INDIANAPOLIS — If you’re a devoted NFL fan, chances are you’re more than a little familiar with Pro Football Talk. The website, which turned 10 this past fall, has become a go-to daily stop for the league’s fans, media, players and even execs. Two and a half years ago, the site’s founder, Mike Florio, quit his day job as a lawyer when PFT was purchased by NBC Sports. Now, Florio’s a household name and a regular on NBC’s Football Night in America. I caught up with him today at the Super Bowl XLVI Media Center here in Indy.
1. First off, how many hours a week do you work? You’re making us other bloggers look bad, man.
I used to work harder when I was practicing law because I did both. Now, couple of things: It’s all I do and I’ve got help. I’ve got guys like (Michael David Smith) who is up posting at 6 a.m. and I’ve got other guys throughout the day if I want to take a rest, take a nap, do whatever. I can tap out and say, “Can you take over for an hour?”. So it looks like I’m still working as hard, but I’m probably not. The thing is, whenever I’m awake, if I’m not doing something with my family, I’m working. And I’ve got a room that I sit in — that room that we shoot PFT Live out of — I sit there and I work all day and I’ll go eat dinner, and I’ll come back and work, take a half hour to watch a TV show with my son, and then come back and work. That’s the thing — I don’t even think of it as work because it becomes so much part of your routine that you just do it.
2. Do you ever find that you lose focus on the actual games?
Yes, because to focus on the game properly you have to completely wall yourself off from everything else you’re doing. And if you do that, then you feel like you’re neglecting your responsibilities with the website, and that’s a challenge for me. When we’re in the viewing room at NBC on Sundays, I keep one eye on the games and the other eye on the computer screen, and it’s a challenge. During the week I try to go back on the NFL Game Rewind feature and watch games, but even then you’re trying to get work done. The bigger it gets — Peter King tells me this all the time — you’ve gotta feed the beast. And if I don’t post a story for an hour or two, I’ll have 50 e-mails saying, Did you die? Are you sick? Are you in the bathroom? Get back to work. The only time I can really get away from it is when I go to bed, and if I can get six or seven hours of sleep a night, then I’m feeling pretty good.
3. Your website famously killed Terry Bradshaw by running a false story about his alleged death a few years back.
One day I’m going to be right.
That’s true. But is that something that’s on your mind to this day when you’re contemplating whether to go with a story?
It’s a different thing when you’re talking about death. Now when there are reports that someone may have died, I’m very careful before I will use it. Because what happened with that was, there were TV stations in Shreveport, Louisiana reporting that Terry Bradshaw had passed away because there had been a car accident on the Terry Bradshaw Passway, and that got all twisted around. So I posted an item that there were rumors (that Bradshaw had died). It was five years ago, but we had the national voice, so people tied false reports about Terry Bradshaw to us, even though we were just repeating what somebody else was reporting. And what I learned was — at the time, I knew people at Fox, and all I had to do was call somebody…I learned a valuable lesson.
4. You’re on display today, along with the rest of the NBC cast of characters. How does this newfound fame feel?
I don’t know, because it’s almost like I’m looking through the eyes of someone else’s life. This is something I never expected — this is something I never hoped for. I enjoy what I do and I’m so caught up in the moment and the day to day of what we do that I just don’t think about it. Because I feel like if I stop and think about it I’m either going to lose my mind or it’s all going to go away. So if you’re going to do something internet-based where you have a large audience of people who you want to come to the site every day, there’s only one way to keep that, and that is to bring it every single day.
5. What’s next for PFT?
That’s a good question — I’ve gotten to this point without a plan, so my plan is to have no plan. My plan is to stay on the horse until it throws me off, until it dies under me, or until I die on top of it. I like my lifestyle, I like what I do and I’m just going to keep doing it.
If or when you die on top of it, I promise to confirm before reporting.
Well played, young Jedi.