Michelle Beisner-Buck will update her profile of former Giants WR Bobby Johnson on the Nov. 14 edition of Monday Night Countdown. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)
Michelle Beisner-Buck will update her profile of former Giants WR Bobby Johnson on tonight’s edition of Monday Night Countdown. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)
His courageous choice to tell his story has affected many people. Shortly after our original piece aired in Week 4, someone reached out to my boss Seth Markman [ESPN senior coordinating producer for NFL studio shows] wanting to do something very special for Bobby. Within hours, the man, New York businessman Lee Einsidler, and I began working a plan to do something for Bobby that he’d never expect.
– ESPN’s Michelle Beisner-Buck on one result of her feature on Bobby Johnson

In NFL Week 4, ESPN features reporter Michelle Beisner-Buck told the story of former New York Giants wide receiver Bobby Johnson on Monday Night Countdown.

Beisner-Buck highlighted how one of the heroes of the Giants’ Super Bowl championship team 30 years ago battled drug addiction and homelessness, forcing him to pawn his Super Bowl ring for $250.

Today on Countdown (6 p.m. ET, ESPN), ahead of the Bengals-Giants ESPN Monday Night Football game, Beisner-Buck returns with an update on the “Rise, Fall and Redemption of Bobby Johnson.” It’s a followup that demonstrates how the original feature (which can be seen at the bottom of this post) has led to overwhelming support by viewers and fans seeking to help make Johnson whole again.

Beisner-Buck, Countdown’s primary feature reporter and storyteller, discusses her original story and previews tonight’s update with Front Row.

What aspects of Bobby Johnson’s story impressed you the most?
I’m impressed with his character. He is not a bad guy…Bobby was an NFL player in the mid 1980’s, and fell victim to the temptations that were so abundant at the time. I really feel a deep connection to Bobby. You can see the goodness in someone when you look into their eyes. He was so vulnerable in the process of telling his story – raw and emotional. He gave us a true window into his soul, and his struggles. I walked away from that interview feeling so connected and empathetic to his situation.

I can tell you with complete certainty, being a storyteller is the most gratifying role of my professional life. To connect with people, and hear their stories…to celebrate their triumphs, and try to understand their struggles, has been an incredible honor.
– Beisner-Buck

Why are you following up with an update?
I remember feeling so moved by Bobby’s journey, and it turns out I wasn’t the only one. His courageous choice to tell his story has affected many people. Shortly after our original piece aired in Week 4, someone reached out to my boss Seth Markman [ESPN senior coordinating producer for NFL studio shows] wanting to do something very special for Bobby. Within hours, the man, New York businessman Lee Einsidler, and I began working a plan to do something for Bobby that he’d never expect. This Countdown story for Week 10, an update to the original story, will take viewers through these events that came out of our story.

Can you discuss the response from viewers about the story?
Bobby has received an enormous amount of support through social media, from addiction recovery centers and individuals congratulating him on his sobriety and requesting his help through community outreach. Bobby is taking advantage of the opportunities in front of him.

As a reporter and storyteller, how do you feel sharing a story that prompts viewers to act and leads to a positive outcome for the subject?
Throughout my career, I have been both a reporter and storyteller. I can tell you with complete certainty, being a storyteller is the most gratifying role of my professional life. To connect with people, and hear their stories…to celebrate their triumphs, and try to understand their struggles, has been an incredible honor. I learn something new every week, with every person I meet. Bobby Johnson taught me: No matter what your situation is, there’s always hope, and there’s always help. And with hope and help, second chances are born, and we all deserve a second chance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch the digital version of Beisner-Buck’s Week 4 interview with Johnson below.

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