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.

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Tom Archdeacon: When the Going Gets Weird

Tom Archdeacon: When the Going Gets Weird

He went to the circus with Muhammad Ali. Pulled pranks on Don Shula. Got thrown out of a hotel by Mr. T. Yes, few sportswriters can match the colorful career of Tom Archdeacon, known and beloved by peers as “Arch.” Take a joy ride with a storyteller who somehow always finds his way to the heart of a matter. The legend is true, as recounted to Todd. Stick with Arch, and you can’t go wrong. Just hang on.

Tom Archdeacon is still cranking out award-winning sports columns for the Dayton Daily News, adding more legend to a decorated and colorful career that began in Florida in 1973.

He has been enshrined in the U.S. Basketball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame and the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame. The Boxing Writers Association of America presented him with the Nat Fleischer Award, a career achievement honor for excellence in boxing journalism.

Archdeacon’s first job, at the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Fla., lasted only a year before he moved to the Miami News, where he worked until that newspaper folded on Dec. 31, 1988. He then returned to his home state of Ohio to become the sports columnist in Dayton. Cox Enterprises, that paper’s owner, sent him to annual major sporting events and multiple Olympics as a nationally syndicated writer.

Archdeacon has covered more than 200 fights, including championship bouts featuring Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor. He has also written news columns from Russia and Cuba, and he covered the 9/11 terrorist attacks from New York City. Archdeacon was a contributing writer for Tales from the 5th Street Gym. He is a native of Ottoville, Ohio.

Arch’s most recent columns: https://www.daytondailynews.com/staff/tom-archdeacon/

Come on back on March 17th when Todd is talking with Kevin Blackistone!

Follow our very own host, Todd Jones on Twitter @Todd_Jones

You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Press...

Contact us at [email protected]

Todd Jones:
Well, you're in for a treat with today's guest, Tom Archdeacon, my mentor and dear friend. There are almost as many legendary stories about Arch as the thousands he has written since his career began in the early '70s in Miami, Florida. He's still cranking out award-winning, heart felt columns for the Dayton Daily News, which he joined in 1989, and he's still finding mischief.

Todd Jones:
Arch and I met in 1989, when I worked for the Cincinnati Post. Later, he took my under his wing while we covered three Olympics together, he's a kindred spirit. Tom Archdeacon, welcome to Press Box Access. Have you warned your attorney you're going to be on this show?

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, we're all set. He's on retainer.

Todd Jones:
Oh, okay. Just, you know, we're going to cover a few things here. I will say that I've known you for 30 years. My heart and soul are much enriched. My liver, has taken a beating. Mostly because of Hunter Thompson and you really relate to the Great Gonzo journalist, tell me about the quote that Hunter Thompson... that you always go back to in your career.

Tom Archdeacon:
It's worked for me for almost 50 years as a sports writer, it's, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." And I use that no matter if I was short on sleep, if I had a hangover, if I didn't feel good, if I was panicked, you got to make it happen, so suck it up and do it, and it's worked.

Todd Jones:
Well, it's worked very well. You've had quite the career. 50 years of just unbelievable storytelling, tons of awards, and everything you can think of honors. But I want to start with Muhammad Ali, because when you think about it, Ali, there's no greater athlete, in our lifetime, and you know Ali. You knew him as a person, you knew him as a boxer. Let's start with Ali. Tell me about Muhammad.

Tom Archdeacon:
Well, of all the athletes I have dealt with, he's one of my favorite, if not the favorite guy. Just because of the way he treated, I don't care if I was royalty or the guy sweeping the floor at the 5th Street Gym, he treated them the same. And he just took you on some real adventures, and I had a few with him, and I just love the guy. I loved-

Todd Jones:
I know that-

Tom Archdeacon:
... his courage too.

Todd Jones:
Yeah, very much do, right? I mean, he sound up for what he believed in.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah.

Todd Jones:
I know a lot of people have written a lot of words about Ali over the years. I don't know anybody who has actually gone to the circus with Ali.

Tom Archdeacon:
I worked in Miami, Florida for a long time. I was a columnist down there, and I'd go over at lunch time and I'd go to the 5th Street Gym, almost every day, and I'd see the old timers in there, and Ali trained in there, part of the time. And I would see him and talk to him. So one day, we were... I hadn't been in there for about a week, and we were talking, and the Ringling Brothers Circus always opens in Miami Beach. They bring the elephants across the Causeway and they open... So he asked me if I wanted to go to the circus with him. I went, "Yeah, that'd be all right."

