Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 2 years ago

Sally Jenkins

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Named the nation’s top sports columnists in the country 4 times by AP sports editors, she is an award-winning author, and currently, a sports feature writer and columnist for the Washington Post. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

What of Dave Low Gus? Do you know what the class ceiling is? Yes, it's figurative, but it it can hold people back. But a lot of people now are starting to crack that glass ceiling. They are starting to crack it, and you and I I don't know if we really meant to do this, but we've had some amazing people and who have a lot of a lot of people that have broken it, wrote and smashed it right and have made it where others following them may not even have that ceiling anymore right and don't have those stigmas put on them that that they would have had when they started. So today our guests another one great story roundbreaker. Her Love Sports, I think, came from because her dad was a very, very famous sports illustrated writer for years. Yeah, her father, Dan Jenkins, if you're a fan of SI, definitely know his work right, and she kind of got that from, you know, traveling with him. She's always wanted to be around sports, loved it. You know, she was a writer for the Washington Post. She became a senior writer for sports illustrated. Some of those stories are incredible. How she got those jobs. Dozen books. She's dozen books I mean she was a piece sports editor, like top honor for four times, like best sports writer. Well, also is landed. I mean some of her books, at least one, if not two, are about Lance Armstrong. I think. I think there's two of those about Lance Armstrong prior to him admitting finally that he was cheating. Right, right, and she doesn't, you know, her books talk about she didn't see it that way. Yeah, you know, she has some great perspective on that from some of the awesome Interdu views she's done with Lance. She's also right. I mean probably a crazy interview and she talks a lot about this, about how, you know, Joe Paterno's last week, she actually went up there and interview them. She was bedside, bedside, yeah, talking about the whole Sandusky situation, which couldn't have been easy for her, and dealing with the family and being there and having to ask the hard questions. Yeah, well, the whole scene surrounding that scenario was. You know, what a what a crazy time that was. Right. And you know she went to Stanford. So just act laid after act laid. Another incredible guest joining us in the huddle, Sally Jenkins. Sally, thank you for jumping in the Hollowood, Dave, and I my pleasure, glad to be here. One of the things where we always start, and I've seen interviews that you've done and it talks about where your love of sports came from, and so maybe you can go back and tell us for that really that sparks started for you. You know, you guys mentioned my dad, Dan Jenkins. You know, he was on the road so much when he wrote for sports illustrated and my brothers and I traveled with him quite a bit just just in order to spend time with him, because he was he was gone on a lot of holidays and stuff, and so we got we got to go with him to Football Games and golf tournaments and you know, look, I mean pop wrote about Sonny Jergenson. You know, when he was he and billy we're quarterbacking the REDSKINS. So you know, I can remember meeting Fran Tarkentin as a kid and Joe Namoth. I mean those guys were around because my dad was a very high profile sports writer for sports illustrated and he had good relationships with the people he covered and they were just I just grew up. You know, it's sort of like Austrian kids grow up skiing.

You know, it was sort of like that. It was just full immersion from the time I was a kid. So, Sally, did you play sports? I did. I put I played tackle football with my brothers. Wow, I played right up until they started to outweigh me by about thirty pounds and then and then I went to touch. What was your position? Oh, I mean, you know, we played every position, you know, whatever you had to play on the team. I was usually a I was little, so I was a scatback this bag. I had some speed. I had some speed. Was it always football your first love? Because no, I mean I was really a basketball at that became a basketball nut. I you know, I was one of those kids who would dribble the ball to school. I played. Yeah, once I was in high school, I played basketball, volleyball and softball. Yeah, that's that's sounds like your daughter's Day. Yeah, it's about exactly exactly, Sally. I I'm we're right beginning volleyball season right now, so cuts here tonight. So holding my breath. Yeah, so, but I was I was one of those gym I was a gym Rad. I would I would dribble the ball to school with my left hand, working on my left hand. That's that was me and that's why I had been in my advice. My girls have played basketball. I said, got it. I remember seeing a thing member David rivers, and Notre Dame Point Guard. He dribbled the ball until the preachers started talking in church. He literally, I said, I said, he left. You know, they think I'm crazy, but I'll tell him. Sally's also right. There you go and tell you know, one of the biggest things is that people don't understand how sports can really impact your life, especially growing up, and all the things that it teaches you. So what, or some of the things when you were growing up in sports taught you? Well, you know the the biggest thing it taught me, and this came from my dad, you know, when we were watching all of this stuff and meeting these people, you know meet you'd meet someone like Jack Nicholas and my father would explain who he was, what made him great or what he thought made him great, and I never forgot the main thing my father told me that Jack Nicholas, which was that he said that the reason he admired Nicholas was because he got absolutely everything out of his game and his talent, and that Nicholas basically treated it as though to waste your potential was a kind of sin. I can remember my dad saying that to waste your potential as a kind of sin. And so athletes, to him, and this is what I've always loved about them, to are people who who really exhaust their potential. And you know, most of us don't do that. Most of us the elevator goes it might be a forty story building and we send the elevator up to twenty two. You know, I know I do agree with that. I've met some people that have done profiling and they talked about the talent and what takes the talent is there's more than just you injured skill set right. It takes your your memory, takes your brain performance, it takes everything, all these you're mixing this big cake together and it takes all this together. If you're missing one ingredient, than the cakes not going to turn out right. And Yeah, and you know most people. I mean, I think the thing that sports teaches you, if you really embrace it and you listen to the you know, the good coaches, that you might get to be around, is it? You have to work at stuff you're not good at? You know, everyone loves to work at the things they're good at. Very, very few people learn to like working at things that make them uncomfortable, and that's what the great ones do. Sally, did you have a coach, maybe in high school or even before I school, that really made an impression of it on you? I didn't. You Know My my coaching. I went to an all girl private school in New York City. It was pretty we coached ourselves, to be honest. You know,...

