We were lucky enough to catch up with Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter Neil Hayes. Neil has been writing sports for the Sun-Times for 4 years. You can follow him on Twitter for updates, etc.
From your time at the paper, what unique situations have presented themselves to you?
Neil Hayes: Kind of a broad question. I’ve been bounced around a lot. I’ve done a lot of different things in my career and am versatile. Therefore, I’m always a candidate to get moved to an important position or beat as needed. With the staff shrinking so much, I’ve served at NU beat writer, ND beat writer, enterprise/takeout writer, columnist and now Bears beat writer.
What is your absolute favorite Chicago sports memory? One from more recent years, and maybe one from the past.
Neil Hayes: I grew up idolizing Payton so it would likely involve him. As for lately, probably watching the Bears clinch the NFC Championship Game in 2006. I actually watched on TV while covering the AFC Championship Game.
On the topic of memories, who was your sports idol growing up?
Neil Hayes: Walter Payton. Hands down.
Did you always want to be a journalist and cover sports?
Neil Hayes: Yes. Since eighth grade.
What advice could you relay onto hopeful journalists, aspiring for a job like yours?
Neil Hayes: Read. Write. Move your feet. Be hungry. Make the extra phone call. Read and write some more. Think outside the box. Did I mention read and write?
Outside of writing, what some of your general hobbies?
Neil Hayes: I love to read. I probably read 30 books a year. Other than that, I like to exercise. My kids keep me pretty busy and we love to spend two weeks on a lake in Maine every summer.
When you think of the 1990’s Bulls intro song, what is the first word that comes to mind?
Neil Hayes: Interesting question. Probably that it seemed to usher in the latest wave of arena “entertainment,” which almost ruins the experience for me.
What team in Chicago is on the up & up? Which team in Chicago is on the decline?
Neil Hayes: The Cubs are in a tough spot with so many bloated contracts that will be tough to unload. The Bears could be teetering depending on what happens this season.
Who is the next Chicago athlete to win a League MVP award?
Neil Hayes: If the Sox keep winning, Paul Konerko could have a shot. Otherwise, I’d say Derrick Rose or Jonathan Toews.
On your twitter page, it says you are the author of “When the game stands tall” and “The Last Putt”, what can you tell us about these two books?
Neil Hayes: “When the Game Stands Tall” is the story of the De La Salle Spartans, which won 151 straight games over a 12-year span. That constitutes the longest winning streak in football history. It may be the most inspiring (not to mention successful) high school football program in history. “The Last Putt” is a story about a most dramatic college golf season, which happened to coincide with Tiger Woods’ freshman year at Stanford.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Usually the winner on Pardon The Interuptions has 20 seconds of free air to deliver any message they want. Consider this your time….any last thoughts on whatever is on your mind?
Neil Hayes: My mind is amazingly blank at present, probably because I’m on vacation and trying to avoid my laptop as much as possible. Good luck!