Posts Tagged ‘The Fury Files’


Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, which are now required reading in all Iowa middle schools. Check out previous interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby, Will LeitchPatrick Reusse and Peter Richmond. (We can also announce the next participant: Former Star-Tribune editorial writer extraordinaire Kate Stanley.)

This week’s guest is Seth Reiss, head writer of the incomparable Onion. For those who don’t know — Iranian news agencies, your second cousin who posts stories on Facebook and says “Can you believe this!!!!!”, and 94 percent of all Yahoo commenters — The Onion is a satirical newspaper started in Madison, Wisconsin in 1988. It’s gone on to become America’s Finest News Source — in its own words — and America’s Funniest News Source, in the words of everyone else. And Reiss is one of the main geniuses behind the whole operation.

Reiss comes from Connellsville, Pa., Pittsburgh Steelers territory, and graduated from Boston University. He interned with, among others, Conan, and was a page on Letterman. Before joining The Onion in 2005, Reiss’s credits included time as a writer on the ESPN Classic show Cheap Seats. He wrote sports items for The Onion and eventually became head writer, overseeing a writing staff that still produces brilliant work week after week, year after year. Reiss was one of the main writers and editors for the 2012 book The Onion Book of Known Knowledge. The fake encyclopedia is funny, outrageous, profane, original, subtle. In other words, the perfect Onion production. The book obviously hits on all the major events in world history — it’s an encyclopedia, after all — but it’s the smaller entries that are just as entertaining.

Reiss stays plenty busy away from The Onion, including writing for IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! He’s a regular contributor to McSweeney’s and for many years participated with the sketch comedy group Pangea 3000. Reiss has been included in a few profiles in the New York Times, including this June 2012 piece about the group’s hopefully temporary breakup.

Another time the Times featured Reiss? When he reluctantly admitted to being the man behind the Matt Albie Twitter account. Who’s Matt Albie? The pill-popping, cares-too-much comedic genius who was the head writer for Studio 60, the fake sketch comedy show on the failed NBC show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Matthew Perry played him on the actual show, but Reiss’s Twitter character — Mattalbie60 — has become him. “I am so good at what I do.” “When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt they would perform nightly sketch comedy shows to relieve their anguish.” “If I ever have a son, I’d rush home from work, take him out in the backyard and toss the old sketch comedy around.” Taking it one step further, Reiss wrote a fake Amazon page for a fake Studio 60 oral history. Click on the book on that site and you can read an excerpt. Reiss’s commitment to the joke and character is admirable, and possibly a cry for help.

If you need a soundtrack while reading this Q&A, listen to some of the podcasts Reiss has appeared on, including ones on It’s That Episode, Jordan, Jesse Go!, and NPR.

Here, Reiss — who moved from New York to Chicago when The Onion moved its offices in 2012 — talks about his writing and comedy influences, Studio 60’s terrible goodness, The Onion’s evolution, its voice, Onion science, the encyclopedia, a Lake Wobegon serial killer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Seth.

(more…)

Advertisements

Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, which are currently defending themselves in a million dollar lawsuit brought by Rockford. Check out all the previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby, Will Leitch and Patrick Reusse.

This week’s guest is Peter Richmond, a former newspaper reporter who went on to become one of the country’s best magazine writers at GQ and is now a best-selling author. He’s also been a planning board member in a small village in New York.

Richmond graduated from Yale, where he studied under the legendary John Hersey and David Milch. I’d say more about that but I’ve already given away too much and Richmond talks all about it below. Richmond’s been honored numerous times in the Best American Sports Writing series and his 1992 story about Tommy Lasorda’s son, Tommy Jr., who died of AIDS, earned a spot in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. If anyone ever produces a book called The Best American Sports Writing of the Millennium, the Lasorda piece will find its way there as well (the story is now available online on the Stacks section of Deadspin and has been anthologized in the BASW series and in the book Fathers & Sons & Sports).

The author of numerous books, Richmond is currently working on a biography of Phil Jackson. Previous efforts include My Father’s War: A Son’s Journey, a book that detailed Richmond’s efforts to discover just what it meant when he heard his late father (who died when Richmond was a young boy and had won two Silver Stars in World War II) described as a war hero. In 2010, Richmond wrote Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. Among his other works? Ballpark: Camden Yards and the Building of an American Dream, and Fever: The Life and Music of Peggy Lee.

