Local author and longtime Baltimore sportswriter John Eisenberg tells Nestor the long, ugly trail for black quarterbacks in the NFL chronicled in his new book, “Rocket Men,” at Pappas in Parkville on the Maryland Crab Cake Tour.
SUMMARY KEYWORDSwarren moon, pappas, eisenberg, years, quarterback, tour, john, book, edmonton, maryland, doug williams, warren, covered, oilers, baltimore sun, great, played, write, baltimore, winsSPEAKERSNestor J. Aparicio, John Eisenberg Nestor J. Aparicio 00:00Welcome back w n s t TAS Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are positively taking the show out on the road I had been threatening to get this guy into Pappas. We’re doing the Maryland crab cake tour I’ve got enchilada scratch offs I got 50th anniversaries I got Raven scratch offs. I’m running low Ross helped me out. Give me some scratch and sniff scented gingerbread and peppermint. Maryland lottery tickets or friends or when the nation 866 90 nation you buy to you get to freeze your percent financing for five years and Jiffy Lube MultiCare at some point, they’re gonna give me some sort of prop here to bring out on the Maryland crabcake tour. But Linda Raskin had the great prop of the, the crab mallet with the beer opener, so we appreciate that for what we’re Pappas and Parkville. It is. It’s pretty active in here, John, John Eisenberg 00:49topping. You know, I Nestor J. Aparicio 00:51came here a couple hours ago and cine who’s gonna sit in on the show, who’s a listener and fan and I mean, I live four miles away my radio stations two miles from here. It’s sort of the neighborhood got your bed 1130 20 You’re packing him in. There’s people there and I’m like, people aren’t here for me. Now. I will say this. Everybody at the bar knows me. But they didn’t know I was here. And they’re not here for me. They’re here because I guess it’s a good happy here. They gotta go. crabcake here. Oh, John Eisenberg 01:15absolutely. Listen, I’m, this is sort of my neck of the woods too. And I have been here multiple times really good place. Nestor J. Aparicio 01:21Yeah. And I’m gonna tell Steve the story about when I came here. For the first time as a boy, I was about 12 years old from Colgate Dundalk. And my next door neighbor got married to a nice gentleman that this was her second marriage. She was an older woman she was in her late 60s or 70s. Doesn’t feel older when I say that to us now. But she’s with us at the time. It felt a lot older. 1981 I assure you, I had my first ever prime rib and Pappas crabcake upstairs here at a wedding reception. For an older couple in 1981. It was this banquet room. I had never had prime rib in my life. I don’t think I’d been to like a nice restaurant. My parents we didn’t grow up like that. And this was fancy shmancy shmancy like I was all dressed up wedding day. I had to act right. You know, John Eisenberg 02:08tie on you had a coat tie on? Nestor J. Aparicio 02:09Yeah, man. You know, yeah, Texas, John Eisenberg is I feel like he’s a man who needs no introduction. You know, from my part here, at least in from where I am. Longtime Baltimore Sun writer, crate author, mentor to me and author of rocket men. And this is the black quarterbacks your revelation revolutionized pro football. John comes on the program three, four times a year back when it’s right for ravens.com Even back at the Baltimore Sun because I’ve been doing this for 32 years. And, you know, I don’t know what the longest gestation because dinosaurs are dead to like, make babies. But like, I know, like elephants, it’s like maybe a year and a half or something. Every one of your books feels like this. This creation of this giant. You’re talking to me about this. Like during the plague. Maybe like because Lamar had become like a sensation. And you’re like I am. And I always say to you working on a book. Yeah, yeah. Horse racing. And then working on the book. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s sort of a Ripken. We talk about it for years. And then you come and do this, usually the Super Bowl, but they’ve thrown me out. After 28 years. And this book here has been the day it came out. I think I had you on and now you’re doing like the Christmas tour, and the football tour and the Lamar tour. And I’m glad we’re together because like it’s just a real book. I’ve only seen it online. And you know, how’s it going? John Eisenberg 03:39Great. It’s going great. I’ve been I’ve done I’ve been in let’s see, I’ve been in Texas. I’ve been in Washington. I’ve done a book signing here. I got to think in New York. I mean, you know, it’s it’s the drill you go and you do I’ve done tons of media all over the place. I actually have two publicists doing it. One from the publisher, one an old high school classmate of mine, who I think you know, Cindy, and so you know, I’ve said Nestor J. Aparicio 04:04yes, here promoting the books, nd So, John Eisenberg 04:08yes, very good. So lots and lots and lots of interviews and stuff. It’s fun. That’s the easy part. The hard part, right. And, you know, the the easy part I