I was more inclined to be a writer. They said I was good at it and I was going to do it, but I always aspired to be on television. It was definitely what I wanted to do, and I am the kind of person that when I set my mind to something, I usually think I am going to achieve it.
You keep your head up, even though that is very difficult. But also, it is a lot of introspection, it is a lot of looking in the mirror and recognizing the things that you did wrong. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the easier it is to point the finger at others, for the bad things that happen to you, the more difficult it is for you to
overcome them because you are looking at everybody but yourself - there
is no introspection to take place. As a result, you find yourself in a
position where you are inclined to repeat some of the same mistakes you
made along the way. It leaves you being just as unattractive as you may
have been at the time those professional disappointment took place, it
leaves you pointing fingers, it leaves you being more difficult to deal
with, more difficult to accept and embrace. And it gives indications
that you are not necessarily a team player because if we really think
about it, particularly in the world of sports, how would we feel if we
are covering someone that always pointed the finger at somebody else?
Even in the event that they are right most of the time, we would
still find ourselves asking, "OK, so what are you going to do about it,
how are you going to address you?" Because you can't control what others
feel, what others do most of the time, you can’t legislate the actions
of some people in certain situations, and almost all the time you
certainly can't legislate what's in their heart. So what are you going
to do about it? So if you aren't looking at yourself then how could you
possibly help others when you have never helped yourself outside of
pointing the finger in another direction?
I had a critical and
persuasive writing class and a professor named John Gates. He was the
editorial page editor for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina
and he was the professor of our class. He looked at me and he said, “You
are a natural born sports writer.” When he saw my material because I was
writing for the school newspaper just trying to earn extra credit
semester hours and trying to build a career in journalism because I was
majoring in mass communications and that was just the natural way to go.
But I loved speaking far more than I love writing. It was him that
convinced me that I could do this from a writing standpoint.
took me out to lunch - he said he wanted to take me out to lunch the
next week. It was on a Tuesday, and I said, “OK, fine.” And when I met
him on campus for him to take me out to lunch, unbeknownst to me, he was
driving me straight to the Winston-Salem newspaper and taking me
directly to the office of the sports editor. That sports editor shook my
hand, talked to me literally for five minutes and he said, “So when can you start?” And I said, “What?” He said, “I got a job for you here as a clerk, when can you start?” I said, “I can start right now.” He said, “See you at 7:00 tonight.” And that is
when it all started.
First Take was once Cold Pizza, and it was
Skip Bayless vs. a host of individuals. Once it became a debate format,
and the name had changed to First Take, it was primarily Skip Bayless -
actually all of Skip Bayless. He held it down and made things happen. In
2012, he approached me and said, “I know you’ve got other plans but I
need you, I’ve taken this show as far as I can take it, and I can’t take
it any further without you. Will you do this with me, please?” He was a
friend, a person I’ve long had a lot of respect for. I knew that we had
a natural on-air chemistry, perfect for a debate show. So I accepted his
invitation and the show just took off from there.
sporting event, that I didn’t cover, was when I watched Mike Tyson and
Evander Holyfield fight for the first time. My favorite event that I did
cover, believe it or not, was a cross between three things. Michael
Jordan’s crossover and jumper to win his sixth championship against
Utah, Allen Iverson and the 76ers in Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks
to advance to the NBA Finals in 2001, and last but not least, it was
1994 when Temple upset U-Mass., who was like No. 5 in the country, at
McGonigle Hall, in Philadelphia. I was the Temple beat writer, I covered