Paul Finebaum is a little out of sorts.
Seated at his microphone in the Birmingham studio of WJOX-FM, the radio talk show host frowns and fidgets. A burly ESPN Films cameraman crowds his left side, bringing the lens within inches of Finebaum’s face. At his right side, an assistant director is crouched at waist level, snapping still photographs. Across the rib-high microphone panel, directly in front of the host, director Martin Khodabakhshian stands, arms crossed, watching intently.
Finebaum has just returned to his chair after a brief conference at the door of the studio. Clearly unhappy with the program’s introductory segment – during which he had told his nationwide audience, “We’ve never done anything quite like this before” – he had walked into the control room during the break and was trailed back into the studio by Alex Bell, the longtime call screener for Finebaum’s syndicated sports talk show.
The apparent source of the host’s consternation and the subject of the discussion that carried over from the control room was the request by the film crew that callers to this day’s show be confined to a single topic: the deeper meaning of the Alabama-Auburn college football rivalry in the midst of a historic run of triumph, scandal and tragedy that has included Heisman Trophy winners and national championships for both schools. Footage from the show will be used in Roll Tide/War Eagle, an hour-long documentary ESPN will air on Nov. 8.
At issue between Finebaum and his crew was what to do about the phone system, which stacks up with callers well before the four-hour show begins at two o’clock each weekday afternoon. Bell pointed out that some callers, unaware of the special circumstance, had been on hold for a half-hour or more already and were expecting to talk about other topics. Finebaum had settled the matter, cutting Bell off with a curt directive.
“I said, ‘Blow it up!’”
As the last commercial of the break plays, the 55-year-old Finebaum has the air of a veteran pitcher whose fastball doesn’t have quite the usual zip, and so must reach deeper into his repertoire to try and deliver the win. He is as accustomed to cameras as to his radio microphone, but seems to be feeling the presence of the ESPN crew in a way that goes beyond their invasion of his physical space. The rhythms of a routine afternoon on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network are being disrupted.
With the phone lines open and callers added to the mix, the second segment flows more smoothly. This is Finebaum’s stock-in-trade, playing both traffic cop and provocateur to a freewheeling exchange of observation, opinion and outrageous commentary on sports in general, college sports in particular and the nation’s most singularly bitter college football rivalry in minute detail. Limitations on subject matter notwithstanding, the host begins to relax visibly as he engages his public, here disputing the notion that Auburn has “dominated” Alabama over the past decade, there eliciting from a regular caller who is a minister the admission that he once performed a wedding while wearing an earpiece to keep track of the radio broadcast of an Alabama game.
Still, there are no definitive moments of the type the filmmakers seem to be looking for. When the segment ends, Khodabakhshian and sportswriter Bruce Feldman – a co-producer of the ESPN Films project and a frequent guest on the Finebaum show – huddle with the host. They want calls that reflect the passion and intensity of Alabama-Auburn – a wish that Finebaum is trying to fulfill without, as he tells them, “looking like I’m trying to script the callers.” Having now voiced the source of his discomfort, he tells the other two men, in so many words, to hold their water and let him do his job.
“It’ll happen,” Finebaum assures them. “It just hasn’t happened yet.”
But what, exactly, is “it”? What is the essence of the Finebaum show? What sets it apart from the glut of sports talk available 24 hours a day on the nation’s airwaves? What has propelled this bald, slightly-built, acerbic-but-unprepossessing man to widely recognized status as the South’s foremost authority on sports, presiding over an eponymous radio empire that includes 36 stations in seven states, as well as the nationwide scope afforded by its affiliation with satellite radio giant Sirius XM?
“First and foremost, he’s knowledgeable,” says Steve Spurrier, the head football coach at South Carolina and one of the most innovative and successful college coaches of the past 25 years. Spurrier considers Finebaum “a pretty good friend,” despite being an occasional target of Finebaum’s criticism going back to the 1990s, when the coach turned the University of Florida into a perennial national football power.
“With Paul,” Spurrier says, “you’re dealing with a guy who knows what he’s talking about. But he’ll also be the first to say, ‘I’m not always right.’ You don’t get a lot of that from most sports radio guys, and I think that’s a big reason why there’s an appetite for what he does.”
