Sal Paolantonio is a national correspondent for ESPN. He primarily covers the National Football League for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Live and Fantasy Football Now. He also hosts the long-running X’s and O’s weekly preview show, NFL Matchup.
Paolantonio has been a mainstay of ESPN’s NFL coverage since he joined the company in August 1995. Throughout the season, he offers team reports during the week and from stadium sites on NFL Sundays. He has hosted NFL Matchup since 2004. For the past two years, Paolantonio has been radio booth analyst for NFL games broadcast nationally on ESPN Radio, also serving as a sideline reporter for ESPN Radio since 2015.
A veteran of 27 Super Bowls, Paolantonio has covered all ten of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl appearances for ESPN. He also covered his hometown Eagles during Super Bowl LII, including the team’s championship parade in Philadelphia. Paolantonio maintains extensive contacts throughout the league and has a regular presence at the NFL Draft, owners meetings, and other important NFL events.
In 2017, he received the Jack Newfield Courage in Journalism Award from the New York Daily News.
For 10 years, Paolantonio has been an at-large member of the enshrinement selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.
Paolantonio has also contributed to ABC’s World News Tonight, Good Morning America and 6ABC in Philadelphia. He makes regular appearances on South Jersey Sports Radio, 97.3 FM, the ESPN affiliate in Atlantic City.
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). From 2015-2020, Paolantonio hosted “The SalPal Football Hour” on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia and hosted Saturday Morning Sports Page, a weekly call-in show on WIP-AM all-sports radio (1993-95).
Paolantonio began his journalism career as a reporter for the Albany Times Union, where he received the Associated Press Managing Editor’s Award for Enterprise Reporting (1985) for his coverage of the famine in East Africa.
Paolantonio is the author of four books. His most recent, Philly Special: The Inside Story of How the Philadelphia Eagles Won Their First Super Bowl Championship, was made available in August 2018. His previous book, How Football Explains America, was published in 2008 and was the No. 1 selling football book in America for six straight months, according to Amazon.com. It was updated and re-released in paperback in September 2015. In 1993, Paolantonio 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 was adapted into a play – “Rizzo” by Bruce Graham. The play debuted in October 2015 at Theatre Exile in Philadelphia and was part of Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 2016-17 season. 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 continues to regularly speak at other colleges and universities.
Paolantonio served in the United States Navy (1978-83) as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet and 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 lieutenant in 1983. For five years, as part of a Disney/ESPN initiative, Paolantonio has been a volunteer mentor with American Corporate Partnership, helping military veterans transition to military life.
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 1983. Paolantonio is a member of the board of the Cooper University Hospital Foundation in Camden, N.J.