NFL Network's Dan Hellie On His Football Predictions, How Sports Coverage Has Changed -
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NFL Network’s Dan Hellie On His Football Predictions, How Sports Coverage Has Changed

NFL Network’s Dan Hellie On His Football… by uSports

Dan Hellie, the NFL Network sports anchor, predicts a lot of drama in this topsy-turvy NFL season in a new video interview with uSports.

NFL Network’s Dan Hellie On His Football Predictions, How Sports Coverage Has Changed

“There’s five undefeated teams left, and right now it looks like the two best teams are in the AFC,” Hellie told uSports “The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos had a lot of question marks coming into the season, primarily at the quarterback position. They had Peyton Manning there for the last few years. Peyton didn’t play well last year, he was replaced by Brock Osweiler. The Broncos ended up losing both Manning and Osweiler after winning the Super Bowl, so they turned to Mark Sanchez, whom they believed could be an adequate replacement. [Sanchez] didn’t play that well in training camp, and he was beaten out by a young man named Trevor Siemian, who had average amounts of success at best at Northwestern. Siemian has played relatively well, he’s coming off a great game this weekend, and the Broncos are now sitting at 3-0.”

“The other team that has been incredibly successful going with their second and third-string quarterbacks is the New England Patriots,” he continued. “Tom Brady, of course, suspended for four games and yet the Patriots somehow have found a way to win three in a row. They are only playing one more game, which will be against Buffalo, a team that’s not very good, until Brady gets back. So their whole goal is to maybe go 2-2 without Brady, they could potentially be undefeated without Brady. Just a tremendous job by the coaching staff, the defense and everybody in that organization. So I think the Broncos and the Patriots are the best two undefeated teams in football [right now].”

Hellie, 41, joined the NFL Network in August 2013 as host of NFL Total Access. Prior to that, he was the Sports Director for WRC, an NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C. During his time there, Hellie won two Emmy Awards, one for “Best Sports Anchor.” His responsibilities at NBC Washington included anchoring the daily sportscasts, hosting a weekly Redskins show and the Redskins coaches show.

Before his tenure in D.C., Hellie was sports director for WFTV in Orlando. Aside from NFL games, Hellie has covered several other major sporting events including: NCAA Final Fours, the U.S. Open, Stanley Cup playoffs, NBA playoffs, as well as MLB postseason games.

The anchor’s interest in sports began with a career day in seventh grade with a local sportscaster in D.C. “Back then, when you went in, they would still send highlights in on old, 3/4-inch tapes,” he said. You’d get them in the mail, there was a highlight service, based out of New York and they’d send them all over the country. So they let me pick out a couple of highlights for the Washington Bullets, who are now the Wizards. I said this is it, this is what I want to do. I was hooked from that point on, my whole goal in life was to become a sportscaster.”

His start in the sports broadcasting industry was a humble one, as often is the case, and since then, several notable changes have occurred in the business. “I kind of cut my teeth coming up the ranks of local television, it was really minor league baseball,” he explained. “I think the biggest change I’ve seen — and it’s probably happened in the last five or six years — are teams controlling their own content. You’ll see teams that are producing their own show covering the team. Teams are breaking news on their own Twitter handles and their own websites. These teams are realizing ‘Hey, we can kind of control the message if we do this on our own.’ So that’s the biggest change.”

Hellie also noted the growing power of social media. “Social media, obviously a huge change, too. If you’re member of an organization like general manager or part of the coaching staff, you’re constantly monitoring your players’ Twitter handles, sometimes the things they say make you cringe. Sometimes, you’re in a contract negotiation with a player and that’s how they choose to release news.”

The sportscaster spoke of how, unsurprisingly, he found the Olympics to be one of the most difficult sporting events to cover. “I think the Olympics are the most challenging because of the pure energy that is involved in covering them,” he said. “When I was in London, I was there for a month covering them for the NBC affiliate in D.C. With the time difference and the time demands, it’s tough. You’re working 18-hour days, moving from venue to venue and they weren’t always close. You could be in downtown London, and then you could be an hour outside the city by noon in the same day, and then have to come back to do the package for the 5 or 6 o’clock show and then do the late show. I love the pageantry that surrounds the Olympics, but that was the most I’ve ever worked for months straight with just a few days off.”

Hellie loves covering Super Bowls, and fondly recalls being on the sideline for the game in which the New York Giants’ David Tyree made a spectacular diving ‘helmet catch’ in 2008 ‘to ruin the Patriots’ perfect season,’ as he said. He said he also loves to cover the NCAA tournament.

We asked Hellie if he, as a Los Angeles resident, was particularly excited to see the Rams back in the city after being in St. Louis for more than 20 years. “I’m from Washington, D.C., so I’m a huge Redskins fan. Personally, what it means to me is that I’m going to be able to take my 9-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to an NFL game, which I wasn’t able to do before unless I wanted to travel to San Diego.”

Hopefully, the NFL Total Access host is right, and L.A. will give a large number of football fans a team to cheer for again.

“I think the city of LA deserves a football team,” he concluded. “They already have two baseball teams, two basketball teams, two hockey teams, they should have at least one NFL team.”

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Written by Pablo Mena