Before heading out to practice today, we want to wish our pal and former colleague Steve Wyche and the rest of the cast of “NFL AM” well on their new show which debuts at 6 a.m. Monday on the NFL Network.
The four-hour morning show plans to feature seasoned and opinionated talent who will report and debate news, and examine the personalities that play the game.
Along with my fellow Howard alum Wyche, who I backed up when he was the Falcons beat reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2005-08, NFL AM’s talent roster features 13-year NFL veteran Eric Davis, Mark Kriegel, Brian Webber and Nicole Zaloumis.
The show will be based at NFL Network’s Culver City, Calif. studios. They have been doing test runs over the last few weeks. Here’s an interview with our guy Wyche:
Steve Wyche begins his fifth season with NFL Network and NFL.com, providing reports from team facilities and games on a variety of programs including NFL GameDay Morning and NFL Total Access. Additionally, Wyche is a regular columnist on NFL.com and is the co-host of the site’s ‘Cover Two’ podcast. Previously, he covered the Falcons for four seasons for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wyche has more than two decades of sports journalism experience including posts with the Washington Post covering the Wizards and the NBA, and the Miami Herald on the Dolphins, Heat and University of Florida beats.
Learn more about Wyche with this brief Q&A:
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in journalism? “I was in high school when I thought that journalism was my likely career path. My father worked in the sales department of an NBC TV affiliate in St. Louis and I spent a lot of time at his station and around the business. I wanted to ‘grow up’ to be like Bryant Gumbel. There weren’t many minorities broadcasting sports back in the day and he was one of the best in the business. He really inspired me and I couldn’t be more honored to be in the same profession. The deal was sealed to pursue journalism when I found out that math classes weren’t a heavy part of the curriculum in college.”
What was the best interview you conducted? “One of my favorites came when I was with The Washington Post and spoke with NBA guard Gilbert Arenas, who explained how his decision to choose the Washington Wizards instead of the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency came down to him flipping a coin. I’m sure the money Washington gave him was the real impetus in driving his decision, but Gilbert was so out there and such a good story-teller, it allowed me to write a really cool story and have a good time in the process.”
What has been the most unique story you have covered? “Covering the Michael Vick dog-fighting story with my colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter [Hey, that’s me!] when I was at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was the ultimate test of my career. It not only was a tiring, exciting and difficult saga to cover, but it also involved a human element that’s hard to explain. I had enjoyed covering Vick for years and actually had some great football and non-football conversations with him. Then, when this broke, finding out all these things about him and being involved in the fallout that touched such nerves in American consciousness and divided Atlanta, a city that I love, was incredible — in good and bad ways. I hope that one day, Vick and I could simply chat about that whole episode – how he viewed the media coverage and how it was from our perspective to learn so much about someone we thought we knew, but really didn’t.”
What would surprise you this NFL season? “While so many people are counting out the Saints with all they’ve been through, I’d be surprised if they still weren’t in playoff contention when all things are said and done. There is something about those players, that organization and that city that makes me think they’ll rally.”
How has it been adjusting to your new schedule? “I’ve never been a big sleeper but it’s so hard to put together more than three hours of sleep at a time during the day. I feel like I did when my sons were babies. I’ve learned that five hours of uninterrupted sleep is far more precious than seven or eight sporadic hours.”
What is one thing most people don’t know about you? “I am not overly superstitious but for about the past 20 years or so, I never set my alarm clocks exactly on a multiple of five. I always set my clock at an odd time, like 7:07 or 8:01.”
What is your must-have technology? “Not a big tech guy but I am finding out that the ‘off’ button on the cell phone has become money. I’m trying to sleep during the day now when everybody else is living a normal life, so the only way to get some rest is to shut the phone off.”
What is the best advice someone has given to you? “It’s something a former football coach said to our team and it’s how I try to live my life: you can’t win sitting on your butt. In other words, create and seize life’s opportunities because if you wait, someone else is going to take what could be yours.”
Good luck Stevie!
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog