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PFT Commenter meets his Internet Dad, Mike Florio

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I flew out to West Virginia to visit with the internet's original NFL news maven, and steward of the web's best comment section: Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.

All spelling errors are intentional (we think). - Editor.

First of all I want to address the elephant in the room here. Yes over the past couple weeks I've gone to ESPN, the GOP debates, and now Im writing up a visit with Mike Florio. Some people might think Im becoming to mainstream or whatever. To them I ask, Was Ghandi too mainstream? Was he better when he was only liberating his parents and favorite prostutes from the British rule? Was Jesus too mainstream? Do you go into church saying "y'know I liked Jesus before he was ressurected. Realy jumped the shark in my opinion when they brought him back to life." So thats my mindset. If you dont like it, go ahead and click the back button and return to your Matthew Berry column or whatever.

Getting Mike Florio to agree to have me at his house was a bit of a ordeal in the first place. Most of the references I gave him he had blocked on twitter, so it took a few different attempts for him to finally realize that Im not a total psycho. The problem with scheduling a visit was that Mike is for some reason, very cautious about inviting stragers from the internet into his home. For all of the ignorant readers out there (no offense), Mike Florio is the founder and editor of ProFootballTalk, our nation's top internet source for breaking NFL news, rumors, and a comment section that served as a inspiration for me to hone my NFL takes on a larger platform. Hes been somewhat of a hero of mine, and I wanted to visit him to see how he operates and maybe even learn a thing or to.

After passing whatever insufficient background checks he went through to clear me, I had to deal with the whole matter of getting there. Because while most reputable sportsblogs are based in fancy elite towns like New York, Los Angeles, and whatever high school computer lab is running RantSports that week, ProFootballTalk HQ is tucked away at Mikes home in rural West Virginia.

Theres something built into our nations National Securty network called "The Continuity of Govement Plan," which basically says that if Hitlers grandson launches a nuclear warhead filled with uranium and smallpox-infested pregnant rabbits, then our nations leaders get moved to secure facilities to ensure that the government is able to continue taking away our freedoms and liberties without interruption. One of these locations is in the mountains of West Virginia, dont ask me how I know this but lets just say I read alot of INFOWARS. Likewise, Florio's house is in a undisclosed location in the appalachian hills- I assume to ensure contiunity of takes in the event that Peter King and Clay Travis simultaneously break all of their wrists from typing in a sledgehammer of a sports column. Its in a place that is probably the last place you would look for it, the type of place where I half expected Joe Biden to pop his head out of every bush I passed and ask me if Benghazi was over yet. And ironically, the suitcase filled with nuclear codes that the government uses is called- you guessed it- the football. So what Im saying here is watch what you say about him because Mike Florio might have the abilty to end the planet earth.

Turns out the DeflateGate ruling news broke right as I was pulling into his town, so while he was doing phone-ins on the Dan Patrick show, I was hanging out in his driveway listening to the Dan Patrick show and trying to avoid eye contact with any lookie-loo family members going into the home who may of been trying to see who the stranger was standing outside a Mazda 1.5 holding a Mad Dog and a tin of skoal.


Florio is at his best on days like these where his background as a lawyer (hes a lawyer) gets put to good use. He is all over those damn rulings and legal briefigns and he gets to explain to all of America how thoroughly Roger Goodell got his butt whooped. Hes like a border collie going through a obstacle course that he studied for 2 years with a packed house cheering him on every time he goes through the slalom without ripping out a dewclaw. It tends to be on the other days where theres not alot going on that Mike tends to get wrestless and start chewing on his paws or doing things like crowdsourcing twitter for Jared Fogle/Subway prison rape jokes, or getting into arguments with the Jaguars mascot. But all and all, I think if your churning out 20 blogs a day your entitled to put your foot in your mouth every once in a while.

