Behind The Scenes

Behind E:60’s‘Money Comes Second’

As of this posting, we’re a few hours away from the first selection of the 2011 NFL draft (ESPN, ESPN Radio 8 p.m. ET).

A little more than a year ago, University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker was projected by some to be the first overall pick of the 2010 draft. Instead of following that notion and declaring himself eligible after his junior season, Locker returned to Washington for what proved to be a comparatively lackluster senior year.

While he’s still considered a possible first-round pick for 2011, Locker might have cost himself millions in guaranteed signing bonus money. ESPN’s newsmagazine E:60 profiled Locker to learn more about the Huskies star.

Front Row asked E:60‘s Lisa Binns, who co-produced the “Money Comes Second” segment (reported by Lisa Salters), for her thoughts on the piece.

FR: Jake Locker’s decision to skip the 2010 NFL draft has been well-documented. How did you come up with other angles to tell his story?

Binns: We know our fans want to hear about their favorite athletes and our management challenges us to find the best stories in sports. We’re always looking for new and interesting angles about athletes who may have had a lot of media exposure.

In the case of Jake Locker, I can’t take credit for discovering his friendships with the children featured in our story. I co-produced the feature with David Salerno, who did a lot of the leg work before I became involved. David spoke to several people close to Locker and discovered something, I think, that offers a glimpse of Locker’s character.

FR: What was access like to Locker and his family and friends? They seem to be ready to let the world know what they think of his decision.

Binns: We got a fair amount of access with Locker, his family, friends and teammates. Honestly, I think despite some outside opinions, the people closest to him admire his decision.

I sensed and we documented the great pride from his parents, coach and teammates about his decision to stay. I don’t think anyone would have thought he was greedy to leave [after] his junior season because he was highly ranked, but I think his family and friends admired the fact that he was not motivated by money.

FR: Does Locker’s story remind you of others you’ve done, or is his pretty unique?

Binns: There are always commonalities in the human experience. Locker, in terms of athletes, is unique in what seems to be his selflessness — wanting to win a bowl game and restore glory to his school.

He is not, however, the first athlete to decide to stay one more year. I’m sure he didn’t anticipate having such a bad year.

FR: What did Locker’s teammates think of his decision?

Binns: One of Locker’s teammates Mason Foster said “he always does the right thing,” so I think for those who know him well, this decision was not a surprise.

FR: In your E:60 career, what’s been your favorite story to tell and why?

Binns: It’s hard to say I have one favorite story over another. I enjoy meeting different people, hearing different perspectives. The best thing about this job, for me, is how it reminds me of how lucky I am to be exposed to so many different ways of thinking. It’s grounding.

The E:60 episode featuring the “Money Comes Second” segment re-airs on ESPN2 on Friday, April 30 at 7:30 a.m. ET and Sunday, May 1 at 7:00 a.m. The segment also can be seen on E:60’s website.

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