Pete Thamel is an award-winning sports journalist who covers football for Yahoo Sports. He has also worked for Sports Illustrated and the New York Times and has been covering football for a living since he graduated from Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications in 1999.
We caught up with Thamel for this week’s Friday Five…
1. Who is your biggest mentor?
The two biggest mentors I’ve had in my career are Peter King at Sports Illustrated and Joe Drape from the New York Times. They were both relentlessly generous with their time and resources, giving constant feedback to help me develop in this profession. It wasn’t always rainbows and lollipops, but that is what you need in this business.
2. How did you get started in the sports media business?
I got started from a young age. I was the sports editor at my high school paper. Then I was the sports editor of my college newspaper, The Daily Orange at Syracuse. And then my first job was at the Syracuse Post Standard and I just kind of climbed up from there. All were great places to work and for me to develop.
3. What is your favorite part about covering college football?
My favorite part? It’s just a complete and total ludicrous mess, every day, every week, every season. One week you’re in Miami. The next you’re in Eugene. One week you’re in State College and next week you’re in Tempe. And aside from that, college football is really a window into America in a lot of ways. It’s race, it’s class, it’s politics, it’s higher education. It’s red, it’s blue, it’s a microcosm of America and that makes it relentlessly fascinating because everything changes so quickly.
4. What was your most memorable interview?
It’s not football, but my most memorable interview was probably with a guy named Jonathan Hargett who was a highly-rated basketball recruit who ended up in jail. I interviewed him in Chesapeake, Virginia for a New York Times story and that was memorable, not only because of the jailhouse interview setting but because of his story and who he was.
5. If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?
Bruce Springsteen — Modern poet and seemingly good dude. Also, need to live up to the sportswriter Mad Lib clichés.
John F. Kennedy— He had such a pivotal role in such a volatile time in history. Plus, he and Bruce would hit it off.
Michael Jordan — As we learned on The Last Dance, he’d take it personally if he wasn’t included.