The moderator of NBC's Meet the Press--and a die-hard Bills
fan--is the author of Big Russ & Me, a memoir about his father.
SI: The Yankees have Alex Rodriguez signed through 2010, while
NBC locked you up through 2012. Which organization got the better
Russert: Well, I'm playing my original position.
SI: Do former athletes make good politicians?
Russert: They're pretty good politicians because they are
take-charge guys who are used to being leaders. Woodrow Wilson
said that the demands of the presidency are so difficult that we
would soon be forced to choose our chief executives from "among
wise and prudent athletes--a small class."
SI: Will the Bills win the Super Bowl in your lifetime?
Russert: I think they will. Scott Norwood once came up to me at
the airport and said, "I just want to introduce myself. I'm Scott
Norwood." I said, "Scott, I know who you are. I think about you
SI: You live in Washington, so how hard on you was the Bills'
loss to the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI?
Russert: I lost my shirt. I bet everybody in the bureau. The day
before that game, though, I ran into a woman who said, "Mr.
Russert, I'm for the Bills, too." I said, "Are you from Buffalo?"
And she said, "No. I'm Jack Kent Cooke's former mother-in-law."
SI: How did your dad react when you were elected to the board of
directors of the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Russert: He asked if I could get free passes.
SI: On the set of Meet the Press does the discussion ever turn to
Russert: Frequently. With John McCain about boxing, with
Condoleezza Rice about her desire to be commissioner of the NFL.
And with George W. Bush about trading Sammy Sosa.
SI: Which athlete made the best interview subject?
Russert: Yogi Berra, the philosopher king. And I once interviewed
Allen Iverson. He sent me a thank you note with a P.S.: "I was
very disappointed you didn't ask me about nuclear arms control. I
SI: Reader's Digest named you "America's best interviewer." Has
this interview changed that?
Russert: It only confirms their wise and prudent decision.
For more from Tim Russert, go to si.com/siexclusive.
COLOR PHOTO: NANCY KASZERMAN/ZUMA PRESS (RUSSERT) Norwood on his mind