...we would. We would go to Nicks Games and Knicks we were great. It was Dave de Busher and Bill Bradley and Willis Reid and and Clyde Fraser and we'd go to Knicks Nix Games and we would study them and then take it back to our little all girl high school and try to do what they were doing. I mean it was pretty funny. But know, what I know about coaching comes from, more than anything, the books I did with Pat Summit and Dean Smith. I was very lucky as a young sports writer I got to be around them and really understand what they did and why they were so good at its. Two good ones. So from its Mount Rushmore coaching. Yeah, what was it? What was the garden like back then? When you go? I was great. I mean, you know, you could scalp up a ticket outside for not a whole lot of money and we'd put together our allowance money and go buy a seat, heat up in the, you know, nosebleed section and then slowly creep down and the ushers, because we were little kids, you know, the ushers would would kind of let you go and you know, we'd creep down closer and closer to the court. You were you really didn't know a lot about when you were very young, you know, and you started going all those places with your dad, you didn't know a lot of athletes. But then, as you start to understand who these people are and you study them, and obviously you didn't you know the Internet what it is of what it is today. But who was that person when you were young that you said I cannot wait to meet them and you got the meet? You know, probably Joe Nameth and Joe Namoth was so huge when we were kids. We were we were New Yorkers, and when he won that Super Bowl it was just electrifying and my dad had done a feature story on him for sports illustrated and I was walking to home from school one day and here he came in a fur coat, walking down the street in Manhattan and there were a bunch of us and we totally chased him down, you know, a pat we were like a little wolf pack chasing him down the street and he couldn't have been nicer. He he stood and signed everything we stuck at him, and so probably Joe Nameth was as thrilling as anything. You know, it was weird. I got to know people as a as an adolet assent. You know, I can remember having cheeseburgers with Tom Watson at golf tournaments and he was just a really nice guy. You know, I wasn't a lot of these people. I wasn't necessarily as cognizant of their hall of fame status. Always, I mean Frank Gifford and pat somewhere all were around quite a lot. They were breaking into broadcasting, becoming the big time broadcasters of their era. My Dad was friends with them. They were at dinner parties at the House and you know, things like that. I kind of took it for grant, I thought I thought they were at everybody's house for dinner. You know, you do you think that? I know you mentioned about how sometimes it's very hard to approach athlete who get to know them. Some of them kind of keep to themselves. It's comforting to get to know them, but they may have opened up to you and been a little different to you and when you were in your youth, when you were in your adolescence, compared to when you were older and interviewing them. You think that's possibility? Oh Yeah, you know. I mean I was. I was a harmless little amateur when I was hanging around with my dad. I was just all ears and and people were very generous, you know, they were, they were, they never acted like I was a past I mean I knew I was taught you keep your mouth shut and just listen and learn and and don't you know, I was never allowed to ask for an autograph when I was with my father, that we just didn't do that, you know. But then when I got older and I was a very young you know, when I was twenty one and just out of college and a working journalist, you know, it was a whole different ball game and most people actually stayed on the West Coast and most people didn't know that I was Dan Jenkin's daughter. I mean I was...

...just another rookie sports writer, you know, in a clubhouse trying to keep Billy Martin from screaming at me. I'm sally first kind of have the itch to become a writer. You know, I was always a reader. It started in college at the school paper and my father had said, you know, try it and see if you like it. It's a good place to meet people, even if you don't like it, and he had a hunch, because I read so much, that I might want to try to write something some day and he told me pretty early on my freshman year that I had ability, that he could see some spark and he thought I should I should explore it. was words going to be your focus or did you write on other things? And you know I yeah, I in turned with the old La Herald examiner as a straight news reporter. I thought I was going to cover politics or something and very quickly went running back to sports because I just I loved it. It's what I knew. It fascinated me and I thought it was important and you know, I just sort of you know, I try. I've written other things. I mean I've profiled Hillary Clinton for the Washington Post, I've profiled Howard Dane. I've occasionally branch off and do a political profile for the paper or a non sports stuff, but I always seem to come come home. I always come home to you. You feel like there's a difference between you and your brothers, because you mentioned your brothers. I take it they didn't read as much as you, because I know I didn't read as much with my sisters. Yeah, that was true. That was true. So did like you, because I'm wondering how your dad being a famous writer and he took it Inkley, seeing there's a spark in you for that. What did your brothers end up doing? You know, it's funny. My mother owned restaurants and both of my brothers worked in her restaurants and can really, really cook. So I don't know what that says or what that tails you, but there's a good family. When you guys all get together, there's a lot of food. Yeah, yeah, uh so. But now my younger brother is a surfing photographer actually, who lives down in Costa Rica, and my my twin brother is a contractor. He builds really large structures. Yeah, so at Stanford you're writing for the school paper. You probably highly courted by the professional journalism at that point, being at Stanford being a school paper. What was your first job out of school as a right, my first job, I wasn't that heavily courted, but I was lucky to get a job and it was at the San Francisco Examiner covering high school football in Marin County, which was really, really rainy. So it was tough to keep stats because the ink would run on your notepad. But the great thing about it was there was a there was a wonderful, wonderful running back playing for one of the high schools in that league when I was covering it, and his name was Brad Muster. Remember him? He's a great player. It was unbelievable. He said every high school record, rushing record there was and I was I was very lucky. It's funny. I've had real good luck. I covered Brad Muster when he was a, you know, the greatest high school football player in the country. My first beat when I got to the Washington Post was the Naval Academy and Navy at the time had David Robinson on the basketball team and Napoleon McCallum in the backfield. Yeah, that's pretty good people to write about. Yeah, and then I covered Virginia and Virginia had don mccowski at quarterback. And Imagine, man, when you yeah, the magic man, exactly when you were covered way as well. Well, yeah, I had Turk showner first, actually, first Steve Dal's Turk showner, and then John elway mustard ended up at...

