Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins joins us to talk sports. We’ll consider the latest doping accusations leveled at Lance Armstrong, the reactions of athletes to their colleagues ‘coming out’, whether there will be a 2011-2012 NFL season, and more.


  • Sally Jenkins Columnist, The Washington Post; author of "The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed A Game, A People, A Nation" (Doubleday)


  • 13:24:55

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIWith their multimillion dollar salaries and superstar personas, it's difficult to think of professional athletes as being like us. Off the field, many of them seem to live as though the rules, the rest of us follow, don't apply to them. What kind of role models should we expect sports hero's to be? Ever scandal involving an athlete has parents and sports commentators wringing their hands over how devastating it is to be the kids who looked up to him or to her.

  • 13:25:21

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd as society changes, pro-sports seems slow to catch up. An executive of the NBA and a former Villanova basketball player came out as openly gay recently. And those announcements caused an enormous amount of debate and soul searching in the macho culture of the locker room. Joining us now from NPR's Bryant's Park Studio in New York City is Sally Jenkins. She's a sports columnist with the Washington Post.

  • 13:25:46

    MR. KOJO NNAMDISally is the author of several books, including, "The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation." And, "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life," co-written with Lance Armstrong. Sally Jenkins, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:26:00

    MS. SALLY JENKINSThank you, Kojo. Always nice to be here.

  • 13:26:02

    NNAMDIFirst, today's news, Sally. You have a front page article in today's edition of the Washington Post. Diana Nyad, 61-year-old former champion endurance swimmer, radio and television talk show host, former host of the Travel Show, will attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida for a second time.

  • 13:26:24

    JENKINSYes, indeed, at 61-years-old.

  • 13:26:26


  • 13:26:27

    JENKINSWithout a shark cage.

  • 13:26:29

    NNAMDIShe was 29 the last time, why is she doing it this time?

  • 13:26:33

    JENKINSWell, she doesn't like getting old. She thought about doing it again when she was about to 60, right before her 60th birthday. She was driving in Los Angeles and looking in the rearview mirror and she asked herself, what her regret -- her chief regret was. And the answer came up, the fact that when she was 29, she had failed to swim from Cuba to Florida because of high seas. She was caught in eight foot swells and she swam for 49 hours.

  • 13:27:06

    JENKINSBut didn't make it to the Florida coast and she wants to try again. She's got a better science on her side now. She's got oceanographers and satellite imagery that can help her pick good weather. And she's got some great training advances and she feels good.

  • 13:27:22

    NNAMDIAnd, of course, this is going to call for 60 hours of continuous swimming. She has trained at swimming 24 hours. What's -- and, of course, you mentioned the technology because the last time she was off course by a little bit. What's the chances that she'll be able to make it this time?

  • 13:27:40

    JENKINSWell, I actually think the chances are pretty good. I don't think that Diana would've gone so public with the attempt, you know. She's got a film crew from CNN, tracking her for a possible documentary. She's, you know, she sat down and talked to me about it. I think, she must feel like the chances are pretty good. You know, she told me that she might be able to make it in 40 hours if she caught a really glassy condition, which you can catch sometimes in the Florida straight.

  • 13:28:10

    JENKINSThere's, you know, the doldrums, they call it, where the water -- she said, the water literally is so flat and so glassy, it looks like you could walk on it. If she were to get lucky and catch something like that, she might be able to do it in 40 hours instead of 60. In either case, it's pretty hard to wrap your mind around being in the water for 60 straight hours.

  • 13:28:31

    NNAMDIWell, how important is this as a source of inspiration to women in sports, as a source of inspiration to athletes in general and a source of inspiration, in particular to those of us over 30?

  • 13:28:44

    JENKINSWell, some people might call it inspirational, some people might call it nuts.

  • 13:28:49

    NNAMDIThat's true.

  • 13:28:50

    JENKINSI don't -- you know, especially without a shark cage, she would be the first person to swim that straight without an actual shark cage. What she has is a rather ingenious invention, presuming it works, called a shark screen. She'll have a couple of kayakers with her while she swims with an electronic device that sends out electric waves that actually repel sharks. I guess, sort of like, an electric fence almost.