After I went inside Mike and I sat down for a second when I arrived to kind of feel each other out. His producer "Stats" had thought this was going to be a Monica Seles type situaton where he invites a crazed fan into his house who attacks and kills Mike on the air, which in retrospect would of made for a hell of a TV show- so bad producing on Stats' part to even have that be a concern. But I was there on a business trip, not a hitlist trip, so we just kind of shared some background on ourselves, he talked about the history behind PFT and his family, and I presented him with two very nice, luxiourous peace offerings:


My apoligies to Mike for this pic he actually has eyes, and typically has them open at any given time.

Mike walked me through the history of ProFootballTalk.com and his career (as a lawyer) and then as a writer. Allow me to take you on a journey back in time all the way back to the turn of the millenuem:

Mike Florio started ProFootballTalk in 2001, when the internet was still a distant second behind both talk radio and bathroom stadium urinal troughs as the premiere destnation for sports fans to go for strong NFL takes. You know how far ago that was? Here are some facts about how much has changed in the world. In 2001:

-We had Hope, Jobs, and Cash

-Gas was free, but parking at a filling station was $30

-The New England Patriots were likable

Likewise the internet as we knew it was unrecognizable. It took about a half hour to load a dial-up website, and you had to tell your mom to get off the phone with her mom if you wanted to watch MILFhunter. It was even harder to find NFL news for your specific team. When I wanted to read up on my latest Redksins news I had to wander off the reservation, not to be racist, of the AOL homepage and enter the darkweb of chatrooms filled with 50 year old dudes and 13 year old dudes who were all pretending to be lesbians with each other, or somehow find a message board filled with info that was about as legally binding as a Supreme Court ruling. The NFL was on the precipous of entering into a dark era where the visibility of the actual games was outpacing the visibilty of people who would write about the games and tell you what you saw.

Well all that was about to change. We needed a selfless hero, so as we always do here in America whenever we need a altruistic force of benevloence to save us, we turned to a lawyer.

His first venture into writing about the NFL was 2001s, "Quarterback of the Future" a realstic fiction account of a time-traveling QB and his speedster wideout friend who go back in time to win championships for the Steelers and then one of them travels forward in time to take the Broncos to the Superbowl. Ironically, Mike credits that book with introducing him to a number of the contacts the he would go on to work with in starting his own web site. So without that book, there would be no PFT, and therfore, there would be no PFT Commenter. It's a great read and I did a review of it last year on a day where Mike informed me, there just happen to be a number of high-ranking NBC execs visiting his house, checking twitter and telling him that his old book was making the news.

As he was writing "Quarterback of the Future", Florio was working in labor law. It was at this time that he realized that there was this big gap in coverage (no offense to Raheem Moore) when it came to getting NFL news from around the league. He paid for a subscripton to the Sporting News at the time which was like a Ashley Madison type site for guys who were only getting their football fix once a week from boring missionary-style Sports Illustrated and needed something new, wild, and a little bit naughty to satisfy them. Still the Sporting News wasnt kinky enough, so Florio figured he'd try his hand at the stuff himself - he would sneak in quick writing breaks between arguing that asbestos was actually good for constructon workers, or whatever a labor lawyer does.

He started out as one of our nations first sports-bloggers, before blogger was even a word, so no one could make fun of him for being one yet. Its like how it was ok to buy violent hallucinogens at gas stations until the FDA started calling them bath salts. He was pretty much combing message boards and press releases for informaton from all 32 NFL teams and then writing blogs and straight up rumors about them. Turns out people loved his artcles, and he loved to write them. Soon enough after writing for a couple different fly-by-night websites like ESPN he went all-in on his own website- ProFootballTalk.  He didnt know how he would make money of it, he just knew that if he kept writing, something good would happen.

See nowdays PFT is a pretty reputable newsourse but back in the day Florio was not above making fun of other reporter's or posting unsubstantiated claims that he got from the original internet commenters- message board members. Just as some people (defianately not me) have taken pot-shots at Florio to increase there brand and image as they get started in the ultra-highly competitive world of online writing, Florio took a few shots at the large NFL media as he started out too. "One way to get noticed is to go pick a fight. Now that Im a guy that gets arrows shot at him by others- theres a certain karma to this because thats what I used to do, so its hard to fault someone for doing this." By the mid-00's PFT was generating some good revenue and then somewhere along the way, they opened up the comment section which was needles to say, a game-changer.

