Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – April 28, 2017

ESPN Producers David Sarosi, Ben Houser and Andy Tennant with Ryan Leaf, Bob Ley, and Ryan Leaf’s team on set of Outside the Lines in Philadelphia. (Molly Mita/ESPN)
ESPN producers David Sarosi, Ben Houser and Andy Tennant with Ryan Leaf, Bob Ley, and Ryan Leaf’s team on set of Outside the Lines in Philadelphia. (Molly Mita/ESPN)

This Sunday on Outside the Lines, the former NFL quarterback and No. 2 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Ryan Leaf, joins host Bob Ley on set from Philadelphia (9 a.m. ET, ESPN).

In an effort to prevent others from making the same mistakes he did, Leaf has decided to share his story with the world. At the NFL Combine, he spoke with the draft prospects and he continues the process Sunday with Ley – on the heels of Thursday’s appearance.

But this isn’t the first time Leaf has opened up to Ley about his struggle. In November 2011 when he was selling a book about his life, Leaf visited Outside the Lines.

“I was a hypocrite then,” he said. “It was probably three days later that I would relapse a few more times.” [Leaf went to prison about five months after that interview].

Leaf recalled the hotel he stayed in while in New York City around that time, “I was having pills delivered to me there three days after those interviews.”

But after a constant battle with drugs that put him out of his job as a quarterback, sent him to prison, and left him isolated from friends and family, Leaf says he has finally found his way.

“I was as miserable as I could be and I couldn’t tell anybody then [five years ago] because I was selling a book,” said Leaf. “I’m not selling anything here, I’m selling sobriety if you want it. I’m selling being a better person, if you want it.”

Leaf shares more about his difficult journey to achieve sobriety on Outside the Lines this Sunday and his story is the subject of the new weekly E:60 on Sunday, May 21, reported by Tom Rinaldi.

“I’m just giving a message because there are a ton of people who’ve had similar experiences like mine,” said Leaf.

NFL Nation reporters working hard during Draft Week

ESPN’s three-day telecast of the NFL Draft will garner significant attention this weekend – understandably, but the work of ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters cannot be overstated. The collection of 32 team reporters – including veterans like Rob Demovsky (covering the Green Bay Packers), Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos) and Mike Reiss (New England Patriots) – visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus this week for their annual NFL Nation summit. In addition to participating in seminars and training sessions, ESPN’s reporters took part in the NFL Nation Mock Draft primetime special, where they used the knowledge of the teams they cover to predict the players who will be selected in the first round of the draft. Now back in the cities of their hometown teams, ESPN’s reporters will have reactions to every pick and team-specific analysis during all three days of the draft, including comprehensive team wrap-ups.

“This is my 20th draft and every year the interest gets greater and greater,” said Demovsky, who penned an oral history this week on Aaron Rodgers’ green room nightmare at the 2005 NFL Draft. “I can’t think of an offseason event in sports that rivals it. To be part of that coverage team is both an honor and a responsibility, given how many eyes are on it. Our NFL Nation group strives to provide the best insight and analysis into this ultra-important event.”

-By Bill Hofheimer

Journalism on Display

  • ESPN has received two NAMIC Vision Awards in the reality category for SC Featured: Chubbtown and RISE UP: A SportsCenter Special. The Vision Awards honor original, multiplatform television programming that reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the viewing audience.
  •, ESPN’s year-old platform focusing on the intersections of sports, race and culture, has published Segregation in the NFL – an in-depth examination of the complex role race plays in determining which players play certain positions on NFL teams.
  • On Sunday’s SC Featured segment on SportsCenter, reporter Tom Rinaldi will go all-access with Pitt running back James Connor, who beat cancer to try and make his NFL dream a reality in this week’s draft. The feature will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Sunday, April 30, and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m., ESPN) will be Mike Lupica (host), Mitch Albom, Howard Bryant and Bob Ryan.
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