Yes, there was an elephant in the lobby of Winter Park when KFAN's Paul Allen, "Voice of the Vikings," and 18-year Canterbury Park track announcer, talked to me for this Q&A.
On his 9 a.m. to noon weekday radio show, the married father of two repeatedly has alluded to problems with his home life, saying for example on Sept. 5: "My personal life sucks right now." As KFAN listeners know, PA will eventually and gradually reveal what's going on, although he was not prepared to do so when we interviewed ahead of the Vikings' loss to the Colts.
"Personal life is out of play at this moment," PA told me in an e-mail before we got together.
The part of his personal life that involves his children is full, as PA continues to lead weekly, hourlong "book club" discussions at his daughter's school, just as he has for the past four years. He also is coach of his son's basketball team. "I'm busy with my kids and my work."
I found plenty to discuss with the man who's comfortable calling other men "Honey," including the subjects of: Jeff Dubay, the late Dark Star, Jim Caviezel, Mike Tice, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier (somebody I'd have never guessed who could channel Ashton Kutcher) and PA's elaborate plans to meet Fergie through Josh Duhamel, who is scheduled to be on the sidelines and blow the Gjallarhorn before the Vikings-49ers game.
Incidentally, my video of PA features a verbal drive-by cameo from Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman, who delivered fire and took some, too.
Enjoy PA while you can, Twin Cities, because I can imagine him going Kevin Harlan huge.
Q You are uncommonly emotional for a sports guy. I'm not talking about yelling for your team. I'm talking about expressing your feelings. From where does that come?
A I guess I'm secure with my masculine femininity. I am quite emotional personally and professionally. I'm not afraid to concede that, and I'm not afraid to look at positives and celebrate them and get down if things are negative if they intimately involved my personal or professional life. That's pretty much how God wired me.
Q Why are you so comfortable with your feminine side?
A I think it has to do with confidence. When you and I first met back in '98 or '99, when I was just starting out with "PA & Dubay," I was more about trying to express to everybody how good I thought I was. My head was bigger than it should have been. So that got deflated on many levels. Now I've been around at Canterbury for 18 years. I'm not going to say I'm a fixture on the local sports market, but I certain am not Johnny Come Lately anymore.
Q Can you tell when one of the athletes you're interviewing becomes uncomfortable when you talk about how you love them?
A It never becomes uncomfortable. I think an important part of the way I do my job [is] I don't really consider myself a media member. The media doesn't consider me part of its family [said the former writer for USA Today and Pasadena Star News]. I do it the way I do it for better or worse. Therefore, I text and talk to people like Denard Span, Christian Ponder, the weekly guests that I have I like to get to know on a different level other than what their performance is. I think they become comfortable with the way I talk and the way I am. Just kind of part of the game.
Q How many games will the Vikings win this year?
A We beat Jacksonville. We're going to beat Indianapolis. [We didn't.] The 49ers game's a meat grinder. We're going to go to Ford Field and win. Then we're going to beat Tennessee, beat Arizona, Tampa. At Washington's going to be difficult. I think we're going to be 6-2, 5-3 at worst at the mid-way point. Then hopefully go 4-4 in the really difficult part of the schedule. I think we can win 9, 10 or 11 games.
Q Which teams are going to the Super Bowl?
A Ravens and an NFC team to be announced. It'll be the "Harbaugh Bowl," the Ravens and the 49ers. I think the 49ers are the best overall team in the NFL. Can't wait for my favorite team to play them Week 3 just to see exactly where we stand.
Q What is the most questionable activity you have seen a Viking engage in that caused you to turn away, so as not to observe it?
A After we beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, Everson Griffen did some sensual, salacious dance, right by the tunnel, that had hip gyrations. It was nothing but love and celebration, but when I watched it, even a person who's comfortable calling men "Honey" and expressing love for everybody -- I felt a little weird about it.
Q Is it an unwritten rule that NFL players give their best stories to national media or ESPN as opposed to the local media? Do you see that?
