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My name is. . . Brent: Eminem and Musburger – together at last

Kirk Herbstreit, Eminem and Brent Musburger
(L-R) Kirk Herbstreit, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) and Brent Musburger in the ESPN booth.

It was viral (2.5 million views). It was trending. And it was memorable.

“It” was last Saturday’s halftime interview of Eminem (a.k.a. Marshall Mathers) by Saturday Night Football announcers Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit during ESPN’s Notre Dame-Michigan telecast.

Eminem stopped by the booth to introduce a premiere sneak peek of the official video for “Berzerk” – the first single from his new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, set to be released on Nov. 5. ESPN also announced last week that “Berzerk” will be the featured song on the 2013 season of Saturday Night Football Presented by Windows on ABC beginning with tomorrow’s match-up of No. 21 Notre Dame at in-state rival Purdue (8 p.m. ET).

Musburger spoke with Front Row about the interview, his wife’s thoughts on it, autographs and more.

What are your thoughts on the interview?
He was great to work with. As goofy as he appeared at first, it was all part of the “Berzerk” persona he took on. The crossover with – and great contrast of – generations is what made this one so powerful. There are, I’m sure those who were scratching their head saying “why is there this guy on a football game” along with the millions who were saying “that’s the best rapper in the world.” I don’t feel the interview was out of place and personally enjoyed it.

Producer Bill Bonnell said in an interview Eminem wanted an autograph. Did you give him one?
Yes. I gave it to his manager Paul Rosenberg before we started. It was so flattering and unexpected.

Did you ask for an autograph in return?
No. I think I’ve asked for one autograph in my lifetime – Joe Namath – and he was long retired at that point. There is a famous photo of him lounging by the pool with media, myself included, before Super Bowl III that ran in Sports Illustrated. I had him sign that for me. That is the only time I have asked for an autograph.

Did your wife, Arlene, have anything to say about the interview?
She had the best line of everyone. She looked up at me and said, “Brent, at least you didn’t call him ‘beautiful’.”

What were your thoughts when Marshall called you a legend during the interview?
I was completely taken by surprise. I had no idea he thought of me the way he did. I was a little taken aback when he said it because the interview was about him and he turned it to about me. It was flattering and unexpected.

Did you find anything in common with Eminem?
Oh yes. We both have an interest in the National Football League. He’s not a small fan. He’s a big fan. He obviously loves the Detroit Lions, but I found out he also really likes the Dallas Cowboys.

Were you familiar with his music?
My son Blake did some research on Marshall and got some of his music for me once I knew we’d be using one of his songs. I wanted to become familiar with it so I’ve listened to quite a bit of it in the past month.

There had to be some friends or relatives who were jealous of you doing the interview.
Reporter Heather Cox was hoping she could’ve interviewed him but quickly realized Marshall Mathers on the sidelines of the football game just wouldn’t have worked. And my granddaughter Addie was more excited that I was hanging out with Eminem than these football players. She knows me much more as Brent Mustangburger in the Cars and Planes movies and now, for interviewing rappers, than she does for my game calls.

What musician or artist would be your dream interview in the booth?
I think we just had it. Now, I’m from Montana, so everyone knows country musicians are big with me. But the one celebrity I’d like to interview is Beyonce, because I mispronounced her name in an on-air promo about five years ago that Kirk and Lisa [Salters] wouldn’t let me forget. And I bet she knows sports.

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