Behind The Scenes

Play-by-play commentators sign multi-year contract extensions



Mark Jones, Sean McDonough, Brad Nessler, Dave Pasch, Joe Tessitore and Bob Wischusen – six highly-respected and versatile play-by-play voices – have signed multi-year contract extensions to remain with ESPN. The sextuplet talks with Front Row about life as an ESPN play-by-play commentator, memorable moments, bucket list sports and more…

What is a typical week in the life of an ESPN play-by-play commentator?
McDonough: There is no such thing as a typical week, which is part of what makes it fun. Each week is different depending on the game schedule, travel, people with whom you are working, etc.
Nessler: My typical week is six days of homework and about three days of travel. The fun part – the game is somewhere in the middle of the craziness. We put in a lot of prep and don’t just show up at the game and start talking.
Wischusen: Materials start to arrive for football on Monday, I spend all day Tuesday making charts, Wednesday’s are conference calls with coaches, Thursday I travel, Friday is spent at the production truck and hotel in meetings, Saturday we do the game and Sunday I squeeze in a Jets game (on radio). Monday it starts all over again! But it’s fun…

What is one thing about being an on-air commentator fans might not know?
Jones: There is a major amount of time spent committing things to memory – names, numbers, stats and anecdotes, while also looking for personal stories on players and coaches to help humanize them.
Pasch: We spend much more time preparing for a college football game than we do actually calling the game. About 80 percent of the information I write down on my board or “cheat sheet” will never get used during the telecast.
Wischusen: The amount of time we are speaking while someone else (producer/director) is speaking to us at the same time. There is so much communication and teamwork that is involved in making a show work.

What is your most memorable moment on air at ESPN?
Jones: I have two memorable moments in my 22 years at ESPN. From a personal perspective I recently interviewed President Barack Obama during the USA vs. Brazil men’s basketball game. From an on-air perspective, I called the first football game of any kind on any network in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks – South Carolina vs. Miss St. It was a poignant national moment of healing and I was honored to be the voice of it.
McDonough: Being on air for the historic six overtime game in the 2009 BIG EAST Championship quarters between Syracuse and Connecticut.

What is your favorite sport to call and why?
Pasch: It is hard to decide between basketball and football. But if I had to pick, it would be football, because there are so few games, making each one its own special event.
Tessitore: I have a love for college football that just connects to my core – it has long been my passion. But I enjoy calling any sport or event when there is that “it’s all on the line” feeling.

Do you have a bucket list sport/event that you would want to call?
Tessitore: I’ve been blessed to call the events that have been lifelong interests –Triple Crown horse races, world title fights, the biggest and best college football games, but still my bucket list is lengthy and includes the Rose Bowl at the top.
Wischusen: There are too many to count – Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, Stanley Cup Final, Final Four. Any announcer just wants to be a part of the huge events.

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