Donte Stallworth, the former NFL player hired to a fellowship at the Huffington Post, says that journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald “catapulted” his interest in national security reporting. “I befriended Glenn, and we’ve been pretty close for a year now and same thing with Jeremy Scahill.” Last year, Stallworth, whose playing career spanned 11 years with teams such as the New Orleans Saints and the Cleveland Browns, last year co-hosted the Miami premiere of Scahill’s film “Dirty Wars.”
Now Stallworth will be working the beat for the Huffington Post, though he’s not sure what topics he’ll focus on. “As I start to do some projects and start working with the guys and gals over there at Huffington Post, then we’ll get down to some specifics,” he says.
As for Stallworth’s experience in writing stories, he cited two pieces that he’d done for the lefty website Think Progress — one on Michael Sam and NFL “distractions” and another on Robert Griffin III. According to Stallworth, that’s the extent of his published archive.
But that doesn’t include Twitter, of course, a platform on which Stallworth has been prolific — perhaps too prolific. As detractors are now busy pointing out, Stallworth years ago sent out tweets showing an affinity for 9/11 trutherism:
NO WAY 9/11 was carried out by “dying” Bin Laden, 19 men who couldn’t fly a damn kite. STILL have NO EVIDENCE Osama was connected, like Iraq
— Donte’ Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) July 20, 2009
Another: “Gggrrrrrrrrrrrrr @ ppl who actually believe a plane hit the pentagon on 9/11… hole woulda been ASTRONOMICALLY bigger, God bless lost lives.”
Very scary notions right there.
When asked about that stuff, the 33-year-old Stallworth explained: “That was kind of around the time where I started to really just look at certain things,” including the Sept. 11 attacks. “I really didn’t have knowledge other than from a couple of sources. Once I got out of that rabbit hole and started doing my own research…I just understood what a massive intelligence failure 9/11 was…My whole thought process changed on it once was able to dig in and research more about it.” Noting the backlash on Twitter over those tweets, Stallworth said he was inclined to put his helmet and pads back on. “I’m getting roughed up already.”
Just to be clear, I no longer feel the way I did in that tweet 5 years ago.
— Donte’ Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) September 4, 2014
A self-described “big history buff,” Stallworth attended the University of Tennessee before leaving after his junior year for an NFL career. He made contact with Huffington Post staffers via social media and says he’d make a point of stopping in at the Washington bureau whenever he was in town. “We really just developed a pretty good relationship,” he says.
On a recent visit, Ryan Grim, the site’s Washington bureau chief, asked him when he was going to start writing for them. That triggered an impromptu meeting about what he wanted to cover. He’ll be working three days a week under the company’s fellow program. How much of a pay cut from his NFL contracts will his new gig be? “We haven’t discussed that yet,” says Stallworth.