Governor Ed Rendell on Politics and Football

Listen to Dan talk with Governor Ed Rendell.

Click here for more information and a clipped up version of the show.

Ed Rendell, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, joins the show to talk about his two careers – one in public office and one talking sports. Seriously, is there a more perfect guest for this show than Governor Rendell. We love sports. We love politics. And in this case, we get the chance to talk a lot about both.

The interview was done in his Philadelphia office, so we start there: Philadelphia. The city of champions. We discuss the genius that is the miniature William Penn statue atop the Comcast Building. Gov. Rendell suggests they should sell those, to which I replied that I would purchase one and affix it to the top of my house. And I would in fact do that.

We talk about the Governor’s life and what a week is like for a man who runs a state and still has time to talk football on TV. How much of his time is spent in Philly? How much in Harrisburg and how much in the Steel City? And I ask a question that you never expect a straight answer to: can he be a real person, or is he always Governor Rendell. In short, no, he can’t be a real person, but only feels that way when he’s in the safe haven of sports. Pretty interesting answer.

We talk at length about his comment regarding the life and family – or lack thereof – of Arizona Governor and appointed head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. CNN’s Campbell Brown took Rendell to task for saying Napolitano had “no life” and “no family” and the Governor talks frankly about his comments, Brown’s reaction and the idea that, as a public figure, you’re always on. The microphone is always pointed at you and if there’s even a cell phone in the room, anything you say can make national news. I ask what kind of pressure that creates when out in public.

I ask the Governor to break down his job. How much of what he does is interviews, press conferences, publicity events and how much of his job, or the job of any politician is rolling up your sleeves and actually governing.

We talk about outgoing President Bush and incoming President Obama. Rendell takes some of Bush’s decisions to task, but in doing so, defends Bush’s ambition for trying to get things done. They were just the wrong things. With regard to Obama, we talk about the scrutiny he’ll be placed under (perhaps more than GW) and wonder how long his grace period will last.

I ask the Governor what his political end game is. There was talk he might be a running mate if Hillary got the nomination, so what further political aspirations does he have? After downplaying his name being on any “short lists” he does mention that after his term as Governor is up, if the position presents itself, he’d be interested in a position in Obama’s cabinet. But, as he says, “what will be, will be” and he’d be just has happy getting a full-time teaching gig.


Onto sports, I ask the Governor what he knows more about: politics or sports. We talk a lot of Eagles chat, including what the legacy of Donovan McNabb will be (and should be) in this town. Rendell wants McNabb to stick around in Philly, going so far as to say, “This team has the making of a Super Bowl contender for the next three or four years.” We also discuss the career of Andy Reid and the Governor explains just how good Reid has been in his time in Philly.

We talk about the fact that we’re one game away from an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl, which would be one of the greatest things for a Governor to be a part of. I ask what his Governor’s bet will be (it involves the two cities donating food to shelters) and I ask what others around the state think of him, especially with his loyal affinity for the Eagles. He mentions that in 2004, when a PA Super Bowl almost happened, he lobbied to the NFL to have the game played in State College (joke, but good idea) and that he’ll happily do it again this time around if both teams get there.

Last, I ask him what athlete or Philly sports figure would make the best politician. His answers might surprise you.

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Steve Sabol on the DL

Listen to Dan talk with Steve Sabol.

Click here for more information and a clipped up version of the show.

Steve Sabol of NFL Films – one of the true innovators in professional sports – joins the show to talk about his career and company in the ever-changing sports landscape.

The one job I always wanted was to work at NFL Films so I ask if having a job there is as much fun as I’ve always imagined it to be.

We talk about how football has passed baseball as the national pastime and if there was one moment that helped that switch or it was just a natural progression. He talks about the importance of both television for football and football for television.