Pat Smith, Finebaum’s producer since 1993, hails his boss’s dedication to reporting the facts, regardless of whether or not they happen to coincide with his stated opinions. Finebaum’s approach “hasn’t changed since day one,” Smith says.
“Paul is committed to preparation, to accurate reporting, to providing his listeners with information they may not be able to get anywhere else,” Smith says. “At the same time, he understands that the show is not just informational. It’s also entertainment, and Paul knows that it’s more entertaining because he makes the show about the callers instead of spending four hours a day pushing his own opinion.”
Tony Barnhart is the long-tenured college sports editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and also writes regularly for cbssports.com. Like Finebaum, he is a sportswriter who ventured into television (beginning in the early 1990s as a commentator on ESPN’s college football coverage and currently as host of his own show on the CBS College Network) and radio (he co-hosts an afternoon show on Atlanta’s top-rated sports talk station). Barnhart attributes Finebaum’s ascent to star status in the broadcast industry to a “perfect storm” of factors.
“You have the right personality, the right location, the right format and as good a cast of characters in his regular callers as you’ll find anywhere – including prime time television,” Barnhart says. “And Paul is absolutely the ringmaster. He’s caustic, sharp-elbowed, and he will eviscerate you if he senses for a second that you’re trying to put something over on him or his audience. Paul’s a pro, and his show is great, entertaining radio.”
Among Finebaum’s exceedingly small circle of close friends – “I travel pretty light,” he told me over lunch a few months back – is Gene Hallman, president and CEO of the Bruno Event Team, a Birmingham-based sports marketing and event management firm. Hallman says Finebaum is “just getting to the cusp of his national growth,” while his influence in Alabama continues to expand.
“In my opinion, Paul is the most influential media person in the state, period,” Hallman says. “I don’t know of another state where that person is a sports broadcaster. It’s a role he’s evolved into. He used to be a flamethrower, but he’s become more of a facilitator. And he’s an intellect. He’s bored, and he knows his listeners are bored by a lot of chatter about who’s going to be the starting center. They can get that anywhere.”
Such accolades aside, the relative value of what Finebaum does – indeed, the very question of just what it is that he does – is in the eye of the beholder. For some, he is a top-notch investigative journalist and truth-teller extraordinaire, exposing the underbelly of college sports and holding administrators, coaches, players and fans accountable for both the successes and failures of their respective programs. For others, his show is a purely gratuitous diversion, with Finebaum the master of ceremonies for a cavalcade of bad craziness that showcases college football fandom at its most deliriously rabid.
There is also a darker view. For a not inconsiderable segment of the population – many of whom claim not to listen to his show, and yet, in the words of Finebaum’s friend and onetime radio sidekick, Bob Lochamy, “are able to quote chapter and verse of what he has said about their favorite team or player or their pet issue” – Finebaum provokes ill feelings and harsh words. To quote comments lifted from various blogs, message boards and Internet commenters, he is “a subhuman prick [who] sucks at life,” “a Jerry Springer wannabe,” “an ignorant fool who doesn’t know anything about college football,” “an asswipe,” “a mental patient running loose on the streets of Birmingham,” and the progenitor of “a vicious circle of shit-stirring that has expanded, over the course of two decades, to Faulknerian dimensions.”
As for those who communicate directly with the Finebaum Radio Network, Smith says that the weekly scores of negative emails and voice mails the show generates are deleted as the staff reads them. Trying not to get overly emotional about messages that go beyond the normal bounds of disagreement – electronic hate mail – is “the hardest part” of his job, he adds.
“You get the usual stuff,” Smith says. “Paul is scum, the lowest of the low, and somebody wants to beat him up. Then you get the obscene stuff. Then the anti-Semitic comments. Then you get the death threats, during football season at least once or twice a week.”
One national blogger proposes a perspective on Finebaum that takes into account all of the competing public views of the man and his show. Spencer Hall is a writer and editor-at-large for SBNation, a sports blog network that features over 300 sites and 400 writers; Hall also edits Every Day Should Be Saturday, an SEC-centric college football blog.
“The Finebaum network is essentially the unfiltered id of the SEC, particularly Alabama, but not necessarily,” Hall suggests. “He’s really just reflecting the culture. Finebaum lets people say throw rhetorical garbage cans through metaphorical windows. He lets people say some crazy and ignorant things – but he lets them say them. If you’re a believer that negative speech is harmful, then yeah, Finebaum’s a negative influence. I don’t believe that. I think he’s just enabling something which is, on the whole, pretty harmless.”
