Remember during the whole Brett Favre saga how his first, most candid interviews would always pop up in his hometown Biloxi Sun Herald? Michael Phelps shares a similar bond with the Baltimore Sun.
Sun writer Kevin Van Valkenburg admitted in an interview with the Dan Patrick Show that Phelps' swim coach, Bob Bowman, gave him a call and invited him down to the Meadowbrook Athletic Swim Club to "ask a few questions." This is Phelps' first interview since the photos surfaced. He didn't go to Barbara Walters, or Matt Lauer, or Jeremy Schaap — he went to Kevin Van Valkenburg. The longtime Sun writer has been a diarist of Phelps' career long before Beijing and reaped the benefits of that relationship when Bowman gave him the call. The thing is...does this type of favoritism prevent Phelps from answering any questions about it from here on out? Not at all. He would not dare. He did ask him these tough questions and got these completely unscripted answers from Michael Phelps. (I paraphrased Van Valkenburg's questions for clarity.):
• Will you retire, Smoky?:
"This is a decision of mine that I'm not going to make today and I'm not going to make tomorrow," Phelps said. "It's going to require a lot of time and energy and a lot of thinking for myself - but also talking to Bob and talking to my family and just deciding what I want to do."
• Will you just wander into any old South Carolina frat party from now on?
"There are always people you can't trust. During the whole thing, I've really been able to see who my friends are, who my family are, and who really loves and supports me. They've stood by my side, from the countless text messages, phone messages, e-mails, those are your friends. All those people who are around during the good times? Those aren't your friends."
• Was your mom, like, really pissed?
"Seeing my mom reminded me of how it was the day after I got my DUI, and I swore to myself I'd never do that again. This is just a stupid thing of mine that I did, and I have to live with it."
• At least you haven't had, like, reporters outside your house with megaphones at 7 a.m., paparazzi people following you from your house to your mom's house and strange people knocking on your door. That would be crazy.
"I've been waking up to guys yelling into megaphones outside my window at 7 o'clock in the morning. I've been through just about everything you can go through. I've had paparazzi people following me from my house to my mom's house. People knocking on the door. It's crazy."
• Woah... Dude. You wanna hit this?
"This was stupid, and I know this won't happen again. It's obviously bad judgment, and it's something I'm not proud of at all. I will say that with the mistakes that I've made in my life, I've learned from them. Every one of them. And I've become a better person. That's what I plan to do from here. It's definitely not what I wanted, and it's clearly not what my mom wanted."
• Hey, have you ever smothered yourself in maple syrup and just let a pair of wild yaks just lick it off?
"It makes me happy. It's a part of me I've always had, and I've always been happy doing it. I like getting up in the morning and having something to do. On Monday we get back to two-a-day [practices], and I'm looking forward to that. I feel more comfortable here. This is my home."
Alright! Well, nice job Kevin Van Valkenburg. You asked the tough questions and have put corporate America's mind at ease. Your doggedness and quest for the truth should not be overlooked during east coast regional journalism awards season next year.