The Pro Football Talk comment section has long been a bastion of truth, witicisms, and unusual punctuation. Sometimes I use to go there and skip the articles just for the takes down below. Some people might call them vulgar or worse, but in realty they arent much different than what you would find on any other corner of the internet or bathroom stall that wrote about the NFL. Its just that Florio was there first, so all the early adopters of sports internet commenting developed a affinity for his brand, and also they probably cant remember there login on any other sites.

Its impossible for Florio to estmate what percentage of his website's readers are commenters, and how those commenters effect his traffic numbers due to there refreshing of a page to see if anyone has responding to their comment of "I dont care" on a Michael Sam story. Right now, we're playing in the "live ball era" of PFT commenting, where his traffic numbers are so huge that its alot easier to get 1,000 thumbs up for a comment calling them "The New England Cheatriots" then it was for me to get 100 back in 2007 for writing a full parody of "charge of the light brigade" about Brian Mooreman trying to run over Sean Taylor in the ProBowl.

But as the NFL has grown, Florio has worked and gritted his way to the top of the game. Let nobody tell you that Mike Florio isnt a hard-worker. He comes from a blue-coller background from a blue-collar part of the USA- his uncle was literally decapitated in a coal mining accident. Every day, Mike puts on his hard hat, puts his head down and goes to work churning out anywhere between 10-24 posts himself per day. Thats along with his internet TV show and his internet radio show, followed by his PFT Live television show that airs on NBC sports channel. This is all in edition to him working on Sundays on the set of "Football night in America" with Tony Dungy, Peter King, Rodney Harrison, and like 10 other guys. I watched him closely during our day and saw no signs of cocaine, but being in the sudafed-triangle of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Charleston, WV and given the fact that I have no explanation for how hes able to produce so much content, Im going to stick with "heavy meth use."

After shootin the shit for a little while it was time to head to his TV studio for his taping of PFT Live. His studio is located above the garage but is actually quite nice and proffessonal considering he runs it all by himself with the help of the remotely located producer who thought I was a security threat. The only knock to having it above the garage is that whenever someone opens are closes the door, the camera shakes like hes going through a minor definitely-not-fracking-induced earthquake. So if you can hack into Mikes garage door opener a good trick might be to wait til he's on the air, and sneak in there and leave a bunch of raccoons inside or something.


Heres the thing they dont tell you about live TV: your not suppose to wander through the background like a idiot. If I had known there would be cameras rolling I would of made a "D-fence" sign or at least grew my goatee.


Me: "Sup?"

Massive shout-out to Mike Tunison for buying me the customized Patriots "NextManUp 69" jersey, BTW.

So after screwing up Florios TV show we made the hussle back downstairs to his radio set-up and Mike aloud me to go on the air with him.

Right off the bat he introduced me and I rambled on about how I got my reputation as a great NFL mind when I predicted on the night he was drafted that Mike Vick would be arrested for dogfighting at some point in his career. Then I started going in on how theres not aloud to be any Christian QBs in the NFL anymore, and how concussons arent even real, and Mike kind of took over the microphone from there and kept me on a pretty short leash for some reason.

The next segment we had Peter king on there and I got to ask Peter for his take on Flacco, which was "hes freakin Elite." God bless Peter.

My other takes from the show:

-Roger Goodell was mistakenly ruled against in the DeflateGate trial because hes already been convicted of giving out idiotic suspensions, so this is technically like quintouple-jeopardy and he cant be convicted again.

-Tebow should play rugby on the olympic team. but now I think about it, RG3 should try out for the rugby team because not only are you not aloud to even attempt a forward pass, but there are only 6 teammates to alienate at any given time.

-The Redskins at this point should change there name just to completely re-brand. Its like at some point Union Carbide had to just go ahead and change there name to Dow Chemical and now they're more profitable then ever. They win all the time.

Like I said, Mike kept me on a tight leash mostly because he was rightly afraid I would steal his thunder. Here's the link to the entire show but I dont start appearing on it untill like the 30th minute or something.

