My wife says without sports and politics, I wouldn't have a life. She's right. I'm a junkie...and proud of it. I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties, including, major league soccer, NFL, and award-winning news and information programing such as SportsCenter and E:60. Working at ESPN, I sometimes relive the passion I often felt as a boy each time I took to the patched fields, sandy lots and unpaved streets of home in Eastern Nigeria to play soccer (“futbol”). With no adult supervision on those futbol fields of my youth, I learned it was best to play with teammates who’d have your back, work hard, play fair, win with magnanimity, and lose with humility. Thirty-plus years later, I’ve found the same endearing qualities among most ESPNers, which makes my role as an advocate for ESPN a no-brainer. If you’re so inclined, my Twitter handle is @MacN_ESPN.
Host Bob Ley (far left, white shirt) and analyst Alexi Lalas (far right) meet with the production crew on the Bristol set in preparation for ESPN’s FIFA World Cup Draw telecast. (Bill Hofheimer/ESPN)
ESPN’s Jed Drake
Reaction to ESPN’s presentation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was so positive that some fans consider it the finest work ESPN has produced in its 30-plus year history. Nearly four years later, ESPN is now tasked with the challenge of raising the bar even higher during next summer’s FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
While preparations started literally years ago, Friday’s FIFA World Cup Draw (11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and WatchESPN) in Costa do Sauípe, Brazil is a significant day as the 32 teams will be placed into groups and the matchups for next summer’s tournament will be announced to the world.
Senior Vice President and Executive Producer Jed Drake spoke with Front Row about the World Cup Draw and his production team’s planning for 2014.
ESPN soccer commentator Fernando Palomo (R) poses with New Zealand soccer legend John Adshead, coach of his country’s 1982 World Cup team. (Photo courtesy Fernando Palomo)
Follow El Tri on ESPN SYNC
Spanish-speaking fans can follow ESPN’s coverage of Mexico-New Zealand by connecting to ESPN SYNC, ESPN Deportes’ web-based app that enhances sports viewing with a unique second-screen experience during live sporting events. For tonight’s match, ESPN SYNC will feature a live stream with reactions from ESPN Deportes experts Rosana Franco, Eduardo Varela and Roberto Abramowitz. Fans can also navigate the app’s timeline that offers real-time scores/stats, social media interactions, a library of videos and access to polling/trivia. - Gabriela Nunez
At Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, on Wednesday (1 a.m. ET, ESPN and WatchESPN), Mexico will face New Zealand in the second leg of an intercontinental playoff series for a spot in FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.
El Tri’s 5-1 victory over New Zealand on Nov. 15 in Mexico City placed the previously floundering team on the verge of a ticket to the 2014 World Cup.
ESPN’s “El Tri” commentator team of Fernando Palomo, Alejandro Moreno, reporter John Sutcliffe, along with producer Russell Hurwitz and operations director Claude Phipps, immediately travelled to Wellington to cover the rematch live for U.S. English-speaking fans.
After completing their estimated 30-hour, 6,900 airline-mile treks, some of the ESPN staffers shared their thoughts about the production and travel challenges as well as the impending match with Front Row.
ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter had one thing in mind when he returned to Minnesota last night to be honored at a ceremony presenting him with his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring: gratitude.
“Once you are selected for induction into the Hall of Fame in February, there are several things that take place – you get your jacket, you get your bust, you go through the induction ceremonies in Canton, and the last thing is the ring,” Carter told Front Row. “Presentation of the ring is the last process, but it also has to do with the team you played for because it is the only part of these ceremonies that you do back for your hometown team. It gives you the chance to really appreciate the fans.”
Last night in a halftime ceremony at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis – during the Vikings win over Washington – Carter did just that. continue reading…
ESPN’s Ray Lewis (r) interviews New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who once was Lewis’ defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens. (Michael T. O’Connor/ESPN)
Two-time Super Bowl champion turned ESPN analyst Ray Lewis ranks as one of the top linebackers in NFL history. His ascension to first ballot Hall of Fame status during his 17 NFL seasons is a credit to Lewis’ own work ethic and to the coaches who guided him along the way.
Few of those coaches were as instrumental to his success as Rex Ryan, his former defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens. This week, Lewis and Ryan reunited as the current New York Jets head coach sat for a one-on-one conversation – Lewis’ first interview assignment as a member of ESPN’s award-winning Sunday NFL Countdown. continue reading…
For years, Keyshawn Johnson turned down inquiries about joining the cast of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). Retired from his NFL playing days since 2007, Johnson was preoccupied with the transition from pro football to entrepreneurship, the demands of fatherhood, and becoming a respected analyst on ESPN, where he appears weekly on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET) and Monday Night Countdown (6:30-8:30 p.m).
The sixth edition of ESPN’s Face to Face with Hannah Storm series (tonight, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) will feature long-form interviews with four NFL stars – Vernon Davis, Clay Matthews, J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson.
(L-R) Host Suzy Kolber with Phil Savage, Jarrett Bell and Dan Graziano on the set of NFL Insiders (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
ESPN’s NFL Insiders debuts today (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2) with host Suzy Kolber and NFL information experts Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen and Bill Polian. The new one-hour weekday show will feature a group of former pro football executives and well-respected news and information purveyors discussing top stories and breaking news.
Front Row caught up with some of the newer faces who will be regular contributors to NFL Insiders to get their thoughts on the off-the-radar storylines they are watching closely entering the 2013 NFL season.
Barely four weeks since leading Wigan Athletic FC to an improbable FA Cup victory over Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, and less than two weeks after being named the new manager of Everton FC – one of the English Premier League’s legendary clubs — Roberto Martinez joined ESPN as a studio analyst for the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013. This month’s tournament is the third straight major international soccer event that Martinez is working for ESPN.
“Roberto represents one of the benchmarks in our commitment to present marquee soccer events: authenticity,” says Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. “He is a tactician, and he is adept at communicating the nuances of the game to our viewers. He is also a great teammate to the members of our group.” continue reading…
ESPN weaves a common thread throughout its coverage of global soccer competitions: authenticity. From its presentation of matches on the field to capturing the atmosphere and culture in each event’s host country, authenticity is the driving principle that continues to elevate ESPN’s coverage. This attention to detail is evident in the design of ESPN’s studios and graphics for major events.