Friday, February 22, 2013

Melissa Stark Profile for "Philadelphia"

I didn't get this reaction from her, though my eyes were sealed with fatigue...
It's funny...I remember watching Stark on ESPN's "Scholastic Sports America" as a teenager, and of course, she was a big honking deal on "Monday Night Football." So, it was cool to meet Stark, who just oozes professional competence. She could have been the CEO of a bank or a lawyer.

To wit, I've never had anyone--male or female--deliver a firmer handshake. It was tighter than the lid on an unopened jar of pickles.

I wrote a front of the book piece for "Philadelphia," which you can read right here. But here are a few observations, aside from Stark's kung-fu grip.

--Stark hosts "First on the Field," NFL Network's pre-pre-game show. The show airs Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., which meant I had to be at NFL Films at 6:30 a.m. That meant I had to be up at 5:00 a.m. and on the road by 5:30 a.m. That was absolutely brutal, though I did get to visit NFL Films, which was beyond awesome. 

--Hanging out in a control room, which I did for a goodly portion of my time there, is fantastic. You get to see how a TV show is put together and it's a super-sarcastic, chummy vibe. 

--Afterward, I met up with my wife, her mother, and her uncle for brunch. I should have stayed home. My eyes drooped, my head felt as huge as a parade balloon. I spent a majority of Sunday just limping around my house. When Cameron was in Egypt's land...

--I had pitched this story to the mag's wonderful deputy editor, Christy Speer, before Thanksgiving. On December 14, she calls me to say, "Hey, it's a go, can you get this to us on January 2nd?"

I could not say no. One of my goals was to write for Philadelphia. I had been pitching Christy stories for a year. Seriously, it was non-stop; I thought she was going to block my email. This was it.

By the time I reached NFL's PR to arrange a visit to the studio, it was December 23rd. Holiday stuff and other assignments meant that I couldn't write and do the secondary reporting until December 26th. Oh, and I had another assignment due on January 2nd. And Christy was on vacation... 

--But I'm really happy with the piece. And the editing process, combined with Grantland, was like a master class on feature writing. I know it made me a better writer.  

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