We talk about the Ice Bowl, and get a great story about how it was so cold it broke Sabol’s zoom lens, meaning he had to carry his tripod down the field to follow the action from exactly 30 yards away in what was one of the most memorable moments in NFL history. We spin that to talk about the hyperbole in today’s sports landscape and I ask if we can ever know if something is really the best ever when EVERYTHING nowadays is the best ever. He agrees in general that it’s hard to have perspective on things, but referenced the Manning-Tyree catch in last year’s Super Bowl and how he and many others knew they were witnessing history.

“I think when you’ve been to all the games and you get to a certain age you get very reluctant to say that anything that’s current or modern is better that anything that was in the ‘good old days…”I’m one of eight people who have been to every Super Bowl. There is no doubt in my mind that play is the greatest play in Super Bowl history.”

We talk more about the Ice Bowl and get the truth about the ‘Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.’ Listen to the clip, but basically Sabol wrote that line for the Packers highlight film and Vince Lombardi took it out.

“When I said on the Frozen Tundra, he put a big red line through it and said ‘take this out. I’m not going to have my stock holders believe that their $250,000 investment doesn’t work.’ So I changed the phrase to “in the ice-bucket chill of a Wisconsin winter.”

“How the phrase Frozen Tundra came into being was the Dallas Cowboys, in their highlights, they felt the reason they lost the game was because of the conditions of the field. So Tex Schram loved the line and said, ‘put it in. On the Frozen Tundra, because dammit, that’s how we lost the game.’ So that phrase appeared in the Dallas Cowboy highlight film and as long as Lombardi was alive it was never allowed in the Green Bay Packer film and was banned from any of their press releases. When Lombardi went to Washington we brought it back and it caught on.”

So every time the Packers fans call it the Frozen Tundra, they’re spitting on the grave of Vince Lombardi. Eh, maybe the spit will freeze before it hits his tombstone.

NFL Films has ‘100 million feet of unforgettable football moments’ so I ask how many of those film reels are now hard drives. We talk about the transformation to digital media and if the 24-hour news cycle and on-demand world we live in has changed the focus of the work NFL Films does. I also ask if with all the innovations he’s instituted in sports that are now being used by everyone (multiple camera angles on replays, microphones on players, etc) if he ever feels like he’s competing against himself.

We discuss the layoffs at NFL Films a few months ago, and yesterday’s announcement that the NBA is doing the same. If pro sports aren’t recession proof, what is? Are fans being priced out of the market and in a few years sports as we know it will be watched at home on TV, produced by people like Sabol on an elaborate sound stage?

Is the Autumn Wind a pirate or just a crazy old man? We chat about Al Davis and if the Raiders are just going through a tough time or if Davis has totally lost it. We also talk about why I’m a Broncos fan (it’s actually because of Sabol).

Last, I get the scoop on the old electric chair he had in his apartment (he called it a ‘Jesus Christ’ piece) and if the 1972 Dolphins football I have is real, or a bunch of his forgeries. It’s on the record, so if it’s real, let the bidding war begin.

We just passed one year on this show, and this was a hell of a way to start year two.

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Todd Zolecki Talks Phils Playoffs on the DL

Listen to Dan talk with Todd Zolecki.

Click here for more information and a clipped up version of the show.

Todd Zolecki joins the show to talk about the Philadelphia Phillies upcoming trip to the Post Season!!!!

Zolecki is the beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. And he’s from Milwaukee. Conflict of interest? We ask. Personally, I wouldn’t let him within 100 feet of the clubhouse this week. Just sayin….

We talk about the job of a beat writer, and just how daunting that job is. Jeff Pearlman called the baseball beat the toughest job in sports journalism, so we get Todd’s reaction to that assertion. We also talk about his relationship with the players having to go into the locker room every day and ‘work’ them to get information. Sal Paolantonio likened that to going into your neighbor’s house and learning their deepest darkest secrets, telling the world, then going back in the next day and doing it again. We talk about how close Sal is to the real thing.

We discuss the changes in his job over the last three years, going from working a near-empty press box in September to sharing his job with at least a dozen writers at How do they divvy up the coverage?