Tom Archdeacon:
So he comes by, they sent a car by the gym. I came to the gym, picked me up at the gym. And in there is his two little daughters. I think Layla... I mean, he's got a bunch of kids, but must have been, I don't know, two, three years old, and she had another sister, Hana, that was maybe a year old or so. And so the four of us go to the circus. It's indoors at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, and we're sitting down in kind of the front row, and I go out and get us some popcorn, and we're sitting there, and Ali, all of a sudden, while I was getting popcorn, I didn't know what happen, I come back, and Ali tells me, he says, "I'll be right back." And I go, "Ah, okay."

Tom Archdeacon:
So now I'm there with his two little girls and five minutes turns into 10 minutes, and I'm starting to panic and they're starting to ants around. I'm going, "What the hell's going on here?" And all of a sudden, the curtains at the far end part, and there comes an elephant in and who's on the back of the elephant but Ali. And the place goes nuts. And they come over, and the little girls are squiggling on, and they got a handler in front. And they come over to where we're sitting in the front box, and the guy has me hand one of the little girls over and he puts her down on the ground, the elephant puts his trunk around her and lifts her up, and brings her up to Ali. They set the next one up Ali, and the little girls are waving good-bye to me, and Ali takes off with this... I never saw him again, the rest of the night. They go... that was... So, that was going to the circus with Ali. You never know what's going to happen with him.

Todd Jones:
Why didn't you get on the elephant, Tom? I'm just curious.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah. I don't think that trunk could have picked up... But-

Todd Jones:
Did he ever pay you for babysitting?

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah. No, no. He just... But it was... I covered some Ali fights along the way, a couple, not a lot, but I covered some, especially, his last losses, and years later, I see Ali at a function at a junior college, and he's there and he's walking kind of wobbly and things like this. And he sees me and he motions over, and his voice was kind of a whisper, and he motions me to come over, and he goes, "You got old." And I go, "Well, you look pretty old yourself." And he goes, "Yeah, but I'm still pretty." And then, he still had that little sparkle in his eye, and I just... I like the way he treated everybody, but the way he stood up. We got some athletes, now, that are... We're seeing it again, some athletes that really standing for something, and will speak out on matter of social justice and things like that, but that's what I admired most of him.

Todd Jones:
What about as a boxer? You saw him at the tail end of his career, right, in the late '70s?

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah.

Todd Jones:
Tell me about a couple of the fights. You covered, what, four fights Ali fought in?

Tom Archdeacon:
Three fights. When he beat Spinks for the title in New Orleans, which was a grand night. I mean, it was in the Superdome, and there was over 60,000 people or something, and it's just a... Joe Frazier sang the national anthem, and ringside there was Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta and Liza Minnelli, all these people. And Ali comes in... And Ali had been beaten by Spinks seven, eight months before that on a split decision. He had trained pretty hard for this, and he got in and he was just kind of like the Ali of old a little bit, he kind of controlled this young kid. And even, there was times I can remember where he broke into the Ali shuffle, and this was, he was in... he must have been 35, 36 years old then, Spinks was a lot younger, 11, 12 years younger. And he won a unanimous decision that night, and it was like the whole crowd... It was almost like they just converge on him as he went out of the arena, just everyone followed him. And it was a...

Tom Archdeacon:
And I can remember, through the fight, Angelo Dundee, who was my friend from Miami, starts-

Todd Jones:
And he was Ali's trainer, right?

Tom Archdeacon:
Ali's trainer. And he started kind of taunting Spinks during the fight, he would yell across the ring, going, "Good-bye Leon. Good-bye Leon." And it was just... And that's what it turned out to be, and-

Todd Jones:
So, where were you sitting during the fight that you could hear that? You had to be close, right?

Tom Archdeacon:
I was close. I was probably in the second row of the sports writers, and I was up real tight, but I also talked to Dundee about it afterwards. But then I covered him two fights he never should have had, the Holmes fight in Vegas, and then, the last fight, when he fought Trevor Berbick in Nassau, Bahamas, and that was just a terrible travesty.

Todd Jones:
Well, boxing is your big love. You covered over 200 fights back in the day. You mentioned Leon Spinks, you did a few of... Can you tell us, for younger folks, who Leon was? What his story was, and your experience with Leon Spinks?

Tom Archdeacon:
Well, Leon Spinks grew up real tough in East St Louis, and then he won the gold medal in the '76 Olympics. So he was this young... But he was a real screw-up. He just... a lovable screw-up. All of a sudden, he fights Ali, he's only had six pro fights or something, and he beats Ali. So all of a sudden, he's casted on to the national... he was a 10 to one underdog that night, and no one thought he would win. He wins the title, and everything screws up for him. He gets arrested, he splurges his money, and so, one night, he's driving the wrong way in East St Louis, no lights on his car, no license plate, driving the wrong way on the street, no valid driver's license, and cocaine in his hatband.

