Evan Moore is Broadcasting in London
By Evan Moore
It would probably help a bit to give some background on what brought me here to this amazing city. I’ll try to do this as concisely as I possibly can. As a player in the NFL, I made a commitment: regardless of how long I play, I will pursue my personal, off-the-field, long-term career goals when I retire.
Those goals were more abstract in nature, and therefore they could evolve over time as I matured and became more aware of what this world had to offer. One thing I became increasingly aware of as I neared retirement was that once I was done I did not want to completely disengage from the game of football. This had nothing to do with fear, as I felt that I was well prepared to step away. It is simply because I know that this game has changed my life, and I would be foolish to completely abandon it.
So, in the midst of pursuing other business opportunities with some close friends, I made it clear to them that I would continue to stay involved in football. The extent of that involvement was, and still is, “to be determined”.
Simply put: I have a desire to still have an impact on the game. There are several ways to do this, but most of them (i.e. coaching) do not interest me. I am as much of a “fan” of the game as the next guy, and I’ve often found myself glued to the TV set enthralled by today’s production of an NFL game. Major networks like Fox and CBS are essentially crafting a piece of art, and each network has played a pivotal role in the growth of the NFL over the last decade.
Given my passion for the game and willingness to support its rising popularity, I began to feel that this would be the best way for me avoid the aforementioned “disengagement” from my long-time passion.
As a former player, you quickly realize that the TV world is a saturated market. Plenty of guys would like to jump on TV once they retire. Some are very good, and some aren’t. But the reality is this: the bigger names will get the first shot. Some people will try to tell you differently, but that is just the way it is. The networks need something to “hang their hat on”. If you are a big name but a lousy commentator, it’s excusable because anybody would have hired you. They will just simply move on from you at some point. If you are not a household name and you are a lousy commentator, the producer that made that decision to hire you may also get fired. Therefore, they need a reason to “stick their neck out” for the guy that isn’t as easily recognizable to the average viewer.
After playing six seasons in the NFL and not going to any pro bowls, I quickly realized one thing: I better be good at this if I want a shot.
Thankfully, the NFL Player Engagement Program provided me with my first opportunity: the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp. At this camp (back in June of 2014), we “broadcasting rookies” were given the opportunity to work with high-level producers and executives from the major networks. We attended classroom learning sessions, did live on-camera simulations, and compiled a “highlight reel” to send off to prospective employers. This camp provided me with my first opportunity to act in this capacity as a broadcaster; and prior to attending, I really did not know what to expect.
After four intense days of training, I realized that this is indeed something I want to continue to pursue. Thankfully, the decision-makers agreed, as I was one of two participants selected to head to London for a weekend-long in-studio analyst position with Sky Sports.
So here I am, blogging live from London after completing two full days of work with Sky Sports covering the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. I wasn’t familiar with this network prior to my arrival, and they weren’t familiar with me. It was a “blind date” of sorts, and all I could do was hope that things would go smoothly. If prep work for this “job” involved watching and being familiar with NFL football, then I was sure that I was in good shape. I could, however, feel the trepidation of the Sky producers beforehand, as they were hesitant to commit to me doing any work outside of the routine, behind-the-desk analyst work. After all, their bosses would be watching, and if I didn’t look good (which in their mind was a possibility for a “rookie”), then they wouldn’t look good. They hinted that I likely would not get an opportunity to use the “telestrator”, as this would require some skill and experience. I simply replied that I was comfortable with whatever they asked of me.
Our first segment went extremely well, and I enjoyed the rapport with the fellow analysts. I was very familiar with each of the eight teams playing on divisional weekend, and therefore I felt that much more confident that I could offer up valuable insight whenever I was asked to do so. Before the end of the first game on the first day (we filled every other commercial spot with a 2.5 minute segment, so we were on A LOT), I was doing “telestrator” demonstrations for our audience, and choosing my own material. I had gained the trust of the producers in a short amount of time, and I was now given free rein to choose what I would like to discuss for each segment.
It was at this point that I started to see how enjoyable this could become–an analyst/commentator with such free rein is, as I alluded to earlier, “having an impact on the game” by relating it to the masses. On social media sites, the network quickly received a substantial amount of positive feedback for our group, with several fans praising the network’s coverage on this particular weekend and claiming they felt as if they had learned so much more about the game.
Throughout these two days, I came to realize that I had contributed to a collective effort of continuing to work on raising the popularity and understanding of this game in the UK, and that is “having an impact on the game”. Given my love for football, this was truly a gratifying experience.
It’s also worth mentioning that, like many other professional athletes, I never had the chance to travel abroad while I was playing. This opportunity has allowed my wife and me to see London, and also spend some time in Paris. This has been a very memorable trip, and one that we will talk about for the rest of our lives.
Time will tell where we go from here. Sky Sports has indicated that they would love to keep me involved. I fully support their efforts to grow the game of football in London, and therefore I look forward to more opportunities with them. Additionally, and given that I live in California and played in the Pac 12, I look forward to what is next with networks back home.
The Broadcast Boot Camp has allowed me to make the contacts necessary to move forward, and I look forward to doing so sooner rather than later. One thing is for sure, though: If I want these bigger opportunities, I better be good.