After the show was over we ate some pizza and drank beers. He had a Michelob Ultra I had a Yeungleng btw, so I won lunch. Then we sat down for a little chat. I wanted to know was about his credentials when it came to talking pigskin.

PFTC: Did you ever even play football?

Shocking answer= "Yes."

You see, Mike was a O-lineman and got moved around alot until he quit in 8th grade because as he puts it "I was 'husky.' And decided by the time high school came around I wasnt interested in playing on the O line, and I wasnt interested in stopping eating pizza." Sounds to me like code for, "football practice was cutting severley into my JO time" which is fine, nothing wrong with that, I think we all can sympathize.

But the fact that he has indeed used to play football gives him instant credibilty in the eyes of most. Nothing worse than a armchair guy who likes to talk about the NFL but thinks a "Oklahoma Drill" is a fancy name for a Male-Male-Mule threesome. In my opinion, when Megyn Kelly asked Trump if he would probably stop calling women the T-word if he was elected President, he should of just responded with "I bet you never even played the game of football." Instant walk-off.

Now I didnt fly my dumb ass all the way to Pittsburgh and drive my tired ass all the way down to WV just to pal around with him. I had the tough questons too. I wanted to ask him about his goof-ups and what hes learned from them. Mike was very open about what he screwed up and was more then happy to get into the details which is a major red flag. If I ever screwed up a story which I havent and never will do, and smeone has the balls to ask me about it in my own house, I hit 'em with a "I'm on to Cincinnatti" and demand a new, better question. Very unprofessional of Mike to answer these types of "gotcha" journalism from me.

So about the time he reported that Terry Bradshaw died. Or more accurately, Florio reported that there was a report that Terry Bradshaw died. Turns out there was a accident on the "Terry Bradshaw Passway" in like Turtle, Louisiana, or whatever the hell, and somehow along the lines that got changed into a report titled "Terry Bradshaw passed away" which Mike reported on in turn. Hes a good sport about it though, and when I was telling his wife about my exellent trip to Bradshaws one-man show last year, she asked me if I saw him before or after he died. Solid zing, Mrs. Florio.

But what Mike doesnt get credit for is the fact that he was actually just way out in front of this story, so in my opinon, when Terry Bradshaw does die, every news source out there has to say "As first reported by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk."

We also talked about the time he blogged that Peanut Tillman should skip his childs birth for a football game, and what he learned from the reusulting backlash. You'll recall that Tillman was on like kid number 5 at the time, and so I mean how many times do you really need to see your wife give birth especially if your in the middle of a playoff push?

Turns out that Florio had been remarkably consistant on this position in the past-

Florio: A few months before the Charles Tillman incident Ben Roethiisberger was in the same situation. I said the same thing about Roehlisberger and no one said boo.

So when it came time to unleash his take on Tillman he was suprised by how many people took exception. Pretty much everyone universally disagreed with him, and now Florio admits that "That is a decision that should be between the man and the woman." I asked him how it felt to get bullied by the lamestream media.

Florio: You cant act like your not paying attention to it, but anyone who says their not paying attention to what people say online is lying...Your going to step in it from time to time. Sometimes your going to say things you will regret. Its like with the 11 of 12 footballs thing. The sooner you acknowledge you made a mistake the better off it is. Because you know you made a mistake.

But its not actually that I think Mike made a mistake, I just thing he didnt go far enough. I'm actually of the mindset that players should be fined for having babies during the football season.

PFTC: Is there a coach out there telling his team to only have sex between the months of September and April?

Florio: I bet there somewhere there is. I bet somewhere out there theres a coach telling his players 'if your going to get your wife pregnant, do it so she'll give birth in the offseason. Thats just an issue we dont need to deal with.'

Smart money has even odds on Schiano being the pioneer in installing a reverse bounty system for childbirth.

PFTC: What was your favorite type of cheap alcohol to drink back in the day?

Florio: Grain Alcohol. 95%. Someone would show up with it in a milk jug. Someone shows up and you mix it with kool aid. I grew up before Jaeger. So it was grain alcohol or pretty much nothing.

