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NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe joined Hayley Elwood on Week 10’s Playmakers, discussing her background and why hosting Thursday Night Football’s pregame show is her favorite part of working at NFLN.
Wolfe talked about getting her start as an intern for a sports radio station’s morning show, where she once was asked to collect money (in jest) on a street corner for former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens who was involved in a contract dispute at the time. Originally planning to attend art school for graphic design, illustration, or art education, she said she only took the internship because she thought it sounded fun.
“And then, once I started doing it,” Wolfe said, “I realized that that was exactly what I wanted to do, because it was such a blast. I couldn’t believe that people got paid to do that for a living.”
Then she “kept hustling,” ultimately landing at Philadelphia’s FOX affiliate, where she became “a one-man band,” learning how to edit, build graphics and rundowns, log games, cut highlights, write scripts and put together packages.
“It was the absolute best experience I could have ever had,” Wolfe said, “because I learned to do everything and had to become efficient at (it)...because time was really precious.”
She added that learning how to do many different things behind the scenes strengthened her on-camera ability, allowing her to become a better storyteller.
As for advice Wolfe has for up-and-comers in the field? Ignore the negative noise.
“I had so many people telling me I was crazy for taking jobs that I took because I was taking a chance on myself,” Wolfe said. “I had a boss tell me that I wasn’t memorable enough to be on camera. I had so many people kind of just say that I was nothing, and that I would never make it…If you believe in yourself, then go for it...You have to be your own best advocate.”
She implored sports media hopefuls to pursue a career in the industry “because you love sports or you love to tell stories,” not “because you think it’s going to give you fame and money.”
Now working at NFL Network, Wolfe’s favorite part of her gig is hosting the Thursday Night Football pregame show.
“It’s so much fun,” Wolfe said. “Just being able to travel to the games and all the different stadiums and seeing all the fans at every different location, it’s really, really cool...The game day experience...is different at every stadium. And the fans are awesome...they’re so much fun, and I love meeting them.”
Wolfe considers last season’s Chargers-Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium one of her favorite games she’s covered. Highlights for her were the crowd being as loud as advertised and having a passionate Philip Rivers on the postgame show after an exciting Chargers victory.
Playmakers Bonus Episode
FOX Sports’ Erin Andrews also appeared on Playmakers this week, starring in a special bonus edition of the podcast.
Elwood began the episode by asking her guest about the women’s sportswear line she launched on October 2 called WEAR by Erin Andrews. According to Andrews, the line was born of her passion for sports and being the wife of retired NHL player, Jarrett Stoll, and “looking for things to wear to support my team or my husband.” The line features subtle designs that women can feel comfortable wearing to work.
“I felt like there was such a white space in pro shops and online for female fans,” Andrews said. “I do believe a lot of the time these female fans are overlooked. We know what we’re talking about. We’re just as passionate, maybe more so, than men about teams.”
Andrews has been giving out her merchandise at NFL stadiums, joking that she’s “like the sideline version of Oprah Winfrey.”
The self-described “big TV junkie” and “fan of reality TV and pop culture” also discussed her job co-hosting ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
“It’s hilarious, though,” Andrews said. “Emmitt Smith just said, ‘I won those Super Bowls and all people want to talk to me about is ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
Football fans also seem to want to discuss the reality dance competition with Andrews more than football.
“When I’m at Lambeau, people are screaming, ‘Erin, Erin,’ and I think, yeah, it’s ‘Aaron Rodgers.’ And I look up, and they’re like, ‘Who’s gonna win the Mirror Ball (trophy)?’ And I just say to them, ‘It’s third-and-four in the second quarter. Why are you worried about the Mirror Ball?’”
Despite working in the business for almost two decades, Andrews also shared that she still gets nervous before appearing on camera.
“I’ll totally be shaking before my first hit,” Andrews said. “I think the day that I don’t get nervous or don’t get geeked up or maybe have a little bit of a stomachache, then it’s time to go home and maybe learn to cook...I love it, it’s cool, it’s a fun edge to have.”
The veteran reporter offered advice to would-be journalists, saying that “you have to have thick skin,” which is something she said she continues to work on.
“It’s hard,” Andrews said. “There are days that people come after you for no reason, and then there are days that you’re celebrated, and you feel like you’re on top of the world.”
This week, Chris Hayre was joined by future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas to discuss the former left tackle’s admiration for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
“I’ve really always admired Philip’s competitiveness,” Thomas said. “He was always a little overlooked for the things that he’s doing in the league… His competitiveness, the drive has always been really impressive, and for me, when I look at the NFL and think of guys I’d love to see win a Super Bowl who have not won one yet, Philip is number one in my book.”
Also, Thomas accurately predicted that this game would showcase some elite running back performances. While Chargers RB Melvin Gordon would rush for over 100 yards, including a touchdown, Raiders RB Josh Jacobs would rush for the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Hayre was also joined by Myles Simmons, Raiders beat reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“If one of these teams can win the turnover battle, say by 2-0 or 3-1, that could be the difference,” Simmons predicted. “Who will avoid those mistakes that you just can’t make?”
Unfortunately, the Chargers would turn the ball over three times on the night, proving to be the difference between the two teams.
This week on the Backstage: Chargers podcast, Chris Hayre sat down with Chargers equipment staff members to learn about all the behind-the-scenes preparation they put in for each Chargers game.
One subject the equipment team highlighted was that each player only has one jersey in each color. Therefore, when a player swaps a jersey with someone from the opposing team after a game, the equipment team needs to place an order for a brand-new jersey.
Besides the day-to-day logistics, Hayre had to address the elephant in the room, how the equipment staff manages their massive egos after their video on how to prepare an NFL football for gameday went viral earlier this season.