Deep stacks

I’ll be adding to this along and along as I get time … if there’s an old story of mine you’d really like to see, drop me a line and I’ll try to dig it out. At the bottom of this page are some deeper online archives of my work if you REALLY have too much time on your hands.

The column I still hear about the most, more than 15 years later — the piece I wrote for our wedding day. Alix and I are still married. And I’m still lucky.

The Power of Voice (Our State)

A personal essay about my bout with throat cancer, and how it changed my voice — not just the one I speak with, but the one I write with.


Precious Memories (

My story on Dean Smith, his dementia, and how his family and friends show their devotion. I’ve heard from hundreds of readers  about this story — former Tar Heel players and coaches, fans who loved and hated Dean when he coached, people facing dementia in their families. I’m glad this story meant something to them. It means a lot to me, too.

The Lessons of Dean Smith (

Written the day we found out Dean had died.

They came to remember, honor Dean Smith (ESPN)

My story from the memorial service in Chapel Hill.



A Picture Speaks (Charlotte Observer)

The story of Dorothy Counts, who integrated Charlotte’s Harding High School in 1957, and the white kids who taunted her. Winner of the Thomas Wolfe Award for best newspaper story in North Carolina in 2007.

(Photo above of Dorothy Counts at Harding High by  Don Sturkey)


Something Went Very Wrong at Toomer’s Corner (Sports Illustrated)

My piece on the Auburn-Alabama football rivalry, and a man named Harvey Updyke who took it too far. This was chosen by guest editor Michael Wilbon for The Best American Sports Writing 2012. Thanks, Mike.

How R.E.M. Changed My Life (Charlotte Observer)

I was lucky enough to arrive in Athens, Ga., right at the moment R.E.M. was breaking out. They meant so much to me then. Still do.

And He Shall Lead Them (

Lester Cotton, the star offensive lineman for Central High in Tuscaloosa, will play for Alabama this fall — and he’s got the weight of his high school on his big shoulders.

My piece was a complement to amazing video work by ESPN producer Scott Harves, who spent months working on a story about the whole Central High football team. It’s worth every minute of your time.



You Can’t Quit Cold Turkey (ESPN The Magazine and

This is about Jared Lorenzen, the former Kentucky and New York Giants QB known as the Hefty Lefty. But it’s also personal, as you’ll see.


Is Charlotte Southern? (Charlotte Magazine)

My first piece for our great city magazine, on our city and its place in a changing South. (Plus a Dusty Rhodes cameo near the end.)


A Beautiful Find (Charlotte Observer)

John Swallow and I ended up on a couch next to each other at a party. I asked a typical question: So what do you do for a living? His answer took 25 minutes. This story stemmed from that conversation. The lesson: Talk to people at parties. This story made into Best Newspaper Writing 2004, and later in America’s Best Newspaper Writing. (John is now provost at the University of the South.)


Duncan Leaves It On the Court (Sports on Earth)

Tim Duncan is my favorite athlete who’s still playing. Has been for a while now. I hope this story gets at why.


Michael Kelley’s Obstacle Course (Charlotte Observer)

Part 1

Part 2 

Michael Kelley, horribly injured in a military accident, tries to become a Charlotte police officer — and faces a literal obstacle course between him and his goal.


22 Brief Thoughts About That Richard Sherman Interview (

The only story of mine that has truly gone viral — 4.6 million pageviews since I wrote it one Sunday night in January. Here’s a little more about the whole experience.


You can’t keep Thomas Davis down (

A profile of Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, the first player ever to come back from three ACL tears on the same knee. Really liked Thomas — smart, humble guy.


The Hunley 8, The Charleston 9

A column about the long slow death of the Old South, and the bones buried underneath.




The Charlotte Five Podcast, talking about my upcoming book


My story for WFAE radio on the purplest precinct in Charlotte


An interview about my Lester Cotton story with Alabama Sportz Blitz



Some interviews I did about my Dean Smith stories:

ESPN’s Outside the Lines

Rich Eisen Show

Off the Record on WTVI in Charlotte

Damon Amendolara Show

Carolina Connection








My archive at

Stories for ESPN

My page at Our State

 Stuff of mine that lingers on the Charlotte Observer’s site

My old Observer blog

Most, if not all, of the work I did for Sports On Earth