Pats reporter Reiss nimbly responds to “Deflategate” news; E:60’s “The Goodell Project” debuts tonight

Monday’s news that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension had been reinstated by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals proved serendipitous for both E:60 and NFL Nation Patriots reporter, Mike Reiss.

Tonight’s E:60 (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) – featuring all NFL-related stories – introduces a seventh-grader from Massachusetts who says he can prove his hero is innocent. The kicker? The youngster just happens to share a surname with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Meanwhile, Reiss, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Pats’ beat, found himself forced into TV duty yesterday on a day where he was supposed to be in Bristol for meetings with fellow NFL Nation reporters.

“Ironically,” Reiss said, “one of the things we had just talked about in our NFL Nation meeting before the news broke was how reporters covering NFL teams are serving the company in different ways, and it’s a lot more than just producing written content on the team-specific blog. About an hour after hearing that, I was living it.”

In the two items below the SportsCenter video, we get insight on how both E:60 and Reiss handled their Deflategate assignments. Associate producer Brian Rivera discusses the E:60 feature and then Reiss talks about a day that got turned upside down for him and several colleagues.

Producer Brian Rivera on E:60’s
“The Goodell Project” feature

What was the impetus to do this brief feature?
We were looking for a way to bring something light and unexpected into the mix of NFL stories and producer Mike Johns found and suggested we pursue Ben Goodell’s story – it’s another chapter in the endless “Deflategate” saga, but we hope this one leaves you smiling.

What was your reaction to Monday’s news about Deflategate, given the segment is slated to air the very next day?
It was like the moment the Grinch smiles for the first time in the old cartoon.

What do you hope viewers take away from the piece?
It’s funny. Ben’s mom told me that after he started receiving media attention for his project, suddenly other kids in his school really wanted to do science projects. It might be short-lived motivation for most, but maybe there’s one student who really develops a fascination with science. So, there’s definitely an inspirational component to his story. And like I said, I’ll be happy if it makes people smile.

– Carrie Kreiswirth

NFL Nation Patriots reporter Mike Reiss on his manic Monday

Take us through how you were called into duty on Monday.
We were in the opening morning of the three-day agenda of our NFL Nation reporters gathering. We were in breakout sessions discussing ways we can improve our game-day online coverage when the news broke, and [senior coordinating producer] Tim McHugh was with us. He came right over to me and asked, “How fast can we get you over to SportsCenter?”

At the same time, I was communicating with my direct editor on ESPN.com, Monique Jones, about our plan for online content specific to the ruling. Tim understood that my first responsibility was to have an instant analysis on the ruling for ESPN.com, and that took about 15-20 minutes. We quickly then hustled over to the make-up area and studio, and fortunately I was already in a suit and tie. Some of my NFL Nation colleagues had been playfully ribbing me about that earlier in the morning. No joke, the response I had was, “You never know what’s going to happen today. It could be the Brady ruling.”

In all, I was part of eight television segments (11 a.m. SportsCenter; two on NFL Insiders, three on NFL Live, 6 p.m. SportsCenter, 7 p.m. SportsCenter) and one radio segment (Russillo and Kanell) discussing the ruling.

So you get on-set and proceed to take part in a 15-plus minute segment with anchor David Lloyd and analysts Herm Edwards and Bill Polian. What was that like in the moment?
Invigorating. They quickly mic’d me up and gave me an earpiece, and when I turned the corner into the SportsCenter studio, I had no idea what the segment was going to be. There was an open seat alongside Lloyd, some quick hellos and then it was time to go.

We just started to talk casually, almost as if it was four people at the water cooler reacting to something that was still so fresh. The discussion flowed naturally and a big part of it was probably that no one knew what was coming next, which included bringing in analyst Damien Woody on the phone at one point. As someone who isn’t involved in that on a regular basis, I was impressed with how smooth David was in that setting.

Where does the Deflategate story rank and what have been the challenges of covering it for you?
Right up at the top, with Aaron Hernandez and Spygate. One of the biggest challenges has been understanding all the legal aspects of it. It has helped tremendously to have legal experts to rely on, because when you think about covering a football team, most reporters are going to be more comfortable when analyzing X’s and O’s compared to the district court and U.S. Court of Appeals. And then there is the science. When I signed up to cover football, I never thought I’d be brushing up on the Ideal Gas Law.
– David Scott