Reporting Sam Shane
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS13) – There is no doubt there’s one man who infiltrated the sidelines at the 49ers game Sunday, just as he does every weekend.
Mike Silver is a local boy, one of the most well-known writers for Yahoo! Sports, and one of the most respected in NFL circles.
Very few men in the NFL can cover a football field like Silver.
CBS13 followed him around the field at Candlestick Park just a couple of hours before a recent 49ers game.
Silver does not stop, meeting, greeting and texting; and texting some more. He grinds down the battery on his smart phone like a suffocating pass rush. So who is Silver?
At 47 years old, he is one of the best, most controversial and respected sports writers in America.
In the past 20 years, just about anyone who is of any importance in the NFL has talked to, or had dinner with Silver, like team owner Jed York of the 49ers.
“You know, even if he doesn’t write something that’s positive or something that you want to read as a team, he still has a good relationship with people,” said York. “He’s usually pretty fair and that’s all you can ask for from a journalist, somebody that’s gonna be fair, gonna be accurate. Sometimes the team is good, sometimes not, and he’s gonna write what he writes.”
He’s talked with star players like the 49ers Vernon Davis.
“I think Mike Silver is a great writer; he does a lot of good things. He says a lot of good things. People are very respectful of that,” said Davis.
“Let’s face it, all these relationships I have, if I burn a couple of high profile people, over there’s Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin, Deon Sanders, for example, three guys I was pretty tight with as players, I fell like I did right by,” said Silver.
To some he may seem unassuming, even harmless, with his methodical surfer dude delivery. But Silver has a golden touch. He’s an extraordinarily gifted writer.
In 13 years he wrote 77 cover stories for Sports Illustrated, the most prestigious sports publication in America. He’s also written four books on sports figures, ranging from wild man Dennis Rodman to the religious Kurt Warner.
“I went from doing a book with Dennis Rodman to Kurt Warner, who’s an evangelical Christian. Love them both; two great experiences, two very different books,” said Silver.
Silver was born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles. At a young age he had already developed a deep passion for sports and creative writing. After high school, he attended and graduated from UC Berkeley.
“When college ended, I didn’t have a great plan in the late 80s and I felt like being a sports writer could extend the college lifestyle to some degree, better than anything I can come up with,” said Silver.
Out of college, he wrote for the Sacramento Union, then the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and married his college sweetheart, Leslie. To this day, he possesses a passion for the Rolling Stones.
However, Silver may never have become the writer he is today. He almost quit. He almost went to law school, but then he got that call from Sports Illustrated.
Nowadays, you can find him on the sidelines of an NFL football field, hugging people like Michael Irvin, hanging out with a movie star like Owen Wilson, or chatting it up with a fan in the stands.
This man who calls “Animal House” his favorite movie, has a profound ability to tell a story, to take the words and actions of big time athletes and bring them to life for the rest of us. And he does it sounding like a surfer dude.
“I wanted to go gonzo. I wanted to be in, deeply imbedded in somebody’s world and take you in. I didn’t believe in objectivity,” said Silver. “I believe in fairness and accuracy to a fault, but I’m not gonna really be objective anyway. So I’m going all the way in, and then I’m going to present it with fairness and accuracy, and let you get into that world.”