At the age of 55, one of America's premier sports media personalities is in a hiring position for the first time in his life. Sports Illustrated's Peter King is adding talent to the roster for his yet-to-be-named, all-football microsite, which is slated to launch on July 22, but he's also adjusting to the idea of being a manager instead of an employee.
"I've never done that before," King told Awful Announcing this week, "so there will be a whole new group of people to hate me."
That group includes Greg Bedard from the Boston Globe, Jenny Vrentas from the Newark Star-Ledger, Robert Klemko from USA Today, Andrew Brandt from ESPN and Richard Deitsch from SI, the latter two of whom will write weekly columns.
Earlier this year, King seriously considered leaving SI after 24 years with the company. There were several factors in play, but the green light for the new site was a big reason why King decided to re-sign.
The competition was also offering opportunities like these, though, which is why that decision didn't come easy.
"I agonized about going to NBC," he said. "I flip-flopped a lot over the last couple of weeks before I decided [to stay]. It's one of those things that I haven't spent a lot of time saying to myself, 'I should have done something else.' I haven't, but… the fact that it was close—especially when SI was going to allow me to do something that I wanted to do—just says that NBC, especially NBCSports.com, they're gonna do great things. I'm not second-guessing what I did. I'm just simply saying that if I had gone there—and I came very close to doing that—I would have felt incredibly good about them."
Comparisons have been made to Grantland—Bill Simmons' microsite which spun off from ESPN.com in June of 2011—but there will be some key differences. While Grantland's content covers myriad sports and dips heavily into pop culture, King's site will be strictly football. He's a fan of Simmons' site and understands the comparisons but he doesn't view it as a template for what they're doing.
"We're not going to be writing about Veep or Mad Men or Homeland," King said, "other than me writing in Monday Morning Quarterback that I love Veep."
King and his colleagues are still trying to determine exactly how the site will differ from other NFL-centric URLs floating around the sports universe. He understands how important it is to do something nobody else is doing.
"My goal is to be different and to do everything we can to write stories and cover stories that people will think are unique," he said. "If we're going to be like everybody else, I'll consider the site a failure."
The site, King said, will incorporate video on a daily basis, which is something he hadn't begun to wrap his head around until recently. A recent Associated Press study found that people continue to desire more video in online news sites, so such tactics could determine whether a project like this sinks or swims.
"Unless I want to be a dinosaur in two years," King said "it's something I have to think about and get on board with."
King also told us that he expects his role at NBC to remain the same. It hasn't been determined how much he'll be contributing to the magazine, with only the wildly-popular MMQB set in stone right now.
In the meantime, he'll begin to implement ideas for the new site, many of which he says have been brewing for quite some time.
"If I screw it up, it'll be my fault," he said. "There'll be nobody to blame but me. There's something about that that's a little bit of a high-wire thought at times, but there's something about that, too, that is good."
He's on the wire now, and his initial hires indicate he's going to have the support to start walking without a tumble. But we're still 10 weeks away, and there's lots of work to be done.
High on the list of priorities, King said, is to give his new baby a name.