hear whenever I hear authors say, Oh, I hate going on a book tour, and it’s a hassle and the travel is hard and everything. Come on, you know, you know, the books get published that no one pays any attention to I mean, I did Geddy Nestor J. Aparicio 04:28Lee’s book tour the other night. So Cicchetti has a book my effing life. And I went down to MGM. He’s sitting on stage and just telling the story like what you’re doing, you’re telling me the stories within the story, trying to add some things that aren’t in the book that add some color, but when you follow Getty for 45 years, and he’s finally like doing this, it’s it’s awesome to write a book. It’s at some point, I’m gonna memoir. I mean, I’m, I’m getting there. I’m 55. Getty said he never wanted to look back. That’s why he never wrote them. Anwar, you know, so I mean, your memoirs would be unbelievable. The press passes, you’ve had the things you’ve seen if you amalgamated your columns from World Cups, Olympics, World Series, Super Bowls, parades. You weren’t here with the Mayflower. You were here when it made John Eisenberg 05:19no, no, I came in at four. I came here just missed the Royals winning the World Series and the Colts hitting the door shuffle. Yeah, it was your fault. You had nothing’s changed. Nestor J. Aparicio 05:28Alright, so as you can see, I dressed for you today. Okay, I appreciate that. So anybody that knows me, and you’ve known me, I’ve known you since 1985 86. I started at the sun in 86. I think I knew you as the hotshot Pulitzer kind of candidate, writer, guy, long form guy who was going to be a columnist, kind of guy from Texas. And I read your work in sports too, which was the second section. You were always the main takeout enterprise writer I wanted to be and don’t tell him. You know? Yeah, I wanted to be Stedman. But I wanted to be all of you. I wanted to be Rosenthal. I wanted to be the beat writer, and I wanted to be the columnist, and I wanted to be the venerable, salty TV repairman. Like Jackman, I have a little piece of all of you in me I’m a little bit of a writer must John Eisenberg 06:17be good. That’s a good thing. You all of you. That’s a good thing a little Nestor J. Aparicio 06:21there’s a little Bernie Mykolas me there’s a lot of Jeff Gordon in me. Um, yeah. And like the authorship when you do this, and you make one of these books, and you go out on tour, whether you’re getting laid, or you’re John Eisenberg. You want to get people excited about and I thought what could get me more excited than putting on my warm maybe my damp Passerini jersey? No disrespect, Dante. But you know, I love the Oilers forever, right? Yeah. And I was the original run and shoot gangster. You know what I mean, when buddy Ryan’s duking it out with Gilbride on the sidelines. Yeah, I’m there in the Euler Apex one starter jacket sitting in Sandy McKees spot overtop of you know, Calvert street with you. The fact that Warren Moon sits with you and that this has become a thing, right? He was the only black like, there was Doug Williams. And then there weren’t any then there was him. And John Eisenberg 07:15Randall Cunningham and horse and Warren that’s about it. McNair Well, that’s the 90s I mean, you’re in the 80s when Warren comes in 1984 He’s it. I mean, Doug Williams has been run out of the league. And he’s in the USFL. He didn’t have a job. He’s disgusted with the NFL, and there are no other starting black quarterbacks or none. So when he signs with the Oilers, he’s he’s one of one Oh, Nestor J. Aparicio 07:38everybody because Warren Moon is a legend. He’s a Hall of Famer. He was incidentally after they threw me off a radio row after 28 years this whole chats deal fiasco. He was the last guest I had on radio row of all the years. The last guest I had was Warren Moon packed my equipment if I waited for him on Friday, and we played I played football, I caught a pass from Kurt Warner on the field that is the Warren Moon field because that’s where they did the Snoop Dogg charity game and LL Fornia. And California. I knew except this week, because we’re getting out of my camera here. Tell everybody the Warren Moon story is as you would tell it, and I should have you do a reading like Geddy Lee did you clear your throat? But the Warren Moon story for people that just see the jersey, that guy over here like dude at the bar says, Hey, man, great jersey, Warren Moon, I think what do you know about Warren Moon? I loved warm. You know, I loved Warren Moon, but I didn’t eat I didn’t know what he went through. Washington. CFL. Yes. You’re always great quarterback in the CFL. Well, why was that? What Why? Why was he stuck in the CFL? John Eisenberg 08:44Because he didn’t get drafted. He’s in the Hall of Fame. And he’s a senior at University of Washington. He wins the Rose Bowl, the PAC 878 78 I think 7777 78 draft 78. So January 178, Rosebowl. 