  • 13:29:19

    JENKINSBut being in that water, there are a lot of sharks, you know, a lot sharks inhabit the Florida straight. So do a lot of man-of-war jellyfish which there's not really a screen for. So, you know, there's some real physical hazards here. But the real hazard from talking to her, is hypothermia, the water temperature.

  • 13:29:38


  • 13:29:39

    JENKINSOr, you know, she's 61-years-old, if her -- you know, she could have all sorts of breakdowns, renal failure, cardio arrhythmia, you know, all kinds of really dramatic physical meltdowns. So it's, you know, a hazardous undertaking. But it's what Diana Nyad does. It's what she was known for in her 20s, death defying swims and I don't understand it personally but I enjoyed talking to her about it and writing about it.

  • 13:30:08

    JENKINSI will enjoy watching it. I struggle to understand it, to be perfectly honest. But, you know, endurance athletes are a different animal. They are almost, like, astronauts. You know, I grew up with a guy named Laird Hamilton who's the -- one of the greatest big wave surfers in the world and, you know, he does nightmarish things. I mean, things that are like really scary movies. And he said one time, he said, "Look some people like scary movies, some people like scaring themselves."

  • 13:30:38

    JENKINSAnd, I think, that Diana Nyad belongs in that category.

  • 13:30:42

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. If you'd like to join the conversation, what do you think about Diana Nyad's attempt to swim, once again, from Cuba to Florida? She last tried it when she was 29 without success. She's trying it again at 61-years-old. 800-433-8850 is the number you'd like to comment. One of the more inspiring figures in sports, of course, is Lance Armstrong, the cyclist.

  • 13:31:07

    NNAMDIWhat does this latest round of doping accusations mean for that reputation? There was a great deal of publicity to Tyler Hamilton's interview on 60 Minutes that aired this past Sunday. It'll be, not the first, nor the second time that these allegations have made -- have been made. But this time, I think, from a more credible source.

  • 13:31:25

    JENKINSYeah, I mean, I think, it's, obviously, hugely damaging to his reputation. You know, Tyler Hamilton was a teammate of his in several of the Tour de France's, Tyler Hamilton, then went on to lead his own team. Floyd Landis' credibility is -- was really not good. And remains not good. I really would have a hard time believing much of anything. I mean, just personally. You know, I think that Tyler Hamilton is a slightly more credible source.

  • 13:31:56

    JENKINSAlthough he has his own issues there because he too was caught failing drug tests and protested his innocence long and hard. So, you know, it's difficult to sort out all of that. What really matters is are verifiable facts and what people were willing to testify to under oath before a grand jury. And that's going to be the whole ballgame in terms of Lance Armstrong's guilt or innocence. So, you know -- I should preface anything I say about Lance by saying, he's a good -- a friend of mine, a good friend of mine (unintelligible) ...

  • 13:32:27

    NNAMDILet's talk about how that came about, because you co-wrote the book, "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life," with Lance Armstrong. And in a way, that's ghost writing the book. And...

  • 13:32:38

    JENKINSOh, sure.

  • 13:32:38

    NNAMDI...of course, there are those who believe that journalists should always keep a certain distance between them and their subjects. That's very difficult to do if you happen to be ghost writing a book for that individual. What's involved in the ghost writing process?

  • 13:32:50

    JENKINSWell, it's a fascinating project. I actually loved the work. I kind of liked being a ghost writer. It's a chance to, sort of, live in someone else's shoes for a few months when you work on a project like Lance's. I also wrote books with Dean Smith, a legendary basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. And Pat Summit, the great coach at the University of Tennessee. You know, these are wonderful projects.

  • 13:33:16

    JENKINSI take a lot of pride in them. And Lance is a lot of fun. I wouldn’t trade my experience with him for anything. You know, basically, what you do is, they're not journalist projects. You surrender your objectivity, you surrender any pretense that it's journalism. The books are their books, it was very much Lance's book. He had ultimate veto power. It's his story. You know, peoples life story is their own material.

  • 13:33:44

    JENKINSAnd so, my job as a ghost writer is really to be his carpenter, to help him, you know, set it up in a way so that it's easy for the reader to turn the page. But, you know, so there's an interesting surrender there that you do as a writer that I actually find, kind of, good for me, from the writing process. You know, it's an interesting technique to try to write in someone else's voice. Step into their shoes, see things through their eyes.

  • 13:34:15

    NNAMDIExcept then, you have to come back to journalism where people...