Richmond has a style that makes writing look easy, which disguises the fact his stories only read like that because of his talent and the exhaustive work that went into reporting his pieces and books. While he spends most of his time these days working on books, his words still pop up elsewhere. Check out his Grantland piece about how America can’t build a decent sports stadium. Or his story for SB Nation Longform about the world championship of blind baseball. And here’s his 1990 piece about Bill Murray. This past week he wrote on Bronx Banter about Hall of Famer Bernard King and his forgotten arrests, and I can only imagine the angry letters he received from Knicks fans. A devoted New York Giants fan — he also wrote a best-selling book with Frank Gifford about the famous 1958 title gameRichmond hosts a radio show about Big Blue, which was the subject of a New York Times story. And be sure to check out Richmond’s website.

Here, Richmond talks about studying under legends, the badass Raiders, the mysterious Phil Jackson, Phish, his writing style, why Cincinnati hated him, why Tommy Lasorda stopped talking to him, his evolution as a writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Peter.

(more…)


Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, currently ranked 25th in Q&A RPI. If you have time to spare or want to abuse your printer privileges at work, check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby and Will Leitch.

This week’s guest is Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse, a Minnesota newspaper legend and one of the best columnists in the country. I grew up reading Reusse’s stories and hearing classic stories about Reusse — my parents are of similar age and are also from Fulda, the small town in southwest Minnesota made somewhat famous in countless Reusse columns over the years.

Reusse got his start in newspapers just after high school, when he landed a job as a copy boy at the old Minneapolis Morning Tribune. His boss was a middle-aged guy who’d go on to become a rival, peer, foe, foil, subject, colleague and friend — Sid Hartman. That gig started a love affair with papers that continues 50 years later, even if the business looks nothing like it once did. After stints at the newspapers in Duluth and St. Cloud, Reusse came back to the Twin Cities in 1968, spending 20 years in St. Paul before switching to the Star Tribune in 1988.

Reusse worked as a beat writer in his early years — along with a brief tenure as a morning editor that, he wrote, was a “failure, since it put me in charge of my drinking buddies” — before becoming a columnist in 1979. Reusse’s a versatile writer, but there’s no doubt he excels at those pieces that are the most-read for any big-city newspaper columnist and attract the most praise or vitriol from readers and fans, depending on whether they agree with his view: the rip job. He wasn’t impressed with Gophers football coach Tim Brewster’s intro. He pleaded with the NCAA selection committee to keep the Gophers hoops team out of the tourney. He said goodbye to the Minnesota North Stars, those losers. Today’s Twins are a lot like the miserable Twins of the ’90s. Then there are the Turkeys. Since 1978, Reusse’s picked a Turkey of the Year and the committee’s decisions always spark controversy.

But a one-note columnist would become a boring read, and what sets Reusse apart from so many is his love of the stories that are rarely in the spotlight, along with his ability to spin yarns on everything from John Gagliardi’s retirement to the legendary Edgerton basketball team from 1960 to the Fulda-Slayton Goat to an old Star Tribune copy editor named Bud Armstrong. Read his piece on Walsh Field in Gaylord and his column on Danube legend Bob Bruggers. Or his column on the Vikings’ Weeping Blondes.

These days, Reusse spends more time on the radio than he does at the paper, as he’s a daily co-host on 1500 ESPN with Phil Mackey. Reusse’s an early sports-radio pioneer — he started in 1980 with longtime friend and fellow columnist Joe Soucheray, a combo that’s still on the air today. Anyone who’s heard Reusse tell a tale on the radio — which is often punctuated with his distinctive cackle — knows his on-air style is as unique as his written one.

Check out Reusse’s column archive and blog and follow him on Twitter. And for a great story about Reusse, be sure to read this 2009 piece from David Shama.

Here, Reusse talks about his writing style, Turkeys, Sid, controversial columns, town team baseball, life in newspapers and radio, saying goodbye to Minnesota legends, what motivates him today, and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Patrick.

(more…)


Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, the favorite Q&A of people who think the world really is ending on December 21. Check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard and Roland Lazenby.

