Behind The Scenes

On the road w/ESPN’s MNF

When Jeffrey Leonardo joined the Monday Night Football crew in 2006, he remembers being looked at as somewhat of a moon rock. He had worked with AC/DC, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Oasis, Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N’ Roses, Phil Collins and others, and the crew was curious to know what rock-n-roll was all about. Conversely, Jeffrey was just as fascinated with their world and wanted to know what they had to say about athletes like Brett Favre.

Jeffrey’s experience in the music world included gigs at the Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Conn., where he recalls seeing ESPN in its infancy. “I remember seeing a small building across the street that had a dozen or so satellite dishes in the yard. Little did I know that later in life I would be figuratively crossing that street and that little building would be an entire city-state,” he said.

On the MNF tour, Leonardo started as the driver who took Tony Kornheiser from city to city. Today, he has expanded his role to encompass quite a bit more. He drives the bus that doubles as a studioand takes care of all of the people in it. He prepares the bus for TV segments, works withcommentators Mike Tirico and company, producer Jay Rothman, director Chip Dean and others,coordinates transportation and logistics in the game city and assists with set-up of the NFL Sunday Ticket viewing room at the production hotel.

Though coming to MNF from the music world required a big adjustment, Jeffrey found a common denominator: “Both are made up of good, hardworking people that are exceptionally skilled at their craft.”

Jeffrey draws upon the words of former Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes, “You win with people,” he said.

Whether on tour or at the grocery store, Leonardo treats everyone he meets like a first-round draft pick.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, he’s a passionate Ohio State fan who grew up rooting for the Cleveland Browns on MNF. When not on tour, Jeffrey and Julia, whom he calls his better half, reside in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

For someone who logs thousands of miles each year on tour, it is Jeffrey’s good fortune to kick off the MNF season with a home game in South Florida when the Dolphins host the Patriots tonight.

 

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