  • 13:34:17

    JENKINSOh, sure.

  • 13:34:18


  • 13:34:18


  • 13:34:18

    NNAMDI...a certain distance between you and the...

  • 13:34:19

    JENKINSWell, I mean, at the time...

  • 13:34:20

    NNAMDI...people you have to cover. But then during the course…

  • 13:34:22


  • 13:34:22

    NNAMDI...of that process, the individual becomes a friend. How does that effect how you write about and speak about that individual afterwards?

  • 13:34:31

    JENKINSWell, I think, that the thing you have to do is be very forthright and say, look, this is a friend of mine. And I'm the furthest from objective about Lance Armstrong. I try to always preface whatever I say about him with that. That's not going to be good enough for some people. I...

  • 13:34:45

    NNAMDIDoes that present -- doesn't that present a kind of dilemma for you? And I'm interested in what our listeners think about that.

  • 13:34:50

    JENKINSYou know, it's interesting. Not really, I mean, I'm sure people would like it to be a greater dilemma for me than it is. But, you know, I like him so much. He's so much fun. I really have a hard time feeling bad about that. You know, my experience with Lance is based on our personal interactions. I judge him based on our personal interactions. And, I think, that's probably how anybody would like to be judged.

  • 13:35:15

    JENKINSYou know, if I try to write about him, you know, outside of the book that we did together, you know, I've always tried to preface whatever I wrote about him by saying, "Look, he's a friend of mine. My experiences with him are very personal. And all I can do is present this experience to you and hope it's in some way illuminating."

  • 13:35:35

    NNAMDIWell, here's where the dilemma becomes more complicated. And as I said, I'd like to hear how our listeners think about it, the dilemma of a journalist who becomes a friend of someone he or she has to cover. How do you think that journalist should handle that dilemma? You can call us at 800-433-8850. If it turns out, and this is a big if, that Lance Armstrong has been deceiving the rest of the world and you personally, how does that...

  • 13:35:59


  • 13:35:59

    NNAMDI...affect the relationship or the friendship?

  • 13:36:03

    JENKINSWell, I mean, I think I would do what any friend would do when they feel a friend hasn't been forthright with them. I would give him a certain amount of hell. You know. But it wouldn't -- it's funny, someone asked me -- a reader asked the other day, would it -- would you stop talking to him? Would it harm your friendship with him? And, I said, no, I wouldn't stop talking to him.

  • 13:36:23

    NNAMDIOh, I've had...

  • 13:36:23

    JENKINSI would try...

  • 13:36:23

    NNAMDI...a lot of friends who deceive me. But go ahead and we're still friends.

  • 13:36:25

    JENKINS...yeah, I mean, and look, you know, a lot of public figures, a lot of admired public figures, you know, deceive the public on occasion. You know, the bottom line, is that I would first and foremost, I would not stop talking to Lance Armstrong. My friendship with him -- I believe he's a good person, quite apart from what he may have done in any Tour de France. Let me start there. I simple do, I feel like the sum of the man -- and we literally called the book, "It's Not About the Bike," for a good reason.

  • 13:36:55

    JENKINSI feel like the sum of Lance Armstrong, is a good person. I think his work in the cancer world is beyond compare. He's raised $400 million for cancer research. I -- one of my personal experiences with him, and again, you have to take this for what it's worth and -- or with a grain of salt or completely cynically if you wish, but I mean, in all the time I've known Lance, I've never seen him too tired or too irritated to talk to a cancer patient.

  • 13:37:22

    JENKINSYou know, I respect that about him. I think that's an authentic experience that he has with other cancer patients. I find his experience with the disease and the way he treated it and the way he handled it, again, to be something that I respect. I -- and I don't think anything that I could discover, I may change my mind -- I reserve the right to change my mind about this, but I'm not sure there's anything I could discover in the source of these doping allegations, if they prove to be true, that would change that opinion that I have of him.

  • 13:37:56

    JENKINSNow, plenty of people disagree with me.

  • 13:37:58

    NNAMDIOh, yeah. Let me share with you a few of the e-mail's we got. This one from Tom, from Arlington, "I have no idea what Sally is likely to say about Lance and doping. Obviously, he wrote this before he heard you. After Hamilton's recent accusations, I'm really skeptical of Lance's claims to have been drug free. But how do you account for his 2009 Tour de France performance? You know the French were desperate to catch him doping. And his samples were scrutinized every which way possible.