Did he even bother going into the champagne bath on Saturday? Is the clubhouse just an absolute madhouse, and Todd shares a great story about his clothes getting ruined, and how he learned his lesson from last year’s afterparty. Did he get the Jade McCarthy treatment?

We talk on the field stuff, including the merits of Ryan Howard being the MVP. Is Howard even the MVP of the Phillies this year, or should that honor go to Brad Lidge? Exactly how important were these two to the success of the team? Short answer: very.

We compare this year’s team to last year’s squad. Now that the Phillies have been there before, and looking at the teams in front of them, do the expectations change for this season? How far do they have to go for this season to be a success?

Last, we talk about the Philly fans. What is our reputation around the country? Are we as hated as Red Sox fans? Do we just care too much? Are we the best fans in the country, the worst….or both?

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Mike Greenberg Talks About His Career and Germs On the DL

Listen to Dan talk with Mike Greenberg.

Click here for more information and a clipped up version of the show.

Mike Greenberg of ESPN joins the show to talk about his career at the WWL, the many hats he wears, and yes, germs.

Being under the weather, there was no better guest to have on the show than a noted germophobe in Greenberg. He gives me some tips on how to get better fast. As of writing this, I’m not sure any of it is working.

We run though a typical day in the life of Greeny, including a discussion about how he’s able to get on the air at 6am and talk about events that end well after he’s in bed. Basically Tivo has changed the landscape of early-morning sports talk.

We talk about the vastness of ESPN Radio and if he feels he has to be all things to all people. ESPN Radio is really trying hard to brand themselves in Philly, so we talk about going up against an institution that is WIP’s Morning Show. Is it hard in a town like this to get a foothold on the sports landscape?

People have called Mike and Mike the USA Today of sports talk, because of the aforementioned size of their show and diversity of their listeners. I ask if he feels he has to ‘dumb it down’ to appeal to more people. His wry reply:

“I think I have to dumb it down because of Golic. It is impossible to have a conversation on a high, intellectual level with a man whose idea of fine literature begins with Doctor and ends with Seuss.

“I remember one time I referenced ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and Golic honestly did not know who had written it or what it was. That was the day I realized, ‘you know, I’m not going to be able to do some things here.’

But seriously….

“I would never say that we ‘dumb it down.’ I don’t know that I’m that smart or that dumb, but I think we talk about sports on the same level that most people talk about sports. I don’t know that you have to be all that smart to talk about sports on a very high level.”

We talk about his relationship with Mike Golic and why it has worked for nearly a decade. We spin that to talk about the demise of Mike and the Mad Dog.

“We have never had a real serious disagreement. I think that our off the air relationship is the reason for that. I honestly think our partnership should be a model for all business partnerships everywhere and that is that our relationship is purely professional. And by that I mean that we get along well, we don’t have any problems, but we really don’t socialize outside of work.

“In all the years we’ve been together, I think our wives have met three or four times. His kids and my kids have never been in the same room at the same time…we have a PERFECT professional relationship. We get along great…but we really don’t do much together off the air and I really think that has been to our benefit. ”

We joked with Sal Pal that Greeny should have been mad that he was scooped with the Favre story. Sal said that Greeny is a fan, not a reporter, so I wanted to get Greeny’s response to that comment. We also talk some Favre, and talk about what but more about if he thought the story was over-covered. That spins into MNF and what it was like getting to call a game on Monday night two years in a row. And we talk about what it’s like working these games with Ditka.

We end with some MetroSexual talk and Greeny’s assertion that he’s the Kelly Ripa of sports talk radio.

Last, is there anything he hasn’t done in his career that he wants to do before he’s done?

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Buzz Bissinger Talks On the DL

Listen to Dan and Nick talk with Buzz Bissinger.

Click here for more information and a clipped up version of the show.

Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize winning author and foil to the sports blogosphere, joins the show to talk about his career as a writer, interviewer – and yes – new media-discussing town hall panelist.

Listen, our audience is very diverse so there are some of you who only know Bissinger for what he said on Costas Now, and the aftermath that ensued. There are some of you who read sports books or live in Philly and just said, “what’s Costas Now.” There’s something in this for both of you.