The show is nearly three-quarters over when it happens.
Actually, “it” began to build around the halfway point, when talk turned to the event that, to date at least, represents the nadir of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. The weekend after the annual Iron Bowl between the two teams last December – a game won by Auburn after it trailed by 24 points in the first half on Alabama’s home field, keeping alive an undefeated season that culminated with the BCS national championship – two hundred-year-old oaks at historic Toomer’s Corner in Auburn were poisoned. The corner is the traditional place of celebration following a big football win, with students festooning the trees with toilet paper. Literally and symbolically, the poisoning was to the school’s fans not a mere crime, but a grievous assault on everything Auburn.
During his show on Jan. 27, Finebaum took a call from a man identifying himself as “Al from Dadeville. “Al” was angry. Angry about the loss to Auburn, angry about its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Cam Newton – himself embroiled in controversy over his father’s efforts to sell the son’s services to at least one SEC school – angriest of all, perhaps, at Auburn’s audacity in winning a championship on the heels of Alabama’s accomplishment of the same feat in 2009.
When Finebaum challenged his assertion (false) that Auburn students had rolled Toomer’s Corner when legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant died in 1982, “Al” shifted gears. What he said next rocked the sports landscape in the state and rippled across the Finebaum network at large.
“I went to Auburn,” said the caller. “I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees.” Assuming the call was a joke, Finebaum played along, chuckling, “Well, that’s fair,” and asking “Did they die?” By the time “Al” responded that the trees were “not dead yet, but they definitely will die,” it was clear that he was serious. He ended the call with three words that added insult to injury.
“Roll damn Tide.”
“Al from Dadeville” turned out to be Harvey Updyke, a 62-year-old former state trooper who, he later said of himself, has “too much ‘Bama in me.” When police arrested him days after his confession on the Finebaum show, it was national news. In the days after Updyke’s arrest, Finebaum made the rounds of most of the major television news and sports outlets, including the NBC Nightly News, CNN, ESPN and MSNBC. That cycle more or less repeated itself in April – this time with the New York Times and Huffington Post added to the mix – after Updyke called the show again, speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest.
The 45-minute interview was riveting by any standard. An emotional Updyke, days away from a court date, said he deserved whatever punishment he might receive and that he didn’t want the tree poisoning to be his legacy, though it appeared that would be the case. As genuinely chagrined as he seemed, Updyke still saw fit to sign off with the same “Roll damn Tide” that punctuated his original, pugnacious confession nearly three months before.
“It was incredible,” Bruce Feldman had said during the segment when he joined Finebaum on the air for the remainder of the show. “When Updyke came on the second time, my Twitter feed just blew up, mostly from other college football writers who were listening to the show, just glued to it.”
Finebaum had emitted a short chuckle, his interest visibly piqued. In conversation with Feldman and his callers, he spent the rest of the segment deftly picking at the question of where Updyke falls on the spectrum of fandom.
“Alabama people want to say Harvey Updyke is not one of them,” Finebaum said at last. “But I believe he’s just a college football fan.” When a subsequent caller disputed that notion, saying that the legions of fans who watch games, root for their team win or lose and lead normal, productive lives are “more representative than one,” who poisons trees, the host conceded the point, ending the call with the pronouncement, “That’s fair.”
Now, with some preliminary crescendo seemingly reached during the prior segment, Finebaum becomes a little more voluble, driving the conversation as opposed to just prodding it. During one call, almost as a non sequitur, he tells a caller, “I haven’t found too many Alabama coaches I like – Gene Stallings and Nick Saban and that’s about it.” Responding to a question from Feldman, he declares, “I’m more than happy to embrace whatever people say about me. I think my record speaks for itself.” He reduces an Auburn caller to near-howling rage, asking, “Why can’t you get over the Cam Newton investigation?” and, when the man yells, “You’re the one who keeps bringing it up!” calmly replying, “Yeah, I guess I am.”