  • 13:38:22

    NNAMDIThe result, he was clean. And after nearly four years out of cycling at age 38, he finished 3rd against the best riders on the planet. If he could do that at age 38, why is it so difficult to believe he could've been so dominate a decade earlier? Maybe, he is just super human." And this from Mark, who says, on our Facebook page, "Maybe, the doping accusations are true and that would suck. But I don't believe that he was just the best at doping. I think those cutting edge supplements are pretty standard in these circles.

  • 13:38:52

    NNAMDIAnd aside from that, Lance is an awesome athlete and an inspirational person." And finally, this one from Greg, "Lance is a bully and a cheater." So obviously there's disagreement there. On to the telephones now. Here is Lee in Washington, D.C. Lee, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:39:11

    LEEHi, first I want to say to Sally, and I was actually calling about Diana Nyad. But I want to say to Sally, I think friendship is a much, much higher state of being than journalism. So I think...

  • 13:39:24


  • 13:39:24

    LEE... (unintelligible) ...

  • 13:39:25

    NNAMDI...in that case, Sally, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

  • 13:39:28

    JENKINSOh, well I...

  • 13:39:30

    LEE...yeah. I mean, friends are like family. You're supposed to stand by your friends. And if they've done something wrong, you're supposed to give them hell in private and go on and be their friend. That's what loyalty of friendship and family is about, I think.

  • 13:39:40

    NNAMDIWhile journalism, not so much?

  • 13:39:43

    LEEAnd I think…

  • 13:39:43

    JENKINSWell, let me just step in here and say that, journalism and the rules of journalism and the integrity of journalism is one of the most centrally important things in my life. So I don't want to sit here and, for a moment, act or pretend as though the rules of journalism somehow can be trumped for me, in some ways. Journalism is literally my entire adult life. So -- but I appreciate your sentiment, and thank you very much.

  • 13:40:10

    NNAMDIGo ahead, Lee.

  • 13:40:11

    LEE(unintelligible) for me. The other thing I wanted to say is Diana Nyad at 61 or 62, I just think she's fabulous. I hope she makes it. If she doesn't, you know, more power to her. She's crazy as a June bug, but I think I think it's a terrific effort.

  • 13:40:25

    NNAMDIShe's not crazy as a June bug. She's a super athlete endurance swimmer who has a good chance of doing this. But you still think she's crazy as a June bug, right, Lee?

  • 13:40:35

    LEEI think super athletes who do things like that are as crazy as June bugs. I just like to watch them from a distance.

  • 13:40:41

    NNAMDISee, Sally was saying politely, I simply don't understand it, but I appreciate it. Lee, thank you very much for your call. On to David in Manassas, Va. David, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:40:53

    DAVIDHey, Kojo. I just wanted to say I like your show a lot. Thanks for having me on. I wanted to, you know, echo the last caller's comments. I mean, I think it's great that she's getting ready to do this, swim to Cuba. I mean, that's a huge swim. And, you know, I think there's -- it's kind a universal thing.

  • 13:41:14

    NNAMDIShe's not swimming to Cuba. She's swimming from Cuba to Florida.

  • 13:41:18

    DAVIDOh, okay. Either way, it's still a tough swim.

  • 13:41:22

    NNAMDIDoes it make a difference, Sally, which way it is?

  • 13:41:24

    JENKINSWell, I think it does because of the Gulf stream. The big factor in the swim is the current and the path of the Gulf stream, and you need a little help from the Gulf stream I think to make the swim realistic. But I am not an oceanographer, or an expert in endurance swims. I just know that Gulf stream is a huge factor.

  • 13:41:46

    NNAMDISo you're gonna be following this fairly closely aren't you, David?

  • 13:41:49

    DAVIDYeah. I will be. I think, you know, if you guys could expand the talk a little bit about, you know, there are typically people that can achieve something earlier in life and then they continue to try to do it later on. And some of these people that are, you know, these super achievers, I just -- I find it really interesting that they don't give up on something up that they had, you know, cut their teeth on earlier in life.

  • 13:42:13


  • 13:42:13

    DAVIDAnd that's it. I'll listen off the air.

