Former production assistants now help quarterback ESPN’s NFL pre-game shows

Matthew Garrett, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.
(l-r) Producer Matthew Garrett consults with ESPN NFL commentators Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Garrett)
Johann Castillo
(l-r) Analyst Tom Jackson, producer Johann Castillo, and analysts Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter (Photo courtesy of Johann Castillo)

NFL producers Johann Castillo and Matthew Garrett have spent a combined 18 years at ESPN. Both started as production assistants (PAs) and have advanced through the ranks to manage content on the NFL pre-game shows, Sunday NFL Countdown (Sundays, 10 a.m. ET) and Monday Night Countdown (Mondays, 6:30 p.m.).

A Boston College alumnus and Edison, N.J., native, Castillo landed his first job at ESPN cutting highlights on NFL studio shows in 2003. A couple of years later, Miami University (Ohio) graduate and Rochester, N.Y., native Garrett joined the same department. Now in leadership roles, Castillo and Garrett credit their mentors within the NFL production team for helping them become producers.

Castillo learned a great deal from observing how senior coordinating producer Seth Markman and coordinating producers Greg Jewell and Scott Clark handle their roles.

Responsible for line producing on NFL Sundays, Castillo constructs the order of the three-hour show while communicating throughout with host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis.

For Castillo, it once was difficult to tell the analysts to wrap up a segment. But managing time is an essential skill.

“Working with a number of talented analysts, I feel like my job is to put them each in a position to make their personalities shine and bring out the best commentary for our show,” Castillo said.

Garrett, who produces the nearly two-hour pre-game show that leads into Monday Night Football, has the challenge of incorporating voices from two different sets. Though he’s based at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters, Garrett also plans and produces content originating from the MNF site with commentators Stuart Scott, Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, Steve Young and Rick Reilly. They are joined each week on the road by producer Tony Florkowski.

Garrett says his mentors taught him to present content in a smart way.

“Like people say about sports, for the good players it all slows down a little bit to them — they can see the whole field,” said Garrett. “I feel like I’m seeing more and more of the field all the time.”

Check out ESPN’s NFL Programming Update for a full rundown of this week’s Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown features.

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