A Front-Row Seat with the Sportswriters Who Sat There

Sit down with host Todd Jones and other sportswriters who knew the greatest athletes and coaches, and experienced first-hand some of the biggest sports moments in the past 50 years. They’ll share stories behind the stories -- some they’ve only told to each other.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify

Bob Kravitz: Not Afraid to Go There

Bob Kravitz: Not Afraid to Go There

Bob Kravitz has been fearless in his 36 years of writing about sports. His strong opinions as a columnist have sometimes produced heated reactions from readers and sports figures since the early 1980s. Hear about some of those moments, including his introduction to Bob Knight that you won’t soon forget. Kravitz discusses being in the thick of Denver’s old newspaper war, and later being part of the news after he broke the Deflategate story. He shares details about two of the greatest quarterbacks ever from his quarter-century on the front lines of covering John Elway and Peyton Manning. Kravitz also talks about overcoming health issues and somehow even surviving a car ride in Greece with Todd behind the wheel. Now that road trip took guts.

Kravitz is an award-winning senior staff writer for The Athletic. He’s based in Indianapolis, where he’s been a major voice in the sports scene since beginning a 14-year run as columnist for The Indianapolis Star in 2000. Kravitz also worked in that Indy as a radio host on WFNI-AM 1070 and as a writer and TV commentator for NBC affiliate station WTHR-13. Kravitz wrote for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver for 10 years moving to Indianapolis. Prior to his decade in Colorado, he worked the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Sports Illustrated, the Pittsburgh Press, the San Diego Union, and The Record in Hackensack, New Jersey. Kravitz was an intern reporter at the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the Boston Globe, and the Cincinnati Enquirer before graduating from Indiana University in 1982.

Here’s a link to his latest columns for The Athletic: https://theathletic.com/author/bob-kravitz/

Follow Bob on Twitter: @bkravitz


Bob Kravitz

Hey, Bob, it's been a while, man. Thanks a lot for joining us on the show.

Bob Kravitz

It's absolutely my pleasure to get to hear from you again.

Todd Jones

Well, Bob, I know you're busy. You're still at it. Thirty six years, but you're still cranking them out. Now for the athletic, um, it's been quite a ride for you throughout your career. You've Denver for a decade. Indianapolis since. Two thousand different places before that Plain Dealer in Cleveland S.I. You've been all over the place and you're still cranking them. I really admire that.

Bob Kravitz

Well, you know, I need to retire with money. And believe me, if I can retire in the next ten minutes, I think that I would want to do it in ten minutes. I mean, we need you for a little longer than that.

Bob Kravitz

Maybe, maybe after this podcast. But look, I love what I do. And, you know, I've got a lot of friends. Who have real jobs and they really want to retire. They just want to get out like golf every day, and I'm not saying that I don't want to play golf every day, but I still get a I still get a juice. Yeah, well, doing that is still fun.

[00:01:40.770] - Todd Jones

Well it has been quite a ride. And I was thinking about back to the times that we have crossed paths and we had quite a ride literally in 2004 at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. You and I and Tom Archdeacon from the Dayton Daily News and Karen Crouse from The New York Times decided to take a car ride from Athens to Olympia to see the original site of the Olympic Games, the ancient games. And it was like a four hour drive.

Todd Jones

And I don't know what your memory is of that day. I have a lot of great memories, but I also have a little, you know, painful memories of when we returned.

Bob Kravitz

Well, I remember the drive out. There was one of the beautiful scenic drives I've ever taken. Along the coast, it was just spectacular, and I remember Olympia itself really being inspiring and you just felt like you're walking into. But, yeah, when we came home, we're doing OK on that one major highway.

Todd Jones

Yeah, that one highway, we were fine.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, we were fine. And yeah, we got to the outskirts of our. And we had absolutely no people. You know, yes, there was life before cell phones and Google Maps, and that's that's one word that was the era we were living in. So we had no earthly clue. How to navigate our way back home, not only that, but but I don't even think this was a car. I think it was a tuna can with four wheels.

Bob Kravitz

It was a little bit like my first car in college. Yes. Yes. Yeah, it was. It's not something that should be on a road, a major road. And I remember we got we were hitting back and we kept stopping at all these gas station. To ask for directions right and right, that's what all guys do, right, you stop and ask directions, right? They say guys don't ask for directions when we ask for directions.

Bob Kravitz

The problem was that they use the alphabet over there, so when they say make a left on whatever street I'm looking at, Delta Tau Theta, uh, you know, all these Greek symbols. And I have no idea. I have no idea to this day how we found out where we were staying.

Todd Jones

I have no clue. I don't either. I have on all the signs were Greek to me, exact. And I do recall at one point Karen and Tom and I don't blame them for this. They basically just abandon ship. Well, we were stopped and they fled the car to go hail a cab. And you and I were stuck in the front of the tuna can. I'm driving and I'm like, Walt, we're going down with the ship.

Bob Kravitz

Kravetz Well, I appreciate the fact that you stuck by me because I may have ended up in Cyprus, which wouldn't have been so bad when you think about it would have been bad. But I think Cyprus is an island, so it would have been tough. And my tuna can.

Todd Jones

Well, they.

- Bob Kravitz

I think it's an island, I'm not sure what I whatever. I'm glad you stuck it out. And I remember getting home and sucking down several quick beers, just, yeah, I had I had a few days to decompress.

Bob Kravitz

Right. But it was it was a wonderful day.

