6A - Thursday, November 15, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Q&A: NFL Network. analyst Rich Eisen
By EVERETT COOK SportsCenter was in many ways
Daily Sports Editor how people found out what hap-
pened in the sports world, let
This week's Q&A is with Rich alone got to see it for the firstetime.
Eisen, the former Managing By the time I left in 2003 there
Sports Editor of the Michigan were handheld devices and Inter-
Daily and current television jour- net websites and an explosion of
nalist for the NFL Network. sports-talk radio and other ways
After leaving ESPN's for people to know what hap-
SportsCenter in 2003, Eisen pened and see how it happened.
became a jack-of-all-trades for The show went from a writing-
the NFL Network. He hosts the intensive, highlight-intensive
Thursday Night Football pregame, show to being less writing-inten-
halftime and postgame shows, sive, because few highlights need-
multiple weekly studio shows and ed a build-up or a set-up because
also runs a weekly podcast. people knew what was happen-
To the questions: ing already. The highlights didn't
The Michigan Daily: You wrote tell as much of a narrative, other
at the Daily at Michigan and then than to set up an analyst to talk
at newspapers out of college, but about whathappened in the game.
you've'been in the TV and the My role as a host changed from
podcast game for a while. Do you '96-03, so that sort of made it an
miss print journalism at all? easier decision to not try and be
Rich Eisen: Oh, of course. Noth- a part of SportsCenter 200 times
ing is more satisfying than the a year anymore. I wanted to do
written word, and nothing is more something else, and when that
crucial to attempting to master, didn't happen the opportunity for
let's put it that way. Writing is the the NFL Network was too great to
base of everything in the broad- pass up.
casting business. Everything is I don't want to make it seem
written. I've always taken pride in like I took it for granted - I mean,
writingeverythingthatIsayonTV. SportsCenter was a great plat-
I spent three years as a beat report- form and it was an honor to be a
er for my hometown newspaper in part of it, certainly at a time when
Staten Island, and all of that train- folks like Dan Patrick and Keith
ing was crucial. Writingis a crucial Olbermann and Craig Kilborn and
base in order to do what I've been Robin Roberts and Mike Tirico.
fortunate to do for aliving. They were all doing it, and I was
TMD: When you first accepted stoked to do it at the time. It was
the job at the NFL Network in just in '03, I went with the NFL
2003, you were switching from Network and I couldn't be happier
an established network in ESPN about it, even as I'm getting on a
to a network that was making its plane to connect in Buffalo in the
debut. Did you feel the risk there, . middle of November.
or was the opportunity to head- TMD: You mentioned working
line a network just too much to with all these people at ESPN, but
pass up? on these Thursday Night Football
RE: Sure, it was fraught with pregame shows, it seems like you
concern to go from a place that I guys are having a ton of fun out
called home for seven years and a there. It just seems fun to be a part
place I felt was a part of my iden- of.What's it like to work with guys
tity in many ways because of how like Steve Mariucci, Warren Sapp
long I spent there and how they and Deion Sanders?
took me from my small-market RE: It's a privilege. It's an
TV job to a national stage, and incredible privilege, and I'm a
it was really part of my DNA in lucky man. We genuinely really
~many ways. But then SportsCen- like each other. We hang out
ter just changed as the type of together on the road and know
o o 1e I first Sta abet ce oher's amiliesIT
eft inZ(;1. san my to sa ke that camg-
was a completely different show. raderie we have off the air come
It wasn't the same program any- together on the air - and I take
more. that job seriously - while not
When I started in 1996 it was taking ourselves too seriously. To
a writing-intensive show and me, the key to making a broadcast
the reason for that was that watchable is to take the subject
R EASE DATE- Thursday, November 15, 2012
Los Angeles TimesDaily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
matter we view seriously, but not
ourselves too seriously. Hopefully,
people will enjoy the chemistry
we have together.
Hanging out with Hall of Fam-
ers and picking their brains and
watching the games with them
aid essentially getting more
knowledgeable about the game
myself through the eyes of expe-
rienced and imparted wisdom is
really a privilege. It's been awe-
TMD: You mentioned part of
your job is to make that camara-
derie work on air. Can you prac-
tice that skill, managing all these
opinionated, loud guys, or did that
just come to you? Did you have to
RE: I don't know how you could
work at that, but to me, the most
important part of being successful
in broadcasting is to be yourself.
Every single successful person
in this business that I have met
or come across or have gotten to
work with in this endeavor are all
people who when I met them for
the first time person, I felt like I
already know them.
What they do on TV is not an
act, it's who they are. The first
impression I had of Chris Ber-
man in 1996 when I met him for
the first time was that I felt like I
had known him for years because
Ihad been watchinghim for years.
It was the same guy. Stuart Scott
- same way: Everyone who I have
worked with that people might
consider to have large person-
alities is who they are. I feel like
I am just being myself out there,
and reacting in a way that I would
react sitting on the couch. I hope
that people enjoy that sense of
realism, and maybe they enjoy the
broadcast more than they would
TMD: You do podcasts, you do
Thursday night, you do studio
stuff- do you ever fell like you're
doing so much that it's hard to
concentrate on one thing?
RE: I just love it, all of it. I love
the long formats of the podcast
world, I love being at a game live
and having my job be ringmaster
- for lack of a better phrase - of
these moving parts and large per-
sonalities of these knowledgeable
Hall of Famers who are impart-
ing their wisdom. I love being
there and I love the Sunday morn-
ing show. I love doing highlights
whenever I can, because that's
just like what I did at SportsCen-
ter back in the day. That's part of
the reason I left ESPN, because
at the time I left in '03 I was not
being afforded the broadcasting
avenues that I have now, even
though they had it at their dis-
posal, which is what made it an
easy choice on my part. The NFL
Network has been growing for
nine years and countingnow with
the Internet side and digital side
exploding, and I'm thrilled to be
part of it. It's been a blast, and I
don't feel like my attentions dis-
tracted. I love talking about it and
am having funtalking about it. I'm
having the time of my life.
