Before a word in this week's pro football package could go to press, it had to be scrutinized for accuracy by reporters Linda Marsch and Steve Wulf, who are both in their second season on the pro beat. "Having one of those two checking your story is like having bloodhounds on your trail," says Staff Writer Bruce Newman, whose profile of Earl Campbell begins on page 94.
Wulf, 28, did some wrestling in high school, but had only a passing interest in sports and journalism when he graduated from Hamilton College in 1972. "All I ever did for the school paper was a review of a Frank Zappa concert," he says. "I did co-edit the school yearbook, but it was a very unpopular book. For about 50 years every senior had gotten a page of his own that listed all his accomplishments. We decided that was a big waste of space and crammed all the seniors' photographs into five pages."
The day after graduation, Wulf climbed into his '69 Chevy Malibu, proposing to check every newspaper in the Northeast until he found a job. He lucked out at the Evening Sun in Norwich, N.Y., a paper with a circulation of about 8,000, a staff of six and an opening for a sports editor. Steve took it. A year later he climbed back into the Chevy, this time coming to a halt at Florida's Fort Lauderdale News, with a job as horse-racing writer, a position he felt eminently qualified to fill, having once spent a day at the races himself.
After three years in Florida, Wulf went back north, and for six months lived hand-to-mouth, doing free-lance copy-desk work for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald-American. Then one night he tottered home from back-to-back eight-hour shifts to find nothing in the kitchen but ajar of Cool Whip and a box of Rice Krispies. Forthwith he applied for steady employment at SI and was hired in 1977.
Upon graduation from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. in 1969, Marsch, 32, joined SI's art department. She switched to reporting 2½ years ago. "I started out by checking conservation stories," Marsch says. "Then one night at dinner someone said to me, 'All your stories are on the menu!' " Preferring human subjects, she moved to our pro football crew and last spring was sent to Houston to see Byron Donzis, who had designed the flak jacket used by Oiler Quarterback Dan Pastorini. She was the first reporter with whom Donzis discussed the future of such armor in the NFL. Wulf, meanwhile, was at the league meetings in Hawaii, finding out from the owners, general managers, coaches and players what they thought the game would be like at the turn of the century. Information garnered on these trips may be found in Frank Deford's Gridiron 2000 (page 42). All part of the job for bloodhounds Marsch and Wulf.