Today’s guest here on Mr. Irrelevant is Rob King, who’s the Senior VP, Editorial, Print and Digital Media for ESPN. Meaning, he’s the top editor for all of ESPN’s online, mobile and print efforts. Meaning, he’s a pretty big deal.
He’s also a longtime D.C. sports fan and a nice guy, so he agreed to answer our 10 questions via email. We hope you enjoy the interview that follows, and please do follow him on Twitter. It’s the least we can do for one of our own.
1. According to the Internet, you went to high school in Rockville. Is that how you became a D.C. sports fan?
The D.C. roots go way deeper. My father’s a DC native. He and my Mom met at Howard University, and I was born at Walter Reed Army Hospital. I was doomed from the start. By the time I was 10, I’d watched the Senators lose at RFK and wept over the Redskins.
By the way, the Internet got this one right. My high school, Charles W. Woodward, closed and merged with Walter Johnson High School. You don’t get any more DC sportsy than that.
2. Who was your favorite D.C. athlete growing up, and who’s your favorite still playing?
Growing up: Elvin Hayes, followed oh so closely by Larry Brown (not THAT one, the OTHER one). Still playing: London Fletcher or Mike Sellers … Although Brian Orakpo, John Wall and Stephen Strasburg represent my Axis of Virtue.
3. You’ve referred to the Redskins as “the unfortunately named team.” Should they change the name? If so, what are your top-three suggestions for a new name?
Yes, I have a very difficult time with that name, personally. It’s compartmentalization at its worst. I’ve always thought the logo was easier to fix, though. Just imagine swapping out the American Indian image for the George Washington image we see every day engraved on quarters. That would compliment names such as 1) The Generals, 2) The Statesmen or 3) The Forefathers. All of which, I admit, have issues.
4. Were you an O’s fan growing up? If so, where are you now on the O’s-Nats spectrum?
When the Senators slipped off to Texas, our family did turn to Baltimore for solace, yes. We were in a car headed to Memorial Stadium the day Elvis died. From Brooks and Boog to Eddie and Cal, we embraced the O’s. But something changed for me after Cal Sr. got fired and Cal retired. The Nats came along just in time. I’m now fully in the Curly W camp, for better or worse.
5. Let’s turn to media stuff. Aside from ESPN and Mr. Irrelevant (of course), where do you get your D.C. sports coverage?
I grew up reading The Washington Post, and to this day, it still “feels” like my hometown paper, even in digital form. But I also have a bunch of team-by-team RSS feeds and Google alerts working … so many, in fact, that it’s work keeping track of the specific sources of information.
6. Who was your favorite D.C. sports journalist growing up, and who’s your favorite still working?
Shirley Povich. He and Herblock, the Post’s legendary editorial cartoonist, were the stars of the paper to me. My dad and I also liked Dave DuPree of the long-lost Washington Star. Now in true DC style, I have to be politically cautious about current sports journos. I know and like a bunch of folks, and I don’t want to commit a sin of omission. I will say that my Big Three include Sally Jenkins and two guys who do this show called PTI. Do they still count? (Ed. note — No, they do not. Love Sally though.)
7. According to Nielsen, D.C. is the ninth-biggest TV market. How does it rank as a sports market?
Well, I’m biased, so I consider it solidly in the top seven. But let’s face it: Politics is the most avidly-followed sport in town.
8. Does your background have anything to do with ESPN’s talent raid on the D.C. market?
This has almost nothing to do with me and everything to do with the talent of the people on the list and the expertise of the team at ESPN responsible for identifying great sports journalists. The only person on the list I had a hand in hiring was Howard Bryant. By the way, there are a number of folks at ESPN with collegiate ties to the area. Stan Verrett went to Howard, for example.
9. ESPN.com has sites for Boston, Chicago, Dallas(!), L.A. and New York. Why not D.C.?
I know, Dallas just stings. I grew up in DC and spent a number of happy years in Philadelphia, so I’m feeling pressure from all corners of the NFC East. All I can say is that while there are no current plans for a D.C. site, this has certainly been a topic of discussion. Stay tuned.
10. Finally, how many games are the Skins going to win this year?
Eight. And I will be grateful for each one.