Shot Callers: Marcus Spears, Show Host, ESPN

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After nearly a decade in the NFL, not to mention winning a national championship with the LSU Tigers, Marcus Spears has transitioned into a television career as an analyst on the ESPN family of networks. Currently, he hosts SEC Nation and Thinking Out Loud on the SEC Network.

In today’s episode of Shot Callers, FOS Senior Writer Michael McCarthy chatted with Spears about his journey to the world of television and his promising future in the field.

Edited highlights appear below:

On his experience so far in television (0:57)

Spears: “It’s amazing. I think the first thing that comes to mind is the experiences, right? When you’re an athlete, you never see behind the scenes. You never see what goes into a production of a game or an award show. The work that’s put in prior to everything, looking pretty to everybody that watches it on the tube. So it’s been an amazing experience for me. If anybody knows me, I’m myself on television. I don’t know any other alter egos and that’s been embraced by this company, I’ve been embraced by my colleagues and that’s what’s most important to me. So it’s been an amazing experience.”

On why sometimes big name former athletes and coaches have trouble as broadcasters (3:08)

Spears: “A part of it is [not realizing how hard the work is], and then the other part is sometimes I feel like alliances can cause guys like these friendships and alliances. Not saying any of these guys didn’t have what it took. I just think sometimes the protective nature of you being a former athlete can call you. That doesn’t mean you get on television and bash players. You tell the truth. That’s what I tell people all the time. I’m going to call it like I see it. I think that’s what ultimately people respect. They might not like what you’re saying because it’s a player that they love or organization that they love. But ultimately you just gotta be frank.”

On his ability to talk about all sports and not just football (4:56)

Spears: “I grew up arguing with my dad and my uncles about all sports. So it’s very normal for me…It’s about being a fan first and foremost, I think. The second thing is just wanting to expand your craft. Like there are other conversations going on outside of football. But one big thing for me, I never wanted to get pigeonholed as he’s this because once that runs out or once there’s no place for that, then you gotta find somewhere else to go. The one thing that I’ve learned from a lot of guys, especially bringing in obviously Stephen A and Max and Jalen is why not be involved in other sports? Why not have something to say?”

On why America cares so much about the Cowboys (7:39)

Spears: “The Cowboys are the face of the thing that we cherish the most in sports in this country: football. They’re the most popular product. Even though the New England Patriots are winning all the Super Bowls, the Cowboys are America’s team. People can debate that and take it out of context. There is a reason that it’s the highest grossing franchise. There’s a reason it’s worth more than any other franchise in the NFL because people gravitate to it….They’ve had some of the biggest names to ever play in the NFL…They’ve had multiple Hall of Famers. It’s been so many things of rich tradition that we hold and we cherish in this country so much. That’s what the Dallas Cowboys embody.”