For 15 NFL seasons in eight major media markets, Gus Frerotte endured incessant questions from waves of reporters.
Now, it’s his turn to fire back. In his new venture, he not only will ask the tough questions, he plans to inform and educate.
Frerotte, who grew up in Ford City and played college football at Tulsa, will launch his own brand of sports talk on a video podcast entitled “Huddle Up With Gus.”
“This is great for me,” Frerotte said. “I’ve always been interviewed. Never got to ask those questions I want to ask people.”
The podcasts will appear on the TribLIVE Podcast Network beginning Monday and run weekly. Each podcast will last at least 30 minutes or, until the unlikely moment when Frerotte and his co-cost, Fox Chapel insurance executive Dave Hager, run out of things to say.
“The Trib is excited to partner with Gus on this new venture,” said Jennifer Bertetto, Trib Total Media President & CEO. “ ‘Huddle Up with Gus’ promises to deliver some great personal stories of perseverance in sports and life — not the analysis and commentary you would typically hear on sports talk shows. I think this will be a great complement to our existing sports coverage.”
Frerotte and Hager have been friends for 25 years and have listened to sports talk on radio and TV longer than they care to admit.
“We always talk about what’s going on in sports,” Frerotte said. “But we don’t like listening to all the sports talk shows because it reiterates the same thing. There is so much more going on in Pittsburgh that we don’t hear about.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we do a show that talks about everything that’s going on in Pittsburgh and other communities? Stories from when I was a kid, growing up in high school. All these grassroots stories you hear about. That’s what’s missing.’
“Pittsburgh has a rich, rich history of sports. I want to tell those stories that people want to listen to. What shaped what you are today? And how sports helped do that. We all have stories. Sports connects us all in one way or another.”
Frerotte said his first guest will be Roberto Clemente Jr., son of the legendary Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder. On deck will be Rocky Bleier, who recovered from a severe foot injury suffered while serving in Vietnam to play 10 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Both men will delve into early sports and life experiences most have never heard,” Frerotte said.
Frerotte also plans to interview Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, whose parents were star athletes at Missouri. Frerotte coached Elliott at John Burroughs High School in St. Louis.
“I’ve known him since he was in seventh grade,” Frerotte said.
Other guests could include NFL quarterback and Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick and six-time Emmy winner John Brenkus, who created “Sport Science” on ESPN.
“All those people just didn’t get to where they wanted to go,” Frerotte said. “They all had to do different things to get there.”
Frerotte comes from an athletic family.
Gus’ cousin Mitch, who passed away in 2008, played at Penn State, with the Buffalo Bills and in three Super Bowls. His sons, Gunnar and Gabe, played at Central Catholic, where Gus coached with Terry Totten.
Gus’ father-in-law is Harry Beckwith, who coached 42 years at Kittanning, Ford City and Armstrong Central and is in the Pennsylvania High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
“My wife (Ann) and I drove our kids all over God’s green earth, getting them to sporting events,” Frerotte said.
Today, Frerotte has several business interests, including serving as senior vice president of RC21X, a technology company in Coraopolis that has developed a neuro-psych test that measures brain performance and can be found on the app “Roberto.”
“We can be a concussion tool, if we wanted to be, but we’re more than that,” he said. “We immediately give you a score. You can catch things early.
“If you have that real information, you can make assessments and decisions in your life, change diet, read more and get more sleep. You can really take a look into your brain.”
Perhaps the “Roberto” app will be a topic of discussion on “Huddle Up With Gus.”
Perhaps Elliott will talk about growing with a track star mom and a football star dad.
What it won’t dwell on is who will be the Steelers’ backup nose tackle this season. The podcast hopes to advance beyond the mundane stories in sports.
“There are so many people with such good stories,” Frerotte said. “That’s what I want to bring, something new, something fresh, something different.”