Today’s year end podcast features an interview with Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. Graham is my pick for the NFL team writer of the year for his work on a variety of pieces, many of which looked at deeper issues and went beyond the local scene in Buffalo. As I told him, all that gets him is this podcast, where we go in depth on what went into some of the articles he produced.
Along the way, we talked about a variety of things. Among them:
- We start out with this article on the families of the murder victims from the Ray Lewis case from over a decade earlier. Graham tracked them down before the Super Bowl, and we talk about whether that story was going to happen if Lewis was not in the Super Bowl, and Graham relays an amazing story about the mother of one of the victims;
- Graham interviewed Jacksonville General Manager David Caldwell, and brought him to tears in a Roy Firestone moment. Graham has some interesting things to say about the access he received, compared to other teams. Jacksonville fans will want to read this if they have not already.
- Graham used to be the ESPN AFC East Blogger from 2008 to 2011 before returning to the Buffalo News as an enterprise reporter. He had some great quotes about those that question his move away from ESPN. “I was debating Chad Henne vs. Mark Sanchez . . . in the end, who really cares?” and “Would you rather be the bullpen catcher for the New York Yankees, or bat third for the Toronto Blue Jays?”
- We talked about the series of stories (here, here, here, and here) he wrote about this iconic photo from Operation Desert Storm, tracking down the men pictured, and the family of soldier killed, in the body bag to the right:
- “I used to be a slow writer and push deadline a lot.” He talks about how some of the ESPN experience did change how he works now.
- We have a discussion about the longer pieces versus pieces that drive traffic. He reveals that he no longer knows what his traffic is (“I used to be a slave to it”) now that the Buffalo News has gone behind a pay wall.
- We talked about his piece on kickoffs and an interview with Brian Mitchell, and my follow up on kickers and the K-ball.
- He had another great quote, related to calling around to several great returners and getting Mitchell’s quote: “I find that I get lucky a lot . . . it’s usually because I will keep making the calls until I get something good.”