Behind The Scenes

Monday Night Football panel at Arizona State’s ‘Cronkite Day’


Few people will have the opportunity to play in the NFL, but as ESPN’s Monday Night Football director Chip Dean has found, there’s still a way to be involved in the game.

A former safety at Arizona State in the late 1970s and a member of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications’ Alumni Hall of Fame, Dean returned to his alma mater Friday while in town to cover tonight’s San Francisco 49ers-Arizona Cardinals game (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Dean and his MNF teammates — play-by-play voice Mike Tirico, sideline reporter Lisa Salters and producer Jay Rothman — participated in an hour-long panel discussion that capped ASU’s inaugural “Cronkite Day”. Together, they discussed the world of sports television and offered advice to the students in attendance.

Dean, who has been with ESPN since its first year in 1979, talked about the way technology helps turn a game into a movie: “At the end of the day, it’s about a shot or a story or a replay — something that touches your heart, makes you laugh or makes you cry.”

Rothman, Dean’s production partner of 23 years, described the crew’s mantra of approaching every Monday night like it’s the Super Bowl.

Salters, in her first year on MNF, recalled watching the series with her dad growing up and what it meant to see her cousin, Hall of Fame Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett, play on Monday nights.

A self-described sports nerd, Tirico encouraged students to chase their dreams: “Many people will tell you that you cannot get to that job that you dream, but you can’t get there unless you dream about it, so have it as a goal.”

Special thanks to MNF’s on-site editor Jim Dove, the Cronkite School’s chief engineer, for his part in organizing the event. Photos courtesy of Molly J. Smith, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

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