Sal Paolantonio is a national correspondent for ESPN. He 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 voting member of the enshrinement selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH for 12 years.
Paolantonio has been a mainstay of ESPN’s NFL coverage since he joined the company in August 1995. Throughout the season, he provides team reports and interviews during the week and from stadium sites on NFL Sundays. He has hosted NFL Matchup since 2004. For the past three 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 30 Super Bowls, Paolantonio covered all ten of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl appearances for ESPN. He was the network’s lead reporter on the Philadelphia 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.
Paolantonio was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the All-Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey in 2023. He is also the 2023 recipient of the Dick Vermeil Lifetime Achievement Award given by Eagles alumni. In 2017, he received the Jack Newfield Courage in Journalism Award from the New York Daily News.
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 Philly Special: The Inside Story of How the Philadelphia Eagles Won Their First Super Bowl Championship. His previous books include 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 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.
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., a member of the board of trustees of the Jaws Youth Partnershp and hosts the annual SalPal Football Breakfast to raise money for Urban Promise, a school for distressed youth in South Jersey. He and his wife Lynn have three daughters and four grandchildren.