Todd Jones

It was it was a wonderful day. I mean, Olympia itself. I mean, it's the site of the ancient games. Right. And you and I were standing at the tunnel knowing this is where the ancient Greeks went, went through this archway and it was fabulous. But it will always be the memory of the tuna can and the Greek signs.

Bob Kravitz

It was almost as frightening as I remember with the last bow. And we were in out I think it was in Albertville from Philadelphia.

Todd Jones

Less, yeah, yeah.

Bob Kravitz

Less bone. And we were coming back from a hockey practice, USA hockey practice. And the breaks were going out in this car. We're coming down the damn mountain now. And somehow, somehow he was like James Bond. I don't know how he went down, but to this day I owe my life. That's Bob.

Todd Jones

You got to have no fear in this business and you have had no fear throughout your career. I mean, heck, you even play hockey. You're a goaltender. I was. So not only did you write sports, you played sports. And you're in you're in the net taking hockey pucks slapped slapdash. So you have no fear. Right.

Bob Kravitz

But, uh, you know, it's funny, when I lived in Denver, sometimes I would go out with some of the avalanche players when they needed a goaltender.

Todd Jones

I would play by Patrick Wall, who wasn't available.

- Bob Kravitz

Patrick wasn't available there, back up the great Billington Billington so they would ask me if I want to come out play. So I'm out there with Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg and all these guys and they are lighting me up like a Christmas tree. Uh, um, my, my five home is declared a national park killing me, but it was great fun. I can, I can say that Alexei Glistrup took a slapshot hit me in the chest so hard I couldn't breathe for about five minutes.

Todd Jones

Well, rumor has it you were in Slapshot, so, uh, I haven't confirmed that, so, yeah, so but seriously, you did you actually play the club hockey at Indiana where you went to college and you're in your Annett for the Hoosiers club team, right? I was,

Todd Jones

I had a chance to play some Division three places, but I really wanted to go into journalism. And I you was a great place for journalism. Plus, they had a hockey club where I knew that I would play. I would start virtually. So that is a good decision, I played, uh, played Men's League and pick up.

Todd Jones

Well, you know, the Hoosiers had a pretty good basketball team, too, you know, they look pretty good when you were in college and they had this coach and I think his name was, what, Robert Montgomery Knight, I believe. Um, so you in the early 80s, I mean, you're you're working for the student newspaper and you're covering the national champions. They won the championship in eighty one and you're in school and talk about no fear.

Todd Jones

You once told me about the first time you ever met Bob Knight as a journalist. What was that like?

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, I would I think I was my sophomore year and they put me on. I use with another guy. And, um, so his secretary told me and Dan Borrero, who was working, I think, in Louisville at the time. Told us to just wait for Coach Knight in his office, so we did, and about 10 minutes later, this very large naked man naked. Naked. Yeah, follow me. I don't know if I want to, I completely butt naked, walks out of the shower and plops himself down on a red Naugahyde type chair and just sits there, it's like, what the bleep you want?

Bob Kravitz

So he was trying he was Toye, he was messing with me, I mean, he comes out there, he's buck naked, OK, you know, I'm scared to death and he's buck naked. He's like, what the hell do you. And actually, we had a pretty good discussion.

Todd Jones

What did you talk about, you and Naked Bob and Naked Bob? We talked about access.

Todd Jones

Yeah, I bet he's giving you plenty.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, it's got a couple more access and I know how to do it. Uh, but, uh, yeah, we talk about access. He is funny. He told me, uh, if you have something that you're writing that needs me and you need me. You feel free to come to me any time, and don't worry if I get pissed off because I don't want you to be a so-and-so. So like some of these other writers, you come to me and let's have a discussion.

Bob Kravitz

Well, about a month later, I wrote a piece that I needed a quote from him, and I went to talk to him and told him what I was writing about. He went bananas. Really went bananas. I mean, I remember Isaiah Thomas was on the court laughing his behind off trying to keep. Here, but that's all right, it's all fair in in the barber and don't worry about it. What, by the way, what was the story about that he was so upset about, you know, when I was one year earlier?

Bob Kravitz

A couple of guys got kicked off the team for allegedly smoking marijuana. No, not at the Alaska shootout, because what the hell else is there to do in Alaska?

Todd Jones

Be cold.

Bob Kravitz

It's to be cold. So know and I talk to some of those players and actually one of them is very thankful to. Or setting on the straight narrow. Got it right. The other one was kind of critical, and the third one I couldn't get a hold of, so I called night, I was doing the story and he went. He looked great, and so the next game they're playing at Kentucky, and I'll never forget being in the press room before the game and all the managers are looking at me and.

Bob Kravitz

Kind of whispering, thinking, what the hell is up? Well, after the game, I went to go into the locker room and I got all these young, uh, you know, not to use or there at the, uh, at the door. Tell me. No, you're not allowed in. So basically, for the next three years, I had no access to the Indiana basketball team and separate press conference. Which were always interesting, too, because Knight wouldn't answer any of my questions at press conference.

Bob Kravitz

So I made sure to ask him at least one every.

Todd Jones

So he just would ignore you, you would just say next next question. Hmm, yeah. You know what? It was a it was a good growth experience, I think, because, look, you get into this business, you're going to have those moments where you've got to stand up for yourself. And you've got to fight and you've got to. Yeah, yeah, yeah, stand up for yourself and in a way, dealing with Coach Knight helped me deal with certain people, Bill Polian and others later on down down the road.