  • 13:42:15

    NNAMDIGo ahead, please, Sally.

  • 13:42:17

    JENKINSI think that one of the most interesting things about Diana Nyad, and one of the things that we forget to focus in on sometimes in sports, we talk about athletes with a capital A, athletes are incredibly diverse animals. Diana Nyad is an endurance athlete. If you asked her to do something with a fast-twitch muscle, like she's not a sprinter. She's not built that way. She also has for whatever reason, her mental makeup is she has a very high fear threshold obviously.

  • 13:42:48

    JENKINSShe has a very high pain threshold. One of the things that fascinates me about her is that I think the, you know, some people are the perfect organism for what they do. There are people who are just built in a fortunate way to perform certain jobs. You know, and I think that Diana Nyad is one of those. This is something that comes more easily to her. There's nothing easy about it, that's the wrong word to use. But whatever the construction of her mind and body, it seems suited for this sort of torture.

  • 13:43:22

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We're going to take a short break. When we come back we'll continue our conversation with Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, and taking your calls at 800-433-8850. You can send us e-mail to kojo@wamu.org, a tweet @kojoshow, or you can simply go to our website kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:46:00

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation with Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, to whom a lot of people apparently want to speak. So Sally, I'm gonna have to ask you to try to keep your responses as brief as possible because we don't have that much time left. You can still call us at 800-433-8850, or send e-mail to kojo@wamu.org. Before I get to the telephone, Sally, it's the middle of the NBA playoffs, and Joakim Noah was just fined for using an anti-gay slur to a fan.

  • 13:46:28

    NNAMDIIn April, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers was fined for using the same anti-gay slur. Could players at one point get away with these kinds of insults?

  • 13:46:38

    JENKINSOh, sure. I think something clearly has changed in the last several months. There's a shifting sensibility. You know, Steve Nash came out the other day in favor of gay marriage. There seems to be a little bit of culture war going on inside the NBA, you know. It -- and by the way, all of these guys who were fined have apologized. I mean, I think that nobody is pretending in the league anymore like that's an acceptable way to talk. So that's a good thing.

  • 13:47:06

    NNAMDIWell, Noah didn't exactly apologize. He says he thinks the define to fine him was fair. And you've written quite a bit about professional athletes' way of apologizing without actually sound sorry.

  • 13:47:18

    JENKINSWell, I just took it, when he said it was fair, I assumed he was saying yes, I deserve to be fined, which I guess accept as enough of an apology perhaps.

  • 13:47:27

    NNAMDIBut the -- go ahead, please.

  • 13:47:29

    JENKINSWell, it's just, you know, I think that it's a way -- first of all, there's the issue of just how people talk in locker rooms. And I think that we would all be, you know, there was probably something said in a locker every 30 seconds that would offend somebody. So there's that angle. People tend to speak inside locker rooms in harsher vulgar ways. It's a hyper competitive atmosphere. So I think that some things fly out that guys don't always mean.

  • 13:47:59

    JENKINSSo, yeah. I'd like to give them something of the benefit of the doubt there.

  • 13:48:03

    NNAMDIBut do you see sports culture catching up with the rules that apply to the rest of society in terms of what's acceptable and not? Recently, Phoenix Suns executive, Rick Welts, came out as gay, and then former Villanova basketball player, Will Sheridan, did the same. Some people see sexual orientation as the last hurdle to be cleared in sports culture. I don't know about the last hurdle.

  • 13:48:25

    NNAMDIAnd I guess I should mention that when we talk about gay men and women in sports, Diana Nyad has led to way for those who are openly gay and lesbian in sports. But do you see sexual orientation as being, if not the last, one of the last hurdles to be cleared in sports culture?

  • 13:48:39

    JENKINSI do. I think it's a huge sort of boogeyman in terms of -- I mean, let's face it. The military these days is a little bit ahead of the professional sports leagues in America. You know, so, you know, there's some work to be done there. That said, you know, I think the commissioners have been almost uniformly good, and that's a real positive thing, you know. The executive leadership on this issue has been very strong I think in the professional leagues.

  • 13:49:07

    JENKINSI mean, they -- the David Sterns and the Roger Goodells and people like that have stepped up very quickly to, you know, David Stern in particular, to say, hey, that is not acceptable language. It's not anything we're about.

