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How it Began...

 

After 12 years in the NFL, I retired from the Washington Redskins in '97 to accept an offer from Fox to be a color analyst for NFL and college football games. I had my own television and radio shows in DC, which had come to the attention of Fox executives. So after about eight hours of surgery to put my left shoulder and right elbow back together following the '96 season, I flew out to LA to do an audition. James Brown of Fox NFL Sunday did the play-by-play, and I did the color, on a Dallas-Philly game video.

When Fox made me the offer, the Redskins offered a one year, partially guaranteed contract to stay for a 13th NFL season (with the surgery, I was finally healthy for the first time in three years). But I knew that since I didn't have a big name, I needed to go through the door that Fox had opened for me.

Still, it was an excruciatingly hard decision. I mean, how do you turn down a guaranteed year in the NFL? On the night before Fox was to make the announcement to the press, I was leaning toward Fox, but still not completely sure. I began an email to a friend, intending it to be a short hello. Three hours and 15 pages later, I had chronicled specific events of the past six years, each clearly leading to the next, until I arrived at the offer by Fox. You could clearly see the hand of God in that sequence.

I closed the email by saying: I prayed tonight for confirmation that I was doing the right thing in leaving the NFL for broadcasting, and I just wrote this. Is that an answer?

And with that I was at peace.

The first live game I had ever done on any level was the NFL opener in 1997, Minnesota at Buffalo. Yes, I was puckered up! I did four games that year, then went to Europe to do NFL-Europe games in the spring of '98, which was an irreplaceable learning experience. In the fall of '98 I did seven games for Fox, and one for the Military Channel, who called me out of the blue and wanted me to do Air Force-Navy for them. Seven of those eight games were broadcast nationally; three of the college games involved teams ranked in the top ten.

For the 1999 and 2000 seasons I had a full schedule of nationally broadcast college games for Fox Sports Net, which gave me the opportunity to work every week of the season for the first time. 

In addition to the network schedule, I am the studio analyst for the Washington, DC, Fox affiliate's Redskins post game show, and do weekly Redskins analysis on WMAL radio.

I'm having a lot of fun with this.  And it's a little scary.  My TV and radio shows in DC were studio situations, and that is where I developed skills. Doing games from the booth is a different skill. Each season, I get more and more comfortable with the format.

At first, I was pretty puckered up! I didn't even know how to put my headset on. In my first game, I tried to make a brilliant analysis of every play, describing two different things that happened and linking them to make a third, brilliant concept--all in 20 seconds. Well, you can imagine what happened... Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I got into a linguistic train wreck.

Frank Herzog, the radio voice of the Redskins on WJFK, gave me some great advice. He said, Trevor, don't try to hit a home run every play--hit singles. Sometimes you will get a pitch to hit for a double or a triple, and once in a while you will get that home run pitch. "Less is more" became the focus.

In the fall of '98 I finally began to get comfortable enough with the venue to begin to have fun, and it showed in the broadcasts. There is a time to be serious in any game, but I like to have fun up there, and be a little unpredictable. That is my style in the studio, and with more and more familiarity with the booth, that style is starting to come across in that format as well.

Speaking of studio work, I appeared on Fox NFL Sunday with JB, Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw, and Ronnie Lott in '97. There had been several games lost the previous week because of bad field goal or punt snaps. Since I was the resident expert on long snapping, I came in for a segment. It was an absolute blast!  Terry was in rare form that day, so Howie and I ganged up on him and gave him some grief. He loved it, and that segment was used by Fox during the next week to promo the next NFL Sunday show.

That's how it started.  In 2001 I joined CBS Sports to do NFL games.

It's been an incredible ride so far, and I'm grateful for the experience.  I'm not one of the famous ones; I'm just one of the little ones, wide-eyed and amazed that I get to do the things I do.

 

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