This week’s guest is writer Will Leitch. I’d put a magazine or website name in front of writer, but Leitch works for such a wide variety of publications, it’d be impossible to put just one title there. Leitch is a contributing editor at New York Magazine, where he usually writes about sports but displays his versatility on a regular basis, like when he interviewed Spike Lee. Earlier this year he became a contributing writer for the new website Sports on Earth, a fun site that includes contributions from writers like Joe Posnanski, Chuck Culpeppper and Gwen Knapp. There he writes about a variety of topics. A defense of Joe Buck? A story on the Nets-Knicks game? A piece on the beleaguered Arizona Cardinals? They’re all on Sports on Earth.

Leitch is a regular contributor to GQ, where he’s written in-depth profiles of Michael Vick, Derrick Rose and Jeremy Lin. It’s not all about sports, though. With longtime friend Tim Grierson, Leitch regularly reviews movies for Deadspin. Leitch is the founding editor of the Gawker empire’s sports site, which he left for New York magazine in 2008.

A native of Mattoon, Illinois, Leitch is a passionate fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the Arizona Cardinals football team, who earned his undying loyalty when they were losing games in bewildering fashion in the Midwest instead of the Southwest. Leitch graduated from the University of Illinois and is still in love with the football teams and basketball teams. He might still have a Kenny Battle poster hanging in his bedroom and at some point in his career — either for Slate or a weekly paper in Illinois — he’s likely written 3,500 words about why Jack Trudeau to David Williams was the most underrated quarterback-receiver combo in NCAA history.

His enthusiasm for his favorite sports — for the players, the teams, the games, the moments — remains one of his greatest strength as a writer, but he’s also great at writing. And he can handle it any form, from long magazine profiles to short opinion pieces on the web. In addition to all of his other work, Leitch is the author of four books, including his most recent, Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball. If you need more of his writing? There’s always his Tumblr page. Or Twitter.

Here, Leitch talks about Spike Lee and Woody Allen, the 1987 World Series (Twins!), Letterman, the difference between magazines, websites and books, what motivates him as a writer and a lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Will.

(more…)


Welcome back to the Fury Files, which return after serving a six-month suspension for PEDs. Check out the previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones and Chris Ballard.

This week’s guest is Roland Lazenby, and this could be the timeliest Fury Files of them all. Lazenby is a veteran writer, the author of more than 60 books. Many of those focused on the Los Angeles Lakers, and he’s written some of the best books there are about the franchise and the superstars who have played for the purple and gold. He’s also written a biography about Phil Jackson, who has, as you might have heard or read recently, made his way into the news again. Lazenby’s Mindgames is a superb look at the Zen Master and if you still find yourself wondering what motivates the mysterious legend, Lazenby’s decade-old book is your best resource. (Hopefully in a future edition of the book, we’ll learn what really happened when Mike D’Antoni was hired over Phil, which broke as this was going to, er, press).

Roland Lazenby’s next book will be a biography of Michael Jordan.

But Lazenby does much more than write about the NBA’s longest-running soap opera. His newest project is a biography of Michael Jordan, which is scheduled to be published in 2013. Like the Lakers, the Bulls — and their superstar — have long been subjects for Lazenby, who started off as a newspaper reporter in Virginia and has also been a professor at Virginia Tech and now Radford University.

Lazenby’s Bulls books include Bull Run (focused on the team’s record-breaking 1996 seasons) and Blood on the Horns.

I can’t say I’ve read all of Lazenby’s dozens of books, but I think I’ve read all of his ones about the Lakers, including the incredible oral history The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers in the Words of Those Who Lived It. His 2010 book Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, is the best thing ever written about the tortured hoops genius, and that includes West’s own autobiography, which was released after Lazenby’s best-seller. Also, if you’re a hoops fan, follow Lazenby on Twitter, where he is one of the more entertaining scribes.

In 2007, in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, Lazenby oversaw a book put together by his journalism students, called April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers.

Lazenby took time off from tweeting about Jackson and putting the finishing touches on his Jordan biography to talk about Kobe Bryant and Jordan, Phil and Tex Winter, the life of a biographer, Sid Hartman, the worst losses — and greatest victories — in Lakers history, and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Roland.

(more…)


Back by popular demand, it’s The Fury Files, the seventh-most downloaded Q&A on Kindle. As always, I will shamelessly plug previous editions, so check out my interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van ValkenburgMichael Kruse and Chris Jones.

When Ballard talks about writing or hoops, you’ll want to listen.