Todd Jones

Yeah, I mean, I remember a similar incident for myself as a student journalist at the University of Kentucky. Some football players got into a fight with some frat guys and we wrote a story about it in the student newspaper. And Jerry Clybourn was the football coach. And I remember being at practice. This is probably like nineteen eighty six. And he start from about 30 yards away and he is just screaming at me and he's walking towards me and the whole team is watching this.

Todd Jones

And I just felt like we never won. Fred Flintstone shrank, kept shrinking on the chair next to giant carrot. Yeah I was Fred your friend. Yeah I was Fred. But looking back on it, you're right. I learned a lot. You learn that there are times where if you're doing your job. And you're accurate and you're fair, it's not going to make them happy all the time, and that's just part of the gig, you're going to have to learn how to deal with it.

Todd Jones

And it's not something that's easy. But you had to toughen your skin up at a young age and you had it from Bob Knight.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, he helped a lot. And yeah, you know, when I when I do teach on a. College classes, you know, we talk about the things you need, qualities you need to be good at this and I think fearlessness. Is is one of the primary.

Element. Your brain.

Todd Jones

Well, let's talk about fearlessness in terms of the the part of your career, when you were in Colorado, you were, you know, after you got out of school, you went some different places. You were outside for a couple years, you in Cleveland for a few years. But you went to the Rocky Mountain News in nineteen ninety in Denver. And for the kids out there, Denver in the nineteen nineties was an old fashioned newspaper war. The Rocky Mountain News versus The Denver Post, and there was a lot going on in that decade, you were there in Denver.

Todd Jones

What was it like to be a reporter, a writer, a journalist in Denver in the nineteen nineties?

Bob Kravitz

Well, it was so insane that there were times, honest to God, where I would talk to athletes in the locker room. I had no intention of writing about that day or really ever just to screw with guys, just throw them off the scent. I did not want them to know what the hell I was working on. Oh, yeah, it got crazy. I mean, I had guys on my staff. I was persona non grata because I was.

Bob Kravitz

Friendly. With the enemy and not I'm not giving up any. State secrets, but I felt like life's too short. I'm not going to.

Being in a terrible relationship with. On the road, um, you know, I mean, I miss the ultimate craziness that when Elway came in and what he did for work and, um, they were literally fighting over who could get the scoop on what John Elway was having for. Really, really, it was insane and yeah, I mean, when when we broke the story, broke the story that he was having water, tuna salad, no back to tuna again, by the way, tuna seems to be a theme here.

Sorry, folks, that's funny.

Bob Kravitz

But, you know, we got the story. He got the story that we were getting Major League Baseball. And, you know, they basically put me in quarantine after that. I wasn't even allowed to tell my wife, you know, because back then you weren't putting it on the Internet. You had right until the next morning. So for six hours, you get you're getting no sleep and you're praying to God that we're going to get in the newspapers like it's like with the flaky.

Todd Jones

Yeah. In Cincinnati, where I was in the late 80s, early 90s, it was a two newspaper town. And we were the afternoon paper, The Cincinnati Post. So talk about if you had something and you were just walking around like you had a nuclear missile in your backpack. And if you had a story and if you didn't have a story, you were waking up every morning with a pit in your stomach that's wondering if the Enquirer was going to drop a bomb on you.

Todd Jones

And yet I think it made everybody better. It made for better sports scene and made for better journalism. Um, you know, I look back and the Cincinnati guys, we were we were friendly. You know, I was like the cartoon with the sheep dog and the wolf. And they would try to kill each other during the day and then they'd clock out and have a beer. But journalistically, it was you know, it was it was cutthroat.

Todd Jones

And I don't think it was as cutthroat as Denver because in Denver in the 90s, you had, like you said, the Rockies came in. You had the avalanche coming to town. They won the cup in ninety six. You had the nuggets in the NBA. And then, of course, you had the Denver Broncos, where everything is about Denver, the Broncos and John Elway at that time, right?

Bob Kravitz

Oh, absolutely.

Todd Jones

Well, let's talk about John Elway a little bit. I mean, he was at the eye of the storm, all things Denver, like you said, it got there in eighty four and then you get there in 90. And so throughout the 90s, it's John Elway. Twenty four seven. What was it like for Elway to be the eye of the storm? What was it like for you as a journalist to be around him in the cover, a guy like that at that time period?

Bob Kravitz

Well, you know, earlier on he complained that. And I remember Jay Mariotti. Well, Jake. Kill him because John talked about how he didn't have any privacy and I guess there was a story about what he always gave.

We. And you get very upset. In this town, he said, I'm about to suffocate. That was a story and. Yeah, you remember that. Yeah.

Um, but and Jay killed them for by the time I got there in 90, I think he had come to terms with the fact that he is who he is and. You know, he's like Paten. You know, I mean. He's just on another level. I thought John was a cool guy, you know, he's a kind I mean, we didn't go out and have beers or anything because I. That's not some. Any of us do, but, um, I just thought John was pretty chill, you know, I thought that he handled things well.

He had one period where he went to DEFCON or. Complained about Dan Reeves and basically ran out of town. They ultimately brought in his guy, Mike Shanahan, and went on to win. I have to mention here that. Nineteen ninety. I wrote a brilliant column saying they really ought to train.

Todd Jones

Yeah, that was a good one.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, yeah. What are the kids saying now that did not age well, no age. Well, I think about all the stupid things I've heard that was wine with not only a cap on top that had Scotch tape on top. I know.