Long since settled into his customary rhythm – if two-plus hours ago he was the veteran pitcher struggling to find his stuff, he now is that same pitcher discovering himself, through a mixture of luck, guile and self-knowledge, with a late-inning lead and feeling stronger by the minute – Finebaum fairly bobs and weaves in his chair as the next break ends. The first caller out of the chute is an Alabama alumnus who protests too strongly about being identified with the likes of Harvey Updyke, and then takes his umbrage a step further.
The man voices his distaste for what he calls “dirt road alumni,” meaning the throngs of Alabama fans who did not attend the university – and indeed, many of whom have never been enrolled in any institution of higher learning. By inference if not expressly, the man neatly split the Crimson Tide fan base into two classes – alumni and potential Harvey Updykes, basically – and Finebaum was having none of it.
“I get sick of you elitist fans,” he tells the caller. “It happens at both schools, but it’s more Alabama than Auburn. You look down your nose at these people, and they’re the ones who make the program work. They’re decent people who might just not have been as fortunate as you. Maybe they didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, but they support that university.”
This is a classic Finebaum moment, the kind that attracts callers, keeps listeners from Miami to Anchorage engrossed on a daily basis, and powers the near-exponential expansion of the host’s exposure and influence in media circles. Like him or loathe him, these are the moments when you have to admire how well Finebaum does his job – as reflected by the near-identical tone of the next several calls and the momentum that will carry the rest of the show.
“I enjoyed hearing you put that uppity jackass in his place,” one man tells Finebaum. “And maybe we were dirt road alumni at one time, but Bear Bryant made us sidewalk alumni.” The response is immediate.
“Alabama couldn’t afford to pay Nick Saban five million dollars a year without people like you,” Finebaum declares. “People like you and Legend [a regular, virulently pro-Bama caller to the show] and Harvey Updyke.”
Then it’s commercial time again, and Feldman and I pick up an ongoing conversation conducted between breaks. Feldman marvels at the host’s adeptness at both shepherding the tone of the show and thinking on his feet when presented with either the opportunity or the demand for a particular type of response.
“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him,” Feldman tells me. “It’s impressive, how fast his mind moves. I do a lot of radio shows, and I don’t know anybody who’s that seamless, the way he gets into the back and forth.
“If you think about it,” Feldman says, “this show really is unique to this rivalry. This is the outlet that’s driving it. He is a huge part of why people from way outside Alabama are into the rivalry. The show and his persona make it accessible and understandable, and also very compelling. That’s why Paul and the show are part of this film.”
As Finebaum himself tells it, he began cultivating his public persona early, “pretty much the day I started” as a reporter for the student newspaper at the University of Tennessee. Its essential component was a Watergate-era skepticism toward institutions and the people who run them, manifested in what he now calls “the stance of being the anti-everything.”
After developing some investigative skills on general assignments, Finebaum gravitated toward the sports department. The move seems to have been due less to any passionate interest in sports – he played baseball as a kid, followed the Cardinals and Yankees and cheered casually for the sports teams of his hometown Memphis State Tigers – than because he figured he’d have more freedom to develop there.
He flourished, eventually becoming the paper’s sports editor. He was fired from that job at the demand of the school’s head basketball coach, Ray Mears, when, following the latest loss in a disappointing season that would end with Mears’ resignation, Finebaum wrote his weekly column in the form of an obituary. Early as it is, the column bears the unmistakable markings of the style he would hone in thirty years as a much-decorated reporter and columnist – for nearly 20 years at the now-defunct Birmingham Post-Herald, and from 2001-2010 for the Mobile Press-Register – and which he has perfected in the development of his radio presence over the past quarter-century.
Headlined “Vols 1908-1978,” the column’s opening paragraph read, “The Tennessee basketball program died Saturday night. It was 70.” After a recitation of the programs illustrious history and tragic decline, it ended with a purported request from the university’s athletic director that “all contributions to the Vols be sent to Luden’s Cough Drops for future research on choking.”
Finebaum appealed his firing and, in a hearing that he paints as “a scene out of Animal House,” he “got my job back – and became a hero to the masses.” Less enamored were the old-school professors who ran the journalism department.
“They didn’t want anything to do with me,” Finebaum laughs. “I wasn’t a journalism major, and I was such a terrible writer. I mean, there were a couple of guys on the paper who kind of helped me along, not so much mentors as enablers. Beyond that, it was just bad.”
