On the nerves and excitement of covering his first-ever Major League Baseball game; on deciding how to approach Joe Maddon; on laughing at the jokes of nearby writers; on failing to eat before languishing inside the Angels press box; on tie or no tie.
On overhearing Barry Bonds' grand jury testimony—and debating whether he could report on it; on the wonderland of Bobby Valentine and the early-2000s New York Mets; on calling it quits at 10 pm because (yawn) we're old.
On writing and reporting the saga of Drew Robinson, the Giants outfielder who attempted suicide—and lived; on knowing when to include details and when to leave details out; on having the world's sweetest first name.
On spending days and days in Schenectady, N.Y. to follow around a frustrated landlord and a frustrated tenant; on the keys to embedding and observing; on having reluctant subjects open up; on the trials of writing a screenplay based upon an article.
On why tacos with an Astros catcher didn't sell him on a career covering sports; on the complexities and nuances of free speech; on having Talib Kweli as a sibling; on the fairness of new restrictive voting laws.
On delving into his family's past and not fearing what he might find; on writing an open letter to the University of Miami and urging the school to give up football; on why Milt Wagner should have been the next Dr. J; on the sad decline of magazines.
To celebrate the 200th episode, I go back in time 26 years and reflect upon a weird, funky, amazing, cool, stressful run inside the Sports Illustrated Bullpen–where rivalries were fierce, opportunities were golden and journalism careers could be made (or broken).
On how we, as an industry, are covering LGBTQ-related issues; on earning the trust of two teen athletes; on describing a scene without having witnessed the scene; on the importance of Sue Bird coming out.
On transitioning from a mainstream publication to starting his own shop; on why the modern athlete is willing to talk to reporters from nontraditional outlets; on his moment in the spotlight with Aaron Rodgers.
On walking the line between ownership, players and the press; on how to handle conflict with reporters; on the high of the 1986 World Series and the low of a player's death; on finding stories when a team stinks.
On being inside the U.S. Capitol as the building was under attack; on what it is to be dubbed "the enemy of the people"—then have a mob of angry #MAGA loons come looking for you; on how one can simultaneously be terrified and report.
On giving up a sought-after journalism job at age 28; on working for the ruinous evil empire that is Gannett; on what it is to be a modern newspaper scribe in a crumbling newspaper world; on Derrick Henry and Mike Vrabel and life inside the NFL bubble.
On covering the 2020 presidential election; on the highs and lows of being a reporter when politicians go out of their way to make your life miserable; on writing the most important story of your life on deadline from home during a pandemic.
On covering politics during the craziest of years; on his new book, "Donald Trump V. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President"; on sharing a name with the greatest third baseman in baseball history.
On making the jump from The New York Times to NFL.com; on whether we are kinder to friendlier sources; on Herm Edwards and Wayne Chrebet and covering the old New York Jets; on the awfulness of the locker room.
On the story of a midwestern kid whose love of football ruined his life; on how to interview subjects suffering from the loss of a loved one; on the power of empathy and the sorta-joy of a book launch.
On how the writing of Shel Silverstein influenced a lifelong love of words; on using the COVID pandemic to be productive without being productive; on the magic behind the song "Amazing" and teaching lessons via verses.
On whether team chemistry is a legitimate thing—or just a phantom idea; on how Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent co-existed and how Aubrey Huff is a thing; on helping the young ballplayer understand the media.
On stepping up and speaking out when the head of Black Sports Online made unwanted sexual advances; one how women in media should respond in such moments; on the fear of placing a career on the line to do what's right.
On traveling 102 years back in time to construct a remarkable piece of sports journalism; on entering a clubhouse and seeking out the best sources; on covering Don Shula and the early-1980s Miami Dolphins; on sitting alongside a drunk Billy Martin and a potted plant.
On the 800 layers of rejection that he fought through to land a book deal; on traveling America to track down a random fleet of faded Major Leaguers; on living the dream of collaborating with the Iron Sheik—and uncovering a nightmare.
On the uphill battle that was challenging Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination; on how he turned from praising the 45th president to loathing him; on putting that anger into words; on why Bernie Sanders can win.
On her 1977 lawsuit that resulted in women reporters being allowed to enter Major League clubhouses; on why male media members were so reluctant to change; on an openminded Billy Martin and a resistant Bowie Kuhn.
On his editorial, "Trump Should Be Removed From Office," that sparked both outrage and praise; on the aftermath of death threats; on why so many evangelicals are willing to overlook a sinful president; on being on the other end of a Trump Tweet.
On calling for Pat Summitt to step aside during her struggles with Alzheimer's Disease; on covering the 1996 Olympic bombing from feet away; on his time as a young white kid in the South handed the Tennessee State football beat; on a newspaper's decline.