But sorry about. That's OK, we all we we all we've all we've all been there, right? Oh, yeah, absolutely. So what did L.A. what it all way respond to that?

Nothing like Elway, I think. Understood the dynamic of of the. A two newspaper town. I'm not saying that he went to school and study journalism, but he's a sharp enough guy that I think he understood that everybody was fighting over who could who could say the most outrageous stuff, but who could get the.

Todd Jones

Yeah, I think that I think that's that was part of the quarterback then, right, the quarterback. I mean, they were more available. Now it's like you get a few minutes in a can setting the quarterbacks back. In those days, I remember Boomer Esiason in Cincinnati. He would hold fort at his locker every day almost. And you'd be at his locker, you know, several riders. And he would just talk on and on. And at the end he'd go, You guys got enough?

Bob Kravitz

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, you know, that was that was John, you know. I mean, nowadays, Peyton was always incredibly available, but you only got him a couple of days, you know, once or twice a week. Right now, if you needed him for something special, they would they would accommodate. Now, he. It's funny, we have Philip Rivers here last year, and Philip Rivers is like the all time greatest.

Bob Kravitz

He will he will talk and talk and talk, and he gave you great stuff on. I can't imagine you would have been to actually have conversations in the locker room with.

Todd Jones

Right. Yeah, he's got a great reputation for that. Yeah, but John, you know, it's funny when you look back on Elway's career, there was a time when he was old and three in the Super Bowl and he was getting blasted for not being able to win the big one. At the same time, he was this guy who also produced, you know, the drive and a forty seven fourth quarter comeback. So he was doing it, but he just couldn't win that big one.

Todd Jones

The Broncos couldn't get over the hump. And then it all changed when he finally got the monkey off his back. Did he change? Did he change after they finally won the Super Bowl in ninety seven?

Bob Kravitz

I think he found athletic peace. I really do. I think he always talked. Any one about how it's not going to define the. I'm happy with who I am and what I. It won't be a hole in my resume. And then anyone won, and you remember that helicopter play?

Todd Jones

Yeah, Iconix against Chris.

Bob Kravitz

I remember looking at it like that in the press box. And we both just sort of mouthed to each other. It's over there.

Bob Kravitz

after he won the Super Bowl. He said, you know what, all that time I was saying that I'd be fine. Super Bowl. I was like. Hmm. Winning a Super Bowl is. It's why you do what you do, it's why you you know, the guy played his entire career missing, missing like part of his arm and yet somehow muscular.

Bob Kravitz

At the heart of all of it, but, yeah, I think once he won the Super Bowl and then he won, second one went out on. You know, this one's. All that stuff that was. It was poetic. Uh. It was wonderful. I think it gave him a sense.

Todd Jones

Well, it certainly gave you the experience and understanding and perspective to then go to Indianapolis and deal with another all time great quarterback, obviously, and Peyton Manning, because I think also like Elway, there were years when Manning was kind of not winning the big one, as they say in the playoffs, couldn't quite get over the hump. So was there a similarity and and how they were perceived from that perspective?

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I again, I don't know off the top of my head, but I think he had one and done. In the playoffs, and I was critical, I mean, if you looked I don't have the numbers in front of me, but if you look at the points scored. In their playoff loss. It was minuscule. I mean, Peyton, I'm sorry, I mean. Your get on my.

Todd Jones

But no, they get on you, Bob.

Bob Kravitz

I was not uniformly, consistently good in the postseason.

[00:27:25.870] - Todd Jones

Why is that? When you look back at it?

Bob Kravitz

I think and I may be completely full of crap here. I think it's paralysis by analysis. I think he is so unbelievably prepared. That when he has to go off script and when when stuff starts to hit the fan, I think it's a little frustrating. I think he gets a little more. I remember a game against Pittsburgh Steelers is the best team, they have two thousand and five and they beat the Steelers by a thousand and nothing earlier. They were they had a home game.

Bob Kravitz

It was a typical 13. Like that. Pittsburgh came with some stuff that they'd never seen before, and Payton was so flustered. Until late in the game, and then, of course, Vanderjagt misses the. But. Yeah, I I was critical of them, um, but I think Peyton was critical of himself, too. Why it happened, I'm not sure. But I my guess would be that he just was so. So prepare that when things didn't go according to.

Bob Kravitz

The script, he got somewhat.

Todd Jones

Do you have a favorite anecdote about his preparation? It's legendary.

Bob Kravitz

Um, you know, I remember once. Asking him about. Call so many articles, the line of scrimmage, and I asked him on. You're more worried about losing your voice. And he went on and told me about all these things he does for his for his voice or for teachers and things that he does not. This isn't a preparation service. One of my favorites, one day he was doing given doing autographs for kids and I. He's kind of hanging out.

Bob Kravitz

I noticed that he had incredible penmanship. And so I asked I said, you know, I look at some of these other guys, it just looks like chicken scratch. You know, it's a Cyrillic alphabet, I don't know what you're saying. But I look at patents and patent was. It was John Hancock. It was beautiful.

Todd Jones

Was he taught by nuns?

Bob Kravitz

No, no. But he was taught by his father. And we sat and talked for almost 40 minutes where he talked about the importance of writing legibly so that that kid who got an autograph in training camp. In nineteen ninety eight or whatever. Two thousand. That he can look at that ball one day and take that ball. I got that signed by. May not be left. Yes, well, that's kind of an insight to his thoughtfulness, too, because everybody everybody heard about the charities he's been involved in the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital there in Indianapolis.