This week’s guest is Chris Ballard, a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated. Ballard joined SI in 2000 and has been a Senior Writer for about eight years. All he’s done during that time is become one of the best writers in the magazine, not to mention one of the most versatile. Ballard is best-known for his superb NBA writing. And while it’s a well-deserved reputation — as these stories on the dunk and Kevin Durant prove — it would be unfortunate if his skills as a hoops wordsmith overshadowed the fact he’s put together a series of features at SI that stack up against anyone’s.

This year, Ballard was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in profile writing for a November 2011 story about Dewayne Dedmon, a Jehovah’s Witness who went against his mother’s beliefs and eventually became a Division I basketball player. Twice Ballard has earned inclusion in the Best American Sports Writing series. The first time was for his 2006 story on an insane high school football game in Arkansas. The 2011 anthology honored Ballard’s story on Cal crew member Jill Costello and her inspiring fight against cancer. Some of Ballard’s other memorable features include his piece on retired quarterback Jake Plummer, the story of the kissing couple from the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots and a piece from this past February, which you very well might find in next year’s BASW book. The feature focused on Chicago-area high school wrestling coach Mike Powell and his fight against a draining, potentially deadly illness. Ballard did an interview with freelance writer Brandon Sneed and the pair dissected the story on Powell. Make sure to check it out. In the most recent Sports Illustrated — the May 14 issue — Ballard examines Kobe Bryant, his dad, Jellybean, and mom, Pam. The story is “Where Does Greatness Come From?” and is another superb piece by Ballard.

Ballard has also written four books, with the newest one hitting bookstores next week. His first, Hoops Nation, chronicled his half-year-long trip across the country playing pickup basketball. The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People Who Found Their True Calling Way Off The Beaten Path came out in 2006. And in 2009, he wrote one of my favorite basketball books ever, The Art of a Beautiful Game.

His latest effort, which is already receiving a lot of praise, is One Shot at Forever: A small town, an unlikely coach and a magical baseball season, the story of a high school baseball team in Illinois that accomplished great things back in the early 1970s. Hoosiers on the diamond. Ballard first told the story of the Macon Ironmen in a 2010 Sports Illustrated story. The book will be released on May 15.

Back to hoops. Ballard was a good high school player who played a year for Division III Pomona College in California. He’s still pretty tough and if you watch the video in this story Ballard wrote about some magical shoes, you can watch a sports writer dunk.

Below, Ballard talks about the inner editorial workings of Sports Illustrated, playing hoops with his dad, an interesting piece about a boring Tiger Woods, column writing vs. longform, finding your voice as a writer, writing about Kobe, his new book, Hoosiers, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Chris.

(more…)


After a nearly three-month hiatus, the Fury Files make their triumphant return (thanks to those who signed the online petition demanding their reinstatement. We heard you). Check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg and Michael Kruse.

This week’s guest is Chris Jones, a guy with a common name but uncommon talent. Jones is a Writer at Large for Esquire and has won two National Magazine Awards. A few months ago he took over as the backpage columnist at ESPN the Magazine. He was an original contributor to Bill Simmons’ Grantland. He’s also written two books, Falling Hard: A Rookie’s Year in Boxing, and Too Far From Home, A Story of Life and Death in Space. And even though it’s been silent for awhile, Jones’s blog – Son of Bold Venture – was an insightful, entertaining look into the life, and mind, of a writer. You can also follow him on Twitter at MySecondEmpire.

Jones has written some of the more memorable magazine stories of the past decade. He won the National Magazine Award for 2004’s Home, which told the story of the astronauts who were on the International Space Station when Columbia exploded in February 2003. And he won the award for 2008’s The Things That Carried Him, the remarkable story of Joey Montgomery, a soldier killed in Iraq. But everything Jones writes is a must-read, whether it’s a feature on an athlete or a politician, a movie star or a movie critic. Read his piece on Ricky Williams. Read all of his features on John McCain. Read his profile of Jeff Bridges. Read his famous story on Roger Ebert. Read his piece on the guy who outsmarted The Price is Right. And for god’s sake, read his story on what it’s like being a paramedic.

Not all of his stories are serious or require dozens of interviews. He’s just as fun to read when he writes about a fistfight with a hippie named Jericho or the best bar in America (which just happens to be in Minnesota.)

