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Unlikely Insider
Richard Deitsch
December 17, 2007
A West Virginia lawyer produces the NFL's go-to site
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December 17, 2007

Unlikely Insider

A West Virginia lawyer produces the NFL's go-to site

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NFL FANS love it, league executives read it, and Slate recently called it "the best source for pro football news." So how did a 42-year-old employment attorney from Bridgeport, W.Va., become the man behind the Internet's most buzz-worthy NFL site? "I write what I would want to read if I were the reader," says Mike Florio (right), a former ESPN Insider columnist and the editor of ProFootballTalk.com. The site's main attraction is its Daily Rumor Mill, a mix of snarky commentary, links to local coverage and breaking news—often fed to Florio by his network of unnamed league sources. (Florio was the first to report that Joe Theismann had been ousted from Monday Night Football and that the Colts were hiding an injury to Adam Vinatieri last month.) PFT posts 12 to 20 new items per day, and with Florio's background as a lawyer the site often gravitates towards analysis of player contracts and legal issues. (It had exhaustive coverage of the Michael Vick case.) Launched in 2001, the site has become a must-read for NFL power brokers: Michael Silver, who covers the NFL for Yahoo Sports!, estimates that 90% of league officials and reporters visit the site regularly, and ESPN has a pair of staffers who monitor PFT. Still, Florio doesn't consider himself a member of the media, nor does he feel bound by traditional journalistic standards. "We don't report rumors as hard news," he says. "We trust our readers to know the difference."

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