77 is his senior season. And he has a good year and he comes out and at least I’m Berger’s his agent. And so what happens in the 70s with any good black quarterback is the NFL would say, Well, you know, we’d like you we’d like some talent and you’d be really good running back or you’d be really good because they just refuse to play in the quarterback. They didn’t, you know, me to get right down to the heart of it. What was going on? They’re racist, racist. It’s like, well, I mean, whether it whether it be, you know, conscious or unconscious, it’s like, well, they’re not smart enough. You know, they’re there. They won’t work hard, hard enough. Will they will, will White teammates respond to them? All this stuff? And our fans respond to them? Well, the owner and will the owner, right, will the ownership go for it? No. So, you know, it was just really stacked against him. So Warren tells Leigh Steinberg when these teams call, what are you gonna What do you want me to tell him? He says I’m not changing positions. I’m a quarterback period. That’s a little more common Right, right and Lamar all these years later it goes barely in the first round but in the first round, but so he goes undrafted. So he goes to Canada, the Edmonton Eskimos, who are good in Canadian football, Nestor J. Aparicio 10:12not warm in Edmonton. Edmonton is not Los Angeles. No. And John Eisenberg 10:15so he’s almost immediately just just completely dominant. He plays in there for six years. He wins five grey cups. He’s wider Nestor J. Aparicio 10:24field rouge is all the things I need to tell our stallions fans about. You’re right, right, John Eisenberg 10:29right, like 110 yard field. And Nestor J. Aparicio 10:321980 8182 83 games built for him, right? John Eisenberg 10:36Oh, yeah, he’s younger. He’s more mobile. He’s running around. He’s got a big arm. I mean, all the scouts. They’d said, oh, like they don’t have a strong enough arm. So he’s completely dominant. And a Canadian who’s got a great arm. Warren Moon. Yeah, well, he threw 50,000 He threw for 70,000 yards as a professional. So So anyway, he’s he’s just great there. And so finally, his contract runs out. And after six years, and he’s sitting on his couch watching the NFL every November, December, after he’s won the Grey Cup thinking, Can I do this? Can I play in that league? The best of the best? Because I don’t know. I think I can. But I’m still he liked Canada, he would have stayed. I mean, there was just they had a great thing going oh, the Gretzky and you know, Edmonton. It was kind of sports town USA going on. And I thought about that. And so he said, we were royalty. He had a good time up there. Yes, I haven’t been to Edmonton. I have been to Edmonton. I’m trying to remember why all over Nestor J. Aparicio 11:32the world. And I’ve always threatened a hockey game in Banff and Calgary and your big concerts that, you know, Barry trots has always threatened to put me on a team Boston it takes like literally and do that trip, but but Edmonton. It feels like the end of the world. I mean, John Eisenberg 11:45I’ve been to Moose Jaw. But I have been to Edmonton. Nestor J. Aparicio 11:49We covered the Grey Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan. I covered John Eisenberg 11:53the one and bang. I’ve covered that one too. I was in Vancouver, BC Yes. And and I was on vector however many years later, like four years ago, before COVID, I’m on vacation with my wife and I were in Montreal and we are at a roadside cafe. And you know, this guy that was waiting on me figures out you know, we get to talk and it figures out. You know, we start talking football and I tell him the story. And he starts you know talking about that Grey Cup and that game and he’s just shocked this there’s this American that knows the whole thing to feel gold that beat some Nestor J. Aparicio 12:31bad flag. I mean, it kind of got screwed the standard. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, but John Eisenberg 12:34it’s a Leo sadly, I believe was the kicker. So this this this waiters just looking at me like what planet is this dude from that knows all this stuff about the Grey Cup from the 90s walked Nestor J. Aparicio 12:49in little Vancouver then and it’s grown up because I’ve been back three times since then. This is 1995 Yep. I was with Harvey Meyers from the Emerald tavern right here in Parkville. And we walked hotel to hotel and collected the badge the little they had they all all the teams had team fan clubs set up in hotels. It was literally a celebration. It was a part of the CFL. Yeah, I mean, it was an awesome, great party. Great party, the Grey Cup. This guy you talk to if you want to talk to Tom Cochran and red Ryder played the halftime show and life is a highway. A John Eisenberg is here. The book is Rocket Man black quarterbacks revolutionized pro football. See the Warren Moon story picks up though when he signs in the NFL. Right? Yeah, that’s when he became a Hall of Fame quarterback right? John Eisenberg 13:33Well, this jersey primary that jersey and the Oilers not very good for a few for a couple of years. And then they are good for the rest of his time there. He’s there, I think 10 years. And it took a while. But I mean, that stuff’s important. I