So far, 2012 has been a fascinating year for Jones, though he would likely use a different word to describe it. He’s written two major pieces already this year, one on the escaped animals from a private zoo in Zanesville, Ohio, the other on Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro. Unfortunately for Jones, two other magazines also did major stories on the escaped animals in Zanesville and Robert Caro. And both came out at the same time as his Esquire stories. This did not make for an entirely happy Writer at Large.

Jones is from that mysterious land to the north, Canada. He started his professional career at Canada’s the National Post, where he earned acclaim as a sportswriter. The start of his Esquire career is somewhat legendary, at least among writers and those who long to be writers. While still at the Post, Jones walked into the Esquire building in New York City unannounced, with donuts and a dream (memoir title?). He was able to talk an Esquire editor into reading his work. Months later, while unemployed and practically homeless, he earned a shot with the magazine and made the most of it, becoming Esquire’s sports columnist (read all about that beginning in this talk he gave late last year). That gig eventually turned into his current position, where he’s established himself as perhaps the best magazine writer in the country. Many people have heard of Jones’s magazine ploy and wished they could do the same, perhaps forgetting that the most important things in his arsenal that day weren’t snacks, but a lot of talent and even more desire.

Here, Jones talk about Robert Caro, the importance of endings, writing about writers, Mike Weir’s greatness, duplicate stories, a famous sex column, the lifespan of a long-form writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Chris.

(more…)


Welcome to the seventh edition of The Fury Files, the most popular Internet Q&A in South Africa, at least according to my Cape Town in-laws. Check out previous versions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman and Kevin Van Valkenburg.

This week’s guest is Michael Kruse, a writer on the enterprise staff for the Tampa Bay Times. If you’re unfamiliar with that paper, it’s because it was called the St. Petersburg Times until January 1, when it changed names to reflect changing times. But no matter where Kruse’s byline appears – and it’s appeared everywhere from ESPN, to Yahoo! to Charlotte Magazine and on Grantland, not to mention on the cover of a book – his work stands out. Kruse has been honored by a variety of news organizations for his writing, from the Associated Press Sports Editors to the Society of Professional Journalists to many more. It’s impossible to classify him as one type of writer, because he excels in every genre. As comfortable writing about sports as he is a fallen political leader, Kruse has a knack for finding unique stories that no one else wrote about or a unique angle on a story everyone’s written about.

For his newspaper, he’s written about the loneliness of a monkey on the run and the odd case of a Bruce Springsteen fan who faked his own death on a Boss message board. During LeBron James’s infamous first season with the Miami Heat – when everyone with a laptop or a microphone offered opinions on the superstar – Kruse profiled sports reporter Brian Windhorst, who has covered James since his high school days and left Cleveland for a job with ESPN when LeBron took his talents to a beach in Florida. He’s also passionate about helping other writers and championing the work of his peers, such as serving as a writing coach at a workshop in memory of the late, beloved editor Mike Levine (the video above is a piece of Levine’s).

In the last few months, he’s contributed to Bill Simmons’s Grantland, including a piece on the influence of the Oregon football team’s uniforms.

In 2008, Butler Books published Kruse’s book Taking the Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment. It profiled the Davidson basketball team’s run to the Elite Eight in the ’08 NCAA tournament, which ended with a heartbreaking loss against eventual national champion Kansas. Kruse graduated from Davidson in 2000. All he’s done since is establish himself as one of the best feature writers in the country.

Here, Kruse talks about what he would change about his book experience, the value of silence, the thrill of discovering a long-lost police report, loneliness, the St. Pete Times – er, Tampa Bay Times – what he means when he talks about writing, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Michael.

(more…)


It’s time for the latest edition of The Fury Files, WordPress’s third-most popular Q&A, even though I still can’t quite decide if I should capitalize “The” before Fury Files. Check out previous interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski and Pat Coleman.

This week’s guest is Kevin Van Valkenburg, who is, according to his Twitter profile, a “Scribbler by trade. Montanan by birth. Baltimorian by marriage. Baltimore Sun feature writer at the moment.” He’s also one of the best writers in the business.

Van Valkenburg arrived in Baltimore shortly after graduating from the University of Montana in 2000. A Missoula, Mont., native, Van Valkenburg’s writing has earned him numerous awards, including four honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors. A 2004 story he wrote  – “Rayna’s Second Season” – was honored in the 2005 edition of The Best American Sportswriting (Here’s Part 1. And Part 2.). The profile told the story of former Virginia Tech basketball player Rayna DuBose, who suffered devastating injuries after being afflicted with meningococcal meningitis.