TMD: Now to the most press-
ing question: How much quicker
could you run your 40-meter dash
at the scouting combine if you
weren'twearing a suit?
RE: Well, I don't know and I
don't intend to find out, because
I only run it the one way I know
how, and that's slow and in my
uniform - the suit. I feel like the
whole endeavor would jump the
shark if I actually put on running
clothes. I don't think anybody
really wants to see that, I'm con-
cerned people may not even want
to see my run in a suit anymore.
But Denard best watch out
when I see him in February when
he comes out for the scouting
combine. I suggest he lace 'em
up for that one. When he runs at
the combine, I'll be there, and I'll
be breaking six seconds this year.
I'm working on my core, I'm men-
tally prepared and I have my suit
already picked out. I'm focused,
and I understand Shoelace is fast,
but I have straight-ahead speed.
If there is any negative aspect
to my gig, it's that I can't get to the
Big House during football season.
It's been years. The last time I
was there was the triple-overtime
game when Braylon (Edwards)
went nuts and beat Michigan
State almost single-handedly.
It was great, but it's been years.
I miss it so much. I just miss the
fall Saturdays and following the
band, going from Packard to the
stadium with the band in front of
you, and I miss that stadium. Glad
I missedthe Rich Rodyears, notto
broadside him, but I just miss it a
lot. I do hope to getbackthere.
And I do love Brady Hoke by
the way, I'm very excited by him.
Ultras back Michigan
soccer team in NCAAs
By ALEJANDRO ZUNIGA tough game, Daley said. But with
Daily Sports Writer the Ultras' support, the Wolver-
ines could pull out a victory.
EVANSTON - On Sunday, the The Ultras first sang "The Vic-
Ultras honored their vow. tors." Then they begged the Wol-
A student organization found- verines to put a goal in the net
ed in 2010, the Michigan Ultras and tried to help the process by
strive to unite soccer fans across trying to distract Spartan goal-
campus and create an exciting keeper Zach Bennett. Later, they
atmosphere atthe Michigan men's reminded Michigan State players
soccer team's home matches. that Lake Michigan was across the
Their members regularly brave street if they wanted to keep dra-
frigid weather to passionately matizing dives. They didn't stop
support Wolverine soccer with chanting until the contest ended.
flags, drums and every last bit of "Ultras . are the best," Daley
noise that they can possibly force said. "I love that they came all the
out of their lungs. In the three way from Ann Arbor to be here to
years since they launched, the support us for the Big Ten Tour-
Ultras have become well-known nament. You hear them always -
across the Big Ten for producing loud and clear - and our guys play
an intimidating atmosphere at the forthem and the coaches get ener-
U-M Soccer Complex. gized by them. We're delighted
Though the Ultras often suc- when they come to the games."
ceed at frustratingthe opposition, Down by a tally with less than
their principle aim is to serenade three minutes left, junior forward
the Michigan players and coach- T.J. Roehn sent the Ultras into
es with chants of adulation and delirium with an equalizing goal.
praise. In one of their traditional But ultimately, the Spartans pre-
cheers, the Ultras promise the vailed. Taking advantage of a 30
Wolverines that, "where you go, mile-per-hour tailwind, midfield-
we'll follow." And when Michigan er Sean Conerty fired a laser from
advanced to the Big Ten Tourna- 20 yards out that snuck under the
ment Championship in Evanston crossbar and earned Michigan
against Michigan State on Sunday State the Big Ten Championship.
afternoon, the Ultras lived up to As the Spartans mobbed each
that pledge. Before the break of other in celebration, several Wol-
dawn on an uncharacteristically verines dropped to the grouid in
warm morning, 20 bleary-eyed agony. Grinwis - who had come
Ultras dressed in maize and blue 'tantalizingly close to saving the
boarded a coach bus sponsored by game-winning shot - lay face-
the University. Passing around a down on the turf. Daley stood
box of donuts and carrying cow- motionless near his team's bench.
bells and banners, they quietly 'And for the first time all after-
prepared for the longcommute. noon, the Ultras were silent.
Despite the silence, energy As Michigan State's fight song
coursed through the vehicle. blared and Spartans hoisted the
Michigan had won five consecu- first-place' trophy, the Michigan
tive games en route to the con- players eventually picked them-
ference championship, including selves off the ground. Together,
a '1-0 win over the Spartans just they walked across the field,
a week-earlier. A championship towards the bleachers. As they
trophy and automatic bid to the approached, the Ultras' chants of
NCAA Tournament were there for supportbegan again.
the taking. Despite failing to secure an
Four hours later at Lakeside automatic bid to the NCAA Tour-
Field, sophomore goalkeeper nament, the Wolverines' strength
Adam Grinwis stepped off the of schedule and recent success
team bus and was greetedly quite earned them an at-lar e selection
the' surprise: B thrbog of Ultras theywillhost NiagarWs nThurs-
pounding a drum and chanting his day night. When Michigan takes
name. When Michigan head coach the field, flags will wave, drums
Chaka Daley hobbled towards the will pound and cowbells will
field on his crutches, he stopped ' clang. The Ultras will be there,
to thank the Ultras. It would be a andthey will be heard.
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ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE:
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