On his riveting piece about a high school baseball coach sued by a player he told to slide; on tracking down the long-ago youth umpire he flipped off as a boy; on the not-so-riveting world of Eli Manning; on being confronted by an angry hockey player nicknamed "The Grim Reaper."
On writing a book when all of the characters are long dead; on growing up with a legendary journalist for a father; on wild nights and crazy days with Quinton McCracken, Bubba Trammell and the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
On whether readers care more about the games—or talking about the games; on a memorable eight-year experience covering a legendary Bronco; on young days watching Tim Tebow and why it's OK to spend Sundays at home.
On his closeness with Brett Favre and riding across America with John Madden; on no longer being treated quite as uniquely—but loving the need to dig and hustle; on why he saw SI's struggles approaching and whether he's mad at Jalen Ramsey.
On the blissfully gritty days of the Big Apple sports columnist; on highs and lows with Mike Lupica; on writing "Namath" sans Joe Namath and on insulting Billy Crystal and feeling guilty about it in hindsight.
On what it is to write episodes of shows like "2 Broke Girls" and "The King of Queens"; on the highs and lows of the writers' room; on taking a break from TV to write her first book, "Don't Wait Up: Confessions of a Stay At Work Mom"; on calling out relatives in print and hoping they're not overly upset.
On the end of her time at the legendary magazine; on the future of SI and the future of magazines as a whole; on what one does after her dream job is taken away; on the decision to skip business writing for a career in sports chronicling.
On looking at yourself in the mirror and realizing, "I don't like the writer I've become." On the nonsense of "hot takes." On why readers ultimately prefer love and kindness to anger; on finding happiness in a mid-western city.
On finding something interesting in limited time with Baker Mayfield; on morphing from writer to all-around media professional; on whether it's OK to cheer for a sport; on perceptions of women in sports journalism; on the complexities of profiling Tyreek Hill.
On how a soon-to-be 80-year-old scribe transitions from typewriter to computer; on seeing the real Roger Clemens; on having the subject of your profile call your wife to say you're cheating on her; on a bond with Tom Seaver; on flip phone life.
On covering high schools while simultaneously taking photographs while simultaneously keeping stats while simultaneously putting a section together; on existence at his 8,000-circulation daily newspaper; on how to treat young athletes.
On jumping onto a huge beat at a huge newspaper at a young age; on the awkwardness of the clubhouse approach; on life without Bryce Harper and life with Juan Soto; on surviving an eternal season of Major League Baseball.
On her past life as a heroine addict and dealer who spent two years in prison; on witnessing executions; on seeking to improve life for people behind bars—and having the empathy and experience to do so.
On proposing, then writing a political book in a year of 800 other political books; on arranging an interview with the president of the United States, then sitting across from him for 40 minutes; on catching political figures off guard and having them open up; on the never-to-be Super Bowl champion Detroit Lions.
On the details and complexities behind his marvelous Boston Globe Magazine profile of Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley; on trying to convince a subject to allow you to drive along for a ride; on his time as a 24-year-old editor.
On how one turns his words into hip-hop; on mixing and matching sounds; on what it is to stroll a Kentucky stage naked while holding a stuffed penis; on whether it's OK to rap about shooting the president; on finding meaning in music and the overrated non-joy of appearing on MTV.
On leaving the magazine after 25 years; on interviewing people as they face death; on the gun store hostilities of a late Yankee relief pitcher; on the legacy of SI and learning how to write while working for America's best sports magazine.
On his past career as a singer/songwriter, and the parallels between two genres; on the Texas Rangers' pitcher whose story needed to be told—via notebook paper; on looking for small, overlooked stories and making them great.
On covering Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential run; on writing an amazing profile on the woman who (famously) chopped off her husband's penis; on rising from the University of Texas to a fantastic career in journalism.
On what we can read into in The Athletic's new dedication to WNBA coverage; on women's college basketball programs hiring no male coaches; on starting a tennis blog and having that morph into a magical sports journalism career.
On the process behind his classic 2014 profile of a dementia-afflicted Y.A. Tittle; on the torture and pain that comes with quality writing; on his Academy Award-worthy non-scenes with Kevin Costner in "Draft Day."
On covering the 2020 Democratic field; on driving through Manhattan with Mayor Pete; on whether a writer can cover politics without having an opinion on Donald Trump; on the transition from sports to news; on Joe Flacco trumping Wayne Chrebet.
On deep diving into the crappy, pre-glorious Yankee years of Brien Taylor and Mel Hall and Andy Hawkins; on when to knock on a subject's door, and whether five phone calls are too many; on seeking out jacket blurbs and landing a literary deal on a less-than-obvious subject matter.
