Woodrow Wilson Paige Jr. – Woody to you – is celebrating, or lamenting, his 50th anniversary as a professional journalist.
So he’s seen some things, and covered a few – like 40 Super Bowls; a dozen NBA Finals; a couple of Stanley Cup Finals, World Series since the 1970s; Winter and Summer Olympics from Norway to Australia, from Japan to France, from the former Yugoslavia to the current Atlanta, from Barcelona to Los Angeles, and others he’s forgotten or wanted to forget; Kentucky Derby races, Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 races, the World Cup Finals, the Tour De France, Wimbledons and British Opens, 32 Masters and multiple U.S. Opens in golf and tennis, NFL games in Germany, England, Spain, Japan, Mexico, Green Bay, Oakland and Memphis; Finals Fours and Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Rose, Fiesta Bowls and every other fruit, nut and Weedeater bowls; college football championships; the very first UFC bouts; dozens of championship fights in Las Vegas; the Pro Bowl; the NBA All-Star Game; the Baseball All-Star Game, and the NHL All-Star Game, and almost every other major sports event, and many minor sports events, you can think of; and the aftermath of 9/11, the aftermath of the Dr. Martin Luther King assassination, the aftermath of the Columbine and Aurora shootings, six national political conventions, the Presidential inauguration; the aftermath of earthquakes and hurricanes and avalanches and other natural disasters, and his daughter’s birth.
So Paige has been around in and out of sports.
He has been to the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Roman Colosseum. At one time he had seen games at every NBA arena and major-league ballpark, but those venues change. He has covered games at more than 100 college football stadiums, and in one week in Sydney, Austria, he watched a soccer match, a rugby match, an Aussie Rules match and a pro football game. The most boring was the NFL exhibition, and an Australian asked him: “”Why is this the only game where they hold a conference every few seconds?’’ Good question.
Paige was born in Memphis and educated at the University of Tennessee. Three years ago Tennessee gave him a Distinguished Alumni Award, odd given that he was the most incorrigible student in the history of the school. He has received more than 100 national, state and local awards for his column writing.
He has never been nominated for an Emmy, even though he has been with the ESPN network regularly for 15 years with a number of different shows – including ”Cold Pizza’’, ”Dream Job,’’ ”First And Ten’’, and as a panelist on ”Around The Horn’’. He has never been nominated for an Oscar, even though he appeared in the movie ”Rocky Balboa,’’ stretching himself by playing in the role of ”Woody Paige’’.
He also has appeared on ”Today’’, ”Good Morning America’’, ESPN SportsCenter, ”Hannity’’ and other national shows and was a sports talk radio host in Denver for more than a quarter of a century.
Paige has been named to The Jim Murray Foundation’s ”Journalist Hall of Fame’’ and was the recipient of ”Order of Achievement’’ from the college fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha. He has been selected Colorado Sportswriter of the Year several times, and served for over a decade on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee, and has voted for the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees for 25 years. He was given the 2011 Lifesavers Award by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has been named sportswriter of the year in Colorado multiple times and won APSE national sportswriting awards.
He was named the Tennessee high school journalist of the year in 1964, two years after beginning his professional career as a sports stringer for The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal – at $10 a story – and the sports editor of The Whitehaven (Weekly) Press for $35 a week. He was columnist and editor of his college newspaper – The UT Daily Beacon – and worked as a cop reporter and political writer for The Knoxville Journal while in school. He later became a reporter, then a sportswriter and, at 24, sports columnist for The Commercial Appeal. He joined the Rocky Mountain News in 1974 as sports columnist and moved in 1981 to The Denver Post as a sports columnist (and for seven years, general columnist). Woody recently resigned from The Post to join The Gazette in Colorado Springs as a sports columnist, and he also has been hired by Denver7 (KMGH-TV, the ABC affilaite) to write two columns a week and appear on the news and weekly sports shows. He has written or co-authored eight books and written for Time, Newsweek and Sport Magazine, among many other magazines. He also was Mile High Sports Magazine’s back-of-the-book columnist. He appears on national and local radio talks around the country — from Connecticut to Hawaii, from Florida to California, from St. Louis to New Orleans, from Seattle to Tampa, from New York City to Denver — on a regular basis.
And, after a half-century, Woody Paige continues to opine on all things sports and life for ESPN’s “””Around The Horn” and woodypaige.com.com