41 episodes

Sit down with host Todd Jones and other sportswriters who knew the greatest athletes and coaches, and experienced first-hand some of the biggest sports moments in the past 50 years. They’ll share stories behind the stories -- some they’ve only told to each other.

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    • Sports
    • 5.0 • 41 Ratings

Sit down with host Todd Jones and other sportswriters who knew the greatest athletes and coaches, and experienced first-hand some of the biggest sports moments in the past 50 years. They’ll share stories behind the stories -- some they’ve only told to each other.

    Melissa Isaacson – “Michael Never Saw Us as the Enemy.”

    Melissa Isaacson – “Michael Never Saw Us as the Enemy.”

    Melissa Isaacson takes us into old Chicago Stadium, where smoke rose to the ceiling while Michael Jordan soared into history. She recounts chronicling the 1990s dynasty of the Bulls, with its crazy circus, gracious characters, and poignant moments. Hear about her visit to Birmingham, Ala. when Jordan was playing minor league baseball and mourning his father’s murder. Oh, and there was that time Phil Jackson walked in on a simulation of childbirth involving a basketball. Melissa also recalls sitting by Princess Diana at Wimbledon, visiting the athletes’ Olympic village, and navigating the early days of her career when there were few women working in the sports media.
    Isaacson was an award-winning sports journalist for 34 years, including 19 at the Chicago Tribune, where she was the paper’s first female beat writer on the Bulls (1991-95) and Bears (1995-2001). She initially covered University of Illinois men’s basketball (1990) and later became the Tribune’s first female sports columnist and a feature writer before leaving that paper for ESPN in 2009.  

    Throughout her career, Isaacson received Associated Press Sports Editors awards for beat writing, investigative and feature reporting. She covered the Summer and Winter Olympics, more than a dozen Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, World Series, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Final Fours, Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis, the British Open, and college bowl games. Isaacson was a columnist for ESPNChicago.com from 2009-2012; for ESPNW.com on professional tennis, golf and general sports from 2013-15; and ESPN.com covering the Olympics, tennis, golf, Special Olympics and general sports from 2015-17. She also covered sports for the Orlando Sentinel (1986-90), USA Today (1985-86), and Florida Today (1983-85).
    Follow her on Twitter: @mkisaacson
    You can visit Melissa’s website: http://www.melissaisaacson.com/
    Her bio at Northwestern: https://www.medill.northwestern.edu/directory/faculty/melissa-isaacson.html
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    • 56 min
    Bud Shaw: “He’s Three Inches from my Face, and his Eyes are Bulging.”

    Bud Shaw: “He’s Three Inches from my Face, and his Eyes are Bulging.”

    Take a spin around the Cleveland sports scene with Bud Shaw, who spent nearly 27 years there as a columnist with a keen and irreverent eye. Bud puts us with the 1997 Indians when they had World Series champagne on ice. Oops. He recounts a confrontation with glowering Albert Belle, which prompted sage advice from ready-for-battle baseball scribe Paul Hoynes. And Bud recalls covering the tragic boating accident that killed pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin. We also hear about a young LeBron James, the same old, same old Browns, and tales from Bud’s media years before arriving in northeast Ohio. Those days include a prison visit with Denny McLain and Motoball in Moscow. Yes, Motoball. What?
    Shaw was a sports columnist for The Plain Dealer, and later Cleveland.com, from 1991 until he accepted a voluntary buyout in 2018. He then worked for WKYC.com in Cleveland that year before retiring. He won numerous Associated Press Sports Editor awards, including a top 10 in column writing, during his career. His story about the 1993 deaths of Crews and Olin received an honorable mention selection in the “Best American Sportswriting” series.
    Bud covered more than a dozen Super Bowls and World Series, six Olympic Games, eight Masters, the PGA and U.S. Open golf championships, the Ryder Cup, five Indianapolis 500s, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, the Daytona 500, the Final Four, and the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
    Before coming to Cleveland, Bud worked as bureau chief and columnist in Chicago and Detroit for The National Sports Daily from 1989-91. His career also included reporting stints at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1984-89), the San Diego Union-Tribune (1982-84), the Philadelphia Daily News (1980-82), the Trenton (N.J.) Times (1978-80), the Johnstown (Pa.) Tribune Democrat (1977-78), and the Kittanning (Pa.) Leader Times (1976-77). The native of Philadelphia graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a journalism degree in 1976.
    Follow Bud on Twitter: @budshaw
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    • 57 min
    Tony Barnhart: Going Deep with Mr. College Football