mean, a very short leash for a lot if you’re a black quarterback in the NFL, especially in the south in the 80s. It’s like and you don’t win right away. Good luck. However, I had given him a nice contract. But Adams, I mean, the Oilers, were patient with him. They let the team grow around him a little bit, and then they were really good. And so from 1984 to 2000, or is the 2001. He’s in the NFL, he’s makes I think nine Pro Bowls. He throws for 50,000 yards. He’s a great he’s just an elite quarterback for years and he is also the first black quarterback to start a game for for franchises for different franchises. That’s how seldom it was happening. Nestor J. Aparicio 14:29Well, you shocked the hell out of me. You did the show with me. When did the book come out in summer? June? September, September. Okay. Well, I think I had you on a June or July sometime. It was we were in the Lamar mode. Summertime. And you told me the Giants hadn’t had a black quarterback start for them in the history of the franchise. 2017 I had to think about that. And I’m like, That’s unbelievable. When you when you put it in those kinds of modern terms. John Eisenberg 14:55Well, it happened right in front of my I mean, this is you know, start Already I’m I’m impressed boxes starting in 1979. And and this pretty much unfolded in front of my eyes and I will you know shame on me for not just sort of really grasping what was going on here covered the Doug Nestor J. Aparicio 15:14Williams Super Bowl prop I did. Yeah, you’re in San Diego that night. Yeah, those touchdowns, right. Yeah, I was there. And you got to write memoirs Eisenberg. You gotta write memoirs. Yeah, I John Eisenberg 15:24was gonna write better about you than you. Well, you know, I wrote one about my early days in Dallas, Cotton Bowl day. Right? Right. Right. But no, it’s books. Nestor J. Aparicio 15:33Yeah, he’s a mentor to me. But the knowledge that John Eisenberg 15:37the Yeah, the sports stuff is great. I had a friend of mine tell me he said, you know, you’ve lived like a masterclass in sports, you should write about it. So I don’t Nestor J. Aparicio 15:46know. I’ve lived a life I always wanted to live when I was a kid. And you knew me that I could sit here in Pappas and Parkville given away lottery tickets, promoting local business, all these you owning a station 25 years later, like I had been a 28 Super Bowl. I mean, like, I have all of these written books, too. Not as good as his books. But I try hard. You know, it’s been a wonderful life in that way, as a sports writer. And yeah, you and I have been at so many magic moments together totally locker rooms together. And Ray Lewis announces he’s retiring and the day that we were there in orange jumpsuits, and like, we’ve just been through all of this, John Eisenberg 16:26all of it, all of it. And yeah, I consider myself very lucky, because it was the golden era of newspapers. I mean, I just really, I just sail right through there. I mean, people probably don’t get it today. But when I left the sun in 2007, I had to count it up. Because I had to give a little talk, you know, speech in the newsroom, 4142 states, and 11 countries Baltimore Sun sent me to write sports, sports Nestor J. Aparicio 16:52to cover one series, right about metadata. Right? Right. John Eisenberg 16:56So you know, that’s pretty good. So Nestor J. Aparicio 16:58if I were to be real, I’m not going to be this guy to you right now. But if I were to say to you, give me the top five things you remember, like that you attended it? Like, I got concerts that would be like, I have 50 of those who would be like, you will believe that I was at Live Aid. You know, I was at these things, right? But the sports side of like, if you and I were to go toe to toe and sang was the coolest thing we ever saw at a sporting event from a press box or in a seat upstairs. I really don’t know where I’d be. I mean, because we would talk about the things we’ve written about books right? I got a Baltimore crowd to play with the crowd. Oh, you know, it was it was his first Super Bowl with 35. Or no, it was the second Super Bowl or was at three World Series where it was the day we got the team back are like we have, but you chronicle this every day we woke up and wanted to know what you thought about it. And you got to get your two cents and oh, like every topic, whatever it was, whatever it was, it was documented Eisenberg’s sound of my voice was loud. What what what not the best column you wrote are the Joe Don Looney story. But like when when somebody would grandkid say that to you? What do you say? Well, John Eisenberg 18:11I will say that in 1990, the Baltimore Sun sent me to the World Cup in Italy for yet for paid for to the US had had, for the first time a night at Nestor J. Aparicio 18:22a Tuscan villa. Yeah. John Eisenberg 18:26I was. I was. I was the Baltimore Sun paid for it. Oh, so Nestor J. Aparicio 18:32you’re fresh meats and cheeses and you get an order your first time John Eisenberg 18:36in 40 years. The USA qualified. I talked him into