Stanford too, right. Yes, he did. Yeah, he sure did. And then the bearers. So you went from San Francisco to La is. That would have yeah, I had a couple of short stops. I had one short stop in La and then I was at the San Francisco Examiner and then the San Francisco Chronicle where I covered pack ten football, and then and then got called up by the Washington Post to come to the majors. So I read where you covered. When you were in La you had a cover like a Hollywood insider article and you had to call somebody and asked them a couple questions. that. Yeah, I was the only job I could get. I was the assistant to the gossip columnists at the eld La Harold, which was the hirst paper, very sensationalist paper, and Bet Midler had performed a show and she had worn a diaper on stage and she had the diaper had sort of fallen off and I had to call and ask whether she had exposed one breast or two. I was about one thousand nine hundred and eighty three. That was way before the super bowl with with Janet Jackson. Yeah, this was a this was a wardrobe malfunction that way predated that one. Yes, that's right. Now, what the books? So you're writing papers, you're doing a lot of work covering a variety of stuff. And when did you write the first book? I wrote my I can't remember the year, but it was a book about football. It was called men will be boys and it was a it was a book that the publishers at the time wanted to book, a football book for women. This is back in the days before people really understood that women actually comprise, you know, pretty much as big of a part of the audience as men, and so there was this idea that you had to somehow talk to women about football in a slightly different language, you know, which is of course silly. But so I did a very small book called men well be boys, and that was the first thing I did. I guess it was in the nine early the S, and then pat summit called and wanted wanted to write a book, a coaching book, and so I helped her do that and then that look to Dean Smith, and so for a while I was in the business of helping other people write their books. Yes, it's was a lot of fun. Was that you on the cover of your first book? Yeah, yes, it was a rich in Jersey. That who we kind of does, doesn't it? A little bit? Kind of guess it was a number twelve. I don't recall what they put me in for that deal. You learned, like interviewing someone like that summit is yeah, it's such a legend in her sport and just renowned at such a great person. Like what are some things you maybe learned from pat? Some of they didn't know going in. I mean you know everything. I mean pat was really the biggest influence on me, other than my father, to be honest with you. She finished the job. You know, she I was a much younger, less accomplished person when she got ahold of me, and I mean it was everything from dressing better to presenting better to to. I mean the things that she taught me about. Well, I mean so, for instance, here I am, I'm helping Pat Summit writer book, and I was watching her habits, you know, her work habits, and she just she always did the most difficult things first, the things that she didn't want to do and wasn't looking forward to doing. That was the first thing she did every day. You know. You know how the rest of us put it aside and we're like, I'll get to that later. I'm dreading doing that. It was a first thing pat tackled every day was that thing she really didn't want to do. It was was a great lesson for a young person, you know, it just was. That was pretty priceless. And the other, you know, one thing that she would tell her kids and that she told me is you don't ever let anyone define you. You define yourself. You tell people...

...who you are, you don't let them tell you who you are. And Yeah, very much, so, very much. So, you know, and what she really meant by that was and the other thing that she would again tell her players and you know, you might get away with doing something the wrong way, but you know you would know it and people have to believe they deserve success. Champions really believe they deserve it. I I mean that was an insight that I couldn't have gotten from anyone but her. I mean so many times. I mean, if you watch the Patriots, one thing that really stands out is they believe they deserve it more than anybody else, right, because of the work in the ethics. Yeah, yeah, I mean pat always said, you know, behind any kind of competitive character is conditioning you. You cannot cheat the grind. You have to put the work in and if you put the work in you'll believe you deserve it and that actually wins out. You know, that's what wins know, what did she can teach you about, you know, in your industry, especially in sports, when you started, it is probably pretty maldominated. Yeah, between her and Your Dad, what did you learn about them? How to overcome or see passed? Huh? You know, pat never complained and my father certainly wasn't going to let me complain. He was like, if you're going to do this, you know you're nobody's victim. victimhood was not anything either. One of those people was into, you know, complaining Victim Hood. It's, you know, pat came from such poverty. I mean she really came. Came from a practically a dirt floor cabin where the water was supply was a pump off the back porch. You know, no, no one who played for her had been any poorer than her or come from any further back than her. And you know, when you're around someone like that it's pretty hard to complain, you know. And I'd had every advantage growing up thanks to my dad, and so, you know, you just you deal with it. It's just not the worst thing in the world to be a woman in a man's business. As Pat always said, try being a woman in a man's world. I mean that's the deal. And you know you in my case, every raise and every promotion and every good assignment I ever got necessarily came from a man. So it didn't do any good to sit around a bitch about, Oh, I'm a woman in a in a man's business. I was actually championed by a lot of men, you know. So you focus on the good, you focus on the positive and you focus on your advantages and you use your disadvantages as motivation. Well, I have a question for you, coming from my perspective of being in a locker room and I can remember back when, you know, they kind of started letting female reporters in the locker room. For me it was very uncomfortable. And other guys, you know, yeah, they walked around naked. But I can remember being in locker rooms in and just being like, feels really strange. And so it is. Yeah, and I just I just kind of was. There's a lot of times I wasn't even out of my uniform yet in the press was in there and it's sometimes that really bothered. So it's strange for men to be in there right like okay, it's a strange situation period, when one person's naked and the other one isn't. Okay, that's weird. That's an inherently uncomfortable position. I don't care who you are. Cameras, you know, cameras are in those locker rooms, microphones. It's a very strange deal and a strange setup. And you know, the way I approached it was like you can't be courteous enough. And, and I mean my personal policy is I don't talk to naked people. I wait till they have their clothes on. I mean, I that's just me. I don't go like if I'm in an NFL locker room, I just don't go, you know, walking up to people that don't have their pants on. It just did. There's nothing right about that to me. So you probably...

