Don Banks
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"People always tell me I have the coolest job in the world, covering the NFL for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED," says SI.com senior writer Don Banks. "And I always tell them they're absolutely right."

Banks joined the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Group in March 2000 after a distinguished career at newspapers. He covers the NFL year-round and writes the popular SNAP JUDGMENTS during the season. Banks also serves as SI.com's designated mock draft specialist. Not surprisingly, he says the NFL is his favorite sport to cover. "There's nothing that matches it for the intensity of the fan interest and the once-a-week explosion of drama on game day," says Banks. "It's the only sport that makes fans wait so long for their next fix, but that's part of its allure."

Before joining SI.com, Banks covered the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press (1999-00) and the Minneapolis Star Tribune (1996-99). He served as the NFL writer and Tampa Bay Bucs beat reporter for the St. Petersburg Times from 1990 to 1996. From 1984 to 1989, Banks spent time as a copy editor on the Times' main sports desk, and also covered high school sports for the Times in both St. Petersburg and Tampa. He was honored numerous times during his newspaper career, including two Society of Professional Journalists Minnesota Page One Awards (1998 and 2000), two Associated Press Sports Editors awards for news and investigative reporting (1994 and 1997) and a feature writing award from the Florida Sports Writers Association.

Banks says the most memorable SI story he's worked on was Michael Vick's involvement with dog fighting. "In May 2007 I reported and wrote a peel-the-onion type of character profile of Vick, talking to sources who were close to him and knew him well," says Banks. "In that story sources for the first time told me that Vick was heavily involved in the dog-fighting ring that had come to light, and that story advanced the notion that Vick was no innocent bystander in the sordid situation. More than any other story I've written at SI, I think the Vick profile helped advance a truly meaningful story in a meaningful way and was the kind of quality journalism that did some good in the world."

Banks has made numerous appearances in NFL Films projects and appeared as a sportswriter in two films: Invincible (2006), and The Game Plan (2007). He has regular radio appearances throughout the year and has appeared on CNN, Fox Sports Net and Comcast.

Banks received a B.A. in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He resides near Philadelphia, with his wife, Alissa, a merchandising director at a large retail firm. Banks has two sons, Matt and Micah, who live in the Washington D.C. area, and like their dad, are avid Red Sox fans.

EXTRA POINTS

  • Favorite SI Vault story: Some Kind Of Comeback (Oct. 25, 1971). "I started subscribing to SI in January 1971, and the story that I most recall influencing me to want to become a sportswriter was William Leggett's coverage for the magazine of the 1971 World Series, and how the Pirates' Roberto Clemente made it his own personal showcase of a soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. His coverage of that Series showed me that it matters greatly who gets to witness and record our first rough draft of the history of our times."
  • Writers who have inspired your work: "Ernest Hemingway, for his clean, crisp reporting/writing style that has been emulated but never completely duplicated. I also have long been a fan of Roger Angell's baseball writing, both in his books and for The New Yorker. As for NFL coverage, SI's Paul Zimmerman was an early role model in the kind of inquisitive approach and skeptical mind needed to cover the most popular spectator sport in America. Lastly, David Halberstam was my all time favorite author for his ability to immerse himself in a topic and explain every nuance of how and why and when things happened."
  • Hobbies/interests: "I'm a lifelong baseball fan who lives and dies with the Red Sox, after years of allegiance to the Cincinnati Reds from childhood on. Having recently lived for almost four years in Boston, my ties to the Red Sox are stronger than ever. I'm also avid political junkie and follow the national political scene closely. My personal library is full of books on politics, current events, American history and the stories that have dominated our national discourse in the past five decades or so."
  • Non-sports websites regularly visited: "Like I said, Im a political junkie, so I frequent both Politico.com, and the HuffingtonPost.com for their political coverage, as well as various other sites including Time.com, Newsweek.com and CNN.com."
  • Hidden talent: "I'm a pretty adept mimic and have been since I was a kid imitating family members and fellow classmates at school. I've done a fairly convincing Peter King on the radio more than once and Ive been known to get one or two catch-phrases down from a particular NFL owner (Hugh Culverhouse, Red McCombs), coach (Denny Green, Ray Perkins) or league executive (I can't divulge that. Yet.)"
 
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