In 2007, he and fellow sports journalist Reuben Frank put out The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches, and Moments in NFL History. It has been the best-selling NFL book in the country (October 11, 2007) according to Amazon.com. He went on to make the provocative claim in his 2008 folk history, How Football Explains America, that the competition informed the public morality on integration and consciously developed in the mid-20th century into an almost mythic spectacle. With its origins in the closing of the Turnerian frontier, the NFL league, rather than baseball, apparently broke down the color barrier in sports.
Prior to joining ESPN, he was a political reporter and Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1993-1995. During that time he also served as a reporter for WPHL-TV nightly news show, Inquirer News Tonight and hosted Saturday Morning Sports Page on WIP (AM) sports radio. In 1993, he published his first book, a biography of Frank L. Rizzo entitled The Last Big Man in Big City America.