EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN reporter Shelley Smith tackles her myriad assignments with tenacity and humor. She supplies Front Row with a behind-the-scenes look at her travels covering NFL assignments this past Saturday in Denver and Sunday in Los Angeles. Note: Today, she’s reporting from Los Angeles Chargers camp for SportsCenter.
Broncos versus Browns. Rams versus Eagles. Forty-eight hours, two – well three different climates if you count daytime Denver and nighttime Denver – two nights of press box grub, more coffee than can possibly be healthy, and a bunch of reports for SportsCenter on four different teams. I wouldn’t trade it for anything even after a hip replacement three months ago which, thankfully, just stopped hurting in time for me to walk around Mile High stadium, because I got dropped off on the wrong side.
My dog had surgery, too, for a dislocated patella. And so, after dropping her off at the dog sitter’s house – in her ridiculously large overpriced stroller because she can’t walk yet, I flew to Denver with my WiFi and iPad on full go.
My first stop after landing was to see my dad at his assisted living facility and cheer on the workers who were getting their bonus checks – each dressed in full regalia from whatever their home country is. Then it was kindergartners and Christmas carols.
Something about the elderly and little kids. We lost my mom in August so it was good to see my Dad playing his piano and leading the crowd. And then it was dinner with producer Raaj Shah who flew in from LA just in time to join in.
Saturday was studying, and more studying. I always prep as hard as I can, and thankfully the plane has WiFi these days so it makes it a lot easier. But it’s still like cramming tons of information into my tiny brain that I may or may not need. You never know. Denver LB Von Miller’s sack numbers, Baker Mayfield’s interception rate. You try to learn everything. But you never do.
The game was fun – always great to be back at my home stadium – and see all my old buds, like our camera crew Tom Miller and Trevor Nordeen, the best in the biz.
Then it was time to flush out all that information out of my head and start on the Rams-Eagles, which I already had. I knew Carson Wentz was out with a cracked vertebrae (even though coach Doug Pederson said he could play if he wanted to) and caught a few hours sleep to catch a flight, which had a mechanical delay of course. Any glamour you think about this job, well, flush that, too. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but as I said, I wouldn’t trade it.
It was 5:38 when I left my hotel this morning…didn’t get back till close to midnight from Mile High. So I sleep for a bit.
Anyway, back to prepping. Goff is great. His first day in LA I interviewed him and asked if he was going on The Bachelor. Fortunately, he laughed. Now though, I need a storyline by 4 p.m. pacific, my first hit for SportsCenter. And I have to maneuver the makeup and fake eyelashes, that I learned to put on while watching YouTube! You can learn anything from YouTube. Putting on fake eyelashes to changing a carburetor. I can do both now. (Probably at the same time).
At the Coliseum, working with producer Shari Greenberg, I ran into Ndamukong Suh’s mother and sister. Suh and I are fellow Huskers and they all were amazing during my cancer battle. Suh sponsored a young woman, Brynna Schwabauer, who just graduated from engineering school a week ago and he flew her and her parents out for the game. She wants to go into medical devices…I still need a few. She said she’d cut me a deal.
I did a live shot for the 7 p.m. edition of SportsCenter which ended with Michael Eaves mentioning the very loud, music going on next to me. “Shelley’s even got her own beat.” I danced. Glad my daughter didn’t see.
In my live shot I said I’d never count Nick Foles out of anything…he is the kind of guy who will achieve at whatever he chooses to do. Jared Goff, too.
Walking around in circles, I ran into ESPN.com’s Arash Markazi, one of my favorite writers (and people). We both were wondering why the two male cheerleaders for the Rams don’t have pom poms. We vow to get to the bottom of it.
The Eagles won the game, which meant a bunch of work and ideas floating around until we settled on the magic of Nick Foles. I interviewed Chris Long on the field and then gave his dad a hug.