He gives another chuckle, more affectionate than acerbic. “They claim me now.”
If Finebaum’s choice of careers was inspired by Woodward and Bernstein, the attitude that continues to inform his approach to it had roots that ran much deeper. His father, an optometrist – “funny, sensitive, cared about people,” the son recalls – died in 1971, when Finebaum was 15. Today, he says that losing his father at that time of his life made him wary, analytical, prone to humor of the cutting variety.
“It affected the direction of my life profoundly,” Finebaum recalls. “There are little moments where you realize you’re no longer normal. It really struck me at college, when I moved into the dorm with a friend helping me lug my stuff down the hall and everywhere you look, there are mothers and fathers helping their kids. Everything is a learning experience, a pretty quick education that life is not fair.”
With his father gone, Finebaum says, his mother became the “guiding light” in his life. He describes her as “a remarkable person, but also very difficult,” adding that, “Woody Allen missed a great opportunity, not writing a movie about her.” She died in 2004, and when Finebaum speaks of the dual role she filled as mother and father, the enduring depth of his feeling for her is evident.
“I was the youngest of two,” Finebaum says. “She knew she had to find ways to get to me, to motivate me like a father would have.”
Finebaum credits his sister, four years older, with “trying to take on that role of second mom, always encouraging me in whatever I was doing.” He declines to discuss the circumstances of her death in 2006, at the age of 54, but recollects his feelings at her graveside.
“It was one of the loneliest moments of my life,” says Finebaum. “To be at that cemetery, where my father, my mother, and now my sister are buried. You don’t need a wakeup call that you’re not a kid anymore, but that was sobering.”
The WJOX studio sits in a building atop Red Mountain, the primary source of the iron ore that fueled Birmingham’s early growth. Behind the chair Finebaum occupies each afternoon, a floor-to-ceiling window affords a panoramic view of Jones Valley, with the downtown skyline rising in the distance.
It was from this window that Finebaum and his crew watched last April 27 as the tornado that had devastated Tuscaloosa forty minutes earlier approached Birmingham, where it would do much the same to several outlying suburbs and urban neighborhoods. The show remained on the air, with Finebaum first describing what he saw and then, after the storm passed, turning into equal parts news reporter, public information conduit and stunned observer of its deadly wake.
“As that tornado moved toward Birmingham,” Finebaum remembers, “it became an incredibly compelling hour. There was definitely some fear on our part, but we knew we had to stay on the air. After that, it just took on a life of its own and kept going.”
For roughly the next five weeks, the Finebaum show became something very much like a healing presence. The show was turned over completely over to continuing coverage of the storm and its aftermath, from the quality of local, state and federal response to heart-rending stories of personal loss and hope in the face of tragedy. He says the role the show came to play became especially important as early as the weekend after the tornado, when it was knocked off the nation’s front pages by the National Football League draft and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“This was the greatest local tragedy of our lifetime,” says Finebaum. “We went to Sirius and they immediately said, ‘Do what you think is right.’ From that moment, we began to cover it like a news story, but also bringing in some celebrities to help draw attention to the needs in various communities and focusing on stories that made it as personal to people as possible. I really felt like we had an obligation to do whatever we could after the national media left town. We never planned it beyond the next day, but it just kept going.”
Another, near miraculous, outgrowth of the April 27 storms – and Finebaum’s response to it – was a sudden, unquestionably genuine softening in relations between Alabama and Auburn fans. Moved by the devastation in the home of their rival, Auburn fans created a “Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa” organization to collect and funnel aid to the recovery effort. Callers to the Finebaum show swore that the rivalry would never be the same, that neither school’s fans would feel quite the same bitterness or hatred toward the other.
At that time, of course, football season was months away. Even so, by the day in early June when, listening to the Finebaum show in my car, I heard what the host referred to subsequently as “the first Alabama-Auburn beat down” since the tornado, I agreed with his on-the-spot reaction when the caller hung up, an implicit hope that maybe things were getting on the road back to normal.
“Wow,” I heard Finebaum say. “That was almost a relief.”
Today, four months further down the line, normal has returned to the Finebaum show with a vengeance. Halfway through the football season, Alabama is undefeated, ranked second in the nation and, if they defeat top-ranked LSU on Nov. 5, looking at an inside track to trumping Auburn’s trophy with its second BCS title in three years.
