During the Rams-Raiders Monday Night Football telecast last week, ESPN showed an old high school photo of Marshawn Lynch.
Instead of the All-Pro Oakland running back sporting his present-day dreadlocks and goatee, he was clean-shaven, smiling and wearing glasses. The image immediately went viral on social media.
The good news: More of these photos are on the way thanks to ESPN’s new “Monday Memories” project.
“We came up with the idea in the offseason; it’s kind of like the “Throwback Thursday” for Monday Night Football,” said Joe Accordino, ESPN associate producer, graphics.
“We try to find photos of players from high school, middle school, childhood because it’s relatable to fans. Everyone has high school or baby pictures of themselves,” he adds. “It’s neat to see just how much these players have grown and changed over the years.”
“Monday Memories” is a collaborative effort for the MNF crew. Ideas are generated from brainstorming and research materials provided by news editor Jim Carr and senior researcher John Parolin. Other key members of the team involved in generating ideas are associate producer, graphics Brandon Barrad and associate producer, ISO producer Steven Kim.
Once the crew knows the stories it wishes to pursue, Accordino talks to a variety of people to track down photos – cousins, community members, parents, grandparents; sometimes, it’s even the favorite teacher at the player’s high school.
“Everyone has a story they want to share,” said Accordino.
As for what to expect during tonight’s Seahawks-Bears MNF telecast (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), the crew has prepped 25 custom graphics in all, including nine “Monday Memories.”
Highlights include a photo of Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson in his Easter Sunday suit from when he was a child and an Avengers-themed idea from Kim that Accordino calls “one of the graphics stars of the week.”