Tom Archdeacon:
So, when the cops pulled him over, I think two of those will get you to jail, all five of those... He gets arrested, they put him in jail, they bail him out, and they bring him down to Miami, they were going to ship him to the Bahamas the next day, to just get him away from the press for a week or so, till everything cools down. Well, they bring him into a hotel in Miami late at night, and the bell caps... When I worked down there, a lot of the bell caps at the hotel were my friends, and they'd call me up with stories when celebrities or somebody would come around or something would happen. So this guy says, "Spinks-

Todd Jones:
Oh, you're sly.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah. "Spinks just checked into the hotel." So I go, "All right, man." So I head over quick, it's almost midnight. Write down my little questions I'm going to ask him for it... I don't want to go to the front desk, because then they'll warn him or... so I just get on the elevator, he told me that he was up in the suite, so I didn't realize there was like 10 suites. So I get out of the elevator and there's like 10 suites, and go, "What the hell do I do now?" And I'm starting to walk around, and it's dark, and I get about eight doors down, I'm trying to figure out what to do, and I hear glasses clinking and Barry White coming through the... booming out of a boombox through the door, and women laughing, and I figure, that's got to be Leon's room.

Tom Archdeacon:
And the next door is cracked open about three, four inches, and in there sits Sam Solomon, his manager, and he's on the phone talking to somebody. So, to be truthful, I leaned down, and I'm eavesdropping trying to hear what the hell he's saying, getting up, trying to figure out what my next plan is, and all of a sudden, the door open behind me, and here stands the guy that you all probably... you know, his name's Lawrence Tureaud, or you know him as Mr. T.

Todd Jones:
Mr. T?

Tom Archdeacon:
Mr. T. He was a bodyguard for hire before he was Clubber Lang and a half-assed TV personality and all these other things. So he-

Todd Jones:
Hey, Mr. T, he said it, not me.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, yeah. He said it. And so, Mr. T's there, and he goes... I'm bent over eavesdropping, and he goes, "What are you doing?" I turnaround and look over my shoulder and go, "Nothing." And he... There's a way you can make a 250 pound white guy Moonwalk like Michael Jackson, you just go... He got his finger in my belt loop and pulls me backwards, I'm like sliding along, all of a sudden, out the door comes his 300 pound assistant. The two of them, they take me and they throw me into the room where Sam Solomon is. Solomon's on the phone, I'm just standing there, and these guys are on both sides of me, and they are... it's like two refrigerators on both sides. Mr. T's about 5'10, he's not very big, and he's... I can hear behind me, the walls behind me, and there's Leo back there just hollering and music's going and everything.

Tom Archdeacon:
And Mr. T is standing there, he's got a leather vest on that's got the sleeves cut out, and he's got these biceps that look that cantaloupes, and he can make those babies jump up and down.

Todd Jones:
Kind of like you.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, yeah. Well, I can do it with my stomach. I can make my stomach jump. And he's wearing like five dollar aftershave lotion, and just breathing kind of heavy, so I can smell that, and I'm watching the muscles pop, and I'm hearing Barry White in the background, and, I mean, my... I'm panicked, and finally, they get off the phone, and he goes, "What do you want?" I said, "I've come to talk to Leon." He goes, "Leon's asleep." I go, "What?" Mr. T goes, "Well, time to go." And that other guy... And I had been trying to make conversation them. They're both wearing sunglasses, it's midnight. And I'm going, "Hey, how do you guys like Miami?" They're not saying a word. They grab me by my belt and throw me in the elevator. I go back to the newspaper and I'm sitting there, and they're going, "Man, all right, get started."

Tom Archdeacon:
And as you know, I'm one of the slowest writers in the world, and I type with one finger. Still, 50 years in, I type with one finger. All those stories have been with one finger. So, I get back there, and I'm thinking, "Well, what the hell am I going to write?" My notebook has even been opened. And I'm going, "Man, I need something. I've got to have something." I'm thinking and thinking, all of a sudden, I go... There's like 45 minutes left now, I've got to get something on the paper, so I write the story I just told you, Look for Leon. I tell about Mr. T. I tell about smelling the aftershave, watching the biceps bounce, Barry White. I though they were going to throw it back at me. Well, they ran it the next day, people loved it. They go, "Man, it's like we were there. We could smell it. We could hear it. That was fun."

