Tom Pelissero: The Cheesehead TV Interview

Tom Pelissero adds to the growing list of Packers-associated individuals who have taken the plunge and risked their professional reputations by being associated with CHTV. Pelissero is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Green Bay Press Gazette, for which he covers the Green Bay Packers and the NFL. Tom grew up in the Minneapolis area and graduated from Boston College in 2003. For most of the past six years, Tom has covered the National Football League for print, broadcast and online.

I should note that Tom has been an incredibly good sport regarding the none-too-subtle jabs that Corey and I have taken at the GBPG, not to mention certain members of his staff. Cheesehead TV would like to thank him for taking the time to answer our questions.


Cheesehead TV: How has the transition been coming over from the Leader-Telegram to the GBPG? Big adjustment or pretty smooth?

Tom Pelissero: This might sound strange, but I honestly don’t remember. It feels like I’ve been here forever (and I don’t mean that as negatively as it probably sounds). I had covered the Minnesota Vikings for two years after college, so I had a basic working knowledge of the NFL. I feel I’ve improved exponentially since I arrived.

Cheesehead TV: Having grown up in Minnesota, do you have any childhood friends who can't believe you're now covering the enemy?

TP: My friends know this is my job. I don’t cheer for any team, don’t have a vested interest in who wins and loses, etc. But now and then I’ll bump into someone I haven’t seen in years, and they’ll express genuine shock that I’m here.

Cheesehead TV: Seriously, who's idea was it to do the videos w/Demovsky? Did you lose a bet?

TP: Ha. “The Insiders” is not for everyone, and I know that. I have to say, though, feedback on the show has been overwhelmingly positive. It wasn’t really anyone’s idea to start doing it; we initially were shooting Q&As in that god-awful dungeon we call a set, and I thought we could add something more. Some of the early episodes are embarrassingly bad, but I think we hit our stride last year. The key is to never make fun of any person — we make fun of situations, overplayed storylines and, mostly, ourselves. I pray no one thinks those characters mirror our actual personalities (except maybe Vandermause’s).

Cheesehead TV: Which team is the most accommodating to visiting press? Which team is the least?

TP: Tough to say, because there are many stadiums I have not visited. I do think the Packers and Lambeau Field offer some of the best game-day accommodations, and I’m not saying that to suck up. You come to appreciate it after sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the Metrodome press box, sweating from pores you didn’t know you had, and being worried Sid Hartman is going to tip over the bowl of syrup on pancake day (again).

Cheesehead TV: Be honest - Do any of the writers on the Packers beat at the GBPG read any of the fan blogs, if even only to make fun of them?

TP: We’ve never talked about it, so I’m not sure. To an extent, I think we get our dose of fan interaction via the e-mails, phone calls and story comments we see on a daily basis. I do think it’s important to know what fans think about various issues. They are, after all, the people who are reading what we write.

Cheesehead TV: Who is the most underrated player on the Packers' roster?

TP: Great question, and there are a number of directions I could go with my answer. I do find it interesting how much people loathe Jarrett Bush. He’s a solid special-teams player (although he definitely needs to cut down on penalties) and he drew the most interest of any of the Packers’ restricted free agents this winter. He’s also a genuinely nice guy, the type who will say hello and shoot the shit when you bump into him at a bar. Yet I get e-mails all the time from people who just absolutely despise him and can’t understand why he wasn’t cut two years ago. I’ll probably get more hate mail for writing this, but sorry, he’s probably going to make the team again this year.

Cheesehead TV: If Brad Childress had been hired as the Packers coach, would the Packers have a winning record under him?

TP: Well, would Brett Favre still be a Packer? They certainly seem to be tight. What-if questions always are tough to answer. But I do know most Vikings fans would swap Chilly for Mike McCarthy in a heartbeat.

Cheesehead TV: Have you ever had a player confront you over something you wrote?

TP: Sure, I think that happens to everyone. It’s vitally important to be as clear and accurate as possible in everything you write, be it a story, a blog post, a tweet, whatever. Few guys are going to fight you for writing something negative if it’s true. And if they do … well, let’s just say the media is the least of their problems.

Cheesehead TV: What made you want to become a writer? Favorite authors?

TP: I’ve been writing for longer than I can remember. Somewhere, there are dozens of “books” I wrote beginning at age 3 — really high-caliber stuff, as you can imagine, and always on sports. I’m sure I was just repeating things I’d heard in the books my father read to me. I went through a TV phase when I was at Boston College — served as program director for a campus station, interned at ESPN, anchored locally — but I never could get into telling stories in 30 seconds or less. So, here I am. I rarely read sports books anymore, though. Recent reading list includes David Foster Wallace, Charles Bukowski, Matt Taibbi, Bret Easton Ellis, Hunter S. Thompson and Green Bay’s own Patrick Somerville, whom I suspect you’ll hear a lot about in the coming years.

Cheesehead TV: What is the best part of covering the Packers? The worst?

TP: Best part is I know the interest is there. Good or bad, I get feedback on everything I write. I don’t know that there is a “worst” part, unless you count the competition. I sometimes wonder what life would be like as the lone reporter covering a low-profile beat. I’d probably sleep better at night. But hey, what fun would that be?

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Comments (3)

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L.A.'s picture

June 06, 2009 at 11:56 am

Great interview, guys. I like Pelissero, though perhaps I should send more emails to him about the Insiders videos, if he thinks it is overwhelmingly positive...

It's interesting to hear him say that he has no vested interest in any NFL team, that reporting is just his job. I suppose growing up a Viking fan, you have to say that. But, fun is it to be a beat writer and not really even cheer for them? I suppose, in reality, you want your journalists to be objective. Just kind of sounds weird coming from one of the guys you go to for "official" Packer information.

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Andrew in Atlanta's picture

June 06, 2009 at 06:58 pm

Very nice guys. Look forward to hearing Tom next week on the videocast

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Chico's picture

June 06, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Pelissero gets props for reading David Foster Wallace. Most NFL beat writers probably think he's that 60 Minutes guy.
And I happen to enjoy the Insider videos. Thanks, Tom. Please stay in Green Bay.

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