ESPN play-by-play commentator Joe Tessitore went into Saturday’s Boston College at Clemson college football game with one BC matchup already under his belt.
An alum of Boston College, a member of its Board of Regents and the proud father of a BC football player, Tessitore called the Eagles’ game against UNC earlier this year and soon discovered he could treat it like any other game. But Saturday’s contest in Memorial Stadium would be a game unlike any other.
Tessitore’s son, John, the starting placekick holder and a backup punter, looked to be executing a field goal attempt. With the Eagles up 21-10 over the top-ranked Tigers, John Tessitore quickly moved from his regular holder spot to under center to draw Clemson offsides on 4th-and-2. The play led to a first down and ensuing touchdown for BC to go up 28-10 on Clemson.
While the play was perfectly executed by “John Tess,” it was “Joe Tess” who went viral in that moment.
The veteran play-by-play commentator called the fake field goal attempt just like he would if it was anyone else’s son. Still, there was something special about his “Tessitore is under center!” call that touched so many on Saturday afternoon.
The video quickly caught fire, with many remarking about the pride in Tessitore’s voice while maintaining his professionalism and how they might not have been able to do the same.
— ESPN (@espn) October 31, 2020
“John Tess is all about team,” the elder Tessitore told Front Row. “So I don’t want to make too much out of one fake FG, but as a family, we are so moved by the way that genuine father-son moment touched people. The response has been overwhelming. The 2020 news cycle hasn’t had ‘feel good’ big live TV moments that we all gather for and agree on. So if that one moment – hearing me stunned while beaming with pride – was able to do that, then thank you to John and the BC Eagles!”
College football analyst Greg McElroy has worked with Tessitore since the launch of SEC Network, when the duo shared the desk on SEC Nation every Saturday morning. McElroy got a front row seat to the unexpected moment Saturday on the ABC broadcast, as he watched his booth partner and fellow father enjoy his son’s success.
“It was one of the coolest moments I’ve experienced in my career, and to be able share that moment with Joe was something I’ll remember forever,” McElroy said. “He and I were so shocked and surprised that I had to re-watch it after the game to recall what was said. I literally blacked out for a moment.
“As broadcasters, our life in the booth and our family lives are two completely different worlds,” McElroy continued, “but to have those worlds collide for Joe on national television, with millions of people watching, was really special. Joe approaches his craft (his word, not mine) with unrivaled professionalism, but for about 20 seconds, he was simply ‘dad.’ It was beautiful.”
🙏🏼so happy to hear from so many touched by the beaming pride/emotion of a father getting to call his son making a memorable big play.
Truly blessed. . . postgame visit was special.
Thanks @espn & @BCFootball fam for all the love. What a game! pic.twitter.com/UDX9Yz4ISc
— Joe Tessitore (@JoeTessESPN) October 31, 2020
Tessitore, McElroy, and sideline reporter Holly Rowe will move on to their next assignment, West Virginia at No. 22 Texas (Saturday, noon ET | ABC). Still, that genuine father-son moment will live on as a heartwarming spot in an already unique college football season.
Bill Hofheimer contributed to this post.
The Athletic: The Tessitores’ father-son moment