Behind The Scenes

ESPN Deportes’ John Sutcliffe delivers NFL news in two languages

John Sutcliffe prior to a regular season Monday Night Football game.
(Credit: Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

Editor’s note: ESPN celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, running Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, by highlighting the contributions of Latinos in sports. In this post, meet ESPN reporter John Sutcliffe, a native of Mexico. For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month on all ESPN platforms, click here.

John Sutcliffe is one of ESPN’s most versatile sports reporters.

Sutcliffe, who was born and lives in Mexico City, combines his primary role as a reporter for Spanish-language SportsCenter with reporting on marquee events on ESPN Deportes such as, serving as sideline reporter for Monday Night Football, covering the NFL’s Super Bowl Week, as well as all of golf’s four Majors.

He was the Spanish- and English-language reporter covering the Mexican National Team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, contributing to ESPN’s Sports Emmy Award-winning coverage of the event — an assignment he says is one of the highlights of his ESPN career.

Front Row caught up with Sutcliffe during Monday Night Football at Cowboys Stadium Oct. 1 to discuss his career and the growing popularity of the NFL in the Hispanic community:

On the advantages of being a bilingual sports reporter:
There’s no question that there are more opportunities. Like next year at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, I can do a NOD (News Of the Day) in English and Spanish. The company is helping me. The last two to three months, I have a teacher who lives in New York and he is giving me English lessons in Mexico City through my iPad. I am grateful to the company because they have taken me under their wings and given me the opportunity to further improve as a reporter.

On his favorite sports event to cover:
My favorite week of the year is The Masters in Augusta. Also, as a Mexican, there’s no bigger thrill than to cover the Mexican National Team through a FIFA World Cup. The thing I enjoy the most is being on the sidelines for Monday Night Football. Sometimes, I cover a lot of events that we’re not the rights holder. So, you are like the unwanted guest covering an event. On Monday nights, I feel at home. I might be broadcasting it in Spanish, but I feel like I’m part of the whole Monday Night crew.

On the growing popularity of the NFL in the Hispanic community:
A couple of examples: Even though there are huge NFL stadiums across the U.S., in 1994 in [Mexico City’s] Azteca Stadium hosted Oilers and Cowboys with over 112,000 [fans in attendance]. It is still the largest attendance in the history of the NFL. People actually pay, in about 12 different cities in Mexico, to go watch Monday Night Football in the theater.

On his thoughts about the Hispanic Heritage Month:
It promotes awareness for the contributions of the Hispanic community. When you have [Dallas Cowboys quartrback] Tony Romo, his grandfather came from Tamaulipas (Mexico) for the American dream, or [New York Jets quarterback] Mark Sanchez, whose family came for the opportunity, it is a reflection of the American dream. The American dream also comes through the NFL. Their parents and grandparents came to the U.S., now their kids are football players living the American dream.

(The ESPN Spanish-language commentary team for MNF also features play-by-play commentator Alvaro Martin and Super Bowl XXI-winning kicker Raul Allegre as analyst.)

Editor’s note: Debates will rage about the NFL as Week 5 concludes tonight as the unbeaten Houston Texans visit the New York Jets for Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Apparently, it doesn’t matter where you are a fan. Consider the crew aboard the U.S.S. Colorado on ABC’s The Last Resort. Even leagues beneath the sea, there’s no agreement on who’s the NFL’s best QB.

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