“Atta Awards” recognize teamwork, extra effort among MNF crew members

Camera operator Jackson Helms Smith, standing to the right of Chip Dean , holds an Atta Award. (Jodi Brits/ESPN)
Camera operator Jackson Helms Smith, standing to the right of Chip Dean, holds an Atta Award. (Jodi Brits/ESPN)
When you receive something like that in front of your peers and they clap for you – it’s amazing what an impact it makes. It’s all about being a team. –
Chip Dean, coordinating director, MNF

During tonight’s Ravens-Saints Monday Night Football game (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), the phrase “atta boy” will not only be uttered in reference to players on the field.

In an effort to recognize MNF crew members, ESPN coordinating director Chip Dean instituted weekly Atta Awards this season with help from production manager Katie Gorman.

“It represents outstanding contributions, execution and passion to the game or our show,” Dean said.

These unique awards – customized yellow flags with the MNF logo as a tail – are presented to one or more crew members each week in honor of their accomplishments from the previous game.

The award design stemmed from a play in the preseason when the ref threw a flag 40 yards. Our ISO producer Aladdin Freeman noticed this and replayed what had happened like it was in-game action. –
Katie Gorman, production manager, MNF

“The award design stemmed from a play in the preseason when the ref threw a flag 40 yards,” Gorman said. “Our ISO producer Aladdin Freeman noticed this and replayed what had happened like it was in-game action.”

In addition to praising good work, Dean sees the Atta Awards as an opportunity for people to get to know one another better. Each week, he invites the winners to address the crew in Monday’s camera replay meeting at the stadium before the game.

After earning an Atta Award for great camera work in the Eagles-Colts game, camera operator Jackson Helms Smith thanked crew members for helping him grow in his role the last three years.

“I was on the Eagles sideline, and every time [running back Darren Sproles] came off the field, he went over to his linemen and thanked them all for what they had done… He knew he couldn’t have scored without their help,” Smith said. “I felt like this was my chance to do that and to really express my heartfelt thanks.”

Along with producer Jay Rothman, Dean treats each member of the MNF crew like a champion and expects all to respond in kind.

“When you receive something like that in front of your peers and they clap for you – it’s amazing what an impact it makes,” Dean said. “It’s all about being a team.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Learn more about the MNF production crew’s thoughts on the “Atta Awards” by visiting the Front Row Facebook page.

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