As if that weren’t fire enough in the furnace, there is a movement among Auburn fans to boycott Finebaum’s show, an explosion of antipathy that is tied to his perceived slighting of Auburn’s national championship, his continued focus on the NCAA’s investigation of Cam Newton’s recruitment by Auburn (the investigation was dropped officially on Oct. 12), and the persistent charge among Tiger fans that Finebaum is a (not-so-) secret Crimson Tide homer. All of these grudges picked up steam when his first weekly column under a new contract with the Sports Illustrated website, SI.com, appeared in September.
In what Auburn fans viewed, with some justification, as an unnecessary rehashing of the NCAA investigation, Finebaum referred to the Tigers as “the Chicago Cubs of college football…Lovable when they [lose] and tortured when they [win].” Auburn’s “comfort zone,” he wrote, is “being college football’s lovable little brother, a role it seemingly handles better than being on college football’s mountaintop.” Finebaum sees the reaction to his column as a symptom of a larger disease, namely the rapid reheating of hostilities between the state’s two football powers.
“After all of the Updyke stuff, it was, ‘Oh, it’s never going to be the same,’” he says, rolling his eyes. “Then the tornado came and it was, ‘No, no, it’s never going to be the same, there are more important things in life.’ Well, here we are, in the middle of another football season, and those things have been moved aside. Right now, it’s as bad as it’s ever been. Maybe worse.”
Is Finebaum a reflection of the culture, or is he shaping it? Or is it something of both, a mutual dependency of performer and audience? He seems not to be overly weighed down by such considerations, opting instead to focus on what he sees as the primary mission of his show: Providing a platform for people to express their opinions and vent their emotions.
“Sports fans matter,” Finebaum says flatly. “They are entitled to a voice, and they have a voice on this show. I think most of the top folks in the business look down on callers. I disagree, and that’s why we’ve cultivated a niche as the most caller-driven show in the nation. Our regular callers are mini-celebrities, some of them with their own websites and their own followers outside the show. And yeah, it gets a little crazy at times, and you can blame us if you want to when it gets out of hand, but I’d rather people call in and have a chance to get some passions out. It’s not NPR, but I think we serve a purpose. I’m never going to apologize for us or our callers.”
Bob Lochamy shared the studio with Finebaum for 11 years, serving as sidekick, sounding board and foil before the two parted ways professionally in 1999. They have remained friends, and Lochamy observes that while Finebaum has “grown by leaps and bounds” as a broadcaster, the basic premise of the show is largely unchanged.
“People ask me what sets Paul apart,” Lochamy relates. “I tell them it’s pretty simple. Paul makes the caller the star of the show. The caller knows that he or she can call in and Paul is going to let them say their piece. He established early on that this was not ever going to be a typical sports show.”
Asked to assess his own strengths and weaknesses, Finebaum does not hesitate. Reticent by nature – “I’m not shy exactly, I’m just not a glad-hander,” he says – he starts his answer by asserting that he’s “not a big Finebaum fan.”
“I look at what I do every day as the art of continuing the struggle of creating something different and better,” he says. “Being self-critical, and sometimes even self-absorbed, is a big part of that. We’ve obviously done some things right with the show over the years, but we just try to keep getting better.”
Finebaum expands his self-assessment to encompass his shortcomings as a writer (“it’s unbelievably difficult for me”) and an interviewer (“I don’t like the way I sound, I think I have an awkward style with guests and the audience, I tend to overanalyze as I’m asking questions, where great interviewers are boom-boom.”). To the succeeding query as to whether he’s actually good at anything or just lucked into a hell of a career, he answers quickly.
“If I have a quality as a talk show host, it’s the ability to listen,” Finebaum says. “I learned it as a reporter, and I’ve also learned it by watching people who don’t do it very well. Too many reporters – and talk show hosts – are just trying to get to their next question. I think it’s important for callers to feel that they mean something to me and the show, so I listen. That, I think, is the only thing I’m actually good at.
“My career hasn’t been planned or scripted,” he adds. “There’s been a lot of failure, mixed in with some success. And I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot more from failure and tragedy that I have from success. I’ve enjoyed the ride, but I don’t look at it as a career. I see is as simply a life lived. This is who I am.”
Walter Lewellyn contributed reporting to this story.