    Tony Barnhart: Going Deep with Mr. College Football

    Tony Barnhart takes us on a trip through some of his favorite memories covering college football for more than four decades. Mr. College Football tells us about Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Tim Tebow, and other legendary players. He shares insight about coaches Steve Spurrier and Vince Dooley. Tony examines how SEC expansion in the early 1990s led to today’s conference realignment. He recalls the greatest game he ever covered: Texas over USC for the BCS Championship in the Rose Bowl. Hear some college hoops history, too, as Tony recounts North Carolina State’s upset of Phi Slama Jama.
    Barnhart will be covering his 46th season of college football in 2022 for newspapers, TV, radio and the internet. He has been with the SEC Network since its launch in 2014, writing columns for SECSports.com and contributing to the network’s studio programming. Tony became known as Mr. College Football during his 25-year tenure at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1984 to 2008. He was the Georgia beat reporter for two years before becoming the paper’s college sports editor in July ’87. Twice a week, he hosted a TV show “Talking Football” from Atlanta on the regional cable network Comcast Sports Southeast. While serving as the Journal-Constitution’s national college football writer, Tony began contributing to ESPN’s coverage of the sport beginning in 1993. He started appearing as a regional beat reporter for that network’s “Halftime Blitz,” and began appearing on “College GameDay” in the ’97 season. Tony joined the CBS Sports’ “College Football Today” in 2004 and regularly contributed to that show until 2013. His career began when he took as job as sports editor at The Union Daily Times in South Carolina days after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1976. He then covered ACC football and basketball for eight years at the Greensboro News & Record before moving to Atlanta. He has covered 33 national football championships and 23 Final Fours.
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    • 57 min
    Dan Wetzel: Looking Past the Black Hats and White Hats

    Dan Wetzel: Looking Past the Black Hats and White Hats

    Dan Wetzel takes us into the gray netherworld of sports, where some writers aren’t willing to tread. We discuss how his experiences covering college basketball and AAU taught him to look beyond cliches. Hear about characters such as Sonny Vaccaro, Jerry Tarkanian and others who were easily cast into roles for a simple narrative. Dan puts us in the media room when John Chaney threatened to kill John Calipari. And the Yahoo Sports national columnist describes the tensions and emotions that existed in the court rooms when he covered the trials of Aaron Hernandez and Larry Nassar.
    Wetzel is the author of these books:
    · “Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America's Youth” with Don Yaeger of Sports Illustrated
    · “Glory Road” with former University of Texas-El Paso basketball coach Don Haskins
    · “Runnin' Rebel: Shark Tales of ‘Extra Benefits,’ Frank Sinatra, and Winning It All” with former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian.
    · “Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph” with Alonso Mourning
    · “Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series” with Josh Peter and Jeff Passan
    And he has written several sports biographies for children as part of the Epic Athletes series :
    · Stephen Curry
    · Alex Morgan
    · Serena Williams
    · Tom Brady
    · LeBron James
    · Lionel Messi
    · Simone Biles
    · Kevin Durant
    · Patrick Mahomes
    · Zion Williamson
    Follow him on Twitter (@DanWetzel) and Instagram (wetzelsports).
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    • 58 min
    Dave Kindred: Taking us along with Ali, Tiger and Secretariat

