As a young boy, Mike Florio grew up in Wheeling, WV watching the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoons, often dreaming of being a part of the NFL someday, either as a player or coach. When he got older, he wanted to play football for Central Catholic High School, but was too big and slow to play the position that he coveted – wide receiver – so instead, he focused on academics while keeping his passion for football on the backburner.
After graduating from high school, he attended Carnegie Mellon where he received an engineering degree, and later attended West Virginia University College of Law, where it is rumored that he graduated with the highest G.P.A. in the history of WVU Law School. After his graduation from law school, he began practicing law in Pittsburgh, but soon after married a Clarksburg girl and moved his family to Bridgeport so they could be near her family.
While practicing employment law in Clarksburg, Florio’s passion for football began to re-ignite, and he began writing NFL stories and observations for various websites, usually for free. In his spare time he wrote the book “Quarterback of the Future,” but had difficulty getting anyone to publish it (the book was finally published, thanks to Florio’s persistence). While his book certainly did not make any best-seller lists, he realized that his true calling was to write about football.
In June 2000, Florio began writing for the website NFTtalk.com. That site was eventually purchased by ESPN.com, where Florio was hired to write a rumor and news report. When his contract expired at ESPN, Florio decided to start his own website and, in November 2001, launched www.Profootballtalk.com (“PFT”), a blog site designed to give him an outlet to write stories and rumors about the NFL and its players. To most people’s surprise, Florio does most of his work from the den of his Bridgeport home, in front of a television and with many newspapers from around the country spread out on his dining room table where he gathers stories to put on the website. Many of Florio’s stories are also based upon unnamed sources in the NFL that he has befriended over the years while he has been writing about the NFL.
Since 2001, the website has grown to the point where millions of people visit his website daily. According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, “PFT’s online audience outnumbers that of most newspapers and sports sites. In March 2009, when interest in the site spiked with the start of free agency, PFT attracted 1.7 million unique visitors and 25 million page views.”
The popularity of Florio’s website has become so large that it has gotten the attention of corporate America. On June 15, 2009, Mike Florio and NBC Sports announced a mega-deal, which provides for Florio maintaining ownership of the website, but selling/licensing to NBC the exclusive rights to the content of the site. In exchange, NBC plans to make it a permanent feature at the top of its NBC Sports site. Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, it was lucrative enough for Florio be able to retire from practicing law at the age of 44 and write full time for the website and NBC Sports. Although Florio enjoyed being a lawyer representing individuals in employment disputes, he “derives much greater pleasure from writing about his childhood passion than he does from practicing law.”
Congratulations Mike, from now on you can be as slow as you want, you no longer have to worry about making the team.