...into my well, always stunned when I see cameras walking up to guys, you know what I mean? It's like wow, well, I find a way to stand. I'd find a way to stand behind someone. That's what I do. I mean I'm always you know, I'm never in the front row. Let's put it that way. We sell it. One Time Gust took me into the locker room at the Silverdome and I think I still have flashbacks, nightmares. Maybe I was pretty confident going in and I wasn't quite as confident leaving and I still shaken. Well, when we when I played for the Vikings into my last year in two thousand and eight and we won our division, after the game, a couple guys were undressed already, and one of the most Basanta Shanko, he was our tight end, completely undressed. Can cameras in there, the owners in there, you know, coach Joe Dress and everybody else was in there, and vishaunte was right behind the owners, but naked and we my phone was blown up because all of our friends were calling me and saying, like they literally didn't black out anything, and there's there's, yeah, completely naked behind the owners in the locker room and just like they couldn't believe what they were watching. I mean that's the you know, when everybody, whenever there's one of those controversies about women writers in the Locker Room, I'm always like, you know what, how about we start talking about the cameras before we talk about the women? I'm like what? It's more embarrassing. You know, my other favorites is Trey Johnson. Since you wrote for the Post, I'm sure you remember tray. He was one of our linemen played. Yeah, he he used to get so upset about it that he just started walking around the locker room naked all the time. He didn't care right, and he would say, okay, I'm going to do all my interview you want to talk to me, I'm going to be completely naked. You're not giving me any time. It was more upset at the yeah, yeah, then really the reporters, but I mean that's that's the thing. It's like this this guy, go ahead sorry, he was three hundred fifty pounds, you know, and he's just staying there. But it was we just used to sit there and we just laugh. We're like getting gray. Yeah, I mean I feel like you know, you you you want. I mean I think locker rooms are interesting places. You get you get genuine emotions. You know. It's like the press rooms are by the time guys get in there. I don't know, it's just it's very that's unnatural to and it's very stilted conversation, you know, in locker rooms. Locker rooms are interesting places and I defend the presses right to be in there because because people really want to know. That's what people want to know more than anything is, you know, what did a guy really say and really feel about what just happened on the field? And you just can't really get that in a press room that much, you know. So, but there has to be there has to be like to me, there's nothing we can't solve with courtesy, you know, a little courtesy and a little consideration. You know, give guys a little time to put some towels and bathrooms robes on. Give you know, give them a couple minutes to marshal their emotions and, you know, and then let us in. And well, you know, if you look at from the other side, from a woman's sports perspective, like h is the locker room the same? Yeah, well, the locker rooms are open. You know what they do. I mean it's a very simple solution. bathrobes. I mean basically the women go into their shower room, they shower and a lot of most of them get dressed back there at before they ever come out. You know, and I don't know how realistic that is because I've never been in an NFL shower room. But but in women's locks, like women's basketball locker rooms in the NCAA, you know, we're men are in there. There's no question about it. And it just seems to work out. And, by the way, you don't see a bunch of naked people. They find a way not to have naked athletes in there. So it just just seems like there's just so it's people, yeah, yeah, and everybody else getting ready and the...