Bob Kravitz

Um, but, you know, he's got a reputation of being a very accommodating person, was available to the people and to the media in Indianapolis. It wasn't a role he played. Right. It was just you just kind of who he was. Yeah.

Bob Kravitz

I mean, some people thought he was phony, almost too good to be true. But, you know, I mean. Just like he did a. As the interview prior to.

But a week or two ago.

And it's a small thing, but he knows everybody by name. And you say, yeah, this is Bob Kravitz from the Athletic about how are you doing? How's your family? And then you answer your question. And it wasn't just me. I mean, everybody. Hey, pal, what's going on? It sounds like B.S., but he I think it was important enough for him to care. And he's always been like that. I mean, no, I can't tell you, I wrote about this in athletic.

A number of times I've had people reach out to me and say, I've got an aunt who's dealing with. And we'd love nothing better than to. Hear from man. And I would email and say, you do what you want to do, but I'm just letting you know. No, no. No obligation and just do what you want and without fail. Somebody would call me back and say, my my hands are. The. It's just something he does, and, um, you know, he cares about this game, he cares about he cares about his reputation, but who the hell does?

Todd Jones

Yeah, exactly right. You know, and I didn't have a lot of time around, Peyton, you know, very limited, you know, on rare occasions. Um, but I always from afar, the thing that made me feel like he must be like a real genuine dude in terms of how he presents himself, is that he was also known as a prankster. Right.

Bob Kravitz

He was the worst he was in fact, I talked with one of their one of their staffers who said that between Payton and the offensive lineman at training camp. Was like. It was like a mafia crime family. They they used to take they took this guy's jeep. And put her on floats and put it out in the middle of a Lake Ontario, one of the players Jeeps, one of the staffers Jeeps. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Bob Kravitz

He did one thing after another. But, yeah, that that and you couldn't get back at them, I mean, you just couldn't because they would not allow.

Todd Jones

Well, I always felt like, again, I felt if a guy has a good sense of humor, then there's got to be some genuineness there.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah. And, you know, we've had some interesting conversations. We've there was this one time he's pissed off at me for. Remember exactly what it was. Um, we had a great conversation, one point, I said, Peyton, you are so full of shit. And he just started laughing, and I remember my daughter, my little daughter at the time was walking by my office in. I said, yes, it was not one of my most professional moments, but it was just two guys hashing out, hashing out their differences and I just I just find him to be real.

Bob Kravitz

Um, he's a special guy, and I'm really looking forward to this. We.

Todd Jones

Now, when you think about it, your own career, 10 years pretty much with Elway 12, I think with Manning, you know, look, I mean, we're talking a couple of decades, Bob. Well, you're round two of the all time greatest NFL players when you think about it. Is there something about both of them that made them who they were?

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, and, you know, I also had Bernie Kosar and I'm not putting him in their category, obviously, but he was pretty damn good, right? Great point. Not at all timer, but a pretty damn good. I think the thing with Peyton and with Elway, especially Peyton. If he never got more. With the game, you know, like Payton and I have this conversation with the late Kobe Bryant. When Kobe came through Indianapolis the day after, they threw for 480.

Bob Kravitz

He was saying the thing about great athletes. They never get bored in. They never get tired of striving. To get an edge. To get better, to learn something new about the game. You know, I don't know that we have that intellectual curiosity. I think. As is. But it was a thinking man's quarterback from. I just think that the great the great athletes. Just it's a never ending quest to improve. He just never got bored with the game of football.

Todd Jones

Still is, yeah, it's like Alexander the Great WEAP when there was no more worlds to conquer, right? Well, these guys keep finding new lands to conquer and new things, new slights that make them want to prove something. And I think that really is what separates the ultimate guys from, you know, just the very good guys.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, absolutely.

Todd Jones

One other Aultman, another ultimate guy, another ultimate quarterback that you're kind of tied to is another guy, Tom Brady. And you have you mentioned this. Meanwhile, you recover. And Andrew Luck, not like you're getting another slice of ham here as a Colts quarterback. Andrew Luck also. But Brady Brady. And you are there's always going to be part of Brady and Bob Kravitz tied together because of deflate gate. And it was, you know, twenty fifteen AFC title game.

Todd Jones

Tell us about you broke the story on deflate gate. How did that come about?

[00:36:19.760] - Bob Kravitz

Well, uh. So after the game, I was down in in the locker room doing my thing, and then we did a little postgame show. I left my phone up in the. The press, what a moron can be, uh, charged. OK, so I guess after all this stuff, I come up to the press box and I see. Basically. So I call this person. I'm told what's going on. Well, I then spent the next forty five minutes trying to get a confirmed.

Bob Kravitz

And I got really lucky that I got to confront. Bye bye, a great source. I said, well, here goes nothing. And about 12, 15. 20, I tweeted it out. And it was weird because, uh, you know, we didn't have a lot of. A lot of detail. All I knew was that they were they were being investigated for allegedly. The Boston people are always on my ass because they're saying, well, you know, they beat them one hundred to nothing and it made no difference.

Well. If you take steroids and you bat one thirty six, it doesn't mean that you still took the steroids. You still trying to get a competitive advantage. So, uh, you know, I never said that they were using deflated footballs. So they were being investigated. For allegedly. And then all hell broke loose and my life my life was it was interesting. It'll probably be on my gravestone something.

