Behind The Scenes

“Fantasy” SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi validates Victor Cruz pick

With the NFL season a month old, many fantasy football players are starting to get a feel for how well they drafted this season. The same is true for the athletes, mascots, cheerleaders and other “Fantasy SportsCenter” league general managers in the “This is SportsCenter” ad, “Fantasy” (above).

Anchor Kevin Negandhi was a high value pick because of what his drafter, New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, calls “desk presence.”

Cruz is joined in the “war room” by New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Philadelphia Eagles’ mascot Swoop and New England Patriots’ mascot Pat the Patriot, among others.

Negandhi, a diehard Philadelphia sports fan, gave Front Row a glimpse into the making of the spot, including his stunt work; interacting with the other “actors”; and who his No. 1 Fantasy SportsCenter anchor would be.

Kevin Negandhi  (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Kevin Negandhi (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Tell us about the day of the shoot.
It was in the afternoon the day of the Sports Emmys, May 6. We had just shot the new SportsCenter studio “Universal Remote” commercial that morning and I was going to the Sports Emmys that night (SportsCenter was nominated), so I had a tight window with the crew to shoot my repeated falls. . . yes, plural.

So you did your own stunt work?
I would never use a stunt double. I love fully engaging 100 percent into something.

So we had more than a dozen takes where I fell to get the shot right. The first couple of times were about placement and timing with Victor and the guy vacuuming behind me. There was padding there and the guys were loving how ridiculous I looked because each time, I’d make sure I fell naturally like a tree, losing the natural instinct of anticipating a fall.

Victor and Jimmy got a kick out of it as well as the crew. There was a nearby printer I came close to hitting a couple times so I had to manage the location. And we managed to stay clear of it.

On the final take (the 15th), the director wanted me to stare at him and the crew in the corner. So I literally had no idea where my landing spot was.

On the final take, the director wanted me to stare at him and the crew in the corner. So I literally had no idea where my landing spot was.
. – SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi on doubling as stunt man for a “This Is SportsCenter” spot

I sold it pretty good, like a boxer knocked out (think Apollo Creed from Rocky IV during Sylvester Stallone’s amazing tunnel montage in the Lamborghini). But, I missed the landing point for the extra padding. Now mind you, the carpeting in this room had no padding underneath. It felt like the old AstroTurf at the Vet (in Philadelphia). So the whole room heard me go down like Frazier.

I got up and then the whole place paused and reacted saying, “Ohhh!”

Good times and worth it. My hip was sore the next day but I knew we had nailed the shot.

What was going on between takes?
Well, I know Victor from past interviews. He gets it and is a pro when the light is on. But he’s even better behind the scenes. I got a kick out of Swoop being there. Jimmy and I had talked about it being in his first “TISC” commercial and he was excited. I could tell he wanted to get it right and didn’t know what to expect that day.

So Cruz drafted you. Did you draft him?
Of course, I took Victor in one of my leagues. That was out of respect and synergy. That’s my guy.

What have you heard from fans and friends about the spot?
The feedback has been flattering from tweets about my injury status to gaining fantasy points for stuff I do on SportsCenter. And while he’s a good friend who I have the utmost respect for, there is a sense of accomplishment being taken over the legendary Bob Ley, who in reality would be my No. 1 pick. But this is fantasy so I’ve got that and the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” 1 and 2 over Bob (a New York Giants fan). For an Eagles fan, that’s all I got.

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