Jeff Pearlman

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Can someone who never played professionally in the NFL say he played professionally in the NFL?

So earlier today I appeared on a sports radio show in Cleveland. I’d never heard of the program before, which isn’t odd or unusual. Even though I’ve worked in sports forever, I don’t pay all that much attention to talk radio. Just not on my radar.

Anyhow, the show is called Kiley & Booms, and runs against ESPN on Cleveland’s CBS station. I knew little, entered the interview (via phone), and—BAM! Fierce stuff from the man known as Kevin Kiley. You can hear the interview here, if you’re extremely bored, but to surmise:

• Kiley believes there’s a pattern to my books, in that I strive to tear apart athletes.

• Kiley (seems to) believe I lack integrity.

Oh, Kiley also has never read any of the books I’ve written. Not a one. And Kiley apparently prepared for the interview by scanning my (severely flawed and inaccurate) Wikipedia page.

Alas, not a big deal. Interviews can—and should—be tough. If Kiley—whose style reminded me very much of Sean Hannity—thought that was the way to go, hey, not a biggie. Talk radio is quick and fast and fast and quick. His right.

After we concluded, however, my curiosity urged me to Google Kevin Kiley, a man I’d never before heard of. His bio, on the CBS Radio website, reads thusly:

A graduate of the University of Wyoming and former NFL linebacker, Kevin Kiley has an extensive sports broadcast background. In his early broadcasting years, Kiley won two Emmy awards including Best Sports Anchor for his work at WJLA-TV in Washington. Kiley’s resume rapidly expanded to include broadcasting the NFL for Turner Broadcasting; writing, appearing in and co-producing football specials for the NFL Players Association; writing, producing and hosting a series of one-hour television specials titled the NFL Rookie Premiere airing on FOX; covering Sunday night and Monday night NFL football for Westwood One for the past ten years; covering the Olympics in Athens and Italy; and most recently co-hosting a show with Michael Irvin in Miami.

I then located his ESPN Dallas bio, from a past gig. Which reads like this:

Kevin Kiley joins 103.3 FM ESPN as co-host of the Michael Irvin Show.

Previously, Kiley had accumulated a diverse résumé on radio and television, including talk shows on ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Fox Sports Radio (with comedian Chuck Booms) and on WTEM in Washington. Kiley also spent over a decade at Turner Sports (TBS/TNT), covering everything from the NFL to the Goodwill Games. In the late 1980s, Kiley was at ESPN.Kiley played college football at the University of Wyoming and professionally in the NFL and the World Football League.

There’s just one small problem: Kevin Kiley never played in the NFL. Not one single regular-season game. He was, apparently, in Jets camp until final cuts in 1974, and that was it. Hell, go to any of the Pro Football databases. No Kevin Kiley. Not a single mention. And, as anyone will tell you, attending camp with a team does not, under any circumstance or definition, make you a “former” NFL player.

Which doesn’t even matter. I don’t know Kiley, but I doubt he’s trying to lie—perhaps merely exaggerate his credentials a tad. But does he have the right to question another’s integrity? Especially the integrity of a person he doesn’t know? For writing a biography he hasn’t read?

Probably not.

  • http://www.kevinmarshallonline.com/blog/ Kevin Marshall

    I went to the page to listen to the interview, but the link actually played another segment where the hosts had the guy on that was selling the ball that infamously rolled between Bill Buckner’s leg.

    I then tried the next logical thing, which would be to click on the link to the segment labeled as the Bucker seg, thinking maybe THAT would be yours. Nope. It was about how in this one restaurant you can’t pee standing up, and a guy called in who took a picture and/or had the sign. And the hosts were outraged.

    So, if it’s any consolation, it appears that whoever does their web work does about as much listening to the show as Kiley does reading.

    Also, for what it’s worth, I’m almost halfway through Sweetness and to say Kiley and the other detractors are full of it would be giving their arguments more weight than they deserve. It’s a fine work and I can tell you adore Payton, warts and all, and it shows through your writing. Anyone who thinks you tear apart athletes is either wholly ignorant or lacks rudimentary reading comprehension skills.

  • Duncan Idaho

    Definitely sounds a lot like Hannity to me. Lotta jerks out there.

  • http://stewmansworld.blogspot.com/ Stewman

    Guy sounds like a total idiot. Glad you looked into his past. Great job as usual Jeff. Can’t wait to read the book, I’m sure it is great

  • http://923thefan.com Tony Mazur

    Hi, I’m the producer of the show, and it was pointed out to me that the interview was not posted correctly (or at all) on the website.

    Here is the interview, for your listening pleasure.

    http://cbscleveland.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/jeff-pearlman.mp3

    • Jeff Pearlman

      thanks, Tony. Do you disagree with my take?

  • Tom Vasich

    I tell ya, Jeff, the ESPN machine has a smear campaign going against your book. A majority of your critics work for ESPN outlets. Just saying …

  • Brian Martin

    Kiley and Booms were on here in L.A. … almost unlistenable. Whiny and not at all funny. Not surprised they tried taking aim at you. How incredible that Kiley can criticize you … yet has never read one of your books!!! What a dick.

  • Anthony Tisson

    I read the book and I thought it was a piece of shit. Just some lowdown, slimy shit to make money by smearing a dead man’s name.

  • Joe Alpeza

    These two haven’t improved since your interview. Kiley acts as the resident NFL expert so it was interesting to hear that he never played a down for any NFL team.

  • John Greer

    He seemed to know alot about Rick Schlauch Beer and Chips.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life