposito and Margaret Leimbach. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Cure of Ars Roman Catholic Church in Merrick.