A familiar face on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and SportsCenter, Holtzman is a part of ESPN’s “Training CampSCenter” initiative where ESPN reporters and NFL analysts cover a combined 32 NFL training camps in just 10 days (live reports air on SportsCenter, NFL Insiders (3 p.m. ET), NFL Live (4 p.m.) and ESPN Radio shows).
Holtzman’s training camp schedule begins Friday with a two-day stop in Berea, Ohio, to see rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns. He’ll continue “Training CampSCenter” reports on Monday, July 28, at the Indianapolis Colts’ camp with NFL analyst and former Colt Jeff Saturday, and he’ll wrap up his training camp tour Wednesday, July 30, with the Arizona Cardinals.
Before beginning his six-day tour, Holtzman spoke with Front Row about memorable moments from past camps and how he prepared for this year’s assignments.
Thinking back on all of the training camp stories you’ve covered, which one stands out as the most surprising or unexpected?
The one story that stands out is this: It was at Falcons camp on Michael Vick’s first day as a rookie. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was training camp or rookie camp. Anyway, at one point during practice, Vick runs off the field and disappears for about 15 minutes. After practice he explained that he had two BBQ sandwiches for lunch and thinks it upset his stomach. To this day, I still believe it was rookie nerves.
How do you approach solo assignments (Browns and Cardinals) versus assignments when you’re paired with an analyst (Colts)?
I prepare the same for assignments whether I’m working on TV alone or with an analyst. I figure it’s my responsibility to know the storylines either way. I don’t work with analysts often but I really enjoy the days when I do because I always learn something. Last month, I had a chance to stand next to [ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL quarterback] Ron Jaworski and watch Manziel practice. He saw things I didn’t. I’m sure Jeff Saturday will, too. I’ve known Jeff for years. . . but it’s always been a player-reporter relationship. I’m excited to have a chance to make some television with him.