David Samson Credit: Pablo Torre Finds Out

Not many sports media personalities can regale their audience with details on what it is like to lose the sense of taste and smell. Then again, not many sports media personalities are like David Samson.

In an interview on Pablo Torre Finds Out released Thursday, Samson detailed how his life changed in January 2021 when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and lost his taste and smell indefinitely.

“When it didn’t come back in five days, I started to think about it,” Samson began. “And I started to adjust my life in even those five days thinking they were temporary adjustments.”

Samson still has not recovered those senses in nearly three years.

“What my brain did for like the first year is it made me forget that I had no taste. And what it did is it made me think that I was getting bad food at restaurants,” Samson explained. “It took about a year, I would say … now I go into meals knowing I was not going to enjoy them, they’re just meant as a gas station.”

But it’s not all bad. Samson lives in Manhattan and doesn’t have to worry about the lingering odors on city streets.

“I don’t smell urine, I don’t smell weed, I don’t smell anything walking through New York City,” Samson said. “The taste part for the first couple weeks, I went on what I thought would be the most amazing diet … it lasted two weeks because it made me too sad.”

Eventually, Samson went back to eating normal food and eating socially again, because not doing so was too hard.

“I just learned that I wouldn’t know the difference between a pizza with onion or a pizza with pepperoni … so I learned to love the thought,” Samson added.

When he ate extremely spicy food, Samson could physically feel the burn, even if he could not taste specific notes. So he leaned all the way in.

“I thought I could will (my taste) back,” he said. “What I learned is I was reacting to hot.”

That realization led him to begin powering taste through his own brain. The memory of tastes can be pretty powerful.

“I used to taste things that I thought I was eating, and I wasn’t eating them at all. And then my brain eliminated that,” he told Torre. “Now my brain literally tells me what I’m eating and what it’s going to taste like as a reminder of what it did taste like.”

While certain losses like sushi weigh on him still, Samson has not lost hope that he will recover his ability to taste and smell.

“Meal time is game time,” he explained. “Every time we eat, I’m doing different tests with myself … doing food in different combinations. I’m trying to see different sides of my mouth.”

On a more serious note, Samson is open about his struggles with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. He has publicly detailed his work in therapy and the difficulties he has with mental health.

While sensory deprivation may seem like more of an inconvenience than a genuine challenge to daily life, Samson explained the frustrations the long-lasting symptoms have caused.

“The number one thing in a landslide is I’m scared to be alone again. And I spent years trying to be alone,” Samson said. “I’ve worked through it and now I can be alone. Except since 2021, I’m back to being scared to be alone since I can’t smell.”

In particular, Samson worries that he won’t be able to perceive any smoke if there is a fire in his home. He checks frequently and even calls his building’s door man to help him secure the place.

Samson also is unable to fully participate in weekly meals with his family or experience culture when he travels. Some of these are surely the problems of a wealthy man, but day to day, taking the joy out of eating would take a toll on anyone. And scents are a big part of how all living creatures maintain a sense of security.

“You can’t envision it until you do it,” Samson said. “Until it happens to you.”

For good measure, Samson spanked Torre in a Hot Ones-inspired hot wing challenge in-studio. Take the good with the bad.

Samson frequently becomes emotional discussing his ailment as a weekly guest on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. In this interview, Torre got Samson to open up and reveal the struggle of something many humans are living with since the pandemic hit.

It is common for many (and being worked on by scientists). But that doesn’t make it any easier to live it.

[Pablo Torre Finds Out on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.