Behind The Scenes

This Is SportsCenter: Kenny Chesney

Country music star Kenny Chesney has a long history of working with ESPN.

Among his many collaborations with the network, he’s produced films such as the football documentary The Boys Of Fall and The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story feature about the former Tennessee star quarterback.

Now comes his latest: a role in a This Is SportsCenter commercial.

In the ad that debuted today, Chesney and SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy grab a meal in the ESPN Cafeteria. But as Levy discovers, Chesney sits with a group of sports personalities that don’t include anchors.

Other special guests at the “cool table” — featuring a campfire — include Pistol Pete from Oklahoma State, Smokey from the University of Tennessee, Miles from the Denver Broncos, Hook ‘Em from the University of Texas and two Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

In the interview below, Chesney — whose new album Welcome to the Fishbowl is released June 19 — discusses why he likes working with ESPN, his favorite This Is SportsCenter ad, and which network personalities he’d invite to sing in his studios.

How did you get involved in the project?
My friend John Dahl [executive producer, ESPN content development] called and asked if I’d be interested in doing a This is Sports Center commercial. I was thrilled they wanted me to do it. A lot of famous sports people I look up to and admire do those things. The fact they’d want me was an honor.

What’s your favorite TISC ad?
The one I think is funny in a really simple way is Jimmie Johnson in the [ESPN] parking lot, with a jackhammer or pickax or something, tearing up a speed bump.

Did you have a chance to run into another celebrity shooting TISC in Bristol that day?
I got to see a lot of the anchors I’ve become friends with over the years, a lot of the people who come to our shows. I love visiting the ESPN campus, and I love the relationships I have there, from the executives to the anchors. The only outside celebrity I ran into that day was Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan. We sat down at the same (real) lunch table, totally by chance, and had a good chat.

You have a long history of working with ESPN. Why do you like working with ESPN? Are there any other projects on the horizon?
I’m a huge sports fan. Sports consume my life. If I find something I’m passionate about, a film I could make that would add a fresh perspective, then I would love to do another project. After Boys of Fall and The Color Orange, I haven’t found what that is yet…but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

If you could be in the Front Row of any sporting event, past, present, or future, what would it be and why?
When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. I had a lot of friends on that team, and I would have given anything to be there to support them. I had a work commitment. I was not happy about it.

If you would invite any ESPN personalities to your studios to write and perform songs with you, who would they be and why?
I’d invite Mike and Mike — they’d bring a lot of personality into the studio. And then I’d have Hannah Storm, Linda Cohn and Bob Ley sing backup in three-part harmony.

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