  • 13:49:19

    NNAMDIAnd before I turn you over to the listeners who eagerly await this conversation, one more issue. You've been writing a great deal about the longest work stoppage in NFL history. It's reached its 70th day. What's happening here?

  • 13:49:32

    JENKINSWell, we're just bogged -- it's jump ball in the courts right now. It's just, you know, each side has won a fairly -- what they treated as a fairly significant legal decision, but neither of those decisions have really tilted the playing field much yet in favor of one side or the other. You know, I think it's going to be solved eventually in negotiations, but I think we may lose three to four regular season games before that point is reached, because both sides have enough wherewithal financially that they haven't started to really suffer from the lockout yet.

  • 13:50:08

    JENKINSThe people who suffer most financially, you know, we don't know who -- which side that's going to be yet. Will it be the players or will it be the owners once games are lost, you know. The owners have huge revenue streams at stake. But then again, the players have huge bills to pay, and rely on those paychecks. So that's what's going to end this unfortunately.

  • 13:50:30

    NNAMDIIt can be difficult for fans to sympathize with either side, the very rich owners or the multimillionaire players. But I'd like to observe that characterizing all of the players as multimillionaires is really not true for most players in the NFL, is it?

  • 13:50:46

    JENKINSWell, they are multimillionaires in the sense that the average salary is about $880,000. That's a massive amount of money, of course. But it's important to remember that the average NFL career is only gonna last about three-and-a-half to five years. Health insurance is a big issue. You don't qualify it until you've been in the league about five years, and then it runs out about ten years out from your playing career.

  • 13:51:14

    JENKINSWhen you've been out of the league about a decade, your health insurance runs out. And that's right when guys start experiencing the really long-term effects of playing football, like they need joint replacement therapy, or they start experiencing dementia from too many concussions. You know, you can knock off about 40 percent of their income goes to taxes and lawyers and agents. They support a lot of people frequently. They have large, you know, groups of handlers or entourages or family members, because frequently they are the bread winner for their entire family.

  • 13:51:47

    JENKINSYou know, I know very few set-for-life NFL players, let's just put it that way. Now, would the rest of us love to make $880,000 or walk away from a three- to five-year stint with a couple millions dollars? Sure. But it doesn't go as far as people might thing, particularly given the short life, competitively of an athlete in the NFL, and also given the huge expenses and health problems that they're likely to have as a result of that playing career.

  • 13:52:15

    NNAMDIOn to the telephones now. Here is E.W. in Annapolis, Md. E.W., you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:52:22

    E.W.All right. First of all, I'd like to say that's an awesome seat, Ms. Jenkins, that you're gonna undertake, so I wish you all the best in that.

  • 13:52:30

    JENKINSWell, I'm just write a...

  • 13:52:31

    NNAMDIShe's just writing about the (word?) .

  • 13:52:32

    JENKINSI'm just the writer.

  • 13:52:35

    E.W.Oh, okay. I misunderstood totally then.

  • 13:52:37

    JENKINSThat's okay.

  • 13:52:37

    E.W.Well, I did want to weigh in on the whole friendship versus a, you know, compromising of journalistic principles. I do think that, you know, adult friendship is great, and it should be on a higher plane than journalism. Friendship is great, but when you're talking about serving individuals to your talent of journalism, I think friendship can compromise the integrity of journalism just because -- let's be, you know, honest, and I thought that was a great piece on "60 Minutes."

  • 13:53:08

    E.W.The access is granted through, you know, friendship, through someone like Lance Armstrong. And if, you know, that friendship wasn't there, that access may not be there. So I think the integrity of the journalism, you know, piece, is definitely compromised by friendship. You all have a great day.

  • 13:53:24

    NNAMDIWell, E.W., before you go, how important do you feel it is to be honest and open about that friendship?

  • 13:53:30

    E.W.Say that last part again about...

  • 13:53:31

    NNAMDIHow important do you feel it is to be honest and open about that friendship?

  • 13:53:37

    E.W.I think it's very important. I mean, of course, if you're talking journalism, I mean honesty and openness is at the top of the line there.

  • 13:53:45

    NNAMDIYes. Transparency is what we seek. Sally Jenkins?