Tom Archdeacon:
That's when I realized something real important, any time you can put yourself someplace, whether it's the Olympics or the Red's clubhouse or Ohio State sidelines, you're going to someplace where no one else is, just put them there. Put them in that scene. And that's... So I used that as just two little secrets. That, and you try to put a human face on every story. Something, make it, bring it, instead of all the facts and figures, just get one human face on it. And it works, man, it really works. And that's-

Todd Jones:
That's great. I mean, I think that really sums up the way you have worked throughout your career. This idea of just telling stories about people. People want to read about people, they don't want to read about things, right. You're in the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, you covered over 200 fights. So, you've covered all these major events, Olympics, Super Bowls, Kentucky Derby, you name it, you've covered it, but boxing seems to have a special place in your heart, right?

Tom Archdeacon:
I just love boxing, and I came from... I didn't know anything about boxing coming from Ottoville, Ohio, or even the University of Dayton. I would see some fights on TV and all, but once I got down to that little paper in Homestead, Florida, there was kind of a half-assed promoter that was next door that lived in an old hotel. He put on little fight shows at the Armory down there, and he had a bag hanging on a tree behind his house, and I used to just go over there and watch him a little bit. And he was the guy that brought opponents up to Miami for Chris Dundee's fights at the 5th Street Gym, that's Angelo's brother, who was the promoter up there. For every fight, you need and opponent, right?

Todd Jones:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom Archdeacon:
So Chris Dundee, the Dundee's had the up and coming guys, they needed the guy they were going to beat. So they got these tough, blue collar guys from down in Homestead and this was the guy that supplied them, and I'd ride up with him every day. And I just saw the courage it took in these guys to get in the ring. I mean, after everybody gets out, it's just you. I mean, if you're at home or something, just try holding your hands up for three minutes, without anybody hitting you, without any... just moving, where you got to... if it's a 10-round, you've got to be holding them three minutes, and somebody's pounding on you the whole time. I just got to love these guys. I got to admire them. And I got to see some... Plus, boxers they're... I covered auto racing in the early days too, and there are just some sports where you just got great access, where they didn't have a lot of media around, and they so wanted to tell you their story.

Tom Archdeacon:
And in a boxing ring, it's gripping... I've seen good... I mean, I've seen some bad things. I had a friend killed in a ring once, where I was in corner. And it's just... The night of a fight, a big fight-

Todd Jones:
Yeah, tell me a-

Tom Archdeacon:
A big fight in Vegas-

Todd Jones:
Yeah, tell me about that.

Tom Archdeacon:
... oh, my God. This is like that... Now, all that, I got that love of the boxers, I got all that too. But then, you put it in this setting, like a big fight in Vegas. And I've covered a couple hundred fights, probably, just in Vegas, and Atlantic City, and Madison Square Garden, but Vegas was my favorite. And it's just like going to the... When you're going to the circus or the fair or something like that, a fair I guess, and you go... They always have like... down the center, all the freak shows and like the Claw Lady and the Lobster Man, and all this. That's kind of like the fight night. I mean, you got the movie stars, like I said before, and you got your big name athletes down there, then you got the pimps and the hookers and like this, that all come in for all the fights. Then you got all the gamblers, you got all the con-men, you got all the...

Tom Archdeacon:
Then you got the rabid fight fans, like in Miami, they used to really try to have... they'd put like a Puerto Rican kid against a Cuban kid, so you'd get... the people are just passionate, waving their flags, and just... So you got all this emotion, all these... And you got furs and cigars and fake diamonds and real diamonds and all this spectacle around, and Joe Frazier singing the national anthem, and all this, and Don King up with his wild hair, and all this. And then, you got the fighters and the robes, and the fancy robes and all. And then, comes just this two... on the rawest, most basic guttural thing of two guys fighting, and then, it... The moment before a heavyweight fight, there was nothing. I don't care if there was a NCAA Finals, the Super Bowl, anything, nothing caught me like that moment before a fight. It was just electric. And I just fell in love with boxing, and it's still my favorite sport, yeah.

Todd Jones:
What were the favorite fights that you covered? Tell me a couple.

Tom Archdeacon:
Oh, I covered... Well, I covered a lot of Tyson fights. I covered a lot of Holmes fights. Duran, Hagler, one of my favorites was Hagler and Tommy Hearns, was just a wild fight. A lot of Sugar Ray Leonard fights, just... Especially that era right in there. I guess one of my favorite was Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello in the Orange Bowl. They were both... became-

Todd Jones:
1980.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah. They became my friends. '82 was the first fight, and then the next, they had a fight a year later, in Vegas, a rematch, but that was nothing. The real fight was that fight in the Orange Bowl.