Todd Jones

Why did that story blow up? Pardon the expression?

Bob Kravitz

Well, because I knew that it would, because we're talking about the flagship franchise. Of the NFL, we're talking about a team that was headed to the Super Bowl again and you know.

Bob Kravitz

In Boston, Boston fans, God bless them, they're true believers and. Even after, uh, know the other issues they've had. They they just refused to believe that anything untoward could have happened. It got ugly, I mean, a lot of people, they went after my wife, my daughters on Facebook, a lot of anti-Semitic non. But. You know, if I have a if I have any regret, is that I kind of got caught up in the Twitter ground, the Twitter mess came instead of just saying, you know what, screw you people.

I'm right. Not right that they used deflated footballs. I was right that they were being investigated. For playing football, I should have just taken the high road I wish I had, but, you know, I like to fight. Sorry, but I'm a fighter and. I just would not put up with having my integrity questioned.

Todd Jones

Well, that turned into not only the league, but yet court cases. What was the craziest moment for you personally? Uh, to be in the middle of that?

Bob Kravitz

Well. I'll tell you I'll tell you the most surreal moment for me, I got a call from CNN to go on and I was on with Anderson Cooper. That was I and. You know, and I almost called them, I almost called them. I came this close, but. At that point, I was like. But the lead story on the national newspaper. Days and days, weeks. Um, you know, I don't know if there was one.

Bob Kravitz

Moment that was more surreal than the rest, but just seeing myself. Through the camera lens. On on CNN in prime time. Really, really odd to be.

there's no Spaulding Guide for handling that kind of thing. In his position, I have broken some stories, but nothing ever of that scope. So, you know, I as a columnist, yeah, I mean, I I had my opinion, I was probably.

Bob Kravitz

To proprietary about the story, maybe there was part of me that wanted it to be true. And as I go back through it and look at look at all the evidence and everything. I think, look, I think something untoward happened. Whether that was Brady's doing or the equipment manager, I don't know the. Probably. But, yeah, it was it was a strange it was a strange time in my professional life. I was on TV constantly, I was hired basically.

Bob Kravitz

By the NBC affiliate to be a writer, well, I found myself reading the news half. So which is cool, good for the ego, I guess, but that's not why I got into this.

Todd Jones

Well, you know, the way things are with social media in the world now, the blowback is just more immediate, but there's always been part of that for anybody who throws an opinion out there about something based on know reported news. I mean, you grew up in Long Island. You grew up reading Dick Young at the New York Daily News. Right. You got it.

Bob Kravitz

Dick Young Mike. All those guys, you know, I remember my dad would take the Long Island Railroad home and you'd pick up all the new. Newsday, Daily News, New York Times. Uh. New York Post and I would just consume that stuff. And I knew from a very. I knew from an early age, this is what I want. And they're still. And yeah, it was a. I just saw, you know, I didn't agree with everything that that Lupica or Dick Young said or whoever it was, but by God, they had something to say.

And I just I found that really admirable, you know, now, you know, some of it, I'm sure was total B.S. But, you know. I like it, I'll just give you a quick story. Um, I was we moved to Chicago my junior year. And. I was one of the editors, the. And a local synagogue. Was wanting to start up a local. Newspaper. Jewish kids in the area. And this is at the time.

Bob Kravitz

A neo-Nazi group.

Todd Jones

Just north of Chicago, right? Huge.

Bob Kravitz

Number of Holocaust survivor. And I wrote a Front-Page. Editorial. Saying a little more. And that was the last time I wrote for that I had for that paper, uh, suffice to say, um, but that's kind of the way I roll. I don't know. I'm a contrarian. I just got dropped on my head as a kid, but I feel strongly about something right it and. Where the chips fall chips.

Todd Jones

Well, you said you like to fight, I mean, so it's one thing to be on the East Coast, um, and that's kind of an in-your-face New York type of thing. You go to Midwestern, nice Midwest, Indianapolis and new and you're ripping Bob Knight or Peyton Manning or Tony Dungy or Larry Bird when he was coaching the Pacers. When you rip people like that. Do you know, like, blowback is coming?

Todd Jones

Do you expect it? Do you do it because you really believe it or you're looking for effect?

Bob Kravitz

I think you've known me long.

I believe, look, I may be completely full of crap, but I believe everything I.

Right. Do I feel more strongly about certain? Issues and other issues. Are there times where I can kind of go either way? Yeah, but if I write something strong. A strongly worded. Damn right, I believe it. I know when there's going to be blowback, but I don't write it for that purpose.

Todd Jones

Yeah, and I know that I was asking that for the record, really? Because I think a lot of people do feel like a guy like you all are just trying to stir it up just to get a reaction.

Bob Kravitz

Well, look, you're I think you're always looking to write about the thing. That's on everybody. Right now, and I think in many ways, you are the loud mouth of.

Had a couple of.

Bob Kravitz

So, yeah, I I know when there can be blowback, I like, you know, I wrote about Tony Dungy and I didn't understand why. Coming back for. When his family. Organizations.

Father. Father. And.

The town went nuts. I mean, you do not mess with St.. You know, and I know I like him and respect him, I don't like and respect a lot of his views on.

But yeah, you have a pretty good sense going in. When all hell is going. Like I told our high school and college kids. You just can't worry about it and look, there are still people, you know, our age, my age, your age who are in this business, who are still afraid to ruffle feathers and. I'm not saying it makes me any better than anybody else, just. If you're going to be a columnist, you can't be afraid of.

