KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Terez Paylor, a senior NFL writer for Yahoo Sports and contributor to Chiefs coverage at 41 Action News, has died.
Paylor’s longtime girlfriend, Ebony Reed, confirmed his passing Tuesday in a statement released by Yahoo:
“While we are shocked and saddened by Terez Paylor’s sudden passing, we also celebrate his extraordinary life that touched so many. Terez was an exceptional journalist whose passion for football made him a respected voice. His legacy will leave an enduring impact on sports journalism, the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, and their fans. More important, Terez was a devoted son, grandson, brother, an adoring fiancé, and a wonderful friend to so many. To know him was to love him. He will be dearly missed.”
Paylor, 37, proudly grew up in Detroit before becoming a proud Howard University graduate. He began a 12-year career at The Kansas City Star in 2006, covering high school, the Kansas City Brigade, Sporting Kansas City, the Royals, the University of Missouri and eventually the Chiefs.
It was during his final four years on the Chiefs beat that his passion for football — and knack for connecting with fans through his training camp reports — began to shine bright, eventually leading him to the role with Yahoo, where he also co-hosted the highly successful “Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast” with Charles Robinson.
Paylor was a frequent contributor to "Sunday Soundoff" as well as Chiefs training camp and playoffs specials. He also occasionally appeared on the "4th & 1" podcast with co-hosts Nick Jacobs and Tod Palmer.
41 Action News Sports Producer Nick Jacobs, who became close friends with Paylor during nearly a decade together on the Chiefs beat, was heartbroken to hear of his death:
Terez was one of the best friends a person could ever ask for. He had a heart of gold and he was always there if you needed him. His trademark laugh is what I will miss most about him. It was always a joy to make him laugh. He was there for me during some dark times and helped me get through them with great advice and his presence.
He loved football, it was how he and I became good friends through the Chiefs beat back in 2013. He was so good at what he did. But man was he an even better person. He worked insanely hard at his craft but loved his family/friends even more. He was such an honorable person.
There is a reason he was as beloved as he was in this town and in the football community. He went about things the right way. Terez was a man of his word. He was so genuine and respectful to everyone. The world was a much better place when Terez was in it.
I loved that dude just as much as I love my own family. He will be somebody I will miss every day. And the fact I can’t talk to him again, get his advice on life or see him again is tough to accept. The next time I have good news and I’m getting ready to call him, that’s going to be another brutal reminder of how quickly things can change. What crushes me the most is on a day like today, he is one of the people I would have turned to, to get through it. And I can’t.
But I feel even worse for his family and his loved ones. I just hope they know some day what a phenomenal person they raised and how big of an impact he had on the world and those who crossed his path. If I ever get the fortune of having a child. I hope they grow up to have the qualities that Terez did because he was such a special person. I hope we all can find a way to be a little more like Terez every day.
41 Action News Digital Content Producer Tod Palmer, who worked with Paylor for nine years at The Kansas City Star, said he’ll miss Paylor’s smile, dedication, wit and wisdom:
Terez was the picture of professionalism as we were cutting our teeth on the high school beat, but more than that I never met someone who didn’t like Terez — nor would I have trusted such a fool.
He had a great sense of humor, even if he didn’t always show that side early in his career. Meanwhile, I am a chatterbox and forever making jokes, which irritates a lot of people. But not Terez.
He used to say he was 30% less productive when I was around. To which I would always counter, “Yeah, but you have at least 30% more fun, so it’s worth it.”
He’d reluctantly agree, “Yeah, you’re right. I do have more fun, and I need that sometimes.”
Now, following him on the Mizzou beat wasn’t fun, because nobody can stack up to Terez, certainly not me, though he never ceased to offer encouragement and counsel. We were proud to support and cheer each other, both personally and professionally and through some of life’s toughest times.
My enduring memory is that Terez had a gutteral belly laugh that made every attempt of mine to tickle his funny bone worth it — and I’ll always cherish our time together in morning meetings with the high school staff, covering state wrestling or the KU Relays, in the press boxes at Kauffman and Arrowhead, or sharing a meal.
He was the best of us and I am, and always will be, grateful to call him a friend. Rest in peace, TP1. I simply can’t believe that you’re gone.
The Chiefs released a statement regarding Paylor’s death:
“Hearing the news of Terez’s passing is heart wrenching. He was so young and full of life, he always wanted to do right by people. Many of us over the years in the Chiefs organization had the opportunity to build a friendship with him, including our players, coaches and staff, and he was an incredible person with the right attitude and integrity. He took a lot of pride in his stories, was always deep in the Xs and Os and film study, and we all had a chance to enjoy those conversations with him. Beyond that, he was always quick to ask about your family and took a genuine caring interest in the answer you were giving. He was a true professional and a great man with a bright future ahead of him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and to Terez, you’re a permanent member of our ‘All-Juice’ team.”
Paylor’s affinity for football, including a passion for the college game and NFL Draft. His annual “All-Juice Team” was among the most popular pre-draft features.
Twitter was flooded with tributes to Paylor after the news was announced Thursday afternoon, including a powerful statement from ESPN's Louis Riddick:
Wait a minute...this is just not f’ing right. What’s going on!!! Listen. Terez Paylor was my guy. Respected him to the fullest. 100%. He was real, talented, intelligent, genuine...I loved talking ball with the man. This is just devastating in every way. My condolences. I’m numb. pic.twitter.com/91SisU0NuF— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) February 9, 2021