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.
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.
While regular ESPN viewers will recognize SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele and reporter Samantha Ponder — who are hosting and reporting at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, respectively — many will be at a loss trying to recognize some of the competition’s central figures on- and off-camera.
Front Row provides a quick peek at the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s key staffers and their association with the competition.
Pronouncer Dr. Jacques A. Bailly, generally referred to as the most-interesting person in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dr. Bailly is the 1980 National Spelling Bee champion. He is currently an associate professor of classics at the University of Vermont and this is his 11th year as the pronouncer.
Associate pronouncer Dr. Brian M. Sietsema is an ordained priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and serves a parish in Lansing, Mich. After receiving a doctorate in linguistics in 1989, he served as the pronunciation editor for Merriam-Webster from 1990 to 1998.
Janice S. Liebenberg (sponsorship and operations coordinator with The E.W. Scripps Company), Bridget Nealis (banker with Fifth Third Bank in Greenburg, Ind.), and Malorie Nealis (marketing and nutrition student at The Ohio State University) receive and comfort the eliminated spellers.
The “Kiss and Cry” couch offers the champion spellers their first port of call to gather their thoughts and reflect on the competition immediately following a misspelled word.
Asked about similarities between ESPN’s SportsCenter and ABC’s Wipeout,John Anderson deadpanned: “They are both television programs that last one hour and I have a speaking part. Beyond that there are no similarities. None.
“Wipeout features non-athletes failing spectacularly,” said Anderson, who is entering his 15th year as a SportsCenter anchor. “SportsCenter features the greatest athletes excelling fantastically.”
ESPN’s John Anderson (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
For the past five years, Anderson has co-hosted ABC’s hit series Wipeout – one of America’s favorite TV reality game shows. John Henson co-hosts along with the returning Jill Wagner, who took a one-year break from the show. continue reading…
Early in Cris Carter’s NFL playing career, former Minnesota Vikings owner Wheelock Whitney promised to take him to play at the famed Augusta National Golf Club if Carter made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “In fact, he was the first person to ever call me a Hall of Famer,” said Carter of the Minneapolis businessman and philanthropist.
Nearly two decades later, Whitney lived up to his promise after the 16-year NFL wide receiver-turned-ESPN-analyst was named to the Hall’s Class of 2013 in February. continue reading…
Ron Jaworski found out the Los Angeles Rams had selected him with the 37th pick in the 1973 NFL Draft after a foreign exchange student handed him the pay phone in his Youngstown (Ohio) State College dormitory.
Jerry Rice’s path to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL began with a brief telephone conversation with legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh welcoming him to the team as the 16th pick in the 1985 Draft. continue reading…
ESPN reporters John Sutcliffe and Monica Gonzalez. (ESPN Images)
Two bilingual ESPN reporters – Monica Gonzalez and John Sutcliffe – will be on the sidelines at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on Tuesday, March 26, beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, when the U.S. Men’s National Team face arch-rival Mexico in a key 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match. continue reading…
Editor’s note: I Follow is all about ESPN employees on Twitter: what they tweet, whom they follow and how you can interact socially with anyone and everyone.
Since joining Twitter in 2009, NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt has used his feed to take followers behind the veiled curtains for a 140-character glimpse at what happens in negotiations between agents and team execs.
In addition to his ESPN role, the former Green Bay Packers vice president serves as director of sports law for the Moorad Center at Villanova Law School and he’s a lecturer at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. On Friday, March 15, Brandt will moderate the 2013 Jeffrey S. Moorad Sports Law Journal Symposium on the “Concussion Conundrum.”
Front Row caught up with Brandt, who shares his thoughts about Twitter.
Twitter handle:@adbrandt Followers: 90,711 Following: 499
(as of 03/13/2013)
How much does Twitter affect your dual roles as a business analyst and college professor?
It gives me an outlet to share nuggets of information gleaned over 25 years as an agent, team executive, columnist, broadcaster and educator. It has been nice to be able to give back that knowledge in various ways, including in bite-size bits on Twitter. My Twitter entries blend in with everything else I am doing.
As a former NFL team executive, do you think Twitter would have been an asset or obstacle in your job?
Twitter is a common tool among team executives to see what the media, agents and players are saying. I hear from many front office people who follow me and many others; they use Twitter handles that are anonymous so people do not know it is them.
With the 2013 NFL free agency now underway, what should your followers expect from your Twitter feed?continue reading…
When ESPN kicks off its 20-game Major League Soccer regular-season schedule Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore., the pregame show will feature the Timbers Army singing the national anthem.
The Portland Timbers supporters’ group belts out the national anthem in unison at every season-opening home game — a tradition that has come to reflect MLS’s growth in combining quality on-the-field play with an exciting atmosphere in the stands.
The Portland-New York game kicks off ESPN’s 18th season as the primary television home of the league’s matches.
Front Row caught up with Coordinating Producer Amy Rosenfeld and Producer Chris Alexopoulos to share brief insights about their crews and their coverage of MLS on ESPN.
“In our production for soccer, we seek to document, inform and entertain to the best of our abilities. At times, that may mean falling out of love with ourselves as producers and directors by getting out of the way of a great game and the viewer’s experience.
ESPN’s Chris Alexopoulos
“Our productions deploy high-level technical standards on every MLS telecast with a robust camera plan that includes Super Slo Mo and state-of-the-art goal POV cameras. We also utilize the virtual offside line and an extensive field audio plan that delivers a 5.1 surround sound experience. continue reading…