The absolute craziest journalistic experience of my lifetime. On Dec. 27, 1999, Sports Illustrated published "At Full Blast," my profile of then-Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker. His life changed. So did mine. For the 100th episode of Two Writers Slinging Yang, here's a detailed look back.
On talking golf with Eddie Van Halen; on why Deadspin exists alongside Slam Magazine and Bill Simmons in innovative sports lore; on TV fame transforming people into assholes; in staying busy as a modern scribe.
This is a special episode of Two Writers Slinging Yang, in honor of the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I roamed the event (held on the campus of USC), seeking out interesting people. I found Daynabelle Anderson, who lost her 19-year-old son three years ago—and decided to speak to him via daily letters. She pieced the notes together into a book, then self-published. Remarkable woman whose story deserves to be told.
On how a blue-collar kid with no journalistic aspirations became one of America's great football writers; on covering athletes fairly, compassionately; on the death of a defensive back and the downfall of a daily newspaper.
In the first-ever Two Writers Slinging Yang recorded before a live audience, we travel to Ohio University to discuss Tom Brady's sadness after a Super Bowl setback; ways to write about 9.11 in the immediate aftermath; rules all young writers should consider following.
On finding new material about a beloved championship team from 50 years ago; on ghost writing athlete autobiographies and bringing unique voices to Mariano Rivera, Carli Lloyd and R.A. Dickey; on discovering depth and meaning via a former baseball phenom whose life was forever changed by 9.11.
On profiling Adrian Peterson and dealing with the detractors; on making a brief time with Antonio Brown count; on wearing jerseys in Instagram posts; on understanding the plight of the young African-American athlete.
On the absolute joy of a tiara atop the head of Cory Booker's 99-year-old grandmother; on directing your words toward humor and glee during the Trump Presidency; on knowing when to walk away from a column idea; on the unspeakable joy of seeing your play performed live.
On writing a book (and having it sell) on a relatively obscure library fire; on choosing just the right words to describe a moment; on why she never uses a recorder and rarely turns to direct quotations.
On covering the (zzzzzz) sleep inducer that was Super Bowl LIII; On finding new turf with a team that's been covered ad nauseam; on an angry James Harrison and a giddy Patrick Chung; on writing about three Super Bowls by age 24.
On what it is to cover the Super Bowl; on the heaven/hell that is Media Day; on whether it's possible to know Carson Wentz's true feelings; on existing as a fly on the wall (in an NFL locker room) alongside 500 other flies.
On scoring his first NBA press credential at age 14; on the kindness of Steve Francis and the uniqueness of Kwame Brown; on whether to talk sexual assault with Kobe Bryant and how to conduct a righteous interview.
On discovering the humanity behind America's opioid epidemic; on interviewing subjects in awkward, uncomfortable situations; on the time he demoted and suspended me (Jeff Pearlman) from our college newspaper.
On her newspaper's battle with the Springdale (Ark.) School District over a pulled article; on fighting for freedom of the press; on what a 17-year-old aspiring journalist thinks of the media landscape.
On Stanley Teeven and writing about the legacy of a World War II victim he never knew; on whether an author should place himself in a narrative; on coming out of the closet via a Boston Herald column; on Robert Kraft's kindness.
On being thrown onto an NFL beat without much notice; on watching Alex Smith's leg being broken—then reacting as a writer; on whether players care whether a writer exists; on Major League Baseball presenting the Iran hostages with lifetime passes.
On finding the courage and strength to come forward and blog about being raped; on the inevitable backlash of Internet trolls; on the liberation that comes with speaking out; on the nonsense world behind bubblegum pop.
On Tweeting about every ... single ... thing Donald Trump says; on why presidents can lie and get away with it; on covering former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, having him accuse you of being a stalking pedophile—then admitting it was all a lie and offering a bobble head doll as a peace offering.
On the highs and lows and glory and humiliation of promoting a book; on writing about a man (Bill Belichick) who tells his peers not to speak with you; on competing with the killing of Osama bin Laden for TV time.
On her riveting, detailed profile of Heidi Cruz, wife of Texas Senator Ted Cruz; on covering politics without slant or bias; on visiting an island that rising seas will ultimately engulf—and learning to understand why its inhabitants have faith in Donald Trump
On rising up from low-level fact checker to one of the world's elite soccer scribes; on having a gun held to his head in an unfamiliar nation; on the move from college basketball to soccer; on living out his dream career.
On how to navigate the football locker room in an era of NFL media indifference; on the awfulness of Bill Belichick and the anger of Danny White and the heartbreak of Dennis Byrd; on finding the real Jerry Jones in a new book, "How 'Bout Them Cowboys?"