The man can tell a story. But he's even better at writing them.

Van Valkenburg can write in any style – short or long, in print or online. He dissects Ravens games for the Sun with the skill of a seasoned football analyst. He’s a funny blogger who can write about Project Runway but also pen poignant pieces on everything from playing golf with his dad, to taking a memorable road trip with former Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen. But he’s at his best when writing long features, where his reporting and writing skills truly shine. Van Valkenburg also isn’t limited to the pages of the Baltimore Sun. Earlier this year, he wrote a piece for a blog run by Esquire writer Chris Jones, where Van Valkenburg looked back on a memorable night at Elaine’s, the once-legendary, now-closed New York restaurant that was always home to actors, artists, editors and writers.

He’s also a bit of a dreamer, a romantic when it comes to the art of writing, whether you’re talking novels or nonfiction, newspapers or magazines. I could listen to him talk about writing for hours. Here, he writes about writing for thousands of words and I couldn’t be happier.

Van Valkenburg played football at the University of Montana, where his mom, Carol, a former reporter herself, served as a distinguished journalism professor. His dad, Fred, is the Missoula County Attorney. Read below to find out why Kevin became a writer and not a lawyer.

Perhaps most importantly, Van Valkenburg is a Lakers fan.

Here, Kevin talks about growing up with an editor mom, life as a college football player, literary heroes, leaving Montana and living in Baltimore, his story that made it into the Best American Sportswriting book, The Wire, David Stern’s ego, the writing life and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Kevin.

(more…)


Welcome to the latest edition of the world-famous Fury Files, where we chat with writers, athletes, former newspaper reporters, current media critics and others who respond positively to my requests for their time. The entire collection will be available in book form just in time for Christmas (not really). Check out previous versions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer and Joe Posnanski.

This week’s guest is quite unique: He doesn’t sleep. At least that’s what I suspect, and it’s really the only explanation for how he does what he does.

The Guru. (Courtesy D3sports.com)

Pat Coleman is the Executive Editor of D3sports.com, but that title doesn’t do him justice. He’s a passionate champion of Division III athletics, an outstanding writer who shines some light on a corner of the sports world usually ignored by major media outlets, a go-to analyst for playoff questions or hard-news items about schools that are dropping programs, and the leader of a team that now includes d3football.comd3hoops.com, d3soccer.com, d3baseball.com and, most recently, d3hockey.com.

Coleman and the D3football.com crew also produce the annual Kickoff, an online publication that previews every D3 team in the country – all 239 of them. It analyzes the conferences, ranks the teams and profiles the players.

During the fall, the D3Sports sites get more than a million visits a month. Many of the people who come to the site also interact on the sites’ message boards. Remarkably – and thanks to the efforts of Coleman (who has a mere 28,000-plus posts on the boards) and the others who work for the sites – the message boards are unlike most Internet forums. The well-moderated boards remain free of mindless insults, racist comments and cruelty. People gather to talk Division III sports, beer and tailgating, and in doing so often end up meeting people who become great friends, even if they’re from hated rivals. A certain poster with a name similar to mine spends some time there chatting about St. John’s and its inevitable victory in the 2012 Stagg Bowl.

Coleman started on this odyssey when he took over the site that became D3hoops.com in 1997 and created D3football.com in 1999. Fans of Division III sports have plenty of memories of being unable to ever find scores on their favorite teams, forced to scour the Sunday newspaper’s agate section results. Division III is filled with small schools. But Coleman’s work means the teams and players receive big-time coverage.

And he basically does all this as a volunteer  – while working media jobs in the real world. Again: Does he sleep? Coleman grew up in Minnesota but graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. in 1994. He has worked at USA Today, USA Today Baseball Weekly, USA Today Sports Weekly, nbcsports.com and Verizon Headlines. After spending years on the East Coast, Coleman is back in Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, Cate, and three kids.

With the D3 football pairings being announced this weekend, it’s a perfect time to chat with Coleman. Here, Pat talks about the Mount Union-Whitewater rivalry, how he ended up at Catholic, how to improve the D3 playoffs, the 1936 Orange Bowl, the best game he’s ever seen and a lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Pat.

(more…)