A I think when players and coaches deal with beat writers on a daily basis, I think they become a little defensive. People, including myself, get their sources and background information, and it helps us with our opinions, and you don't share the place whence you got it. But nevertheless, I think when people do national stuff they just feel more comfortable to open up. They don't feel somebody is there just waiting for them every second to make a mistake.
Q Name of the Viking who has pulled the best prank on you?
A Leslie Frazier, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. It happened before the home opener against Jacksonville. I inexplicably forgot to tape our pre-game interview Thursday when I taped "Vikings Game Plan," which runs four minutes on the FAN right in front of the game. Bob Hagan and the executive producer for the Vikings Radio Network get together, so Leslie said, I've got this one. I walked in and said: "Leslie, everything was frenzied Thursday at Winter Park. I forgot to do the four-minute interview. I'm sorry -" Cuts me off, which is antithetical to the way Leslie acts, and he said, How could you do that? It's the regular seasoner opener. My eyes got wide and Leslie said: Are you not focused and ready to do your job for this game? I said, "Leslie, I'm sorry." He gets a big smile on his face and put his hand up and says, PA, you've been punk'd!
Q Can you be too much of a homer?
A I don't know. The difference between homer and cheerleader, I think there's a fine line. People call me "a homer" and I become offended because, if you listen to the Monday radio show after losses, those are not homeristic takes. Without getting personal, if it's bad, it's bad, and I will tell people it's bad. Now, I'm more of a cheerleader than a homer because I cheer for all these teams to win. There are so many who crack wise and are negative. I feel like if I'm on the other side and it comes from the heart, then I have a monopoly and it feels good.
Q What have your kids taught you?
A My kids have taught me routes to keeping life light, professionally and personally, no matter what is in front of me. Just how when you're 9 and 11 [years old] you can have a problem for a moment but then all of a sudden it's gone because that's how kids operate. Sometimes when I'll hold onto things a little too long, I think of Derek and Coley. Life is short -- ain't no need to sit around and trip over things you can't control.
Q You're resistant to Twitter, which is nothing but making pithy comments.
A Yeah, I know. I don't knock those who are really into Twitter. One of the things that bugs me is, first with all, of those affiliations as you put it earlier, a fair amount of prep time goes into all the jobs I do. I do work a fair amount, even when I'm off the microphone. Then I have time with my kids and I volunteer a lot at their schools and I do book club [at my daughter's school]. I'm stacked as it is. I just don't want my phone always going off. I don't always want to be tied to my phone, getting carpal tunnel syndrome and having my neck bent down. I think the real fundamental, philosophical thing that bugs me about Twitter is those who get on it, who have not plugged away in this industry the way you have, as long as you've done it -- I've been in it for 14 1/2 years -- they get a bunch of followers behind it and they think they've made it. [They] haven't made it. Bragging about followers on Twitter is something that legitimately bugs me.
Q Do you wonder what you could have done to make Dark Star take care of himself better?
A You would have had to have held his hand. The beauty of Dark was, positively or negatively, copyright Frank Sinatra, he was going to do it his way. Nobody was going to get him to change, whether it was Joe Friedberg, his closest friend, those of us at Canterbury -- nobody was going to get Dark to change. We all knew how he lived and how he ate -- the lifestyle and everything. I'll just never forget that Friday he died. I wish I could have done something, but I don't think anybody could've.
Q Why didn't Puffy [as PA called his first radio co-host Jeff Dubay, who lost his radio job to a crack-cocaine addiction] do his first radio interview with you?
A Because I didn't ask.
Q Puffy's your friend. He should have called up and said, Hey, Chad Hartman at WCCO-AM wants me on the air, but you're my buddy so I want to go on with you first.
A We text all the time. I went out to dinner with him a couple of months ago. With KTWN and the opportunities he's getting in the mornings, I listen to him as much as I can. I could tell through the first 15 minutes of his audition at KTWN that [he'd be] the most talented individual in their stable. I wish him nothing but the best. I'll love him forever. We have a great relationship that continues to improve after a year-and-change of silence between each other. I hope he lands a job immediately.
Q Whose ESPN job would you like to have?
A Mike Tirico's, because he does the NFL and the NBA.