On the writing and thinking behind "There Is No Escape from Politics"—one of my favorite pieces of 2017; on wasting away behind the desk at a fading newspaper; on the value of a forward-thinking editor and the trials and preconceptions that still (regrettably) come with being a young African-American scribe.
On profiling Chris Davis, Baltimore's first baseman, as he struggles through one of the worst seasons in Major League history; on worrying/not worrying whether a subject is happy with your work; on lessons learned from observing Tom Verducci.
On why, after nearly two decades in newspaper and magazine, he left; on sharing a name with one of America's most-famous scribes; on being locked in a minor league stadium and covering a young Ryan Lochte.
On becoming the first woman to ever cover an NFL team; on having athletes hit on her and present her with underwear; on Bert Jones and Chuck Fairbanks and Jim McMahon and the legend of the 1970s Boston Globe sports department.
On the ways experience, savvy, empathy and patience merge to make great journalism; on John Thompson and Coach K and sitting in the bleachers alongside the men (even when people demand one move elsewhere); on whether a woman will ever coach a Division I men's team and why a departure from ESPN was an unexpected blessing.
On the art and craft of the lengthy feature; on why he doesn't think of himself as a "sports journalist"; on Richie Parker and Radio and diving deep into a subject; on relying on a flip phone and going nowhere near Facebook and Twitter.
On finding beauty and reason in writing about death; on bidding literary farewell to the daughter of a Nazi, a Yankees pitching coach and a woman who fought cancer courageously; on Stuart Scott's final days and delving into the making of "The Pride of the Yankees.
On tracking down an escapee monkey; on 15 minutes on the phone with Paul Reiser; on covering the Parkland shooting tragedy; on having a newspaper steal your words; on the value of Millennials and the power of large quantities of coffee.
On the life of a small-town newspaper sports editor; on the college basketball coach who brought a gun to practice; on the sad decline of The Tennessean and why media needs to keep focusing upon high school athletics.
On #fakenews and "failing New York Times" in the era of Trump; on chronicling John McCain's farewell; on the exciting slog of three presidential elections; on phone time with Joe Biden and why covering politics is like covering sports.
On whether sports columnists have a place in 2018; on squaring off against an agitated Juan Gonzalez; on liberal writing in a conservative part of America; on the saga of an amazing woman (raped at 12) and her Dallas Cowboy son.
On spending a night with Stormy Daniels at Thee Doll House in Tampa; on her remarkable piece about the trials, nightmares and slow growth of a feral child; on knocking on strange doors and sleeping side by side beneath a bridge with sex offenders.
On making every story count; on covering Cal Ripken, Jr. and writing beautifully on the night he broke Lou Gehrig's Iron Man record; on staring down Bobby Bonilla and Scott Erickson when things turned heated in the Baltimore clubhouse; on passion and love for a profession.
On covering 130 games (of oft-bad baseball) per year and still finding things to write about; on the awkwardness of the Major League clubhouse; on Kevin Quackenbush's beard and the Padres' need to return to brown-and-yellow uniforms.
On the advantages of speaking Spanish in a Major League clubhouse; on showing your face after infuriating an athlete; on opining on a sport you know little about; on profiling the widow of Darryl Kile shortly after her husband's death.
On what it is to go through a public layoff as a journalist; on moving on from ESPN (and to a different country); on covering Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow and the New York Jets; on writing about the tragic death of Joe McKnight.
On pitching (and then being assigned) the story of a 70-year-old Polish kayaker who has crossed the Atlantic three times; on capturing a subject without speaking his language; on the terror of awaiting that first call from your editor.
On the bliss of covering March Madness; on finding nuggets of information inside a crowded locker room; on the tragic story of a Colorado shooting victim and the joy of a Michigan State football player's Craigslist-purchased cat.
On what makes great criticism v. meh criticism; on the beauty of Breaking Bad and the inconsistencies of Entourage; on why one man watches so much television—then writes about it with passion and grace.
On reporting and writing definitively on the lives of Vince Lombardi, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, Bill Clinton; on finding nuggets of information that make your head explode; on the difference between dealing with athletes and politicians; on the Donald Trump biography he will never, ever write.
On life at ESPN and BuzzFeed; On digging deep into the life of Earl Thomas when Earl Thomas is indifferent to the dig; on finding Michael Sam\u2019s forgotten father; on knocking on strange doors and not knowing what awaits.
Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist on turning joy, anger, love, grief into a column; on writing about the bond between a girl with cancer and a crusty college coach; on Randy Moss moodiness and Larry Fitzgerald joy