Legendary D/FW sports writer Rick Gosselin sits down with Sport DFW’s John Herndon to talk everything NFL and Dallas Cowboys. They look back to discuss hot button issues from the past and he offers insight as to where the league (and the team) is today.
Rick Gosselin has covered the Cowboys – and other teams/sports — for 50 years. Upon graduation from Michigan State University in 1972 with a degree in journalism, he worked for United Press International for two years in his hometown of Detroit.
Then he transferred to New York City in 1975 to cover the New York Giants and coordinate NFC coverage for the wire service. He transferred to Kansas City in 1977, spending nine years as UPI’s Midlands Sports Editor covering the MLB Royals, NFL Chiefs, NBA Kings, the Big Eight, NCAA and golfer Tom Watson.
Gosselin moved to The Kansas City Star in 1986, where he covered the Chiefs and the NFL for four years. He then went to work for The Dallas Morning News in 1990 covering the Dallas Cowboys. He is a living legend in the NFL and you can find him on Twitter at @RickGosselin9
John Herndon and Rick Gosselin talk the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, NFL Draft, Darren Woodson, Jerry Jones, and more.
Rick Gosselin covered the Dallas Cowboys from 1990 to 91, then served as the newspaper’s NFL columnist from 1992 to 2011 until his appointment as a general sports columnist in August 2011. He retired from the newspaper in February 2019.
Q: Let me start by saying. Thank you, Rick, for taking the time to speak with me. Can we start from the beginning of your career? You have always been a sports journalist, correct? Dating back to your time with United Press International. Would it be fair to call you a sports fan growing up?
A: Growing up in Detroit, it was easy to be a sports fan – Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons. The change in seasons always gave you a different team to support. I saw a Stanley Cup Finals game in 1966 and a couple World Series games in 1968.
Q: Did you play sports growing up? If so, which ones?
A: I played Little League baseball, grade-school football and high-school hockey. I continued playing hockey in rec leagues into my 40s.
Q: What drove you to pursue sports journalism as opposed to another kind of journalism? Was it because you loved sports growing up?
A: I knew I was going to be a sports writer by the time I was in third grade. I was always writing my own little sports books as a kid. When I got to high school I would write a blurb for the church paper on the school’s football games each week. And in my first term at Michigan State I went to the student paper looking for a position writing sports.
Q: When you started out covering sports? How did you stay objective? I know that should be something all journalists should strive for, but not naming names, I have seen plenty who don’t.
A: It’s something you figure out early on. Not every team you cover wins the championship every year. There are times you need to analyze and be critical. Your readers don’t want to read “all is well” if their team is in last-place. And I had plenty of practice writing about bad teams.
“I had players, coaches and even organizations close me out for stretches.”
From 1975 through 1990 – two years covering the New York Giants, 13 years covering the Kansas City Chiefs and my first season in Dallas covering the Cowboys – I covered one playoff game. A blowout loss by the Chiefs to the Jets in 1986. One playoff game in 16 seasons. If you aren’t objective, you lose credibility with the readership.
Q: Today, real sports journalism is no longer valued, and we are reduced to talking heads in sports media positions who say things for shocks, likes, and click bait. How do you feel about this?
A: I’ve always been a believer in accountability. If I write something negative or critical about a team or a player, I made it a point to show up the next day to face that team, that player or that coach. I had my say in the paper that morning, so I was going to give them the opportunity in the locker room or clubhouse to have their say.
You need to be able to defend the stand you took in your story in person. That’s how you earn respect on the beat, in the locker room and with your readership. At times there was fallout. I had players, coaches and even organizations close me out for stretches. But they eventually get over it. Especially when you knew you were right – and they knew you were right. Some of the folks on talk radio who say things with shock value ought to show up in the locker room the next day.