    Dave Kindred: Taking us along with Ali, Tiger and Secretariat

    Few sportswriters can match the lyrical and insightful work of Dave Kindred. His aim has always been to take readers with him, and make them feel what he felt. Dave does this for listeners in this episode as he recalls first meeting Muhammad Ali in 1966, covering 17 of his fights, and agreeing to a strange request from The Greatest in one of their 300-plus interviews. There was the time Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp called Kindred a SOB, and that magical moment at the ’73 Belmont Stakes when Secretariat ran like a beautiful machine in motion. He compares and contrasts Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, and reveals who he’d take if they were matched in their prime. And we hear how Dave found a community in the past decade by chronicling a girls high school basketball team in Illinois.
    Kindred forged a close relationship with Ali while working as a staff writer and columnist for the heavyweight champion’s hometown newspaper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, from 1965 to ’77. He went on to serve as sports columnist for The Washington Post (1977-84), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1984-89 and 1995-97), The National Sports Daily (1989-91), and the Sporting News (1991-2007). Dave has been a contributing writer for Golf Digest since 1997, and he’s a regular contributor online for the National Sports Journalism Center. He also wrote a news column for several years while at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and he was the Washington D.C. correspondent for the Courier-Journal.
    Dave’s started as a sportswriter in 1959 at The Daily Pantagraph in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, while he was a student earning a B.A. in English at Illinois Wesleyan ‘63. He worked there for six years before moving to Kentucky. He went on to write more than 7,000 columns and 12 books, including the memoir, “Leave Out the Tragic Parts: A Grandfather’s Search for a Boy Lost to Addiction,” that was published in 2021. By his count, Dave has covered 75 major golf championships dating back to the 1966 PGA Championship. He also covered 44 Super Bowls, 43 Kentucky Derby races; 44 World Series, eight Olympic Games (Winter and Summer) and eight Wimbledon Championships, and three NBA Finals, He was in Munich, Germany for the ’72 Olympic massacre and in Lake Placid, N.Y. for the 1980 Miracle on Ice. And he likes to say that he’s lost golf balls in 22 countries on four continents.
    Kindred’s six-decade career – including how he has written in retirement about the Morton High School girls basketball team in recent years – was featured in a segment of 60 Minutes that aired March 28, 2021 on CBS. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dave-kindred-local-sportswriter-60-minutes-2021-03-28/
    His books include:
    · “Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post: A Great Newspaper Fights for Its Life”
    · “Sound and Fury: A Dual Biography of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell”
    · “Around the World in 18 Holes with Tom Callahan”
    · “Basketball: The Dream Game in Kentucky”
    · “Theismann”
    · “The Kentucky Derby: A Great American Tradition”
    · “Glove Stories”
    · “Heroes, Fools & Other Dreamers”
    You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveKindred
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Johnette Howard: “Why Do You Think You Can Say That to Me?”

    Johnette Howard: “Why Do You Think You Can Say That to Me?”

    Johnette Howard has never been afraid to stand her ground while reporting and writing about sports for four decades. Hear what she told Bill Laimbeer and Kirby Puckett when they challenged her early in her career. Howard has also always followed her curiosity, which has led her to craft award-winning stories and best-selling books. She tells us about hockey goons, the Bad Boy Pistons, and dramatic Olympic moments that remain seared in her memory. She also takes us to Centre Court at Wimbledon, and through the years with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova – a rivalry unparalleled in sports. We finish by going from tennis to beyond with Howard as she recounts how Billie Jean King impacted sports and life for women everywhere.
    Howard worked as a columnist and on-air commentator for ESPN.com (2008-17), a general sports columnist for Newsday (1999-2009), and a columnist and enterprise writer for The Washington Post (1993-94). She was a senior writer for The National Sports Daily (1989-91) and Sports Illustrated (1994-98) after beginning her career at the Detroit Free Press (1982-89 and 1991-93) as an NBA and Olympics writer. Her long-form articles have been collected in nine anthologies, including “Best American Sports Writing of the 20th Century,” Sports Illustrated’s “Great Football Writing,” and “A Kind of Grace: A Treasury of Sports Writing by Women.” Her newspaper columns for Newsday were nominated for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in general commentary. Besides ESPN, she has also frequently appeared on radio and television for NPR, CNN, HBO, FOX, BBC TV, and Spike TV. She has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Athletic, Slate, The Times of London, House & Garden, Architectural Digest, and Golf for Women.
    Howard collaborated with Billie Jean King on King's autobiography, "All in", which was released in August 2021 and debuted at No. 5 on The New York Times Best-Seller List. The Christian Science Monitor called “All In” the best sports book of the year, and The Washington Post named it one of the 50 notable non-fiction books of 2021. She is also author of the book “The Rivals: Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship,” which was published in 2005. Howard has won national and local recognition from the Associated Press Sports Editors, Best American Sports Writing (five times), the Women’s Sports Foundation, the New York Headline Club, Long Island Press Association.
    Howard’s account on Twitter: @JohnetteHoward
    Her website: www.johnettehoward.com
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    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
41 Ratings

41 Ratings

MikeStrange ,

Sportswriters do it best

I’m a retired sportswriter so I relate to all the inside stories about travel and deadlines, etc. But any fan can connect to this collection of memories from guys and gals who covered the big events and great athletes. Can’t wait for more.

TheAdman22883 ,

New favorite podcast

I love listening to the great stories. Easily my new favorite podcast.


Funny and insightful.

This should be a must listen for sports fans. Nothing else like it that I can find in the podcast world. Great stories and very funny.

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