A No, my schedule is a little over-rated. My bosses at the FAN are so cool to me. They let me do a fair amount of work at home. I have the ability to be home at 12:20 p.m. every day. That affords me the opportunity to be at my kids' elementary school, two days a week sometimes. Now July and August are legitimate meat grinders. That's the sacrifice, that's the paying the piper for the bottom line. I'm not going to say I work too much, because every single thing I do is a blessing. I still love every single job I have -- they are all adrenaline-based -- but when this football teams wins games, when this football team is good, there's absolutely nothing better.
Q Flipnosis is my favorite word you've coined. What's yours?
A I like Flipnosis. That's my all-time favorite. Back when Flip Saunders was calling in on the radio show in cameo mode, we'd drop in some Barry White and send out the Bat Signal and he would Flipnotize the crowd. He was Flipnosis. When we were winning and going to the playoffs, it was a Flipnotizing moment for the "PA & Dubay Show," with Flip Saunders intimately involved.
Q In one word, describe RG3's first game for the Washington NFL team.
A Spectacular. But if it was three words, it would be "Spectacular, slightly overrated." Everybody wants to make him rookie of the year off one performance. His arm is unbelievable. The kid sees the game clearly and he can run. I get it. The Saint secondary was pathetic, the rush was non-existent. I want to see him play legitimate defenses before I push all my chips in, before I say, "Indianapolis completely blew it, they should have taken him over Andrew Luck." I'm not willing to go that far yet.
Q How long before former Vikings head coach and current Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice gets another head coaching job?
A I hope soon. I think Mike is going to do wonders for the Bears, who might win the NFC North.
Q Can you tell yet if your son has your pipes?
A I don't know. My 9-year-old daughter Nicole has more of my tendencies and traits. My 11-year-old son Derek has more of the emotional, sensitive, kind of real-feel, open-a-vein approach to life that I have. That's going to take time.
Q Did you wash Jim Caviezel's feet?
A Absolutely. Brother-in-law to Scott Linehan, former offensive coordinator for the Vikings, Jim Caviezel would hang around [Vikings locker room]. "Passion of the Christ" is one of my all time favorite movies; he played Christ. So he would come around, sit against the wall and just be quiet and not get in anybody's way. Every time I was around him I felt weird. So one time I went to equipment guy Dennis Ryan and said, "Can I have this cloth, please?" And I looked at Caviezel, introduced myself. Then I said, "This is going to be weird, but just let me do it so I can get this out of my system." And I went down to his loafers and shined both of the them and [exhaled] and said, "Thank you. Just in case." He laughed and I laughed.
Q You have a schedule all worked out for Josh Duhamel's visit to the Vikings?
A I had Josh Duhamel, from Minot, N.D., on the radio show [thanks to the actor's friendship with -- happy now? -- Fox Sport North's Marney Gellner]. He supposedly is bringing a 49ers-loving friend to the third game. We'll get him sideline passes courtesy of Bob Hagan [head media guy] of the Minnesota Vikings. Bob doesn't know that yet, but he will. Josh is going to come up to the broadcast booth sit between me and Peter Bercich, hopefully for a full quarter, then meet in the locker room after the game. Get a picture with Adrian Peterson. Get Adrian to personalize it. We will send it to Josh and then next time Black Eyed Peas are in town, that's went the bet gets settled. Because that's when the announcer gets to meet Fergie. Fergie is fine and super-talented. I cut my teeth in DC on old school R&B, and I'm not saying she's Aretha or Ella Fitzgerald or Teena Marie, but she brings it from deep in the middle.
Q Your favorite non-sports TV show?
A "CSI Miami," because I love Emily Procter and I think David Caruso is as good as it gets.
Q Five favorite songs?
A Number One all time favorite is "Sarah Smile" by Daryl Hall and John Oates. The most beautifully written song in the history of music. I said like "Say Amen" by Howard Hewett, who used to be the frontman of Jody Watley, for a band call Shalamar. I like "Grandma's Hands" by Bill Withers. I like "Adore" by Pri--- I mean Symbolina, quite a bit. "Do What You Want, Be What You Are" by Hall and Oates.
Interviews are edited for space and clarity. C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz" Thursday, Friday and Saturday.