  • 13:53:49

    JENKINSWell, let me -- let me -- I think there's a little misapprehension that I did the book because I was friends with Lance. I actually was contacted by, you know, we were put together by agents. We became friends in the process of writing the book which took about a year. And, you know, to me, it was a fairly natural evolution to go from being co-writers to friends given the time that he was living through he was -- this was back in '98, '99.

  • 13:54:16

    JENKINSHe was a much less accomplished rider. He had just survived cancer. He had just won his first Tour de France, and I actually arrived in Austin, Texas to begin working with him. Didn't know him very well. I had only met him once. And actually, I thought I'm not gonna like this guy very much, because the day I got there, we were supposed to meet for lunch and he didn't show up.

  • 13:54:34

    JENKINSAnd I thought, oh, great, you know, this is -- I'm gonna be working with a high maintenance athlete who's not gonna keep his appointments. Well, the reason he didn't show up is because he was at the hospital. His first baby was being born. And I got a phone call that said, we're so sorry. We forgot all about you. Kristen went into labor. Come to the hospital and see the baby. Now, I defy anybody to go through that experience and not feel some warmth for the person that you're working with.

  • 13:54:58

    JENKINSThat's just the foot -- that's just the foot we got off on. So I have a hard time apologizing for my friendship with Lance. I actually have incredibly warm feelings about that time. I was an out-of-work freelancer actually at the time, and was very glad to have the book project work on. And it was -- to be honest, it was thrilling. It was an exciting time. I mean, the cancer story that he had just lived through was deeply affecting and it was difficult to write 350 pages about that and not be affected.

  • 13:55:29

    NNAMDILisa in Washington, D.C., you're on the on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:55:32

    LISAHi, Kojo. Thanks a lot for taking my call. This probably isn't gonna sound too monumental, but first of all, Sally, it's a pleasure to hear both of you having such a fun conversation. Because I read your article online last night, and I'm not sure if it was in the hard copy of the sports section in the Post yesterday, but the great four-page article online about Diana Nyad.

  • 13:55:55

    NNAMDIIt was in today's hard copy of the paper.

  • 13:55:57


  • 13:55:57

    LISAOkay. Because I read it online last night. And not only was...

  • 13:56:00


  • 13:56:00

    LISA...it excellent, but Sally, you and so many other sports writers, for people who years ago like probably used to throw away the sports section, I do just the opposite now. Because I feel like some of you sports writers totally give access to -- it doesn't even matter if you're interested in a special sport or not. The way that you write it makes people interested and to finish the article.

  • 13:56:25

    LISASo I -- and I just wanted to also point out that when you guys were just talking about Lance Armstrong and like friendship and regardless of whether you're talking about journalism or another profession of like sort of which one -- like how to keep them both online at the same time in a way that doesn't compromise the other, reminded me totally of a few weeks ago, Kojo and Sally, when Diane Rehm had an excellent interview with Jodie Foster.

  • 13:56:51

    LISAAnd she asked her pointedly how she was dealing like with all the controversy and people asking well, how do you work in this movie with -- clearly we know you and Mel have been friends for a long time...

  • 13:57:02

    NNAMDIOh, yes. As a matter of fact, I did hear that interview, Lisa. And you are right.

  • 13:57:06


  • 13:57:07

    NNAMDIShe did make that comparison. But my problem is that we're running out of time very quickly, and I wanted to get one quick more call in for Sally. Here's Carol in Bethesda, Md. Carol, your turn. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:57:18

    CAROLI want to compliment Ms. Jenkins on her excellent writing about especially the Redskins, and most especially the obscuring that she did of Dan Snyder in article recently. And it's the one that the first sentence is, I am the Owner, the O is capitalized, and it goes on from there beautifully. The reason that...

  • 13:57:44

    NNAMDIWell, I'm afraid we're just about out of time, Carol. And I don't even think we have time for Sally to respond. But I know Sally would like to say at least thank you very much, right, Sally?

  • 13:57:55

    JENKINSThank you very much.

  • 13:57:56

    NNAMDISally Jenkins is a sports columnist with the Washington Post. She joined us from studios in New York. Sally, always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:04

    JENKINSThank you, Kojo.

  • 13:58:05

    NNAMDI"The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, and Taylor Burnie, with assistance from A.C. Valdez, Kathy Goldgeier, and Elizabeth Weinstein. The managing producer is Diane Vogel. Our engineer today, Timmy Olmstead. Dorie Anisman is on the phones. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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