...the trainers are yelling you to get your yeah right, you know, and and Gus. How about the children? How about People's kids? Yeah, my kids have been in those locker room yeah, I mean there's sponsors, kids, you know, friends of the owners, kids. I mean it's just that. No, I mean the number of people in a postgame locker room. You know, it's amazing to me, like who? I never know who all those people are actually, especially at a big game. So it's crazy, like somebody snuck in. What Super Bowl was? THAT MAKES COOL UMBER'S JERSEY. Yeah, and two years ago left. Yeah, yeah, because there's just so many people in there. It's yeah, same. Yeah, you've covered a lot of stories. What was your favorite? Like, if you think back when you're at the Washington Post and you've been doing this for a long time now, what was the signment that you got that you said? I can't wait to really get to the heart of what this story is. Oh, you know, your first Olympics is just just blows the top of your head off. You know it's the first. So my very first Olympics was the Calgary Winter Olympics. I'm forgetting the year and I don't even know what your that was, but it was the Calgary Winter Olympics and it was Brian Boitano when the gold medal and figure skating with the most perfect performance really and hit and figure skating history. It was an epic and I got to cover that and that was that was a real stunner. I just I loved every minute of it. You know, speed skating, you know ski jumping, and it was all it was a wonderland for a sports writer. It was great, great. You know, every Olympics is pretty is pretty wonderful. I mean, I'll tell you what, the Patriots Kansas City Chiefs Football Game playoff game this past year was just about the best game I've ever covered. I mean what an epic that was. Mahomes against Brady. I mean it was that was really something. I mean yeah, I mean that was just really what a game. I mean I've covered a lot of football and that was that one stands out as I mean I just remember sitting there going you are so lucky. You are the luckiest person in the world you get to be here tonight. So that's that stands out. Of You know, Rider Cup, golfed, you know golf events. Some of them have come right down to the wire and been just electrifying. I mean that that stands out sally. What's the difference, in your opinion, between like the whole scenario when the rider cups in Europe versus when it's in the United States, with the rounds, with just kind of every yeah, yeah, you know, they're both. It's the greatest home field advantage in the world. I mean, you know, if you're over there, I mean they just go Bersark and like they people act like maybe the US crowds are somehow worse or more obnoxious, but they're not. They really aren't. It's stay are every bit as rowdy over there and it's, you know, it's all high spirited. I just love I love that home field advantage, that hearing a noisy golf crowd is an anomaly and a lot of fun. You know, it's it's so unique. What is your access to a golfer like, you know, because it's four days or they're usually five or six days, or what is your access, as reported, to a Golfer? Is it? You know, do you get? You get? Yeah, you get. You've get all kinds of time. It Golf and Golf and tennis both there's if you cover them regularly, if you're around and if you're if you're a regular sports writer that that they see weekend and week out, you get an awful lot of access and they're very intimate sports. I mean you can get closer to a tennis player or a Golfer then probably any other world class athlete. You know, if you're if you're if you've got a court...

...side seat or you're right, you know, by the rope. I mean I don't know any other sport where you can stand quite so close to a great athlete as you can in golf. So that has its own its own charm. And if you're around a lot, the athletes recognize you and they get to know you and they welcome you. You can walk up to him on a putting green or at the driving range and and have a chat, which is difficult to do in a lot of other sports. Sally, was there a noticeable difference between the style of European writers would approach the alsers versus how the Americans, Um, you know, the European writers seem to be a little closer to the players, to tell you the truth. I mean they'll go out, you know, like a Scottish Golf writer has had a Pint, you know, with with Roy mcelroy or with, you know, Ian Poulter, which I'm not so sure a lot of American sports writers have gone out for a lot of beers with tiger woods. I mean so kind of going back to the maybe the S and S, you know, covering football and yeah, maybe even the really yeah, if your dad had with some of his for yeah, I mean you know my dad had cocktails with with Sonny and billy. I mean that's you know, he would and then he would he keep on exactly. That didn't make him, you know, that didn't make him special, did it? Huh? Yeah, so well, I bet you back to that. Today's is I'm not speaking for all athletes or whatever, but sometimes we get it. We get a feel like there's a stigma against us, that if we do go out with it with a reported they're going to write something about us that, you know, we're having drinks. I remember in DC even it was a new cigar club coming on and I went down. Ask Me to come down and open the club for them and I got a box and it. You know, I smoke cigars every now and then. I've got so much hate mail from that, from that doing that that that was really hard on me that these parents and we're saying my kids look up to you and you're smoking cigars. That was. I was, you know, kind of taken aback because of that. Yeah, you know, it's a different world right, social media and and the growth of media in general, the growth of television. You know, it was a much smaller world when my father was covering NFL teams in the in the s and the s. You know, it just it just wasn't and especially in the S. So, you know, I just think that athletes today have to deal with a level of really phosporescent, you know, exposure that, you know, a sonny or billy, as famous as they were, didn't. So it's just a different it's a different deal and I you know, I admire the kids that own themselves in public the way a Megan Rapino does or the way that, you know, even a Baker Mayfield, you know, you know, or Andrea agasy was always great about sort of understanding his fame and exposure and sort of not becoming embittered by it or soured by it, but embracing the good about it. Phil Michelson's very good that way. You know, you have to you have to admire and commend them for owning themselves, knowing who they are and being solid enough on the inside to handle it as gracefully as they do. Sally, you've written a couple books about land's Armstrong. How did that go about and how did you get look up with him? You know, the same way I got hooked up with Pat Summit or Dean Smith. Publishers and agents and lawyers put us together and I liked him. I loved working with him. He was a he was a charmer. I'm still friends with him. You know, I think he made some terrible mistakes and he knows I feel that way. But I forgave him. You know, we've we have an under I think we understand each other. He's apologized in a very heartfelt way that I accepted and was actually very grateful to receive. I really like him, I have to tell you. It's you know, I know people are amazed by that,...

