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The Overhead Compartment With Adam Schefter

The Overhead Compartment With Adam Schefter

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Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.

Breaking News. It’s the primary currency in the communications business today, and no one does it better than ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Not only is it his job, it is his passion. Schefter is the master of the inside scoop, football fans across the country await his every tweet with baited breath. Seen all over the ESPN Network from NFL Countdown to SportsCenter to Mike and Mike, Schefter is the go-to guy with a phone ever present in his hand – even on the air. Schefter began his quest for knowledge as the editor of The Michigan Daily during his college years, then went on to the NFL Network and from there to ESPN. The Overhead Compartment caught up with Adam Schefter in between emails, texts, snaps and live reports to discover a bit about his travel habits and love of his job, while still making sure he could remain focused on his phone.

The Overhead Compartment with Adam Schefter begins now…

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OC: You’ve been covering the NFL almost 25 years, what’s the best thing about your job?

AS: The fact that I feel the way I do about it: I still love it. The job is hard, has more challenges, is more demanding, but I get to cover the most popular sport in our country, I get to gossip about it privately and publicly, I get to work for the pre-eminent sports network. As the Harbaughs like to say: Who’s got it better than us?

OC: What’s the hardest part?

AS: The hardest part is the relentless nature of the job, the way it rarely lets up. It didn’t just happen either, it has gone on for a while now, but football is a 365-24-7 job. There’s football news over Memorial Day, the July 4th holiday (though the NBA did dominate in that department this year), Labor Day. There is so much interest, so much intensity to it, so many people vying for information for so many different media outlets, that the job is more challenging than it ever has been.

OC: People joke about your phone habits: On average, how many calls, texts and emails do you receive per day relating to inside information?

AS: Depends on the day and time of year. Sunday mornings are, of course, busy. But there are certain periods where it’s really busy. The day after the season ends, when coaches begin to get fired and hired, is hectic. The week leading up to and of free agency is chaotic. The week and day of the NFL draft is non-stop as well. During the busy days, there are hundreds of text exchanges. During the week, it’s not like that at all. There’s some texting, some calling. The key is just staying connected to people and staying on top of the newsy issues of the day and week. I will share, however, that when I got to ESPN and I worked with HR on a phone plan, if my memory serves me correct, someone told me they don’t get any of their employees the unlimited texting plan. And I was insistent that I needed it. And they declined to provide it, saying to expense the monthly bills as they come. So I did. The first monthly bill was over $5000. They switched me to the unlimited plan. That was that.

OC: How much do you sleep during the football season?

AS: My issue is sleeping continuously. I almost never fall asleep and stay asleep for an extended time. Almost always, I will fall asleep, wake up a few hours later, check the phone, and if there’s a significant email or text waiting, that’s it. Then your mind is racing. But I have a habit of falling asleep earlier and getting up earlier, and there’s no worse feeling than sleeping through news. It has happened twice that I can remember. One time, I dozed off, awakened about 2:30 in the morning, and saw that I missed a text that the Steelers were trading Santonio Holmes to the Jets. This past year, I fell asleep a bit earlier when I thought the coaching carousel had slowed down, and when I got up, I saw there was a text that the Bucs were getting ready to fire Lovie Smith that I missed. We do sleep. We are human. Just don’t sleep much continuously.

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OC: When you take a vacation, how much do you sleep?

AS: We really don’t take vacations, for a variety of reasons. My wife doesn’t like to fly, we have two kids and four dogs, and my wife refuses to leave the dogs with doggy day-care. So unless my in-laws agree to watch the dogs, my wife isn’t leaving. We actually went to Colorado for four days in June, which was the first time my wife and children traveled to a place that is near and dear to me. I turn 50 in December, and that was my early 50th present, agreeing to go on that trip. But aside from that, we haven’t been away from the house for multiple nights since we had a four-day honeymoon in Vermont and Massachussets. Wish we did take vacations. Think it’s great for everyone to recharge and refresh. We just don’t do it.

OC: Which city is your favorite for the Super Bowl?

AS: There aren’t too many that I dislike going to. Not a big fan of going to cold-weather cities. But the big thing with Super Bowls is, it’s all about convenience. If Anchorage wanted to host a Super Bowl where our meeting rooms and broadcast area were right next door to the hotel, and there was a good gym, and good restaurants right across the street, I’d be plenty good with that.