We start with a conversation about his what he is most proud of, A Prayer for the City. We follow by asking him about Ed Rendell, and which career he thought Rendell was mostly likely to have – governor or football analyst for CSN.

We talk about his most famous work, Friday Night Lights, specifically about picking up his entire life and moving to Odessa Texas on a chance a book might come out of it.

We talk a lot of baseball, including a New York Times article from 2007 about Kerry Wood which we translate to how the Phillies treat Cole Hamels. This leads discussion about the overuse or underuse of pitchers in the minors and references his recent op-ed about the overbearing phenomenon of the parent-coach and how it ruins kids early.

We also talk about many of his articles for Vanity Fair, including one on Don Imus (he doesn’t like Imus very much) and one on Stephen Glass that was turned into the movie Shattered Glass. That leads us to a discussion about the need for editors, which spins us nicely into the world of internet writing. Venerable sportswriter Murray Chass wrote in an email to me last week that he does not need editors. And clearly in the case of Stephen Glass, editors did not do their due diligence. Buzz has said before that one of his issues with sports blogs is that they have no editors and no one to clean up the content, both in quality and in substance. We ask him what he thinks of Chass’ comments and what he thinks about the importance of editors.

Yes, we talk about blogs. And Costas. Now.

We talk briefly about that night and what his thoughts are many months later. Does he regret anything? He answer that and talk about his relationship with Will Leitch, Big Daddy (Balls) Drew and some of the others blogs out there.

We also try to find out why he decided to do every interview that asked him in the weeks following. I’d have probably just gone into a shell, but he was out there taking punches from anyone. Anyone. His response is quite interesting, given his initial comments on the veracity and validity of blogs.

We also discuss how that night extended the conversation about newspapers and new media. What does he think about the Mariotti’s of the world now saying newspapers are dead? Always good when you can take a shot at Mariotti.

Finally, we talk about his legacy. What will his Deadspin Hall of Fame induction speech say? Is he concerned that this is going to stay with him the rest of his life? And we somehow find a way to take a shot at Stephen A. Smith.

We had no clue what to expect with this interview. He could be sick of talking about it. He could have been angry that we called him unprepared. But he was contrite, informed and in a way, soft-spoken. I hope it’s worth your time to listen.

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Sal Paolantonio talks Football, Politics and Pirates on the DL

Listen to Dan and Nick talk with Sal Pal.

Click here for more information and a clipped up version of the show.

Sal Paolantonio joins the show to talk about his career as a writer, reporter, tv personality and fighter of pirates. 

Yes before donning the sets of millions of sports viewers for ESPN, Sal Pal was at the helm of ships for the Navy, rescuing Vietnamese refugees from being kidnapped from, yes, modern day pirates.

We talk about his time as a political reporter, including his best-selling book on former Philly Mayor Frank Rizzo. We actually get pretty in-depth into the life of and career of Rizzo, who was one of the most polarizing and unifying men – if that’s possible – of his time.

We discuss how one transitions from politics to covering the Eagles.  In this town, that’s not a far leap. We talk about the locker room, and how it’s terrible for both the reporters, and the athletes. He says, on the topic:

“It’s an unnatural act to go into somebody’s house day in and day out, find out their secrets and turn around and tell the world about them.”

We go national to compare the current Brett Favre saga with that of T.O. and ask Sal which was worse.  We then go in depth about the Favre trade, but form a standpoint of how it impacted Sal standing outside in Tampa while Jay Glazer of Fox was in the airport reporting Favre’s trade to the Jets. 

“I flew to Tampa knowing the trade was probably going to go down with the Jets. As it happened, I was the only one they had lit up on camera on the satellite at that time, so I actually had to cover the story. We do our thing on SportsCenter and we’re ready to wrap up and word comes down that Jay Glazer is reporting that the trade is happening with the NY Jets, so they fired me back up and I was able to call some people on the telephone and get some more information as to how it went down.