...but I do. You know, I always got the best of him. I saw his best side and whatever else lance is or was, he beat cancer and has done an awful lot of good work in that area and so and I admire that and respect it. So so I liked him. I was fascinated by him. It was very interesting. I happen to believe he was legitimately the best cyclist in the world at the time. I don't believe his Tord of Frances were a miscarriage of competitive justice. So that helps. You know, what's that like when you first learn? I mean it and it came down pretty hard and fasted on him. What's yeah, I mean, well, I think, you know, look, it wasn't a shocker. I mean I had known it was a possibility for years. I mean, you know, I would say to him, you know, Lance is, there's something you need to tell the world and you need me to help you do it. And I mean I asked him point blank, you know, are you doping? Is there something you need to tell me? And the answer was no. The answer was always no and I had to take him at his word. I couldn't, you know, shoot him with Sodium Pentathal. But I know I certainly wasn't shocked. I knew it was a possibility. You know, the stakes were very, very high for him. He was supporting a large foundation and a lot of people and I think admitting the guilt was just too hard for him and I think had he done it himself, had had he called a press conference and told people? You know, I've made I have something to confess. I've made some mistakes. He'd be Andy Pettit today instead of instead of what he is. You know, I think people could have. I mean is this is what I told him. Okay, you know, I just hate that I had to hear it from someone or the other than you. I'm angry that I had to hear this from you. Sawda, rather than you. You should have told me this first, and I think everyone feels that way. I think had he had it come from him insteading, instead of getting quote caught, he would have a much different he would have had a much different public experience. I think he's comparable. Really was very far on. I think they're both always the best at what they did and they didn't even need the extra boost. I mean, I you know, I don't know. I mean he his version is that it was literally you had to do it to level the playing field. It was the price of competition in that era. That the guys that he was going up again said he really, if he he legit, you know, he believed he was better than them, or certainly they're equal, and that there wasn't, you know, an unequal playing field if you if you weren't doing what he was doing. You know. So I don't. You know, it's funny, it's weird. Guys, I don't judge him the way other people do. I never have. I don't judge dope quote dopers. I object to that language, that terminology. We talked about dirty athletes or doping athletes. It for the life of me, I do not understand how transfusing, retransfusing your own blood into your body is a dirty thing to do. I really don't. I never have. You know, we call it doping. These substances are things that people use to recover from incredibly arduous sports. I just don't have the heart to sort of call that dirty or cheat. You know, I just have very, very mixed feelings. I don't think we've thought very clearly about doping in general. A lot of these substances are for recovery, you know, when you've written up an alp I mean you know it's it's point is that if he would just came out and talked about it and said why he was doing it, I think it would have made it a lot difference. Yeah, exactly. I mean, like I think that when I like him best, and I've told him this, you know, I'll read an interview he's given where he talks about about quite honestly, about doping, what motivates people to do it, why they feel they have to, what it does or doesn't do. For you, it's alwaays fascinating and you always like him much better, you know,...

...once you've read that, and I'm like, you know, this is the guy I know and I'm just I'm glad other people are starting to hear him and and get to know the guy I know. You know, because I think he's at his best when he's most on as at his most honest about all that stuff. I liked him for his candor about cancer. He was really smart and interesting about it and I think he's he can be the same about the issue of dopen well, I think, even going back to bonds ones, of course hasn't admitted anything, but he was sort of caught up in the same you know that you're as it turns out now it seems like the high percentage of players are doing that and he's just trying to I don't he may have been the leader of it, but he was almost it was necessary for him to participated. I mean, you know, I think they all feel that way. They all say that. You know, it doesn't justify it. Obviously it's a rule and they broke it, you know. But again I have very mixed feelings. I really think we need to re examine a lot of these substances. What they do? You know, things float on and off the band list. I mean caffeine, you know, floats on and off the bandlist. You know, a lot of these things don't even help athletes the what they've been oversold to athletes by shysters. You know, the bandlist is a very dicey subject and I feel like we're over criminalizing it. I think we need to do a lot more careful thinking about what constitutes acceptable recovery methods and versus what is literally, you know, an impermissible boost. You know, but this whole idea of natural versus unnatural that we're in is such a bullshit gray areas. Excuse my language. I mean the most unnatural performance differential in the world is money. I mean, if you want to talk about what separates out athletes and performance, the athletes who have the money to get good training and good coaching have a huge unnatural advantage. It's the greatest performance enhanc from the world is is Jing. You know, I agree, because when I played I had a family and, yeah, I've made some money, but I couldn't go and train and do some of the things and spend my money like other guys were doing, you know. But I also go back to when I play with Bill Roman. Ask you when he was at the end with the broncos. He used to say, so my body is how I make money. I have to spend money on my body, just keep making money as long as possible, which I understood that as well. But also, you know, get there has to be a balance betweens, like you say, unnatural and natural, and it is hard because there are so many substances out there that athletes are given, you know, and opportunity to take, and willingly, and and they take them willingly. I mean that's here's the thing. Like it doesn't make any sense for some patriarchal organization like the US SOC or the IOC, which frankly, are morally bankrupt to begin with, and then they're going to tell a downhill skier, oh, don't take that, don't take a steroid, you might hurt yourself. Two guys who are hurtling down the face of an APP on an ice sheet, you know, at seventy five miles an hour. Right, right, you're going to you're going to tell a cyclist who descends on a bike in the Pyrenees where he could kill himself. Oh, you know, don't, don't take don't, don't take a blood transfusion at the end of the day after he's written a hundred and twenty miles up a mountain. Don't take a blood transfusion at the end of the data to feel better. It might not be good for you. I mean, what kind of sense does that make? I mean, we're not talking to athletes in a way that makes any sense to them whatsoever. Were A quarterback in his fifteen year who has take tornal shots before the game to be able to get through...

