Tirico, Musburger to be honored

ESPN’s Brent Musburger and Mike Tirico will be honored Monday at the 52nd annual National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

Musburger will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame alongside legendary baseball announcer Bob Uecker and the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan (who also contributes to ESPN’s Around the Horn, PTI, and The Sports Reporters).

Tirico spoke with Front Row about the 2010 NSSA National Sportscaster of the Year award he is set to receive:

FR: What does this Sportscaster of the Year honor mean to you?

Tirico: It means so much because of the people who have won it before and because of the people who voted on it, being recognized by your peers. It’s an acknowledgment of accomplishment that people who care what our business entails believe in how you’re doing your day-to-day work. That’s what it really means to me. On top of that, just to be honored alongside someone like Peter King (2010 NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year), whom I have the utmost respect for, and to be able to receive this the year Brent goes into the Hall of Fame is what makes it really special. Brent allowed studio guys to become play-by-play guys. He put a journalist’s sensibilities in the booth, almost a managing editor quality to every broadcast he’s a part of. To be lucky enough to get this award the year one of the Mt. Rushmore of sportcasters of our generation is honored makes it even more special to me.

FR: Have you attended this event before or been to Salisbury?

Tirico: I have not been to this event before but I am very much looking forward to it. Jim Nantz has received this honor several times and he was one of the first people to contact me and congratulate me. He spoke effusively about how kind the people of Salisbury are and of their hospitality. It’s going to be a wonderful event because of everything those folks do. There are a number of events planned and I also look forward to meeting many of the state sportscasters and sportswriters who will be in attendance. I’m told it’s a great weekend in the community, that they really make all of us feel so welcome. That’s something that everyone who has attended says.

FR: Do you know others who plan to attend, perhaps other Syracuse alums who are in broadcasting?
Tirico: Syracuse is one of the first schools to start an on-campus chapter of NSSA. This is the first year for the program. The people who got that started will be there, and Dave Goren, the NSSA executive director, also went to Syracuse.

FR: Will you family attend?

Tirico: All the people who were most important to me growing up will be there, and my wife pulled together a surprise for our whole family to come down so we can all be together, which is just great. In all it will be 13 people.

FR: You asked your ESPN/ABC golf partner Curtis Strange to present you at the dinner. Was it a difficult decision with all the people you work with on so many different sports?

Tirico: “When I got my first large assignment — something outside of SportsCenter in a regular play-by-play hosting role — it was doing golf at ABC in 1997, and Curtis was really my first partner. Through these 15 years now we have always stayed in touch. His family has been part of our lives. His son is a friend of mine. Curtis has always been a great person to seek out advice, talk about life in general. He’s been so much of a friend in addition to a co-worker that he was the first person who came to mind for me. He’s meant a lot to me personally and professionally, so it was an easy decision and he was wonderful to accept. He’s also going to bring some members of his family and get together with some of his college buddies from Wake Forest. It should be a real nice group. I’m very humbled by the whole thing.

FR: You covered so many events in 2010, from Monday Night Football and golf majors to the NBA, FIFA World Cup in South Africa and college football bowl games. What stands out most?

Tirico: From this [past] year, it’s no doubt World Cup. Monday Night Football and The Masters and The Open Championship never get old. Whenever somebody asks me what my favorite thing is of all the things I do, I always tell them I don’t have a favorite. I treat it like children, where you can’t have a favorite. It sounds like a cop-out answer but I always mean that because I wouldn’t be giving my fair attention to the other events. I just count myself lucky to be in so many places. But 2010 will certainly stand out because of the opportunity to cover the World Cup. It was new to me. It was as ambitious an undertaking as our company has taken. It was, for social and political reasons, very important to that part of the world — a part of the world I had never visited. It was the only continent where I had not covered a sporting event, besides, of course, Antarctica. All that rolled into one, and then the professional and personal experience of doing it was so impactful. It will forever stay as one of the highlights of my time, however long it is, at ESPN. It is something I talk about often, and it makes me smile every time I think about the experience.

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