We did this interview via email:
* What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome to make this book succeed?
I would say the sheer volume of players involved. I always make it my goal to interview as many participants as humanly possible, but here you were talking about every Dallas Cowboy player from 1989 through 1997; every coach; every administrator; every groupie; every bartender; etc. It was just massive, and while I interviewed enough to write a solid book, there were so many more people I wanted.
* How were the Dallas Cowboys 1992-95 different from other sports champions you’ve covered or read about?
Well, they probably partied harder than any team I’ve ever covered. But what’s truly unique about that is it didn’t seem to impact overall performance. The Cowboys still won three Super Bowls; still produced a slew of Hall of Fame-worthy players; still were beloved by the city. I mean, the ’86 Mets probably had equal talent (relative to baseball), but their dynasty began and end after one year.
* Why is it so heinous to out somebody for possible homosexuality? Why is it that immeasurably worse than outing someone for using hookers, committing adultery, taking illegal drugs, et al?
To be honest, I find the premise of that question pretty offensive—akin to people who compare homosexuality to some sort of disease that needs to be cured. Being gay is not a sin; a lifestyle choice; a crime; a sinister plot against society. It’s a sexual orientation with which you are born; it’s who you are as a person—and American society is still largely unable to accept it. Now, if we lived in a world where being gay was a non-issue, it wouldn’t matter. But it’s such a huge burden for one to carry—especially in sports—that to violate someone’s privacy is evil.
* Do you see any significance in your shot at Bayless for speculating in print about Aikman’s sexual orientation to sell books, and the great offense you took when Emmitt told you to go sell some books?
No. Emmitt was upset because I had the audacity to write about his team. I was upset with Skip because he outed a man, and—adding to it—the man wasn’t even gay.
* What are the qualities that make a sportswriter popular with his peers and the traits that make him unpopular? Are there significant stories not getting told because sportswriters want to stay popular with their peers (fans, subjects)? (Beat reporters rarely seem to break serious stories on their teams, steroid use, rape etc).
Well, we sportswriters can be a pretty petty group, I reckon. I’d say the most liked among us are those who are humble; those who respect other writers; those who aren’t cocky and who are willing to share information. I’d be willing to admit that when I was at Sports Illustrated early on I surely had some unlikeable cockiness to me. Which, in hindsight, is pathetic, because what right does anyone have to be cocky or arrogant over inane bullshit like writing or what magazine you work for? At the end of the day we all poop and die. So why elevate ourselves?
* What was it like for you as a Jew in Dallas Cowboy land?
Being honest, not even a factor. I was a Jew in rural Putnam County, N.Y. as a kid, which was tougher. Still remember kids throwing pennies at my brother and I in elementary school; still have my high school yearbook, which has JEW scribbled all over it. But my time in Dallas is short.