If you attended Hall-of-Fame weekend in Canton, you might have seen Class of 2018 inductees Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Jerry Kramer. But you might have seen Hall-of-Fame voter and ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio, too.
No, he wasn’t there to be enshrined. But he was there to sign copies of his latest book, “Philly Special: The Inside Story of how the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl championship.”
For Paolantonio, who has lived and worked around Philadelphia for the past 25 years, his latest book was a labor of love. The labor was in creating a work of 75,000-85,000 words in six weeks, while the love was writing about a team he’s covered and been around since the 1990s.
So when Paolantonio stopped by the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, we asked the obvious question: Was it more labor … or was it more love?
“It was,” he said, “a culmination of covering this team for a quarter of a century, so I was in love with this project from the very beginning.
“I didn’t write it for me. I wrote it for my wife. And my children. And my grandchildren. And my sons-in-law. And my friends and my neighbors. And when you live somewhere this long … the guy who cuts your lawn; the guy who cuts your hair; the mailman; the UPS driver; every neighbor. They hang on every word. They think that you’re a soothsayer.”
Well, he’s not. But he is an accomplished storyteller, and Paolantonio said he made sure this one was aimed at readers who would relish it most — die-hard Eagles’ fans who waited … and waited … and waited … for something that Dallas and the Giants and the Redskins had years before.
A Lombardi Trophy.
“It’s been painful for a lot of people for a long time,” said Paolantonio. “The NFC East had 12 Super Bowl titles before the Eagles won one. That division had more Super Bowl titles than any other division … and the Eagles were shut out.
“And so I lived that pain — not as an Eagles’ fan but as somebody who was closely aligned with a lot of Eagles’ fans. And this book, to me, was a gift to them. I wanted to give them the absolute, week-to-week inside story of what happened and how it happened.
“Because the Eagles were not only a great team; they were a great story. And when you’re presented a great story like this, you really have to just get out of the way, and let the story tell itself.”