Forward/Rewind: NFL and Monday Night Football

1Screen shot 2013-12-26 at 11.28.04 AMEditor’s Note: With this multi-week series — the Front Row Forward/Rewind, 2014/2013 — ESPN’s Communications Department takes the pulse of content executives throughout ESPN for their views on what’s ahead across ESPN for 2014 and some of what transpired in 2013. The snapshots provide a look at where ESPN has been, where it’s going and how it plans on getting there.



NFL STUDIO SHOWS
Seth Markman, senior coordinating producer, NFL studio production

Seth Markman

Seth Markman

What was the best example of your unit’s teamwork from 2013?
When [analyst] Ray Lewis joined ESPN, it was great seeing how welcoming our [other] analysts were to him. His first day was at a Countdown promo shoot over the summer. Right away, it was like he had been with our group for 10 years. The guys were interacting with him, telling him how the job works and how he could be most successful. That continued throughout the season both in Bristol and on the road at MNF games. Our guys made him feel like a part of the team and shared advice with him week to week.

What was the “most social” moment of 2013 regarding ESPN’s NFL studio coverage?
The Jugs machine demo on Sunday NFL Countdown when [analysts] Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson were showing how to catch one-handed passes. [NFL Insider] Adam Schefter, as the everyman, tried doing it at the end of the segment and the ball almost knocked him completely over. We tweeted the video, put it on YouTube and the response was tremendous. People loved it. Adam is a heck of a reporter, but he’s not quitting his day job to play wide receiver anytime soon.

What excites you most about using DC2 [Digital Center 2] in 2014?
In a fun way, [Countdown host] Chris Berman has referred to our current studio as “Candlestick Park,” knowing we, like the [San Francisco] 49ers, are moving into a start-of-the-art new facility next season. The most exciting thing is that each show will have its own unique environment in the new Digital Center. Right now, most of our NFL shows – and even some college football shows — originate from the exact same set. Next season, Countdown, NFL Live, NFL Insiders and so on will each have its own space. We’ll even have a film room where we can do special shoots and shows. It’s exciting.

Bill Hofheimer contributed to this post

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Jay Rothman, Vice President, Production and Producer, Monday Night Football

Jay Rothman

Jay Rothman

What was the “most social” moment of 2013?
The end of our Patriots-Panthers game when Tom Brady threw a pass toward Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone on the final play of the game. You could argue that Gronkowski was interfered with and Carolina wound up winning the game on a MNF game that just ended in bizarre fashion.

What was the best example of your unit’s teamwork from 2013?
As gorgeous as our new state-of-the-art MNF trucks are, there were some growing pains in our first season using them, but it was a relentless effort by our technical crew to make sure we had the best of the best each and every week. Also, from a production standpoint, we had a very young crew. I knew we were going to be better halfway through the season and we were going to be even better by the end of the year. I’m proud of how we evolved and I’m very proud of our entire crew’s presentation.

What element from another ESPN production unit resonated with you most in 2013 and why?
I’m a big 30 for 30 guy and the one that touched me the most was Survive and Advance with Jim Valvano and the N.C. State basketball team. The story of what they went through to come together is kind of like what I was just talking about — many folks [on MNF] were wearing new hats and how they came together to create championship television each and every Monday night. That touched me.

Forward/Rewind logo by Samantha Baron

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