Sports & Entertainment

BTU #302 - Navy SWO to ESPN Reporter and Host (Sal Paolantonio)

BTU #302 - Navy SWO to ESPN Reporter and Host (Sal Paolantonio)

Why Listen

Sal has had an incredible career as a journalist, from newspapers, to authoring four books, to being a Veteran of ESPN for over 25 years. With ESPN he covers the National Football League for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Live and Fantasy Football Now. He also hosts the long-running NFL Matchup show. While Sal’s career has been in journalism and sports, he talks about curiosity, about finding information that no one else knows, about approaching one’s job with a beginner’s mindset, and a whole host of topics applicable to any career.

About Sal

Sal Paolantonio is a national correspondent for ESPN. He primarily covers the National Football League for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Live and Fantasy Football Now. He also hosts the long-running NFL Matchup show. He has been a mainstay of ESPN’s NFL coverage since he joined ESPN in August 1995, and is a veteran of 25 Super Bowls. Prior to joining ESPN, Paolantonio was a political reporter (1985-93), as well as a beat reporter for the Philadelphia Eagles (1993-95), for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1994, he won the Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Reporting, and in 1995, he was named Philadelphia’s Best Sportswriter by Philadelphia Magazine. He also served as a reporter for Philadelphia’s WPHL-TV nightly newscast, Inquirer News Tonight (1994-95), and hosted Saturday Morning Sports Page, a weekly call-in show on WIP-AM all-sports radio (1993-95). Paolantonio began his journalism career as a reporter for the Albany Times Union, where he received the Associated Press Managing Editor’s Award for Enterprise Reporting (1985). He received the 2017 Jack Newfield Courage in Journalism Award from the New York Daily News.

Paolantonio is the author of four books. His most recent, Philly Special: The Inside Story of How the Philadelphia Eagles Won Their First Super Bowl Championship, will be available in September 3, 2019. His previous book, How Football Explains America, was published in 2008 and was the No. 1 selling football book in America for six straight months, according to Amazon.com.

Paolantonio served in the United States Navy (1979-83) as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet and was awarded the United Nations Meritorious Service Medal in 1981 for supervising the rescue of Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea. He retired as a full lieutenant in 1983. Paolantonio is also a member of the board of the Cooper University Hospital Foundation in Camden, N.J.

BTU #306 - Vietnam WIA to 4x Super Bowl Champion (Rocky Bleier)

BTU #306 - Vietnam WIA to 4x Super Bowl Champion (Rocky Bleier)

Why Listen:

Special thanks for ESPN for helping make this interview happen. A new film about Rocky, The Return, will air on August 20th, featuring Rocky’s story, and his return to Vietnam where he sustained his injuries 50 years ago. Rocky’s story - of going from the NFL to Vietnam, to being wounded in action, being told he will never again play football, and clawing his way back to the NFL to win 4 Super Bowls is absolutely inspiring.

About Rocky:

Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again…this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began…

For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.

The hard lessons Rocky Bleier learned early in his life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football. These lessons are seen between the lines in the popular book on his life, "Fighting Back" and on stages of speaking appearances around the country.

BTU #280 - Navy to PGA Golfer (Billy Hurley III)

BTU #280 - Navy to PGA Golfer (Billy Hurley III)

Why Listen:

Billy is a professional golfer, the first Naval Academy graduate to earn a PGA TOUR card, which he has done for the last seven years. The more I learn about Billy’s journey, the more I’m blown away by what he achieved. In a field that is crowded and incredibly competitive, Billy has succeeded despite having five years where - instead of focusing 100% on golf like his peer set - he was serving in the military.In this interview we talk about cultivating a mindset of excellence - even though serving as a Surface Warfare Officer didn’t directly relate to his aspirations as a golfer - he focused on it 100% and did the best job he could. We talk about making sacrifices and how to balance that with being present with one’s family. We talk about what life is like on the PGA Tour and more.

About Billy:

Billy Hurley III was a member of the victorious American team in the 2005 Walker Cup and served as captain of the 2004 Palmer Cup Team. He won seven collegiate golf titles at the Naval Academy, was named 2004 Patriot League Player of the Year and was ranked the #6 best amateur in the world. Billy was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, serving as a Surface Warfare Officer for five years. After his Naval service, Billy turned his focus to golf. He earned his place on the Web.com Tour in 2011, finishing the season in 25th place and becoming the first Naval Academy graduate to earn a PGA TOUR Card. He has continued to be a strong competitor on the TOUR, winning the 2016 Quicken Loans National – a Tiger Woods-hosted tribute to military personnel. With the win, Billy qualified for his first PGA and Masters Championships.