Commentator Ed Podolak back & sober


Like a prized heavyweight fighter who frequently announces comebacks from retirements, former Iowa running back Ed Podolak stepped back into the radio booth nearly as fast as he left it.

Three months after taking what he called “a personal inventory,” a deal was reached on April 8 allowing Podolak to make his return to the press box with broadcasting partner Gary Dolphin.

At a press conference held by Podolak on April 11 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Hawkeye color commentator addressed the three photos taken of him in Tampa during the Outback Bowl. He appeared to be intoxicated in the photos, which surfaced on the Internet. He referred to that moment as “almost a godsend” and went on to say he has been sober since seeking treatment and plans to remain that way.

“I was not pleased with what I saw. I was overusing and abusing alcohol. It is what led to the riotous incident in Tampa,” he said. “Rust never sleeps, and I was getting rusty, and alcohol was a good part of what to blame for it.

“I am alcohol-abstinent at this point. It is my goal to stay that way.”

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Podolak said the itch to return came shortly after his original desire to retire became public, leaving those close to him wondering if he was certain he was making the right decision.

“When I took a step back and thought it through, I wasn’t thinking straight,” he said. “With the encouraging of family and friends, I decided I should get professional help and I did. “From that point on, I was hoping that there was a way that we could continue with me in the press box.”

Watching his colleague go through the experience of the past three months has made Dolphin think about making lifestyle changes of his own. Dolphin noted Podolak’s character as a person and said he is one to accomplish anything he sets out to do.

“There’s no gray area with Ed Podolak — it’s either black or white,” Dolphin said. “It didn’t surprise me one bit when he decided to go through this treatment.”

Prior to Podolak’s decision to return, Dolphin said, they had considered former Hawkeyes to fill the position.

Dolphin went on to say the support for a return of Podolak for 2009 was nearly universal.

“Almost to a man, the most famous names in Iowa football history the last 25 years, every one of them said, ‘I hope that Ed reverses this decision. I hope there’s a chance that Ed would come back. I wouldn’t mind being the guy to replace Ed Podolak someday, but not now,’ ” Dolphin said. “That was almost a uniform response.”

During the time between now and Iowa’s season-opener against Northern Iowa on Sept. 5, Podolak said, he will remain living outside Aspen, Colo., and will spend time in northern California for business endeavors.

But he also made clear where his loyalty lies.

“[Hawkeye football] is the heart and soul of my life, and it has been for so long,” he said.

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