Interview: Breaking NFL News Isn't Only ESPN Insider Adam Schefter's Job...It's His Obsession


The Sportscenter-worthy catches, bone-crunching hits and game-breaking runs. We're getting closer and closer to that time. Today, July 22, marks exactly 50 more days until the kickoff of the 2015 NFL season on Sept. 10.

If there's anyone who fully understands the reporting blitz that awaits, it's ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. This marks Schefter's 26th season covering the NFL, something he has been doing for more than half of his life. And the veteran reporter, who's seemingly plugged into every source in the NFL, sees the chains moving rapidly to the season's official kickoff.

"Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints' rookies report to training camp Wednesday," Schefter tweeted Tuesday from his official Twitter account, which counts nearly 4 million followers, more than any other ESPN personality. "Here we go..."

Then again, it's not like Schefter has had much of a break this off-season, as he recently explained during an interview with Tech Times.

"We're awaiting a decision on the [Tom] Brady [Deflategate] appeal, we had two players in horrific firework accidents, last week we had four players sign franchise contracts ... like, when does it turn off?" Schefter asks Tech Times. "Yes, it gradually builds up into September. Right now it's a slower time and when players go to camp, it will ratchet up another notch, and then the preseason and it'll go up another notch, and the regular season and it'll go up another notch. But the truth of the matter is it really never stops."

And Schefter really never stops, either. Widely regarded as the best, most-well-connected NFL reporter on the gridiron scene—and arguably the best reporter in sports journalism, period—Schefter doesn't just break NFL news because it's his job. He breaks NFL news because it's his obsession.

"He doesn't take vacations, he doesn't take days off. Sometimes I joke and I call him a Cyborg because I don't know when he sleeps," Seth Markman, ESPN's senior coordinating producer and Schefter's boss, said of the veteran NFL reporter and married father to two children. "It's hard for him to miss a story. There's been a few occasions where it was, 'Oh my God, I was at the gym and didn't see a text,' but otherwise, he's always available. He's the perfect example of what 2015 really is nowadays where people are always connected. He's always connected."

Here, Tech Times speaks with Schefter, 48, about breaking news on social media, his average Sunday through Monday during the NFL season and having two iPhones on him at all times. 

Working His Way Up

"I started at ESPN in August of 2009, so six years, although it feels like 60 ... and I mean that in a complimentary way. I feel like in a way, it's the only place that I worked, even though it's not. Before that I spent five years at NFL Network, doing a similar job and before that, I was the Broncos reporter for 15 years in the Denver area, for the Rocky Mountain News first, which is now defunct, and then the Denver Post. I've covered the NFL since 1990."

Adapting To Technology

"The irony is it keeps on changing. It seems like it's different every single day. Here's Snapchat, here's Instagram, here's Periscope. These are things that I don't know a whole lot about. I'm still trying to figure out what they are, no less how to use them. When I got to ESPN, as an example, I had just signed up for Twitter then. I never tweeted before I got to ESPN, basically. ESPN hired me without me having ever tweeted before. Social media has evolved, I have evolved, the sports world we live in has evolved and the way we cover sports has evolved, and it continues to evolve and change all the time. I'm not the most technologically savvy guy, but you try to do your best to keep up with it as much as you can."

Not The Most Tech-Savvy Guy

"The irony is that I'm not the most technologically swift guy out there. I'm the kind of guy that last night on my iPhone, the phone and the messages and the Safari icons were missing and I couldn't even find them. I was like, 'What the hell happened?' I gave it to my nephew, who's a junior in high school going into his senior year and I'm like, 'Can you help me out here?' They were hidden somewhere and he had to pull them out. When something goes wrong tech-wise, I'm not the guy you want to fix it."

More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

"As different as they are and as different as the world around us is, the fact of the matter is it still boils down to something that doesn't change and that's delivering timely, accurate information. Twitter forces you to rush along and to make split-second decisions and get things out there as quickly as you can and that's the dangerous part. We live in an age where there's a greater need than ever before for speed, but yet, the need for accuracy has never changed. So, you're expected to be faster, but accurate as always."

Breaking News By Any Means

"There's a constant need to be quick and that may be the biggest change in the job. I used to be a newspaper writer. When I worked for a newspaper, you used to file a story. You think about this and it's hard to imagine. You file a story – 6, 7, 8 in the night – and it would show up in the newspaper the next day, 6 in the morning, at someone's doorstep. Hours, hours later.

"Now I get information and sometimes you have to check it out and sometimes you know where it's coming from and you don't need to check it out. Always there's a rush, always there's adrenaline pumping through your body. I've had this happen, too, where you get something and you're like, 'Oh, I got to rush to get this out.' I remember one time, I got news that Michael Crabtree—I was sitting in a doctor's chair—had torn his Achilles. I'm like, 'Oh my God.' I had to confirm it. I'm texting a couple people just to confirm it and then I got [it] and I'm like, 'Great, got it.' Rushed it on Twitter and my boss texts me like, 'Hey, that's been out there for about 7 minutes.' I'm like, 'God, damn!' That happens rushing! That's not all that uncommon.

"Also, I was having breakfast and I find this to be very telling and very indicative of my life ... it was the week after the draft. I left my home in New York and I went to Chicago for a week and I was away from my family. It was just a long week. My daughter at school, I felt like I haven't spent any time with her. She's 6 years old. So, I took her to breakfast the following weekend, just she and I, and I get a text from somebody saying, 'Hey FYI, Browns, 49ers making a deal for Andy Lee.' You would think, it's a punter, who cares? But he's a Pro Bowl punter and I love trades, so I'm like I have to confirm this. I'm sending out texts at the breakfast, trying to confirm that Andy Lee has been traded to Cleveland.