Todd Jones

Right, Wolf, there's no golden cows you got to show back up at the farm the next day with your milk pail, and you did that. Uh, didn't Dante Bishop once want to kill you?

Bob Kravitz

Yeah. So Dontae baseball player Dontae Bouchet with the Rockies in their first year. Movies are first, your second. I can't remember, but he was a star. Even as the Rockets first big star along of boundaries around. And. One day, uh, Sports Illustrated wrote a story about domestic. And mentioned that they had a rap and a rap sheet. And I thought, well, we had no idea. And so I called, you know, I got in touch with him and said, look, we need to address this.

Bob Kravitz

And he was all for. He was all for. Well, I said, let me call down to. Where this happened, let me get the. Just so I know what I'm working with. Well, I called down there and. If I remember correctly. There were a number of. And so I wrote about I was totally straight with. I said, what happened here, what happened here, what happened here? And this was at the time when the whole O.J. thing was.

Bob Kravitz

And so I wrote a column and it was the column, The Pista More. But I talked about the importance of writing about this. You know, and. So at training camp spring training the next year, I'm just sitting there in the outfield doing nothing and he comes walking up to me and he. Even lifting a lot of weight or doing something in the off season because he was big. And thank God, Don Baylor. He saw that it was going to get ugly fast now that they got that we were nose to nose, I was screaming back out and, you know, again, probably not the most professional thing, but, you know, you kind of revert to your essential human humanity at that point, you know?

You know, I'm just not going to put up with it if somebody wants to have. A civil discussion, a disagreement like I often did with Payton, I can do that, but if you want to threaten me and make a big show of it in front of your teammates, I'm not going to sit. I'm not going to back down. So thank goodness Don Baylor, uh, kind of put an end to it.

Todd Jones

How is it when you have a working relationship with a guy like Bill Polian for several years when he was general manager and president of the Colts, you and you and Bill? Uh, well, you describe it. What was your relationship like?

Bob Kravitz

Uh, not good. Um, it turned out pretty good. Yeah. But, um, I you know, look, it's funny. Uh, Peter King, our friend Peter. All the bills that I give you and Kravetz, three weeks. Because know Peter knows how I roll and he knows Bill doesn't like the media, unless you're a hardcore hardcore football insider. And yeah, there was a story I wrote. I mean, look, Bill hates me everywhere except for the national guys who.

Bob Kravitz

Um. He does not like the local media. He didn't get along with Sully, Jerry Sullivan in Buffalo, you get along with me, you know, he didn't get along with any of the local. And so one time I wrote a piece, this is when his son pretty much took over the. Um, late in their in their time there, and I basically wrote a column, um, quoting a number of unnamed sources. Basically saying that Chris bowling was not real sharp, and so, Bill, after the game, after a game.

Bob Kravitz

Talked about sewer rats and people that lie about and sewer rat when he called me a sewer back on the radio and I even know about I was writing my column in the press box and all of a sudden my Twitter blows up your sewer rat.

Todd Jones

It's like high school.

Bob Kravitz

It's like high school. It really is. And the cool thing is I went to his Hall of Fame when winning when you got his. Some Hall of Fame deal, and I went and congratulated him and we had a nice talk and I acknowledge that at times I was a little over the top and he acknowledged he was. Over the top and look, we're never going to be best buddies, but I think we reached a certain detente.

Todd Jones

And I think, you know, I've always had respect for guys like you that are willing to go there, you know, with opinions, um, and then, you know, stand up like you said, you like to fight. And I mean, sometimes that's the way it goes, uh, for a columnist especially or a beat reporter who breaks a big news, that big news story that somebody doesn't like. I just you know, that was part of the gig.

Todd Jones

Part of the gig. Do you have a favorite hate mail example?

Bob Kravitz

There's so many times I'll give you mine. I'll give you mine can be yours.

Todd Jones

I once got a letter. I still have it. It's a handwritten letter. I'm going to frame it someday. I keep forgetting to frame it. It's a handwritten letter addressed to me, and it just said to Todd Jones, Fuck you go Irish. And I thought, that is so brilliant. That is so brilliant is the soul of wit. He's right to the point. It gets right to the point and doesn't pull any punches. And I probably deserved it and I kept that one.

Todd Jones

That was a great example.

Bob Kravitz

One of my favorites I wish I kept it wasn't hate mail, but one year the Indianapolis five hundred was going to have Donald Trump. As the Pace car driver and this is at the time where he was starting to make noise about how Obama wasn't. And I just I wrote a column saying there is no way you can have this moron. Um.

Anyway, I wrote this column a couple of weeks later, I get a handwritten note from Donald Trump's office. It's a it's a Xerox copy of my column and he writes, Thanks for the pop down. I wish I still had it.

Todd Jones

There's no bad publicity, right?

Bob Kravitz

No bad publicity.

Todd Jones

Well, you know, it's funny, you said you like to fight, but I also know you well enough, Bob, that you once told me and it surprised me in a conversation we had, you said I don't handle stress.

Bob Kravitz

Well, not not in the.

Todd Jones

And I think that's really an interesting juxtaposition that, you know, you can relish the fight and get in and, you know, swing away and and yet at the same time, it's not always, you know, I mean, it's not hard labor when we're not digging ditches. Uh, you know, but, um, there is a lot of stress in that type of career, the late nights to travel and so forth. And you and you've had some health issues right now, physically, physically.

