Sal Paolantonio

National Correspondent

Sal Paolantonio is a national correspondent for ESPN. He primarily covers the National Football League for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, NFL Live and NFL Insiders. He joined ESPN in August 1995

Paolantonio, who has contributed to ABC’s World News Tonight and Good Morning America, has hosted NFL Matchup – ESPN’s 30-minute Sunday morning X’s and O’s weekly preview show – since 2004, where he appears alongside analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge. Paolantonio also hosts ESPN’s NFL Insiders on occasion and is a regular contributor to 97.5 The Fanatic, ESPN’s affiliate in Philadelphia.

Prior to joining ESPN, Paolantonio was a political reporter (1985-93), as well as a beat reporter for the Philadelphia Eagles (1993-95), for the Philadelphia Inquirer.  In 1994, he won the Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Reporting, and in 1995, he was named Philadelphia’s Best Sportswriter by Philadelphia Magazine.  He also served as a reporter for Philadelphia’s WPHL-TV nightly newscast, Inquirer News Tonight (1994-95), and hosted Saturday Morning Sports Page, a weekly call-in show on WIP-AM all-sports radio (1993-95).  Paolantonio was also a reporter for the Albany Times Union, where he received the Associated Press Managing Editor’s Award for Enterprise Reporting (1985).

Paolantonio is the author of three books. His most recent, How Football Explains America, was published in 2008 and was the No. 1 selling football book in America for six straight months, according to  It was updated and re-released in paperback in September 2015. In 1993, he wrote a biography of the late Philadelphia mayor Frank L. Rizzo called The Last Big Man in Big City America, which came out in a 10th anniversary edition in 2003 and has been adapted into a play – “Rizzo” by Bruce Graham debuts in October 2015 at Theatre Exile in Philadelphia.  In 2007, he co-wrote the Paolantonio Report, the Most Overrated & Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches & Moments in NFL History in 2007 with Reuben Frank.

In addition to reporting for ESPN, Paolantonio served as a professor in the English department at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia from 2002 to 2008, where he taught courses in political and sports journalism and communications.  He was named a member of the advisory board to the University of Central Florida’s School of Communications in 2014, and he continues to regularly speak at other colleges and universities on behalf of the National Italian American Foundation.

A native of Queens, N.Y., Paolantonio graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta in 1977 with a bachelor of arts degree in history.  In 2013, the school honored him with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. He also received a master’s degree in journalism from New York University in 1980. Paolantonio served in the United States Navy (1979-83), where he was awarded the United Nations Meritorious Service Medal in 1981 for supervising the rescue of Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea.  He retired as a full lieutenant in 1983. Paolantonio is also a member of the board of the Cooper University Hospital Foundation in Camden, N.J.