...the game because he knows if he doesn't play, doesn't make money. Really Right, all goes back to the same thing. And I've done that many, many Sundays. To me, yeah, through and it but right, you know that if you're not out there on Sunday sometimes your contract says well, if you don't make these certain staffs, you're not getting paid, you're not get next to all those types of things. So we do we have to do to be out there because that is our living and that was my as I tell people all times, that was my phd was playing football. Was Understand the game and if I'm not a field, I'm not making money. Right, I think the athletes to make the rules. I mean they know better than any of us. I mean some some Wonky, you know, want to be guy who thinks, oh, I could have been a I could have been an athlete if I just hadn't blown my knee in high school. Is sitting around making all these judgmental rules about what's natural, what's unnatural, what's acceptable what's unacceptable. Athletes are the ones who know their bodies, they know the best training methods, they know by trial an example, and they know what is, or what should be, an impermissible harmful substance versus something that is legitimately helping them do their job. Sally, one of your most famous interviews was that with jip in Turno, shortlive before it is passing. Tell us about that whole scenario. You know, the paternal team, legal team reached out to me because I had written a couple things in columns for the Washington Post that they thought were a little more nuanced than some of the other stuff about Jerry Sandusky and the whole Penn state child molestation scandal and they I think they wanted Paterno to sit down with someone in the media and so, you know, they picked me for whatever reason. It was a terribly awkward situation. He was dying of cancer. He in fact died, I think about forty eight hours after I interviewed him. He you know, he was written with cancer. He was wearing a wig because he'd lost all of his hair. He was very, very frail, he was not entirely lucid at times and he was surrounded by lawyers, publicists and his family, has his sons, so there were a lot of people in the room, which also made it kind of weird and difficult, very very strange experience. That said, he was perfectly clear in denying that he had had any knowledge that there might be an issue with Sandusky, and that proved to be a lie. It was simply not true. When you when you look back at the email trail and you look at the free report and you look at the emails in the free report, the email exchanges between Penn state officials. You know, it unfortunately becomes very clear that Paterno, Paterno did have an inkling that there was a bad problem with Jerry Sandusky and kids. Well, he kind of goes back to I think liken it to land's arms grow right. So he has a lot of people relying on him. He has his feeling of I can't tell everybody what I know because it's going to hurt so many people, and I feel like Joe Paterno thought the same thing and should have said basically come out when he knew that it happened. You know, maybe he wasn't telling the truth to himself entirely. You know, maybe he had convinced himself that he really mean. He was a pretty good compartmentalizer, you know. I he felt like he had passed the buck upstairs and washed his hands of the whole affair and it really really wasn't on him. You know, he'd passed it along to other people and he felt like that was the end of his responsibility. You know, seem like the attitude a lot was like that's Jerry being Jerry, you know. And Yeah, I mean he was. I mean I think everybody now says in retrospect he was a strange guy, that they got strange vibes. Look, it's you know,...

...one of the reason one of the things I wrote, which I think was why I they granted me the interview in the first place, was it is really hard to wrap your mind around that crime. You know, Oh that's Jerry, he would never hurt a child. He loves children. You know it. It's hard to tell yourself that someone you know is capable of that crime. It really is a hard thing to wrap your head around. When you when you were speaking with Joe, was that? Was He back at his house at that point? Was that? Oh, yeah, no, he was. He was rich, he was bed rid, he was basically bedridden. He was essentially he was, like I say, he was very, very ill. He didn't I don't think he's sort of I can't remember the exact time frame, but I want to say he. I mean he he died. He passed away probably just a couple days after after I talked to him. What I really why would his family want here to do another view? I think he wanted to do I think he wanted to do it. I think he had some things he wanted to say. I think he wanted to defend himself, you know, yeah, but you know, some of what he said was just not you know, he at one point he said I never, I never heard of, you know, like sex in a man. You know, like he said, I just sex in a man, I you know, which was a completely disingenuous thing to say. I mean, this is a man who was fluent in Latin. You know, he read, he knew what sodomy was, he knew what, you know he was. It was cato. He's from the Catholic Church. The idea that he he didn't know, that he was too naive to sort of understand the sexual implications here was one of the things that he tried to tell me, which was just clearly not feasible. What was what was the climate like outside his house towards his last days, because I can picture when the skin, you know, it was very cut. It was very, very quiet and very respectful. Actually, there was a there was not a lot of activity outside of his house. There was. He lived in a pretty conventional home in a pretty conventional neighborhood. It wasn't banana, at least that I recall that I saw. It wasn't crazy. So, you know, just like athletes when we win championships or we get awards, a player of the year and those things you've you've definitely are very similar in that regards. You know you've been inducted into those sportscaster and Sports Writers Hall of Fame and you know you've won ape sports rid of the year several times. How does that feel for for a writer like does that? Does that say like Hey, I've I've done my job, people like what I'm writing and it gives you a boost. You know, Um, you don't get to win much as a sports writer. You know you've write about other people winning things, so it is nice to be handed some hardware. You know, that's a pleasant feeling to D Oh, I want a trophy to but you know what, guess here's the thing. I don't think it's any different from an athlete, because how many times have you one saw something and people praised you for a performance and you knew it wasn't as good as they think it was? Right and and I think that writing is like that every single day, you know, always our own critic right. Yeah, I mean so, particularly at a high profile place like the Washington Post, anytime you publish something you're going to get a bunch of emails that either love you or hate you, or love what you wrote or hate what you wrote, and you really learn pretty quickly that your own judgment is the one that matters the most. You know, when you know some of the things I've been most proud of got the least readership. You know some some things that I knew were much more complicated and nuanced to write. That took a lot more work and a lot more hard thought. It is very easy as a columnist to write a hot take and to kick someone in the Shin's verbally. It's not easy to write...

