Since a young age, Pearlman had a strong interest in the USFL. When assigned a 20-page thesis for his AP English class, he turned in 40 pages on the league.
He tried for years to garner interest from book publishers while he worked as a journalist. It wasn’t until he began to make his name as a sportswriter, and Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency, that Pearlman was able to generate enough enthusiasm to cut a deal.
With about one year to produce the book, he spent the majority of his time researching and conducting over 400 interviews like the one with Fields. Pearlman said that, while he had a basic outline in mind, he never had a specific plan. Instead, he allowed the story to form itself based on what he learned.
Though Pearlman is a busy podcaster, blogger and writer contributing to publications such as Sports Illustrated, The Athletic, Bleacher Report and The Wall Street Journal, he explained that his passion for writing allows him to balance his various endeavors.
“I just love doing it,” Pearlman said. “I never think to myself ‘Oh, this is really too much’ because I just really enjoy it.”
While at Delaware, Pearlman was “hardcore into The Review.” Some of his best friends today were staffers with him.
“It was one of my favorite time periods of my life,” he said of his time on the staff, including a year as editor in chief of the independent student paper. “That whole experience really gave me a love of newspapers.”
As editor, Pearlman said, he was “cocky” and “intolerable,” often going after the administration and Greek life. Still, he said his time at The Review was necessary for his development as a journalist.
“Through the years, I really learned a lot of hard, hard lessons that you can be really good writer and it doesn’t make a difference if you don’t know how to report, how do develop sources, how to be respectful of people, how to be appreciative and empathetic,” he said.
Though Pearlman prefers “the immediacy” of newspapers, writing books allows Pearlman to delve more deeply into his subject. Because writing a book allows for the topic to be explored in great detail, giving him a certain expertise, he is often asked about USFL’s legacy.
The league’s impact, he says, lies mainly in the great players it groomed, the innovative rules it introduced and Trump’s involvement. But legacy isn’t the only reason for his interest. He thinks the league’s stories are fun to tell.
“Sometimes it’s just cool to tell a story,” he said. “You don’t always need a legacy in this world. Sometimes it’s just born out of fun.”