“Glazer had it first, and congratulations to him. It was a big story and he busted it. It’s disconcerting when you get beat. Nobody likes to get beat – everybody is competitive – but there are a lot of stories out there that I’ve beaten Jay Glazer on. This time he beat me on a big one.”

Sal doesn’t like getting scooped.  That leads us to the a question about the 24-hour news cycle and how that impacts both ESPN and the people who work there. This sums it up nicely:

“it’s wild. ESPN never sleeps. It is a very demanding mistress.”

We also talk about Sal’s two football books, The Paolantonio Report about the most over-and-underrated players in history and his upcoming book, How Football Explains America which is a detailed and analytical look at how the game of football mirrors society throughout the time of our country. 

We end with some talk on the Birds and get his thoughts on Jimmy Rollins’ recent comments about the fans of the city. 

Oh, and we couldn’t let him go without taking shots at Merril Hodge and, yet again, Jaws’ glasses. Jaws told us the Ol’ Gloria Vanderbilts were gone, but he’s still wearing them. Maybe it’s a regular season change.

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Philly Mag Scribe Richard Rys on the DL

Listen to Dan and Nick talk with Richard Rys – Part One.
Listen to Dan and Nick talk with Richard Rys – Part Two.
Click here for the clipped up version of the show.

Richard Rys from Philadelphia Magazine joins the DL to talk about some of the highlights of his ten years covering the city.

In Part One of the episode we talk about his tenure at Philly Mag and if he has seen a shift from harder news to softer societal content that speaks to suburban living perhaps more than Philadelphians. If you look through the pages of the magazine, you’ll see that most of the ads are for some pretty high-end outlets so unless your last name is Utley or Burrell (as explained inside the latest issue) you’re probably not as big a target for them if you live in the city.

We then talk about the fall of newspapers and if he think the situation will engulf magazines at some point. I hate when people who work for newspapers say that the newspaper industry is dead. For crying out loud, this is your job. Do something to fix it. I know the lowly reporters can’t do as much, but people are making money out there. I hate the defeatist attitude by newspaper guys. So we talk to Rich about that with regard to magazines. On the surface, Philly Mag looks pretty healthy with a 260-page glossfest this month, full of 65-70% advertisements and sponsorships.

Since this month’s issue is the Best of Philly, we spend a lot of time talking about some of the Best and Worst in Philly and discuss the way Best of is put together with respect for and regard to advertising dollars. Many people have said that Best of is a shill for advertisers or potential advertisers so we ask how much of that goes into the decision making process.

For full disclosure, I should mention that my father used to work at Philly Mag in seemingly another lifetime. Why does that matter? Well, he started the Best of Philly series, which is now celebrating it’s 35th year running.

We spin the Best of talk to the back page – Rys’ Exit Interview – to ask what his ‘Best of’ has been for that feature . We go from Kelly Ripa to David Boreanaz to somehow ending up on Tom Sizemore’s fake schlong. Yep, that reads right. And since we do an audio show, we wanted get some insight into how a Q&A like that is put together. Does he clean up his own questions to make himself sound smarter or funnier? We know people who have done that, so we ask if it’s an industry trend.

We also announce the list of people you want to know…those who are ducking us.

In Part Two of the episode, we talk about Rys’ recent article The Phantom Five, outlining the power structure of the Philadelphia Phillies. This made national news as Philly Mag printed the phone numbers of all the owners. We ask Rys about that and what feedback he’s gotten from the article.

We also talk about the timing of the article and if progress (getting to the LCS, World Series) would be good enough for the city, or since we’ve endured SO MANY years of nothingness, do we need the title the trophy and the biggest parade in any city ever.

We spin that to talk about the other two owners in town and who he thinks is the best. We also ask him our age old ‘next team to win a title’ bet (no, the Soul doesn’t count).

We discuss the upcoming Olympics and how NBC Universal will cover the Games and the issues surrounding China.

Somehow we end with a conversation about Bruce Dickinson’s cod piece. Yes, AJ Daulerio is involved.

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