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.