When Andy Roddick retired from professional tennis after the 2012 U.S. Open, there was little surprise that he had offers to work as a tennis broadcaster. Plenty of former players have found jobs at the Tennis Channel and had Roddick opted for that path, given his name recognition, career results and comfort during interviews (along with a healthy dollop of sarcasm, as many tennis reporters came to experience), he would have found steady employment.
But Roddick opted for a different broadcasting path -- one that carried more risk. He wanted the opportunity to talk about multiple sports and he parlayed that desire when Fox Sports 1 hired him to be an analyst for Fox Sports Live. This month marks his 14th month on the job.
"It wasn't the normal career path for a tennis player," Roddick said in an interview with Sports Illustrated on Saturday. "Maybe I'm the first one. You normally go into the tennis booth -- which is great -- but not something I wanted to do straight out of the game, and especially when I felt I could still play a bit. It would have been very hard to travel to events 24 weeks a year and see it thinking I could still play. I don't know how to hand out grades on myself for what I am doing for Fox, but I know they took a chance on me. I had zero experience in the media world, save our once-a-week radio show. I think I've managed."
Along with Fox Sports Live, where Roddick has served as a panelist and done the occasional one-on-one interview, the 32-year-old does a thrice-weekly podcast with Bill Reiter along with radio spots for Fox Sports Radio. He's been particularly good on the podcast because, along with a strong voice, he gets more time to elaborate on his opinion. As has been noted here, the panel on Fox Sports Live, which often features athletes in one sport talking on another, can be a mess. (I'd argue that's a function more of the talent than the concept.) I asked Roddick if he thought the FSL panel concept could work long term.
"I think so, but you are also seeing the NFL guys more during the NFL season," he said. "But I think there is space for it. It's an original idea. You start a network and different things work and different things don't. I think putting an athlete in the frame of a fan is a cool deal. I don't know how much they will go with it heading forward but selfishly it has been fun.
Roddick said what he has enjoyed most over the last year is the variety of assignments he gets, from hosting segments to being on a panel to podcasting to a couple of one-on-one interviews including a terrific one with Roger Federer last August.
"The thing that was weird for me at first was all the cameras moving in the studio -- I didn't know anything about that," Roddick said. "When you are being interviewed or when you are doing corporate commercials, there is just one camera. It's very simple -- you are just looking one way. There is also the timing, and chemistry with the other people you work with. You have to learn the tempo of a show and those are things you don't think about. So now it's fun for me to watch any sort of event. I watch the game and then I pay attention to the people covering it. I never really did that before. It opened up a different way of looking at things."
Fox Sports management treats talent well and Roddick praised his bosses and his colleagues for his experience so far. He hopes to make broadcasting a long-term career but said he approaches things on a year-by-year basis. He's signed by Fox through 2015. Roddick, like most on-air sports talent, is contracted by days during a year. Fox Sports said he is next scheduled to appear on Fox Sports Live in late October and will work mostly the 12:00 am ET hour "Countdown" shows where the producers think he does his best work.
"I love going to the studio," he said. "but nothing is promised."
Now that he's two years removed from the game, I was curious if Roddick was reconsidering his decision not to be part of any tennis broadcast.
"You never say never in any space but it's not something I'm looking to go into now," Roddick said. "I had those opportunities straight out of tennis and I did not take them. I took the one that was more challenging and maybe a little riskier for me, but I am confident in that choice. Frankly, I am not sure how much I would learn straight away working for the Tennis Channel. I feel like there is more upside for me being a complete broadcaster. I have faith in this process. If I do good work, I think I will have options."
THE NOISE REPORT
SI.com examines the most notable sports media stories of the week.
1. CBS' coverage of Seattle's overtime win over Denver was the highest-rated NFL game of the weekend, drawing a 16.9 overnight rating. That's higher than NBC's Kickoff Classic which ended up with 26.9 million viewers.
1a. NBC NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: "I don't know if Roger Goodell is going to lose his job or not. I really don't. But I do know this, no matter who they put in there, nobody is going to pay more attention to this issue going forward than Roger Goodell. His entire reputation as commissioner of the National Football League is dependent upon it."
1b. ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter on the NFL owners' culpability regarding the domestic violence issues in the NFL. "To me the owners are responsible. There are 32 owners and almost all billionaires and this is the only business they are in that they don't know who is working for them. The amount of information the owners have available to them to know their players, say they know 40 percent of that. The other 60 percent they neglect because they don't want to know. This is something we have neglected for a long time. It is an ugly part about the game. Owners have neglected it."
2. Monday's media column examined Carter, as well as Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, the duo who form the engaging "Men in Blazers" podcast. There's also an update on the subjects of ESPN's terrific documentary feature, "Carry On." The column is here.
3. NBC and Golf Channel will combine to air 85.5 hours of Ryder Cup coverage this week including significant online coverage. Here's a full schedule of what will be offered. Of particular note is this is the first Ryder Cup held in Europe that will be will be shown live, in its entirety, to a U.S. audience. The Golf Channel will have exclusive rights to Friday's matches for the very first time while NBC will air the weekend coverage.
Among the new features: The Golf Channel will offer Ryder Cup Alternate Shot coverage, which will feature a different view of the action that will complement NBC's live weekend coverage. "It's planned as an innovative second screen experience, and it's going to feature David Feherty alongside those who played and captained teams in the Ryder Cup," said Golf Channel executive producer Molly Solomon.
Those scheduled to be part of the Golf Channel's Alternate Shot coverage include Darren Clarke, David Duval, Nick Faldo, Tony Jacklin, Justin Leonard, Colin Montgomerie, Jesper Parnevik, Lanny Watkins, Peter Aliss. That coverage will use images from the world feed.
4. Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and Tom Verducci will call Derek Jeter's final regular season home game on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network. An MLB Net spokesperson said current MLB All-Stars, former teammates and athletes from other sports, including Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Jimmie Johnson, will look back at Jeter's career as part of an opener.
5. Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will air a profile of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday (10 p.m.). Correspondent Andrea Kremer sat down with Meyer for the piece.
5a. Deadspin's Dave McKenna amplified just how awful a decision it was by Fox Sports 1 to use pollster Frank Luntz to evaluate Roger Goodell's press conference.