...something that's much more thoughtful and nuanced and balanced or to take a position that you know is going to be wildly unpopular, but you take it anyway because you think it's the right thing to do. You know, you just try to sort of I think it's very athletic in this. I mean I just try to imitate the great athletes I've watched and respected and you try not to get your head turned by congratulations for things that are necessarily your best work and you try to keep your eye on what really is good work and what should matter and the small handful of opinions from people who you know are pretty honest with you about what's good and not right. And it's the old thing. Just handleball the referee and go back to bend. Yeah, you know, you just keep working at I mean the main thing you do is, like you quit worrying about what's popular not popular. You worry about did I work hard at this? You know, did I put the work in exactually, you told us pass on it. Yeah, yeah, so what we do now, this is kind of you know, we appreciate you being on with us. And what we do at the end here is we go into our two minute drill, our no huddle, and we like to fire question questions at our guests. So, okay, gave usually starts at off. That sounding fun. Yeah, so they go ahead start to know hut. Okay, Sally, if you could trade places and one person for a day any time in history, who would that be? Well, do I get to be them, like literally, do I get to have their body? You'R them? Yes, for for them? Yeah, for one day, for one day. Oh, I suppose Tom Brady on Super Bowl Sunday. I'd be a lot of days. Ha Ha, that's right. That's cheating, right. Yeah, so what would be your biggest pet peeve? Oh Gosh, biggest pet peeve? Hmm Um, let me think that the give me one more second, I because I have when I just got to make sure I say it right, the right way. Okay, you know what? My biggest pet peevis people who make money off of athletes without giving back to those athletes properly. So that includes the US OC and the NCAA men in suits who make, you know, millions of dollars off of the sweat of athletes without giving them their proper do. In your opinion, is the most overhyped thing in sports today. Television, yes, PN, Stephen a Smith, overhype, just all those loud mouths on the espn all the time screaming at me. Well, I never understood Steven e Smith, because I'm like he talks about every sport, but I don't even know what he knows about. And he's not the only one. I don't mean to single him ount necessarily. He just is probably the loudest of the loud. That's what's true. What's your favorite sports movie? Oh, probably bull Durham class, because it's so true. So if you had another author that you had to read or a writer, who would that be? Stephen King. He's the greatest suspense writer in history. Every sports writer, every aspiring sports writer, should read and Study Stephen King for pace and suspense, because you spend your life as a sports writer describing things to people that have already happened, where they already kind of know the ending, just like a Stephen King novel, and yet he figures out how to scare you to death with it anyway. So it's a great thing to read if you're interested in learning how to write some real suspense. The sides that trip into the lions locker room that time. I think the shining is my second scaring this moment. Oh my God, that's yeah, Red Drum, red room, all working though. Play makes...

...jack do the thing was Dave. Never seen a red it? You have to do that one too. You haven't seen that, gust I would just talked about that before the show. I have not familiar with that clown. Yeah, wait, never, never seen what, oh it. Oh Yeah, oh no, that's terrible. Yeah, want to come out your play? Yeah, no, clowns are terrifying. Want to come out and play. Yeah, Sally, if you could tell a younger version of yourself one thing, what would it be? Do you could go back in time, quit smoking earlier. Quite yeah, get off the sticks, get off the get off the cigarettes earlier. What point in your life did you put? I was thirty. That's pretty UN though. Yeah, but it was still ten years too long. But when did you start? Oh my gosh, probably sixteen. We saw your famous, your favorite people smoking. Everybody. Well, yeah, they all smoke. Yeah, exactly. Smoker to was my oh, my father was a passionate smoker. He loves smoking. I still love smoking. I have an occasional relapse. All, you don't und stay right. That's exactly right. Yeah, yeah, a little bit. I learned the hard way. I for a while I told myself I could go back and smoke occasionally, but it doesn't work that way. I within a month I'm smoking a pack of day. If I just can't do it, it's cellular with me. Right, all right, Sally. Last one. What's the best innovation and sports that's happened, and say the last ten years? You know those, those just the quality of instant replay that you know. So if you're watching the US Open. You know the Hawkeye Camera, the Hawk eye camera that can show you where the ball lands at the French opener Wimbledon. That those those are really those are I mean they amazed me that. It's magic. I can't figure out how they contract a ball moving at that speed so precisely instantly, like in golf, like they show the tractor right, yeah, it's got a hooker, a face or something. It's yeah, knowledge behind all that is really really yeah. Yeah, the Hawkeye Technology would be the greatest innovation. What's your opinion on instant replay in football and baseball? I you know, I just the main thing that they have to figure out is if you have it, you should have it on every reply. You know, I don't understand the difference between what's reviewable and what's not reviewable. No one knows. No one knows. It's so it's like a a scrambled eggs and I think we need to fry those eggs rather than scramble them. I think we need a little more precision, like if something, if everything, should be reviewable. I don't understand why. I mean they have are they afraid it would slow the the game down? Is that the idea? Okay, get much slower. Yes, I mean yeah, well, we appreciate your time and we thank you for coming on. Hopefully we gave you a little bit of different interview than you normally have. Absolutely it was a lot of fun you guys. Yeah, we really appreciate. I think our audience are really going to get intacted how all the transitions you've had in your life made you into who you are today and really help developed your writing and your skills that you have as a writer. Well, I appreciate you having me on it. You're very kind and I enjoyed talking with you guys. So have me back, absolutely definitely. Okay, great, thanks. Okay, guys, bye, bye. Hey, we want to thank you for joining us today on how to up with guests, where we talked to a wide range of guests about how supports shaped to life. As always, I'm joined by my great friend and cohost, Dave Hagar, and we want you to be able to follow us on all of our social media at howle up with Guss and we really appreciate you and thank you for your time and listening to our podcast.

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