Stalk Softly Even with enhanced sideline access, Monday Night Football's Lesley Visser will pick her spots

August 22, 1999

Now to Lesley, down on the field....

"I had a moment last year when Chris [Boomer] Berman gave me the
lead-in from the studio at halftime," Lesley Visser, in her
second season as the sideline reporter for ABC's Monday Night
Football, says. "I interviewed David [Boomer] Wells, who had
pitched his perfect game for the Yankees a couple of days
earlier. Then I had to send the show back to Boomer Esiason in
the booth. It was Boomer to Boomer to Boomer. A triple Boomer."

Now to Lesley, in the cold....

"I started doing this in 1988 for The NFL Today on CBS," Visser
says. "I replaced Irv Cross. I always thought Irv Cross talked
funny from the field, different from the normal way he talked. I
found out why. He was freezing. You're out there in the cold,
nowhere to go for about four hours. It's hard to enunciate when
your body is frozen. I've tried everything to keep warm. I tried
battery-operated socks once. What a disaster! I had to buy shoes
two sizes too large. I had to buy D batteries. I clunked around
in these shoes, and the batteries wore out, and I still was
frozen."

Now to Lesley, behind the line of scrimmage....

"That was John Madden's advice," Visser says. "He said I always
should be behind the line of scrimmage, not in front of it, when
I was talking from the sideline. That way, unless something
weird happens on the play, I won't be knocked over by a wide
receiver and a defensive back while I'm talking. It's a problem.
You're down there in the noise and chaos."

Now to Lesley, in a bunch of new places....

"There are a lot more things sideline reporters can do this
season," Visser says. "The NFL opened up. At halftime we can
interview coaches going off the field and coming back on the
field. During the game we can talk with players on injured
reserve. We can go to the bench area to get information. It's
all for the better, I think. We're in this age of instant
information, news in a millisecond. You never want to compromise
the competition, what's going on on the field, but this way we
can add to the information."

Now to Lesley, in a more visible role on MNF after these NFL
changes and the departure of Dan Dierdorf....

"We're going to have to figure out a lot of this as we go
along," Visser says. "Talking with the coaches, especially.
There are a lot of times, to be honest, when it's better to
paraphrase what the coach says rather than talking to him on the
air. Sometimes it's the third or fourth question that gets the
answer you need. You won't have time for that if you're doing
the interview live. There are going to be coaches, too, who
won't want to talk. Which is fine. The goal is to explain the
situation better, like when Bryant Young of the 49ers broke his
leg last year or when Bill Cowher of the Steelers was waving
that photograph [showing that his team did not have too many men
on the field] in the official's face on the sideline. We should
be able to learn more now."

Now to Lesley, just about everywhere....

"I was in the stands with Lou Groza, at the Hall of Fame Game,
our first show of the season, the Browns and the Cowboys from
Canton," Visser says. "I was in the owners' boxes talking with
[Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones and [Browns president] Carmen
Policy. I was in the end zone with Stephanie Spielman, the wife
of [Cleveland linebacker] Chris Spielman, talking about her
breast cancer. I was in the seats talking with one of the head
dogs in the Dawg Pound. He wouldn't take off his dog mask. He
started barking."

Back to you, Al.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)