Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U 2

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U 2

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

A SPORTS WRITER GETTING PAYOFFS? NAH ...

Former Southern California football player Lonnie White wrote in a first-person online story that he accepted around $14,000 in payments during his USC career in the 1980s, mostly by selling game tickets. White is a former sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times.

Two things: No one ever heard of Lonnie White, so those USC boosters are tossing a lot of money around for marginal players. Makes you wonder what Reggie Bush really got.

Second is the most head-scratching part of the story: a sports writer was that good a football player that he was getting cash under the table?

The athletic careers of most sports writers peaked in pee wee football, Little League baseball or a softball beer league. We're sports writers because we were lousy athletes. Times-Union sports page designer Robert McGinty, a kicker for Florida and Auburn, is one exception. But you should see him swing a golf club (on second thought, no, you shouldn't).

There are plenty of examples of sports broadcasters who were good athletes. But ex-jocks gravitate towards TV anyway. Writers have good faces for radio (think Mike Bianchi). And we had our foot in the bucket when we played baseball, missed a lot of layups in basketball and struggled to break 100 on the golf course.

There are some exceptions. Former LSU football player John Ed Bradley worked for the Washington Post. Sports Illustrated golf writer Gary Van Sickle is good enough in golf to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open.

And then there's McGinty, who was the losing team MVP in the Florida-Georgia game one year when Florida got drilled and he kicked a field goal for the only three points of the game for the Gators.

But being good enough to get payoffs from boosters? Doesn't happen often. We make up for it by unearthing that kind of stuff. …

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