This season will be the 10th as NFL Insider for Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports’ The NFL Today. He can also be read on CBSSports.com and seen on CBS Sports HQ.
We caught up with La Canfora for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
My closest mentors are all newspaper people. Fellow reporters and some editors who took an interest in me and helped me so much and were beyond kind when I was an intern and very young writer. I got to work very closely with Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney when I was an intern at the Baltimore Sun and my sports editors there, Jack Gibbons and Molly Dunham in particular, were all beyond exceptional. I also through covering baseball became very close with John Lowe, who covered the Tigers for the Free Press for years and who was instrumental in me getting hired by the Free Press. My sports editor there, Gene Myers, was also incredibly wonderful to work for and he gave me so many opportunities.
How did you get started in the sports media business?
I am a newspaper person at heart and that is really what I always thought I wanted to do from a pretty young age. So I did as much freelance writing and reporting as I could as a young person in high school and college and work for the school paper at Syracuse and did a lot of work for the Syracuse Post-Standard and Baltimore Sun while I was still in college and ended up starting my career at the Sun and then eventually moving to the Detroit Free Press and the Washington Post before I should have crossed over into the TV stuff. I tried to hustle as much as I could and make as many good first impressions as possible and basically just be willing to cover any story at any time and I was blessed to be around so many incredibly talented and wonderful journalists and people who helped guide me.
You’re a big Twitter guy. What are your favorite and least favorite things about Twitter?
Man, there are most days where I honestly wish social media didn’t exist. For my job, the immediacy of being able to get information out and share things in a widespread manner in a very easy format is obviously a game-changer. But it also helps foster a climate online of hate, rage, vitriol and abuse that it honestly makes me wonder if the good in any way offsets the bad. But certainly in our industry, it’s been a game-changer in terms of how information is presented, although there are many many days where I wish I had an editor or someone next to me to either make a tweet better or prevent me from sending it in the first place!
Heading into the 2021 NFL season, what storyline that hasn’t been talked about much most intrigues you?
I’m not sure if it’s been talked about too much or not enough or just right but I do kind of feel like — because of the point in time we are in with Covid and with so many things swirling around about star players like Aaron Rodgers and DeShaun Watson — that the impact of a 17-game season and what that will mean for injuries and for the record books and for how we think about certain numbers in this sport and how much they resonate, I do think it probably hasn’t been discussed and dissected as much as we will find ourselves doing over time.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
I think a sitdown with MLK, Joe Strummer and Jonas Salk would be pretty amazing for the times we are living in right now.
Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.