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Random Thoughts - Audience with the King
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Recently, I had the good fortune to meet Peter King. I reached out to Peter on Twitter. I asked him a simple question, “Any advice for a 64-year-old guy who starts covering sports for my local newspaper?”  

King sent me a direct message suggesting we talk. We talked twice, texted, and met in Nashville recently. Peter was traveling to NFL training camps and I got to meet him when he was visiting the Titans.

If you do not know who Peter King is, here is some background. King wrote for Sports Illustrated (SI) from 1989 to 2018. Peter has been with NBC Sports since 2018. Since 1992, Peter has been a member of the Board of Selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. King has been selected National Sportswriter of the Year three times.

Not a bad place to start for advice for an aspiring sportswriter. How did I get lucky enough to interact with Peter King? I simply asked. When you read someone’s columns consistently for decades, you can think you know them. King’s columns have certainly kept me informed and grounded over the years. Peter’s “voice” is very clear in his columns.

King has a weekly podcast, has regularly appeared on radio sports talk shows, and of course, NBC Sports on TV. So, he sounded very familiar on the phone and in person. 

I started with the basic questions. How do you write an article about a game? I asked and he answered questions for 90 minutes at his hotel in Nashville.

Peter said, “I have to be the luckiest guy on the freaking earth.”  Sports Illustrated gave King incredible access to the NFL. As Peter revealed, “Mike Ditka worshiped SI. When I started at SI, Ditka let me do anything I wanted to do.” 

In the back of your mind, you are reluctant to meet your heroes because they may disappoint you. Peter King was more human and interesting in person than I imagined. The only experience I can compare it to is when I met Springsteen late one night beside the pool at the Sunset Marquis hotel off Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. It was just three of us -- a friend, Springsteen and me for a few minutes. He was personable and interesting. Yes, I am half groupie, half man!

I am still soaking up my time with Peter King. Much of what he told me is similar to what I think a professor in journalism school would teach. Peter said, “Each game is like a snowflake. No two games are alike. There is always a story at each game.” He told me the key is to find that story. Peter, as The Who said at the end of Tommy, “From you, I get opinions. From you, I get the story.”