Mike Tirico, 46, known throughout the sports world, is perhaps one of ESPN’s most versatile personalities. Joining the four-letter network more than 20 years ago, Tirico has handled broadcast duties for ESPN’s Thursday night college football, PGA golf, U.S. Open tennis, NBA and college basketball, but he is perhaps best known for handling play-by-play duties alongside the colorful John Gruden for the network’s signature Monday Night Football telecasts. The Daily World caught up with Tirico at the Masters earlier this month.
ADW: I’ve tried on several occasions to chat with you at Augusta National. You’re a moving target! How many Masters Tournaments have you worked now?
MT: Oh my. What, nine or 10?
ADW: As a youngster, could you even fathom broadcasting from the hallowed grounds of Augusta National?
MT: Well, I’d say as a kid I didn’t ever envision calling golf, as I wasn’t playing golf as much as other sports. But golf on television didn’t really boom until the early 1990s, so there wasn’t really this big pool of jobs available to call golf. Before that, there were only three networks calling golf, and only well-established people doing it. So I was doing more traditional stuff, like football and college basketball. But I loved the sport, always appreciated it, and the job opportunities evolved over time.
ADW: It’s a bit of an homage to you that the bosses at ESPN decided upon you for Monday Night Football play-by-play, but also saw a role for you broadcasting golf.
MT: Well, I think being a “Sportscenter” anchor early on in my career, where you touch all the sports and understand the innate differences, helped prepare me for that. It’s so hard to compare TV today to TV 20 years ago, when very few games were broadcast. Now literally every game is broadcast, and there are a dozen different networks with broadcast teams. There are critics out there combing through everything you do and say. So much has changed, and I’m just fortunate to have rolled with the punches.
ADW: Allow me to switch gears a bit. You wear so many hats at ESPN, what do you do to relax?
MT: Well, it’s great to be busy. I spend time with my family. I have two children. We take vacations here and there. I get to actually play some golf. To spend time doing the things you love away from work are so important. It starts and ends with my family for sure.
ADW: What do people most admire about you?
MT: Most definitely they tell me how lucky I am to have the job I have, to go to so many different places, and [to be] a part of so many diverse sporting events. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t bump into me and say, ‘You’ve got the greatest job in the world.’ I agree with them.
ADW: So 10 years from now, will you be taking over for Al Michaels at NBC?
MT: Al’s got a great job at NBC. I love my job. I love what I do. I will serve as long as they continue to ask me to. I love the opportunity to be a part of so many different things. I worry about today a lot more than I do tomorrow. If this is the top of the mountain for me, I’ll walk away from this business quite pleased.