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The road warrior

Novak Djokovic, seen here at the 2013 French Open, was the subject of one of the late Bob Simon’s most charming “60 Minutes” reports. Photograph by Yann Caradec   .

Novak Djokovic, seen here at the 2013 French Open, was the subject of one of the late Bob Simon’s most charming “60 Minutes” reports. Photograph by Yann Caradec.

What a terrible week for journalists. The Brian Williams debacle. Jon Stewart’s departure from “The Daily Show. “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon’s death in a car crash. Media columnist David Carr’s fatal collapse in The New York Times newsroom.  

What I want to touch on here is Simon’s death, for at a moment when Williams is being castigated for exaggerating his war correspondent cred, Simon was the real deal. Vietnam. The Yom Kippur War. Tiananmen Square. The Persian Gulf War, in which he and four members of his TV crew were held in Iraq, an experience Simon wrote about in his book “Forty Days.” How ironic that a man who survived a dangerous professional life abroad should die on the streets of New York, the city in which he was born and raised, although maybe it’s not so ironic when you consider the livery driver’s rap sheet.

But this is a sports/culture blog, and so what I’d like to leave you with is another side of Simon, who profiled Novak Djokovic for “60 Minutes” on March 27, 2012.

Maybe it’s not another side of Simon. Maybe it’s all of a piece. Simon was primarily a war correspondent, and Nole was a product of the Balkan War. Watch the interview and you’ll see Simon’s amused indulgence of someone who’s full of life. Watch the outtakes, in which Simon and Nole duel on an indoor clay court, and you’ll see the lighter side of two men who have known much darkness.

Simon’s final “60 Minutes” report airs this Sunday. Meanwhile, Nole, on vacation, recently tweeted a picture of himself in the snow with his two Miniature Toy Poodles, Pierre and Tesla. The hashtag he used was “happy.”