How Erin Andrews used sports as motivation during civil trial, cancer battle

Tuesday January 24th, 2017

Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews went through one of the most difficult years of her life in 2016, and it was her experiences in sports that motivated her to keep fighting. 

In Emily Kaplan's story for The MMQB, Andrews describes the various times sports inspired her last year as she dealt with a civil trial for an invasion of privacy lawsuit followed by a cancer diagnosis. 

During the trial, which stemmed from a lawsuit against Michael David Barrett and Marriott after Barrett secretly recorded nude video of Andrews through the peephole in her Nashville hotel room door, Andrews received encouraging text messages from several people she had met through sports, specifically through football. Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, Royals manager Ned Yost and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer all sent messages of support. 

“Football is such a huge part of my life,” Andrews told Kaplan. “It helped me get through the trial. It’s what I had to look forward to. On the witness stand I said being on the field is ‘my happiness, my escape,’ and I truly believe that. I couldn’t wait to return to the sideline and return to some normalcy in my life.”

Andrews employed football to calm her down during the closing arguments of the trial when she started feeling overwhelmed.

Twenty minutes in, Andrews’ vision got fuzzy. “I was on the verge of tears,” she says. “But I was scared that if I started to breathe, the jury would hear me sobbing.” So she stopped breathing. “I’m going to pass out,” she whispered, as she grasped the bottom of the bench to prevent herself from slipping. The paralegal grabbed her leg. “Breathe,” the lawyer said. “Just focus.”

And so Andrews counted to 10, in the most calming way she could imagine. Who is a player who wears No. 1? Cam Newton. Two? Matt Ryan. Three? Russell Wilson… Soon, it was over.

Her dedication to football also helped her face her cervical cancer diagnosis, which she learned about in September. She underwent surgery in October and found out she was cancer free by November, all without missing a game. 

Read the full story of Andrews's journey on The MMQB and in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated

– Erin Flynn

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