“When I see it’s [Connecticut 860] area code on my phone, it usually means someone’s in trouble,” Roger Cossack says of being an ESPN legal analyst.
The arrest of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez on a murder charge Wednesday put Cossack and ESPN.com legal analyst Lester Munson on the speed dial end of the assignment desk’s phones.
“When a story like Aaron Hernandez breaks, I know I am about to embark on a busy and interesting time,” Munson says. “I was working on two other stories when I learned the police had come to his house to arrest him. I will return to those projects when the Hernandez story reaches a point where there is not something new every half hour.”
Munson, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School, and Cossack, a UCLA and UCLA School of Law graduate, not only have to keep up with what’s new, they’re expected to help advance a story.[box color=black size=small align=right]
Aaron Hernandez Story Reporting Team
“I know most of the lawyers involved in the big cases, or I know someone who knows them, and I find that often they’ll talk with me since they know that I practiced law both as a prosecutor and defense lawyer and know what they are going through,” Cossack says.
A Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, he adds, “I also have a secret weapon — I can call on my students to do a bit of research for me!”
“We recognized that having expertise in legal issues would be a valuable asset in presenting sports news moving into the 21st century,” says Senior VP and Director of News Vince Doria. “In a way, it’s unfortunate we’ve had to call upon Roger and Lester as often as we have, but their ability to present insight and opinion in terms our viewers can understand allows us to better educate sports fans on off-field issues.”
“We have, in the last two years, dealt with the two most profoundly disturbing scandals in the history of sports — the Penn State pedophilia cover-up, and Hernandez,” says Munson. “It is somewhat amazing that both scandals come in programs that were viewed as models of excellence.”
Says Cossack: “Cases like this week’s are always tragedies for the families of the victim, and in this case, also the destroyed life of Hernandez and his family. Sadly though, it’s not a new story.”
ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row
• Here’s how ESPNNY.com Senior Writer Andrew Marchand broke the story regarding Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s newsworthy quote on Alex Rodriguez’ injury rehab status.
• In a Front & Center podcast, Confederations Cup play-by-play voice Ian Darke recaps some of the highlights from his trips across the United States; discusses his unique ability to work seamlessly with different analysts; his admiration for the U.S. soccer fans; and more.
• ESPN baseball analyst and proud father Barry Larkin shared preparation details for son Shane Larkin’s NBA Draft experience. He also discussed his own draft experience and the evolution of professional sports drafts.
• ESPN analyst Roberto Martinez described chemistry with fellow ESPN teammates; his new Everton FC coaching gig; and Confederations Cup news in a Front Row video interview.
Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week
• Debut column from ESPN Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte: What are commentary boundaries at ESPN?
• From Rick Reilly: What if certain moments in sports ended differently?
• From ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil: The worst side of NBA draft night
• Enjoy an array of photos from ESPN Images
Dan Quinn contributed to this post.