"As soon as I send a couple texts, my daughter looks at me and she goes, 'Dad! What's more important—your daughter or breaking news?' I'm like, 'You're both very important. You're more important, but right now I need to break this news.' I knew that if I didn't break this news, somebody else would get it.

"Our jobs ... what we do as reporters, we're fortunate and blessed and privileged ... and I got it. It's not doing some kind of manual labor that's physically demanding on your body. That's much harder than what we do. But this job has its own inherent pressures and I think it's probably harder to do than ever before."

Being Prepared For Anything 

"I remember when DeMarco Murray was visiting with Philadelphia and I knew he was going to sign with the Eagles that morning and I walked into ESPN's new studios, these new, beautiful, pricey studios that they just opened within the past year and I go to post it and they tell me, there's no Internet in here. I'm like, 'No Internet? How do we have these new beautiful studios and there's no Internet?' I needed to get this story out there on social media and I knew it wouldn't hold up long. I was all wound up about the whole thing."

The Process Of Getting News Out To The Masses 

"Sometimes you go on TV first and then post [online]. Sometimes you post [online] and then go on TV. It just depends on the circumstance and whether you're in Bristol, [Conn., ESPN headquarters], whether you're at home, how you're doing your job, whether you're on camera or not. There's no right or wrong answer, but I know I've got one app where I post it and it goes on Facebook and Twitter together."

Added Markman: "When Adam breaks a news story, he will send it to ESPN, so we have it here first and then basically just a few moments later, will tweet it on social media, so it gets out to the world at the same time. With nearly four million followers on Twitter, that's the fastest way to get news out there. Nowadays, it's instant. You don't plan anything. A story comes in, we're on the air around the clock with live shows nearly 24 hours a day here at ESPN. It's constant and we can plan for some things, but breaking news is breaking news. We go on the air and Adam gets on there and delivers the news right away and we react to it, get analysis."

Two iPhones At All Times

"I have two iPhones. I had a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but ESPN discontinued servicing BlackBerrys. That was a very sad day in my life because I could type on my BlackBerry blindfolded and faster than I could type on a laptop computer. You just can't do that quite as well on the iPhone, although I've gotten pretty adept at that. I carry two iPhones ... a lot of times I'll be talking on one phone and typing breaking news on the other one. One phone pressed up against my ear and typing on the other. Also two in case one battery runs low. I have two different numbers. Two devices works better for me."

Average Sunday - Monday During NFL Season

"Sunday morning up at 5:15 a.m., showering, shaving, getting ready to drive up to Bristol because it's a 100-mile drive from my house [in Long Island, New York]. So, I'm getting a bunch of information, listening to NFL radio. The NFL is constantly radio, Internet and you're trying to absorb as much as that as you can, while you're making phone calls and texting people. You're out the door by 6 a.m.

"That puts me at ESPN in Bristol at about 7:45 a.m. You're going over last-minute stuff, texting, sometimes you're inquiring about an injured player and then Sportscenter starts, then Sunday NFL Countdown starts. You go through all the shows up until kickoff 1 p.m., checking on all the players who are active, inactive, players who are being benched, players who missed curfew, whatever it may be ... any breaking information.

"Games start at 1 and you're watching all the games, monitoring injury situations, lineup changes, depth chart moves. I don't stay terribly active on [social media] Sunday during the games. To me that's a six-hour, seven-hour window where I could decompress a little bit. After the 1 and 4 games, I'm watching the late game, while making phone calls, going over notes, reading over texts. If there's time, maybe read the Sunday New York Times, watch the Sunday night game and go to bed about midnight.

"Get up at about 5:30 the next morning, exercise, work out, get to ESPN about 7:30 and start the whole thing over with Sportscenters, radio shows, NFL Insiders, NFL Live, Monday Night Countdown pregame show, halftime show, go home, get home 12:30, 1 in the morning Monday night."

On Yahoo's NBA Reporter Adrian Wojnarowski Being As Adept Breaking News On Social Media

"I have a great deal of respect for Woj. We've traded a number of messages with each other and he is tremendous. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he does. We've actually talked about getting together and comparing notes, he and I—just about how we do our jobs. I'd like to hear some of his ideas. I love talking to people who are great at doing their jobs in any field, but especially this one. He knows what I go through and I know what he goes through, and we know what it's like to be in that role."

Marriage Between Technology, The NFL's Popularity And Working For ESPN

"I don't know if it's the technology, the NFL, or the job, but at times it just seems like it's relentless. It's never-ending, it never lets up. That's part of the technology we work with, part of the popularity of the NFL and part working for ESPN, the worldwide leader [in sports], which is constantly on the air. You marry the three together—the technology, the popularity of the sport and the media company that I'm fortunate to work for—and you get my life, which I wouldn't trade for anything. But it does get overwhelming, like anything else. I hear people say, 'It must be a dream job.' Yes, it is in many ways, but it's nice to go to sleep and dream every now and then, too, and you don't get to do that very much because it's so busy."

How Sports Journalism Is Changing

"It seems like we're getting more into videos and pictures and people who are writers are now being asked to be videographers. It seems to be going a little that way. I don't know how far it will get that way, but again, the speed at which we do our job has never been faster. It's a totally different deal. Just like players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before...well, so is the technology in the world that we work in. It's bigger, stronger and faster."

What His Boss Says About Him

"Basically at this point in his career, we trust Adam pretty explicitly as a news breaker," Markman says. "He's got more sources than anyone in the world. He knows everybody. He's one of the best in the business, if not the best."

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