Todd Jones:
Well, you're in Miami during the '70s, and there really was no bigger name in Miami, at that time, than Don Shula, the great Miami Dolphins coach. I think 26 seasons, a couple Super Bowls. He was kind of like a Belichick of his day. I mean, he still has more wins than anybody. You show up, looking like David Crosby, from a small town, and then, here's Shula, tell me about Don Shula and what he was like to deal with.

Tom Archdeacon:
He was real strait-laced then. He was a no... He had everything down. He went to mass every morning. He had a certain way he did it. He had a schedule, and he followed that. And he was no... He didn't care for guys with long hair, guys that... And when I showed up, and I didn't really know the world of pro football that much. I'd been down there a few times when I worked at the News-Leader, but then when I... And the very first time I came, I was still at the News-Leader, and I showed up, and I had been on the field, beforehand, and I came... Mercury Morris had taken off his pads, underneath he's got a big t-shirt with a big marijuana leaf on it, so I thought-

Todd Jones:
And he's one of the players?

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, yeah. Mercury Morris was this great running back for him, and so I talked to him. So, now I go into Shula's... I've never been into after practice, he'd always go into his office and he'd bring in the writers, Edwin Pope, was a long time writer for The Miami Herald down there, and would be my rival later when I was at The Miami News. He... So there was about three or four writers in there, and I come in, this is my first day ever, and Shula doesn't know me from Adam. And I got a Hawaiian shirt on and blue jeans and my hair was real long then, and so, he's going around, each guy gets to ask a question. So I can't think of a question, I panic, I'm in front of Don Shula. I go, "Hey, what do you think of Mercury Morris' marijuana t-shirt?"

Tom Archdeacon:
He looks at Edwin Pope and goes, "Who in the hell is this?" And Edwin goes, "I don't know." And Shula goes, "Out. Get out." So he kicked me out of the... I didn't know what to say, so I go, "Well," and sat outside. I got kicked out my first press conference from him. We became friends. I mean, but I used to... There was a lot of hijinks along the way, on my part, not his. But he became... Because he's from Ohio, he's small town. He's a Catholic, and I grew up a Catholic, and I all like that. And I remember my mom sent him a rosary once, when he was having a losing streak, and he won two or three games then. And all of a sudden, my parents were like golden with him. They-

Todd Jones:
You mentioned, he went to mass every day. I mean, so he was-

Tom Archdeacon:
Oh, he went to mass-

Todd Jones:
... by the book. That's why he was so successful, right? He was a great coach-

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, he had... I mean, he was-

Todd Jones:
... because he was by the book.

Tom Archdeacon:
... by the book, but I mean, he was also just one great football coach, but a no nonsense, tough guy. But he had a way that you did things, and you didn't... Football was the whole world, he was consumed by it. He didn't... Don't ask him about a movie or don't ask him about a Christmas light display down on the corner, or something like... He doesn't know anything about it. He doesn't want to talk about that, and he doesn't think you should be during his time. I knew underneath that there was another guy in there, and so, it was just fun, after I got to know him a little bit, to tweak him a little bit, and have some fun. Because I covered him every day, once... later when I got to Miami, when I was a columnist and that was our big beat. Because back then, we didn't have... The Heat hadn't come to town yet, the Panthers weren't there, so it was just the Miami-

Todd Jones:
It was all Dolphins.

Tom Archdeacon:
... Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins. And so-

Todd Jones:
So, what would you do with Shula to get under his skin a little bit?

Tom Archdeacon:
Well, let's see, we're in LA, they're playing the Rams, and that day I had come down to Shula's office in the afternoon, or in the... Yeah, I the afternoon, on a Saturday, and interviewed him in his room. And here's how anal he is, kind of. He's got, next to his bed, there's a bench there, and there's his khaki pants that he's going to wear tomorrow all folded up nice, his aqua polo shirt, his t-shirt, his underwear, his socks, his shoes, there's a ashtray with a rosary in it that he... and there's a little tub with six Heinekens icing down. And it's all lined up just like that.

Todd Jones:
Were those for you?

