Sometime in the near future you are going to be watching an NBA game on ESPN or ESPN2 and the person on the sideline is going to produce a double take.
Yes, that is Adam Schefter.
As part of a new five-year extension with ESPN, Schefter and ESPN management have added some new assignments for the longtime NFL insider.
• A new podcast tentatively titled "Know Them From Adam: The Adam Schefter Show” that will debut in January.
• Some NBA sideline reporting assignments during the regular season when Schefter’s NFL workload is light.
• A sideline reporting assignment (with Lisa Salters) for ESPN/ABC’s 2017 NFL Wild Card telecast.
The context for this? Schefter’s ESPN contract was up in 2017 and his representation (Schefter is represented by The Palm steakhouse-eating folks at CAA, who rep many high profile ESPN-ers including Kirk Herbstreit, Tim Tebow and Hannah Storm) had leverage given Schefter has established himself as a premier brand when it comes to NFL news breaking. Adding NBA sideline work and a podcast to Schefter’s portfolio were clearly things to induce him to stay at ESPN.
“I love what I do but you are always curious to try different things,” Schefter said. “I know people think of me as this robot who doesn’t do anything outside of NFL news, injury reports, contact extensions, and hirings and firings. I love all that stuff but everyone likes to do things a little different or outside the box.”
In an interview with this column on Wednesday, Schefter said he’s been talking for some time to ESPN management executives, including Connor Schell, the network’s executive producer for original content, about doing a podcast. The weekly show will be football-based and personality driven, with Schefter interviewing people from all fields including the NFL. While a reporter at The Denver Post, Schefter did a longtime column under the header of “Know Him From Adam” where he interviewed people from all walks of life who had a sports connection (e.g. singer Sarah Mclaughlin as a Raptors fan). Schefter has designs on reaching out to many people including President Elect Donald Trump about his football connections, among other well known figures. “There are certain things that get your juices flowing and big stories in the NFL get my juices going, but they have gotten my juices going for 26 years,” Schefter said. “This is something new and fresh. I am going to love it.”
The other new wrinkle is NBA sideline work, which Schefter first revealed to The MMQB’s Peter King during a podcast this week. But the NBA will be strictly one-off assignments. Schefter repeated multiple times during his interview with SI.com that he does not want anyone inside or outside ESPN to think he is taking gigs away from ESPN’s regular NBA sideline reporters.
Schefter’s close friends at ESPN know this but most do not: Schefter has become a hardcore NBA junkie. He plays daily NBA Fantasy and following the NBA has become somewhat of a pleasurable obsession. To wit, he’ll often reach out to ESPN NBA staffers Brian Windhorst and Antonio Davis just to talk the sport. He also counts Clippers point guard Chris Paul as an acquaintance. Paul calls Schefter for Fantasy Football advice; Schefter asks Paul about his league.
“I went from knowing nothing about the NBA a couple of years ago to knowing every player on every roster,” Schefter said. “It’s become a side hobby and the bosses are aware of that.”
Schefter declined to comment on any specifics relating to his contract negotiations but did say, “I want to make it very clear in no way am I looking to infringe on the turf of someone like Doris Burke, Rachel Nichols, J.A. Adande, Marc Stein or anyone else. They do a great job. That’s not what this is about. I could never do their jobs. This is just me doing an assignment where it will be 100 percent fun to me. My job is great but it is also intense and relentless.”
Viewer reaction to Schefter on the NBA sidelines will be interesting. (Schefter was a sideline reporter for the NFL Network for two years in the early days of that network’s Thursday Night Football presentation.) He has marinated in basketball reporting (he has some NBA sources) in small doses, and recalled being amused at how people told him, in essence, to stay in his own lane. “One of my proudest moments at ESPN was filing a couple of years ago that Dwight Howard was going to make his [free agency] decision by a certain date,” Schefter said. “People were like, Adam Schefter? What the hell is this?”
Schefter has already sent his schedule to Tim Corrigan, a senior coordinating producer who runs ESPN’s NBA game assignments, on dates he might have a break (December, the end of January, the second half of February) in his NFL schedule. Asked if he wanted a piece of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, a noted sideline reporter killer Schefter said, laughing, “Bring him on. He can’t be much different than Bill Belichick, right?”
THE NOISE REPORT
(SI.com examines some of the most notable sports media stories of the week)
1. ESPN’s Monday Night Football had its first positive ratings story of the 2016 season when the Packers-Eagles game drew 13.129 viewers on Monday, which was up 20% from the Ravens-Browns in Week 12 last year. Sports Business Daily said it was the first year-over-year "MNF" ratings increase in 21016. The final viewership was the second-largest MNF audience of the 2016 season, behind the Giants-Vikings game in Week Four.
