Michelle Beisner joined ESPN this summer as a features reporter for Sunday NFL Countdown. No stranger to football fans having spent eight years at NFL Network as a studio host and field reporter, Beisner has made an immediate impact on ESPN’s NFL team, filing four features in the first five weeks of the season.
After a Week 1 conversation with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Beisner offered a touching look at Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still and his daughter Leah, who’s battling Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Most recently, she highlighted the special bond between Broncos safety Rahim Moore and Tyson Goulding, who both suffer from a rare condition called Acute Compartment Syndrome.
This weekend on Countdown (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET, ESPN), Beisner profiles Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt, one of the league’s top young stars and most dominating defensive players. In the Q&A below, Beisner discusses how she’s settling into her ESPN role and previews her interview with Watt.
You’ve hit the ground running in the first month of the season. How’s it going so far?
It’s been incredible. To dive into a story, do my research, figure out the best way to “tell” the story, collaborate with the fantastic producers in our features unit, and then execute it – and at (hopefully) a high level. There’s simply no better feeling. It makes me proud of what I do and to be doing it where I am.
Talk about the variety of features you’ve done and what you enjoy most about this role.
That’s what I love – being able to show a range of what I can do, who I can talk to, and how I can tell a story. I want to be able to show that I can be light on my feet, self-deprecating, sincere, genuine, heartfelt, serious and credible. Every week.
Each week has been different but it’s all about the connection. Being able to connect with the person I’m sitting down with.
What did you find most compelling about JJ Watt when you interviewed him this week?
JJ Watt is the real deal. This is what the “poster boy” of the NFL should look like. JJ is humble. Fun. Silly. Calculated. Accountable. Relentless in his work ethic. A leader in every way. His heart is in the right place – both on and off the field. Oh, and his hands, my goodness. . . massive!
How do you plan your features – a week at a time or several weeks ahead?
I’m a Type A person, so generally speaking, going week to week is not my style. I’m a planner. That said, you’ve got to be a bit flexible. The storylines in the NFL are forever changing and evolving, so you have to be ready. I guess I do a bit of both.
What has been the most surprising thing about working at ESPN?
Nothing has really surprised me. I’m more pleased than anything. In all sincerity, it feels amazing to have this platform. It feeds my soul, and challenges my mind. To enjoy what I do every day, that’s not work; that’s success.
Editor’s Note: For a full rundown of Sunday NFL Countdown features and other NFL content on ESPN this weekend, visit ESPN Media Zone.