cover32 Exclusive: Interview with ESPN’s Freddie Coleman

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Photo credit ESPN.com
Freddie Coleman has been an ESPN Radio host for 13-years. Currently, he hosts ‘Freddie & Fritz’ weeknights at 11 p.m ET on ESPN Radio and the ESPN app.

With the NFL season inching closer, and closer Freddie stops by to discuss all things NFL. He also breaks down comparisons between the NBA.

Coleman’s employer, ESPN, made news recently laying over 100 employees. He gives his take on how the environment has changed as well as the future of the business.

Coleman is well versed in the radio business, after graduating in 1987 from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and minor in journalism.

 

Freddie Coleman can be reached on Twitter @ColemanESPN.


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Bobby Burack: First off, thank you so much for joining us, you are one of the best in the business.

Coleman: Appreciate that Bobby and you are too kind.  Blessed to love what I do and do what I love.

Burack: Freddie, before we get into your career and the changes in sports media, let’s hit on some NFL topics. Last year, over the course of the regular season the league saw a 9% viewer decrease, I believe that it was due to the highly controversial Presidential race, others say it was due to over-saturation, Kaepernick, concussions — why do you think this was the case. Do you believe the ratings will fall once again in 2017?

Coleman: I don’t think so because we saw ratings rise once the election was over because people wanted football and they got exciting football.  Pats comeback in the Super Bowl, Cowboys success, Packers and Steelers contending.  But the games have to be better because to me that had as much to do with low ratings early on than the election, Kaepernick or concussions.

Burack: I am one that thought the NBA season was ruined greatly by the dominance of the Warriors; your colleague, Stephen A. Smith, was very vocal about it as well. Do you fear that with the moves the Patriots made in the offseason, they will become the NFL’s version of the Warriors?

Coleman: Nope because football is different and the Patriots weren’t far and away a dominant team.  To refresh people’s memory, the Falcons were kicking their butt in the Super Bowl.  Teams aren’t THAT far behind the Pats like the majority of NBA behind the Warriors.  And by the way, the NBA Finals had its highest ratings in 19 years.

Burack: Raiders’ QB, Derek Carr, just was signed to a record-breaking 125 million dollar deal, do you see him as the future of the NFL?

Coleman: No. He’s already arrived.  He’s a step away from being an elite QB and I believe that’s a short time away.  I said the Raiders got a steal, so I’m glad he proved me right.

Burack: We brought up the NBA earlier on, there was a lot of talk about LeBron James and his legacy vs Michael Jordan, do you see comparisons between LeBron and Aaron Rodgers? They both appear to be the most talented in the history of their sports, can do things never seen before, cannot be duplicated but have been derailed by their teams not winning like some of the other greats. If so, why does Rodgers not get the same praise as LeBron?

Coleman: Because Tom Brady is still alive, breathing and has 5 more rings than Rodgers.  I get the comparison, but it’s harder to win an NFL Title than the NBA.  1 guy in the NBA can will a team and be built around better than a QB with 10 guys on his side and 11 guys on D and special teams that can’t be mediocre.

Burack: Freddie, we are an up-and-coming NFL site, many of our writers and readers are hoping to advance in the field of sports media, what is the current state of the field? You work for the largest entity in the business; however, ESPN just laid off over 100 workers, how has the vibe changes around the workplace since that time period in May?

Coleman: It’s been different, but it’s part of the business.  I have been through 2 layoffs and it’s worse now because the climate isn’t the same.  But there’s more competition for spots, but also more avenues to be and succeed in sports media.  Working at ESPN is fantastic, but we are competing with everybody and everything, so we have to be on our toes ALWAYS!!!

Burack: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get where you are today? –

Coleman: DON’T be afraid!!!  So many are afraid of failure.  Well, guess what – YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL, but that doesn’t mean you give up.  Too many want things easy, but that’s not reality.  And never be afraid to learn.  If I don’t everything and I’ve been in the business for more than a minute, then NEITHER do you!!!

Burack: Can you tell the audience about your journey and how you became a national radio host at ESPN? Also, you are now hosting with a co-host in Ian Fitzsimmons, how is solo radio different?

Coleman: I started in Music Radio as a TOP 40 DJ in Portland, Maine.  I thought that was what I going to do my whole career, but then I got into TV as well.  Then I guested on Sports Radio shows in the Hudson Valley in New York before I was hired to do Afternoon Drive on Fox Sports Radio 980 in Albany.  ESPN GM Bruce Gilbert heard me, there was an opening for the GameNight show and 13 years later, here I still am.  And I love working with Ian, but it’s always cool to fly solo because that’s how my career started.

Burack: How do you go about your day in prepping for the show and being on so late (11 pm) knowing most of the stories of the day have already been covered?

Coleman: That’s not true.  80% of the stories happen at night because of games, trades, stupidity, etc.  We set the table for the next day what they are talking about the majority of the time.  I’m always looking for stories behind the stories, results, etc.

Burack: Freddie, before we let you go, it is only June but what are you thinking for an early Super Bowl prediction? I am on record, my pick is the Steelers and Cowboys in a ratings explosion for the NFL.

Coleman: Ha, Ha, Ha and that’s WAAAY too early.  Check with me in September when pre-season is over and even then I STILL may not know.  J

 

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