Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus


Pro Football Focus is one of my favorite (and most important) NFL-related websites, mostly because of the way it measures and rates football players and because, well, it just makes you feel smarter. And though Monson, a senior analyst for the website, and I have been Twitter friends for about four years, this is the first time we’ve had an in-depth conversation.

In our chat, we talk about how NFL teams have begun hiring PFF in order to glean all of its information and why organizations don’t just do that work themselves, what’s a typical weekend like for a PFF analyst when he’s breaking down NFL games and how he does his job, and if coach’s film really makes a difference in the way the site works these games.

Plus, we recount Monson’s continued career as a defensive back in an Irish football league and how he got started on his NFL fandom.

Interviewed on 3-7-14

Here’s something similar:

One of the most interesting things Monson said was that his belief is that football isn’t rocket science. Which is essentially the same thing’s Greg Bedard said in Episode 4. Which you can find right here.

Stephen Jackson, lead singer of The Pietasters


The first time I ever saw The Pietasters, a ska band out of Washington DC, opening for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in 1997, I was hooked. The band straddles the line behind the two-tone sounds of ska’s second wave and the more punk elements of the third wave. And after seeing The Pietasters four times in concert, it’s one my favorite ska bands of all time. That’s why it was such a pleasure to have lead singer Stephen Jackson on the podcast.

During our chat, we discuss the rise and fall of ska’s popularity and how The Pietasters factored into it, how Jackson marries singing in a touring band with fatherhood, Jackson’s goal when he’s writing song lyrics, and if ska is too juvenile for a middle-age listener to appreciate.

Plus, we talk about the last time I saw The Pietasters when half the band was drunk and the bassist jumped into the crowd and disappeared for the rest of the night and how The Pietasters got a one-night gig as James Brown’s backing band.

Interviewed on 3-12-14

A few examples of the Pietaster’s work.

(To hear Drinking and Driving, skip to 44:37)

Rob Carr, Getty Images sports photographer


I see Rob Carr every year at the Super Bowl. We only see each other for maybe five minutes in the media center before we go our separate ways until the next year at the Super Bowl, but that’s better than nothing. So for the first time in probably 10 years, my former colleague at the Augusta Chronicle who’s now a staff photographer at Getty Images, and I have an extended chat. We get into what it’s like to be sports photographer hopping cross-country for a big wire service, all the preparations (and the pressure) these photogs have to go through to get ready for a big event like a Super Bowl, and how that compares to running the hometown photo department during the Masters golf tournament.

We also talk about why photographers across the country feel such a sense of camaraderie with each other, how much of a problem it is for wire services when their online images are stolen, and how Carr wrestled with journalistic ethics when he was covering Hurricane Katrina for the AP.

Interviewed on 2-12-14

FYI, here’s the photo shot by Kevin Carter that Carr and I talked about.

And here’s the explanation of the Carter photo and what happened to him in the aftermath.

Plus, here’s a link to some of the photos Carr shot at the Super Bowl. One of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll being doused with Gatorade. One of Flea making an awesome face. And one of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers during the halftime show.

Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of


Cyd Zeigler and have made it their mission lately to record as many coming-out stories as they possibly can. And with Jason Collins and Michael Sam and a college baseball player and a college tennis player announcing recently that they’re gay, and Zeigler have had plenty to write about lately.

In our podcast chat, we talk about how so many gay athletes are coming forward and how that might be helping to cause a paradigm shift throughout the nation, why straight people think about as a gay website while gay people think about as a sports website, and what it was like to be around Sam in the hours before he announced he was gay.

Plus, I tell him my own personal tale about covering the Michael Sam press conference at the NFL combine and about how I had to amend my own story because I was worried about a double entendre.

And by the way, regarding our banter about Cyd’s name and how it sounds like he should have been working as an L.A. Times sports writer in the 1950s, here’s who I was talking about: Sid Ziff.

Interviewed on 2-26-14