Speaking of cheap alcohol,Mike was genunely appreciative of my gift of Mad Dog. I told him he had to drink at least a little of it, and he told me he would, but I thought he was just being polite. Turns out he got drunk on the MD2020 and tweeted out a bunch of pics of him drinking and smoking cigars




Then I got this email the next morning:


Florio gets it.

We obvously talked about the PFT comment section.

PFTC: Where you ever an internet commenter?

Florio: I never was an internet commenter, because internet commenting wasnt a thing when I started this website.

PFTC: Tell me about the time you threatened to get rid of the comments.

Florio: I go back and forth on whether we should even have a comment section...(The comment section you see) is actually a process of weeding out the the worst ones. Those are the ones that make it over a very low bar, and the ones that are under that bar are at times, shocking.

Pretty stunning admisson by Mike to go on the record that he is taking away peoples first amendment rights by editing some of the more abusive and vulgar comments. Not to mention the fact that Mike has never even been a commenter which is like someone changing the rules of football having never played the game.

PFTC: Design a PFT headline that would draw the strongest takes in the comment section.

Florio: Anything mentioneing the president, Michael Sam, the Patriots, Roger Goodell, if there was some hybrid of those four stories.

PFTC: Can I have (Redskins VP) Tony Wyllies phone number? I wont tell him you gave it to me. (This is a old reporters trick of asking a extremely inapproprate blunt question on the record to try and fluster him)

"Uh..."

Almost had him on that one.

PFTC: Who would win in a fight, you or Pete Prisco?

Florio: It would be easy. You put your hand out and hold him on top of his head and hold him back and let him swing and swing and swing until hes worn out, and then one punch and he's out.

If you want confirmaton that Florio is, in fact, a lawyer listen to him answer a pretty basic queston about food:

PFTC: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Florio: A sandwich to me is two completely disconnected pieces of bread that come together around some sort of meat or other ingredient. If there is a joint on the one continuous piece of bread around the pieces of a pig that are otherwise unmarketable.

But then I pointed out the cheesesteak paradox, which and that he seems to be going on record as saying a cheesesteak isnt a sandwich either, and even he had to admit I outlawyerd him on this one.

Florio: A hot dog is a very specific type of food product that could be considered, by some, to be a sandwich.

PFTC: Is Joe Flacco Elite?

Florio: Define "Elite."

PFTC: Its like pornography. Its awesome.

Florio: He won a superbowl. If your going to list the top 10 yes. If you list the top 5...  maybe.

Baldingers cat strikes again folks.

PFTC: When Costas throws it over to you at the end of Sunday Night in America and asks you what your planning on blogging about tomorrow, do you ever just want to say 'Hell I dont know, whatever Peter King writes about in his monday morning column."?

Florio: Oh we tape that ahead of time, otherwise theres a good chance I would freeze up.

PFTC: Does Peter leave his pants off before the show to keep his pleats correct before he goes on the air? (Seinfeld refrence. Im finding common ground between Mike and I here to establish rapport)

Florio: He doesnt take his pants off for that reason. Every once in a while you'll see Peter King wandering the halls at NBC in the vicinity of our room in his boxer-briefs talking to somebody while he's in the process of getting dressed. Like to a coach or somebody.

PFTC: Will you replace Peter Kings coffee at the football night in america studios with Folgers Chrystals and see if he notices?

Florio: Thats actually a good idea, I should try that.

PFTC: Whats the dumbest question you've ever asked?

Florio: Last Febuary before Dennis Allen was fired by the Raiders. I said to him face to face "How close do you think you came to getting fired last month."

Honestly I think thats fair.

Florio: You dont want to get so comfortable that you'll ask a question thats offensive.. if your a complete jerk to people, no one will want to talk to you.

It came down to this. All eyes were on me. This is what I had trained and flew 1,000 miles for:

PFTC: What are your thoughts on BOFA?

Florio: What is that?

PFTC: BOFA THESE NUTS

Then i got up, peed in his toilet, and drove my ass back to Pittsburgh.