1a. ESPN said last Saturday’s College GameDay from Ohio State was the show’s most-watched regular-season episode since November 24, 2007 – which includes all episodes since the show expanded to three hours in 2013. The show drew 2,614,000 viewers.
1b. Per Sports TV Ratings: The CFL Grey Cup drew a disappointing 126,000 viewers on ESPN2. Shame, because it was a great game. The Canadian audience was 3.9 million viewers, including 3.6 million on TSN and 254,000 on RDS, per TSN.
1c. On Wednesday night Harnarayan Singh became the first Sikh to appear as an English hockey broadcast on a national broadcast for Sportsnet’s (Canada) coverage of the Leafs-Flames.
2. The majority of sports media (keep in mind there are thousands upon thousands of people who fall under the nebulous definition) remain apolitical publicly. But there were many during this election cycle who delved into political talk on their social media channel, and I wanted to see what the experience was like for them. With the goal of providing readers some insight on this topic, I paneled 10 well-known sports media people (I intentionally chose people with a mix of political orthodoxies) for an email roundtable on what their feeds were like during the campaign and following Election Day.
• Bruce Arthur, sports columnist, Toronto Star.
• Tim Brando, national sports broadcaster and commentator, Fox Sports and FS1.
• Gerry Callahan, co-host of Kirk and Callahan, WEEI 93.7 FM Boston.
• Chad Dukes, host of Chad Dukes Vs. The World”, 106.7 The Fan Washington D.C.
• Jemele Hill, co-host of ESPN2’s His and Hers.
• Bomani Jones, ESPN Radio host (The Right Time), co-host, ESPN’s Highly Questionable.
• Mina Kimes, podcaster and senior writer, ESPN The Magazine.
• Jose de Jesus Ortiz, sports columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
• Sarah Spain, writer and radio host, espnW and ESPN Radio (Izzy & Spain).
• Cyd Ziegler, co-founder of Outsports and author of Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes are Claiming their Rightful Place in Sports.
3. Episode 91 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast will feature a return of the roundtable sports media discussion with John Ourand, media reporter for the Sports Business Daily, and Jimmy Traina, writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.
In the podcast, which debuts Thursday, we discuss the uptick in NFL ratings over the past two weeks and whether it means anything for the longterm; the impact of Donald Trump’s win on the NFL ratings versus a win by Hillary Clinton; why ESPN’s Monday Night Football schedule is always worse than the other rightsholders; ESPN, FS1 and NBCSN’s declining subscribers and how much lower that number can go; what the immediate television future holds for Bill Simmons; where the UFC will go when its rights deal ends in 2016; buying fake followers on social media; why DG Media loves other podcasts more than this one, and much more.
3a. Episode 90 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes and Gary Cohen, the TV play by play voice for the Mets on SportsNet New York (SNY).
Hughes has been the radio voice of the Cubs for 21 years. Prior to that, he spent 12 years working with Bob Uecker on Brewers broadcasts. Cohen has been a Mets broadcaster since 1989 including working on the radio side until 2006. Both broadcasters—who were interviewed separately—are finalists for the 2017 Ford Frick Award, the highest honor a baseball broadcaster can achieve.
In this podcast, Hughes discusses how he handled the final moments of the Cubs’ historic World Series win; whether a World Series title changes listeners' perception of him; the differences in announcing for a good or bad team; what the immediate aftermath was like following the Cubs’ win; his passion for making audio tapes of some of baseball’s greatest announcers; and much more.
Cohen discusses how his job has changed since the 1990s; the use of sabermetrics in a TV broadcast; who evaluates his work and why that is important; how age has impacted, if at all, his broadcasting; the switch from radio to TV; how to navigate between wanting your team to do well but not being a homer; his favorite Keith Hernandez story; calling games for Columbia University’s WKCR as a college student with a soccer analyst named George Stephanopoulos; and much more.
4. Huge Premier League game for NBCSN: Top of the table Chelsea visits third-place Manchester City this Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET. Steve Bower and Graeme Le Saux call the match from Etihad Stadium. Coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. ET with Premier League Live on NBCSN.
4a. ESPN is sending a lot of people to Chicago for the upcoming Cavs-Bulls game
5. For NHL fans looking for more podcasts: TSN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Ray Ferraro has partnered with Las Vegas podcaster Steve Matthes for The Pulp Hockey Show.
5a. For NBA fans looking for more podcasts: TNT basketball analyst Chris Webber is solo hosting a podcast (“Fearless or Insane with Chris Webber”) that will be a weekly discussion of sports and athletes, and their impact on culture, politics, society.
5b. The MMQB’s Emily Kaplan spent a Sunday gameday with Andrew Siciliano and crew in the DirecTV Red Zone studio.
5c. espnW’s Sarah Spain compiled stories from some well known female members of the sports media on how they overcame sexual harassment.