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Neil Everett: ‘I Was Not Ready For First ESPN Audition’

“I didn’t know the Chicago White Sox. I couldn’t name a player on their team. I hadn’t done the homework. I was horrible.”

Ricky Keeler

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Geoff Thurner

When ESPN opened up a production facility in Los Angeles in 2009 for SportsCenter, Neil Everett became one of the facility’s main anchors along with Stan Verrett on the 1 a.m ET edition of the show. Over the last 10+ years, those two have become one of the more prominent duos for SportsCenter.

Everett was a guest this week on the Bleav in CollegeFootball Legends Podcast with Chris Smith to talk about his favorite interviews among other topics. He said on the show that he never really worked with Verrett that often in Bristol, but the two are similar people that have forged their own path at the network: 

“We both come from similar stock. We both believe in hard work. We both are two guys that I don’t think ESPN has expected as much out of us than we’ve produced. We determined our trajectory once ESPN let the reins off us and let us go a little bit. I love Stan to death.”

When Everett had his first audition with ESPN in 1999, he admitted that he wasn’t exactly prepared for the interview and the local sportscasts that he did in Hawaii were completely different than the role he was trying to apply for.

“I hadn’t done my homework. I wasn’t familiar with half the things they were talking about on SportsCenter because when I did the sports in Hawaii, we weren’t talking about half the stuff they were talking about. There were two different worlds of sports. Our local sportscast was mostly local sports. I didn’t know the Chicago White Sox. I couldn’t name a player on their team. I hadn’t done the homework. I was horrible. I knew I had nobody to blame but me, but fortunately, a year later, they called me back to do another audition.”

The second audition worked out for Everett has he has been at ESPN for over 20 years (July 2000) and he has become known for some of his catchphrases such as “Bartender, how about a Jack?” Everett mentioned that all of his catchphrases are not pre-planned.

“’How’s it’ is just a common thing in Hawaii. ‘Bartender, Jack’ just seemed like a natural. Probably just came to me. They come to you organic. Sometimes somebody will give you one and you go that’s pretty good, I’m going to use that…I got to write them down because my brain gets so fried.”

Even though Everett did not have a great first audition with ESPN, he learned from it and now is one of the faces most recognizable with SportsCenter, particularly the west coast edition out in Los Angeles. In addition to SportsCenter, Everett will be hosting pregame, halftime, and postgame shows for most of the Portland Trail Blazers road games for ROOT SPORTS this season.  

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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