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, no. Those... He didn't even... So I interview him in his room. I'm in there for 45 minutes we talk, and I got this great story and all. So that night, I go out on the town, late, late with our beat writer, Leo Suarez, a young guy that was my best friend. We go out, and it's probably 2:30, we're coming back to the hotel, feeling no pain whatsoever, and back then, on the city streets they had these little news boxes, where it'd be like escort services and strip clubs and all that... little magazines you could get for free. And so, I took one, and I thought, what the hell, this is pretty funny. And you're leafing through all the pages of scantily clad people and the XXX videos and peepshows and all that.

Tom Archdeacon:
So I go to Leo, I go, "Hey, I got an idea." So we go down to Shula's room. Now, Shula is a guy that on game night he goes to bed at like 10:30, probably watches Matlock or something like that or Columbo, and then goes to bed. And so, he's got... I go... So Leo's tearing out the pages, each one of the... and I'm kneeling down in front of the door, and I'm... this is like, probably, 3:00 in the morning, now, or 3:30, and I'm taking... I go, "Oh, that's a good one." And I'm sticking it under the door, another naked picture, and sticking... I've put about five or six of them under there and as Leo's... we're tittering and laughing, all of a sudden I lose my balance, and I fly forward with my forehead and slam right into the door. And all of a sudden, the door opens, and there stand Don Shula in his underwear and undershorts just seething, with a handful of these naked pictures, going, "What the hell are you doing?"

Tom Archdeacon:
And I'm down on my hands and knees and look up and I go, "Oh, wrong room." So, the next morning... back then, the media road with the team on the team bus to the stadium, and I just happened to get on the elevator, at the team hotel, at the same time Shula was on the elevator. Now, he sees me get on the elevator, and I've had like, I don't know, three and a half hours sleep or something, and he looks at... and I can see he's just like itching just... And finally, he says to me, he says, he saddles up to me as we're coming... we're 20 some floors up, and then, coming down he goes, "Can I ask you one thing?" And I go, "Yeah." He goes, "Do you even like football?" And I go, "Ah, not really. I'm just kind of here for the party." And that wasn't true, I like football, but he just... and that kind of sums up our relationship. We had a... But we had other times where we... real serious talks about whether it was players that were having troubles, or things in his life or even his young son Dave was like a seventh grader there when... So, yeah, yeah. It was a-

Todd Jones:
Well, I can only see the greatest NFL coach of his era, standing there looking down at you, and you're on the floor holding those photos that you were putting under his doorway, great moment.

Tom Archdeacon:
I'll give you one-

Todd Jones:
Well, Don Shula should have got a gold medal for hanging out with you. Let's shift gears. Let's go to the Olympics. How many Olympics did you cover Tom? And give me a favorite moment.

Tom Archdeacon:
I covered 12 Olympic games, but that's counting Winter and Summer, and I mean, I was there for big events. Ben Jones testing positive-

Todd Jones:
You mean, Ben-

Tom Archdeacon:
I mean, Ben Johnson, and Harding and Kerrigan, their whole soap opera, and all kinds of different things. But I'll tell you one that... It was the Sydney Olympics, in 2000. I think it's the Sydney Olympics, was it 2000... Was that when Gloria Alozie ran for the hurdles of... Yeah, she's the Nigerian hurdler, and 100 meter hurdles. She was going to get married to this guy, Hyginus, who just loved her, who was another athlete. And he got there ahead of her, she was going to compete a little bit in Japan or something. Now, she's a tiny, she's got to be 4'11 or something like that. And the 100 hurdles were a brutal race, especially for somebody that small. He got there ahead of her, he got hit by... he was getting donuts or something for some other athlete, he came across the street, there was a bus there, the business driver lays him out, he forgets they drive on the other side of the street, he steps out and he's hit and killed.

Tom Archdeacon:
She flies in, gets off the plane, "Where's Hyginus?" Because he'd meet her at every... at the airport with flowers and he'd give her a Bible verse and tell her he loved her, and he wasn't there, and they tell her, "He's been hit and killed. He's in the morgue." She goes to the athlete's village. She's supposed to compete in the 100 high hurdles. She won't get out of her room in the athlete's village. They have to go in and... The other girls they... She curls in like the fetal position in her bed, they go and they try to get her to eat, she won't eat, she won't come to practice, she won't do anything. They figure she's not going to run at all. She's done. They can't get her to do anything. She's just crushed. They go to the day of her first heat. They go, they take the athlete's bus, she's still back in the room.