OC: What do you do with your down time there?

AS: At the Super Bowl, we really don’t get any down time. It feels like if you’re not doing a show, you’re preparing for a show. The whole trip really is a business trip that revolves around TV and the game itself. As for real life, it’s pretty simple. Someone said to me the other day, “A bad day of golf is still better than a good day of work.” And I would argue the opposite. I think a bad day of work is still better than a good day of golf — or at least close to it. The point is, I’d rather work than play golf. So a lot of my downtime is spent making calls, reading football material, studying up, just doing what it takes to operate in the crazy world that we do.

OC: What city do you think has the most passionate football fans?

AS: There are too many to count. There are some football cities that, to me, are as voracious about their team as any city with any team: Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, Giants, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, New Orleans. But the truth is, there are really no bad NFL markets. If a team is struggling, the market might be sagging. But there’s a reason football is as popular as it is.

OC: I am told you have a unique way of packing clothes (suits) for extended stays in a city, care to share?

AS: Well, clearly you have a source who you share a bedroom with who has told you that when I’m going away for a weeklong trip, which I only do a few times a year, I like to UPS my suits to the city where I’m traveling. That way, my suits are waiting for me when I get there and I don’t have to check them, wait for them, have them wrinkled, risk the airlines losing them or deal with any of the inconvenience of taking them with you. But your source who you share a bedroom with got that info before my expense for the trip was denied. Was told the company cannot and will not reimburse the costs of UPS to another city. Subsequent to that, I had another employee hear that and say, “That’s why I always FedEx my suits to where we’re traveling.” But that person has an ESPN FedEx company number; I have never been given one. But yes, if I can ship out my suits via UPS (which I have to pay for) or FedEx (which the company occassionally has paid for with other people), it makes traveling that much easier. And who doesn’t want to make traveling easier?

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OC: What’s your favorite city to visit for leisure?

AS: We don’t travel or vacation, so if you told me I was going to the Poconos for a week, that probably would get me all fired up.

OC: You’re a University of Michigan graduate…we need a good Harbaugh story.

AS: Don’t have too many of them. But there are two of note.
The first came in 1985, my freshman year and Harbaugh’s senior year. He threw a game-winning, 77-yard touchdown pass to John Kolesar to put away Ohio State in the closing seconds. The pass was thrown right in the direction of the freshman student section, and Kolesar ran right at us, and my friends and I went bonkers, all from the pass Harbaugh threw and the celebration he helped cause. It was an incredible day in the life of any Michigan college freshman.
Then later on, almost 30 years later, through no choice of my own, I was one of the rare recruits that Jim Harbaugh did not get. Last winter, he called to invite me to Michigan’s signing day celebration, where he had people like Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Mike Shanahan show up. There are few things I would have enjoyed more than being at Michigan on that day to partake in the recruiting festivities. The issue was, it came during the week of the Super Bowl. We were in San Francisco, and the first day of NFL Insiders and NFL Live on air from San Francisco was Wednesday, the same day as Michigan and Harbaugh’s celebration. I couldn’t leave San Francisco to make it. So I was the rare recruit to turn down Michigan this year, which pained me greatly.

OC: What do you think of the Fantasy Football craze, that appears to only be getting more and more popular?

AS: All in. Love it. Love fantasy football leagues — I’m in two. Love daily fantasy games. Love NBA fantasy basketball as much as anything. I hadn’t watched a full NBA game in over 20 years. Then two years ago, I started playing NBA daily fantasy and found a new habit. The first night after the Super Bowl my wife walked into the bedroom and noticed I was watching an NBA game. Same thing happened the next night. And when she walked in the third straight night and I was watching the NBA, she looked at me like I had taken up smoking and asked, “Since when do you watch basketball?” Since I became a part of the fantasy craze. Love it.

OC: What is the first thing you do when arriving in a hotel room?

AS: Probably unlike the man you share a bedroom with, I don’t wipe don’t counters or Purell my hands or clean the toilet seat. First thing I do is plug in my iPhones chargers and start juicing up.

OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:

AS: I never leave home without my iPhones. Two of them, which is another question people often ask: How many iPhones do you carry? Two. Used to be two Blackberries, then became one Blackberry and one iPhones, and then ESPN discontinued its service of Blackberries, so no Blackberries and two iPhones it is. And don’t UPS them ever. Just carry them around.

Adam Schefter, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!