setting me they played the US was in the World Cup. Do Nestor J. Aparicio 18:43you have to talk Marty Kaiser in the sending him? He did? Yeah, John Eisenberg 18:46I did. But he was like, Oh, good. So so. So I went the other was Nestor J. Aparicio 18:51something very elitist about saying we’re sending. We’re staffing that. Right. John Eisenberg 18:57Right. And and keep in mind prior to that I had done this. That’s 1990. So I’ve done Wimbledon, I think three times prior to that for the sun in the last few years before that. saw also the British Open golf. I mean, you know, they were sort of sitting me around, and this was sort of a new thing. And so that was in the US was immediately knocked down there off. I mean, immediately knocked out. So I called the UN harks Yeah, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So they immediately knocked out and Marty’s like, Well, why don’t you just stay and write all this stuff? And I was like, great. Okay. So I was there for 35 days, Nestor J. Aparicio 19:33wine, more wine. More pasta? Yes. 35 John Eisenberg 19:37days on an expense account. And so yeah, how do you top that? I mean, first of all, glad to know him for soccer. I mean, there’s many jokes in my family. My wife who was with me for almost all of it, she cried on the way home she says we are never topping this. She was right. She was right. She was right. So so yeah. So as you know when people say alright, what what’s the number one it has to be that. So that that was well Nestor J. Aparicio 20:08lived a Hemingway now I’ve known you for two years and I’m getting this Addy. John Eisenberg is here. I’m going to take a quick break because I I tried to keep the segment shorter and then I get the BSN promoting wind donation in the Maryland lottery and 50th anniversary. We’re at Pappas in Parkville. Love this place. long history here of all the places I can do a show. There are very few places that I was in when I was 13 years old or 12 years old, that are still here, you know, 40 years later. Pappas is an institution obviously. And when I got here, they’re like, hey, you know what, what took you so long to get here? Bellaire. Glen Burnie, you’re always up in Hunt Valley. Cockeysville. So I’m happy to be back in Parkville with my friend John Eisenberg. His book is rocket men. And we covered the Warren Moon a little bit, but we’re gonna cover some more black quarterbacks. I’m wearing my Warren New Jersey. Very, very proudly. Dude said hey, that’s great. Look at Jersey. This is legit. You know, Russell athletic from the day. I got it on the interwebs for about 35 bucks. John Eisenberg 21:08Well, you know, the Titans worth this year? Are you that? I mean, and that was a huge Nestor J. Aparicio 21:11controversy. Oh, John McLean. And I went back and forth with that. Yeah, I John Eisenberg 21:16mean, I’m not sure I mean, it’d be like the Dallas guy talking about it’d be like the Colts wearing some sort of Baltimore throwback and the people in Indy saying Oh, it’s great. The people of Baltimore are saying that is not yours Nestor J. Aparicio 21:29like the Carolina Hurricanes wearing a Hartford Whalers. John Eisenberg 21:33I mean, you’re you’re getting into, you’re getting into a shaky ground there. Let’s put it that way. Nestor J. Aparicio 21:39There’s no question about that. So this is Cotton Bowl Bay’s guy here from Dallas, John icebergs here. We’re gonna have some crab cakes. We’re gonna celebrate the Maryland we celebrate Thanksgiving. We’re doing the crab cake tour at Coco’s in Lawrenceville. Next week, we’re also going to be with our former colleague who I think we both love Dan Rodricks. Next Thursday at gertrudes at the BMA with his show. I’m going to tell you how great the show is because it’s great. And then next Friday, you did go out we’re going to promote that Hollywood casino we’re going to be next Friday up in Perryville Am I do Christian Orton’s gonna be here we’re gonna make picks my picks Oh, I can’t pick my nose last couple oh, five and nine five and nine i I have fallen in this. You’ll appreciate this being a Baltimore on by not birth but by choice. I am 83 and 79. So easy to remember that 83 and 79 and four on the season. I’ve just fallen down the mounds like an Orioles season record. Yeah, I’ve just yeah, I’ve just fallen down to mount John icebergs here. We’re going to do another segment. I did order delicious chicken mill and ace that I can smell here in Parkville. So I’m going to dive into that. We’re going to refresh our drinks to come on back. We’re going to talk some more about Rocket Man. We’re gonna talk some Lamar. We’re asked to talk about the stadium with you and this and that lease with you. And all the journalism I stumbled upon Tom Kelso former Maryland stadium authority chairman is gonna be joining me next Friday. We’re gonna do two hours a stadium for Dummies up at the Hollywood casino at Maryville. Stay with us, brought to you by the Maryland lottery window nation and our friends at Jiffy Lube. Multi care we’re Pappas in Parkville with John Eisenberg. Hang on.