Tom Archdeacon:
All of a sudden, a cab shows up, she gets out, she goes to the stadium, comes in wins her heat. Same thing next day when she goes to the finals, all of a sudden the story of Gloria Alozie's starting to... people are starting to hear it a little bit. She runs the hurdles that day, and she leads for nine hurdles, and loses to some other woman, finishes, she gets the silver medal. When the meet ends, they usually take the... the winner goes around the track and the whole stadium applauds them, all the other women came to her. They put their arms kind of around her and they took her around the stadium, slowly around the stadium. And however many people that were in that stadium, 100,000 or whatever it is, stood and applauded her, and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. And Gloria Alozie, eventually, flies home with her silver medal and her Hyginus in a casket, and that was a pretty... that's a gripping moment. That was-

Tom Archdeacon:
I was there for the bombing in Atlanta as well, and we had two guys from the Dayton area that were caught in the bombs and hurt very badly. So right when it happened, I'm trying to think like, man... They weren't exactly allowing press to go in and talk to anybody. So I get a cab driver and I'm talking to the cab driver... This is luck. I mean, this is where I used up, if you got to pay like so many dues to get in heaven, well, I just used a bunch of them right here. This guy goes, "Yeah, my sister works on the cleaning crew at the hospital." I go, "Oh, really?" And he goes, "Yeah." So I convince him to introduce me to his sister, who takes me in with her and the cleaning crew, and I come into the hospital, and work my way up to the... This is probably, shouldn't be in the journal as a manual I guess, I work my way to the room of the one of the guys from Dayton.

Tom Archdeacon:
Now, this bombing has happened, and the only way we found out that the guy from here was hurt, was because they had contacted his family. His family, next door live somebody from our paper, they called our paper, they called me and said, "Hey, there was a guy from here." All I had was his name, I found where he was, and this wasn't a lie. I mean, I said, "I'm from Dayton. He's been hurt, and I'm from Dayton." I didn't say, "I'm a sports writer from Dayton." I go up to his room, and at first, though, once I got there, I realized, I'm not a sports writer now, I've got to just be a regular... this guys unconscious and all, and I kind of just sit there with him, and just, I'm the only guy from home, nobody's got there yet. And I sit there with him, and talk with him, and that day, I leave. I don't do anything. The next day, I come back.

Tom Archdeacon:
Now, I've gotten it worked out where I've gotten a pass, because I'm the guy from Dayton that's here with the... Next day I come in, and when he wakes up, he's a sports fan, right, he goes, "Hey, Tom Archdeacon, how are you?" And it was a good story, and we've stayed friends since. But there's times where you just, I've also learned, where you do... I never lie to somebody once they get... I mean, especially not to anybody I'm writing about or anything like that, you know who I am, I'm not going to ever pretend I'm not somebody... Maybe to get access somewhere, I'll do what I can to get in.

Tom Archdeacon:
But I can remember, I covered 9/11 for our paper, for a long time, like three weeks almost. Well, a photographer and I got right down to Ground Zero when they were holding all the rest of the media back in a holding pin. I just came... But once we got down there, I realized, put the notebook and the camera away right now, they were still trying to dig people out of what they thought was still, this was a day and a half later, the rubble. Not-

Todd Jones:
Wow.

Tom Archdeacon:
You just had to be another person trying to help, at first. And then, you can be a journalist after that. And once I got down there, I would take out my... You got to take out your passes, people got to know... So I got to do all these different things, and you know what you can't... I read this someplace too, I don't think this was Hunter Thompson, but the thing... it still juices me up now, I'm 70 years old, and I'm as juiced up, sometimes when I get a good story. Now, I get a tired a lot easier, but when I get, as I was when I was 25, they say, it's like a kid at Christmas. If you celebrate Christmas, you come down underneath the tree or something, you're looking for a package under there that's got your name on it. And pulling off the fancy little ribbon, and the fancy paper. And when you're a young person, you're hoping it's not underwear or socks or anything. Now, you get my age, underwear's a pretty damn good gift.

Tom Archdeacon:
But that moment before you open it up, that's surprise, that juices you up. When you're pulling the paper off and you go... you got a gift from Santa Claus or gift from your girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever it is, what is it? What is it? Well, that's what this job is. Every day's a different person, a different situation. They're black, they're white, they're rich, they're poor, they're country, they're city, they're Miami, they're Ottoville, Ohio, they're Dayton. And that's the fun part, every day, something different. And it's that surprise, looking for that surprise every day. That's the fun part of it.

Todd Jones:
Well, here's the thing, as we wrap this up, you're still doing it, that's what's amazing to me. You're still cranking out great columns, stories. Nobody tells a story about every Joe or Jane on the street like you do. You're known for the big events that you covered, but really the people stories that you tell are amazing. Last year, in the city of Dayton, I mean, you were a big part of helping that city heal through the tragedies that it had. So I think the idea of you still telling the stories, really touches people. And the fire is still in your engine. I really, really admire that.

