Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, who was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 1987 draft but never played for the team after requesting a trade when he learned of plans to move him from the quarterback position, is now an analyst for CBS.
He’ll call Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Raiders, and he spent a few minutes this week talking about how he got into broadcasting after his playing days.
How did you get started in broadcasting?
“I didn’t initially think about getting into it. As a player, I think I had a good relationship with the media, I made myself available, I answered all the questions, but I never had a radio show or TV show. I was a guy that once I was away from it, I used that time to be with my wife and daughters rather than running out to try to make a few bucks doing a TV or radio show. When I got done playing, CBS called my agent and said ‘we want to bring him in to New York for an audition, is there interest?’ I thought I’d give it a try. I went and did it, and really enjoyed it. It was very challenging. It was also a way for me to stay in the game that I’m so passionate about. There was some opportunity for me to get into management and coaching, but I didn’t want to put my family though that in terms of the time commitment. This way, I can be working out of my home, I can be around my kids a little more. You watch tape, travel Thursday to go do the games, and still get home Sunday night. That was the thinking behind it and I absolutely love doing it. Every game is different. There are different challenges. It’s a chance to get around and see all 32 teams, you sit down with coaches, players, and general managers and get the inside scoop. It’s pretty neat.”
Toughest part of the job?
“Probably the travel. It’s like a player with away games. I do preseason games too, with the Packers, so I’m on the road 21 straight weekends. It gets to be a lot, being away from home, and the airports. Other than that, I absolutely love it. I love doing the work, I love being at practice, I love the games. I love everything about it. I tell people it’s a pretty good gig if you can get it.”
When did you start?
“This is my fourth season doing it. My first year really helped me because I got to work with four different play-by-play guys. I worked with Dick Enberg, Don Criqui ... I was kind of thrown out there and it was good because everybody has a little different style to them, a different approach.”
You played in Minnesota, Washington, Kansas City and Oakland, so where did you ultimately settle with your family?
“I’m in Minnesota. My wife is from Minnesota. Her father was Bill Brown, he played in a bunch of Pro Bowls with the Vikings, he was a big fullback all those years. Those Minnesota girls, it’s hard to get them away from Minnesota [laughs], so we’ve made our home here. From a work perspective, it’s pretty good being in the Midwest because I can get everywhere pretty much non-stop. It’s a good spot to be.”
A few old-school football questions. You probably get a lot of questions about the “Snow Bowl” game…
“I was working a Jets game and got to talk to Eric Mangini about some plays in the game that really defined that game. We had a chance to put that thing away at the end, offensively. If we converted a first down, the game was over. We talked about a couple of those plays, so it was interesting to talk about that. That game put that team in a different stratosphere. Tom Brady was a guy who was about to become a Super Bowl hero. That really propelled them. If you really want to break it down, that game was one defining moment in both organizations' history. That team took off and won Super Bowls and Jon Gruden went back to his office and packed up. Jon Gruden, if he would have stayed in Oakland, there is no question in my mind that we would have won a Super Bowl, and maybe a couple. He knew how to get it done.”
Do games like the “Snow Bowl” stick with you after all this time?
“Oh yeah. When I was in Kansas City, we went 13-3 twice and had a really good defense. But we lost in the first round of the playoffs at home. I got to play in one of the games, with four minutes to go. Those games stick in your craw. AFC championship game in 2000, when we went 12-4 and had home-field advantage in the playoffs and I separated my shoulder in the second quarter and didn’t get to finish the game against Baltimore; Baltimore ended up going to the Super Bowl. The 2001 season, we go into New England, we felt like should have and could have won that game. Our defense couldn’t get off the field, we couldn’t stop them in overtime, and offensively there were two series at the end of the game where it wasn’t even close. We didn’t block the right guy, or something. The only thing I can hang my hat on is that I played 17 years, went to four Pro Bowls, and did everything I could to help every team I played on be better. I think I helped change the culture and direction of the organization in Oakland when I was there.”