Todd Jones

It's beat me up. And, you know, part of it part of it is family history. And I had a quadruple bypass last April, um, and had that one thing after another.

Todd Jones

I mean, you almost had a heart attack at age forty six, right? Yeah. Yeah. Like 15 years ago.

Bob Kravitz

And, uh, it's been it's stressful. Part of it is family history. Part of it is I don't think it's going to cure myself because I really should. And part of it is it's just a damn stressful job when you're always having to. Some people handle it better than others. It's always been. It's like, you know, mentally it's been OK, but physically it's taken a bit of a toll. Like I've had you know, we've talked about this.

I've had, uh, issues. Depression and anxiety disease. I don't know where it comes. I enjoy my. But I think some of the physical. Maladies, which I think really held me back in my career. Or are things that I think. Are brought on by the stresses of the job, because I don't care, I don't care what you do. How wonderful a job you have. When there are stresses that. Oh, exactly right.

It's been it's been a bit of a challenge for.

Todd Jones

Yeah, I know I had my own issues when I was younger, especially looking back, you know, the travel, you're on the road, you're unsure of yourself. Probably drank too much. You know, the anxiety, I just I just I remember things like all the 1990 World Series. Well, I remember not sleeping the entire series, you know, just because I was just on edge. And and so there's things that you look back on on your younger days, uh, you know, and I know personally I didn't handle it well.

Todd Jones

And I think that's one of the good things about getting older when you start to take stock and a career, no matter what it is that you do, when you look back and you say you can actually have some better judgment about how you were or what you did, and also a better appreciation about, you know, what it is that you did for a living.

Bob Kravitz

Yeah, I you know, I remember back to I remember covering the San Antonio and the New Jersey Nets. The NBA final, and I remember my anxiety was so bad that we got back to the hotel in New York and I couldn't get in the elevator for two hours. I just sat in the lobby. I just could not. Imagine being in a crowded elevator. I couldn't do it. I mean, the Enzyte.

And I have to say that.

My bosses were very. My bosses understood know I mean, the mental health thing is is big now backbend, not so much. And I always felt like they were going to fire me tomorrow because. I couldn't cover an all star game because my anxiety was. But they were very good about it. You know, I think I think I was good for them, um, so they were they Accommodator?

Todd Jones

Bob, why did you decide to go public a couple of years ago about your depression and panic attacks?

Bob Kravitz

You know. That's a great question. I think. You know, like there were a couple of athletes. And correct me if I'm wrong, I think Theo Fleury, I knew real well in Denver, Kevin Love, Kevin Love, that was another one. A couple of athletes ago. And I just decided. And look, at this point, it's almost a cliche to write the column, but I just want to be a person. I want to be real for a long time there.

Bob Kravitz

I would go to bed at night and hope I didn't wake. Got it, got serious. I remember driving halfway to a stress clinic.

Bob Kravitz

Check myself in. I turn back around, I probably should have. But I was I was really suicidal. And it's. You know, I mean, I do things now to keep all those things at bay. I think I'm in a much better place. But, you know, due to it, it's been a tough couple of years. I lost my my dad, I lost my job at Channel 13, um, you know, the athletic has been great, but it's been a challenge.

Bob Kravitz

It's not what I have done. My. Twelve hundred. They want other things. So it's been a challenge. I'm just, you know, but I think I'm in a better place to handle.

Todd Jones

Well, that's great to hear, and I know that because of conversations we've had and I'm happy for you personally and I know the business is better off with you still cranking them out and read Bob and Athletic, you still bring in thoughtful opinions and breaking news and and sports. Journalism's better because of it. So I'm glad you're still doing it. Thank you, buddy. And you think about it. You are a survivor. You survived eight or eight hours in a tuna can with whales in Greece, with me driving.

Bob Kravitz

I think that I think the hard part was with you. That was the hard part now. It was great. I always enjoyed I have always enjoyed it. I wish you were still in the business. I'm glad you're doing well and happy. But, uh, you are always one of the guys. And, you know, I. I miss going out. Uh, you know, I. How old are you.

Todd Jones

I'm thirty six.

Bob Kravitz

I'm sixty one. You know, our group, you know, we like to go out and have a couple of beers.

Todd Jones

Yeah. More than a couple more to come certainly in my case I was in that case back then which play hard, work hard, play hard, work hard. Absolutely. But I enjoyed this thing.

Todd Jones

Thank you, Bob, I really appreciate it and best of luck. Thanks. On.

View Less

Recent Episodes

View All

Bill Livingston: “We were fortunate. They sent us everywhere.”

Evergreen Podcasts
Bill Livingston’s goal as a writer was to put readers at the scene.
Listen to Bill Livingston: “We were fortunate. They sent us everywhere.”

Bud Withers: One Moment in Time

Evergreen Podcasts
History seems fragile when Bud Withers ponders his five decades of writing about sports.
Listen to Bud Withers: One Moment in Time

Joan Ryan: “They Are Not Going to Chase Me Away”

Evergreen Podcasts
Joan Ryan recalls in this episode the harassment that she suffered from pro football players early in her career as one of the first female sportswriters.
Listen to Joan Ryan: “They Are Not Going to Chase Me Away”

Mike Lopresti: Road Warrior

Evergreen Podcasts
Pack your bags and travel back with Mike Lopresti, who globe-trotted for more than 3 decades as a sports columnist for USA Today and Gannett News Service.
Listen to Mike Lopresti: Road Warrior