Tom Archdeacon:
Well, thank you. Thanks. I still like doing it. And, yeah, last year was a special year with the Flyers, after everything has happened in Dayton, and so, I like doing it. I'm going to try to keep doing it for a little bit, yet, but soon as... It's a little tougher as you get older, but there's still... Like I said, it still juices you when you get a nice story.

Todd Jones:
Now, I have one last story I want to ask you.

Tom Archdeacon:
All right.

Todd Jones:
You're still doing it, you have a great story about a Uconn basketball player. University of Connecticut Women's basketball, one of the great sports programs in any sport, in our lifetime, and you had a great story. And we're going to end with this.

Tom Archdeacon:
All right. So, we had a girl from Dayton, Tamika Williams, who played for Uconn, and she was one of the stars on those teams that have Sue Bird and Swin Cash and all these great players. And so they were coming to Dayton to play something, so I wrote this gigantic, probably, I don't know 80, 90 inches on Tamika Williams, and they ran it on A-1. And it had all these different names in there, if you can... 90 inches, that's, I don't know how many words-

Todd Jones:
That's quite a few words.

Tom Archdeacon:
... 2700 words or something. So there's a lot of Villnovans, Swin Cash and Asjha, what was her name, I forget, but... So anyways, we had a new... after I turn the story in, we have a... it went to sports to edit it, and then they sent it over to a city side person to edit it, and it was some young person. And back then, it was the days where you still had spellcheck, so, when she finished with the whole story, she now is going to hit spellcheck, just to catch if you spell some word wrong, but of course all these names like Asia, a girl that spells her name like Asja or something or Villanova or these things don't pop up, Geno Auriemma doesn't pop-

Todd Jones:
The coach.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah. So, when you get it, it'll give you the next closest word, right? What you're supposed to do, there's two boxes, you either hit replace and it puts that other word in, or you just put, skip, which she should have hit skip, on... because I said, Geno Auriemma's name, probably, 30 times in the column. She got confused, and hit replace, and it got in the paper like that. She was the last read. So Geno Auriemma's name, if you do this, you can try it on your spellcheck at home, it becomes a word that means, urinary tract infection. And so, it was urethra something, I don't know. So for 30... Plus every other name was... All these other names had just these oddball... It's like a person from Mars came in and just threw some words in there. So there was probably a 100 mistakes in the story.

Tom Archdeacon:
The next day, I'm reading it at my kitchen table, and I swear to God, coffee came right out my nose. I just went... I can't tell you what I said, but Geno Auriemma, a urinary tract infection, Jesus Christ. So I call up, make a big stink, and all. And so, finally, the next day, they do rerun, but they put a box in there and just put, "This story ran yesterday, without being edited," or something like that. I made it look like it was me, again. And so I was... But the worse thing that happened, is that night, the night before it ran the next day, I'm down in a little newspaper bar next to the paper, and I'm down there and I am ticked, and I've had like a few pops here and there, and all of sudden... There's a talk show that calls from Connecticut, they're reading my story online, and everybody's getting a big hoot about it, and so, they want to talk to me live.

Tom Archdeacon:
Well, now, this is 10:00 at night, and I'm in shape to be talking, and especially, not on radio, and the clerk goes, "Oh, he's not here, but he's down in the bar, I can give you his number, the number of the bar." So they call down to the bar, and the barmaid goes, "Tom, there's a call for you." So I go over and I answer it, and he goes, "You're live on something in Hartford." And like a fool, I should have hung up, but no, I tried to explain it, and I just saw it... I botched it in the paper, I botched it on the radio, and so, for a while after that, every time I saw Geno Auriemma, he just looked at me and would shake his head.

Todd Jones:
So I guess the lesson is, always hit skip.

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, hit skip. Hit skip. When all else fails, just hit skip. You can't screw-up.

Todd Jones:
Well, thanks a lot Tom. I think we've covered way more ground than we anticipated, and-

Tom Archdeacon:
Well, I really appreciate this.

Todd Jones:
Sarah, are you still there?

Tom Archdeacon:
Yeah, sorry. Sorry.

Todd Jones:
We had a lot of ground to cover and, hey, we got rolling.

Tom Archdeacon:
All right. Listen, thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

Todd Jones:
All right, Tom. Thank you, man.

Tom Archdeacon:
All right-

Todd Jones:
I love you brother.

Tom Archdeacon:
All right, take care buddy.

Todd Jones:
All right, take care. See you.

Tom Archdeacon:
Bye.

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