NFL insider Adam Schefter says being told ‘no’ his entire life is at the root of his success

Adam schefter sportscenter skit
  • Morning Brew caught up with Adam Schefter, an NFL reporter for ESPN.
  • He discussed Twitter, how he dealt with rejection, and fantasy football.
  • “I don’t feel like I have any really discernible talents,” Schefter said. “But I care an awful lot. I’m driven. I’ve always been scared of falling short, not succeeding.”

Adam Schefter, NFL reporter for ESPN, took a break from breaking the latest trade to talk Twitter, how he dealt with rejection, and fantasy football.

Morning Brew: Let’s start with your college days at the University of Michigan (go Blue). You were named an “honorary captain” at a Michigan home football game. Walk us through your speech to the team.

Adam Schefter: The very first thing I said to the team was:

“Listen, when I did not get the opportunity to be a football manager, I went down to the student newspaper and had to be a fan. When I was a fan, I was in the stands as a freshman when Jim Harbaugh, on 2nd down, threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to the then freshman wide receiver John Kolesar. John Kolesar ran right at the student section and we all went crazy. People were singing and screaming and singing ‘Hail to the Victors!,’ waving flags, and it was just something that I could still remember to this day.”

I told the team, because it was right before the home opener, that there’s going to be a whole group of freshmen in those stands tomorrow, who are watching you play, going to the Big House for the first time and never been, and every time that you step onto that football field you will have the chance to make a mark on these people. To give them something to remember for the rest of their lives.

Morning Brew: Any classes in college that helped you be successful in your career?

Schefter: I spent a lot of time writing for the Michigan Daily. That was memorable and something that helped me.

I also worked with a writing coach, a great man who still lives in Ann Arbor and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. He was gracious enough to offer critiques of things I was writing in his class and he’d give me sports writing assignments and books to read. It’s not that he was the best teacher or the most important teacher, but he was my most important teacher. And somebody that I developed a lifelong relationship with.

Morning Brew:So you have a very public job. What’s that like?

Schefter: I do love my job, and I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate. But I also will say that it’s not easy as it looks. It’s not as much of a joyride as you might think. I don’t think that there is any job that is just sheer pleasure. Otherwise, they’d have another name for it other than “work.” There is still pressure, stress, and headaches. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

If you would have said to me, “OK, 28 years from now, here’s what you’ll be doing: you’ll have this job. You’ll work for ESPN. You’ll cover the NFL. You’ll be in charge of information, news, breaking stories.” I would say: “Where do I sign up? And how much can I pay you for that job?”

Morning Brew:What is one characteristic that has made you really good at what you do?

Schefter: I don’t feel like I have any really discernible talents. But I care an awful lot. I’m driven. I’ve always been scared of falling short, not succeeding.

I don’t feel like I have any really discernible talents. But I care an awful lot. I’m driven. I’ve always been scared of falling short, not succeeding.

I always wanted more. And I’ve always been rejected at so many turns in my life whether it was wanting to go to Penn or Tufts and not getting in, or wanting to get into the fraternity at school and not getting in, or wanting to be the football student manager and not getting the job, or applying to newspaper jobs out of college and getting rejected, or wanting to be a columnist once I got to the newspaper and getting rejected. My entire life I was told “no.” And I think every time I was, I was driven to make sure that I can climb back into a spot that would make me happier than I was at that moment.

Morning Brew:How many phones do you have?

Schefter: I have two phones, and I’m on the second phone right now.

Morning Brew:Do you play fantasy football? And how many years in a row have you won your league?

Schefter: Not only do I play fantasy football, I love fantasy football. I could talk fantasy football all day long. I have friends that text me all of the time with questions. I like to share my world, so if I can help out somebody, I’m happy to do that. I’m in two leagues (one at ESPN), and I’ve been in them for roughly 7-8 years. I’ve won one championship.

Adam schefter

There’s skill involved. There’s instinct and intuition involved. There’s intelligence involved. But there’s also luck. In one of my leagues, my team is 0-2. I’ve lost both games by a combined 1.2 points.

Morning Brew:Who’s your #1 mentor and why?

Schefter: Hard to say just one. My grandfather, Dave Cohen, was a great man with a positive attitude. Thomas George, former Detroit Free Press and New York Times reporter, helped bring me into the business. Former Broncos VP Jim Saccomano helped raise me in the NFL. And Chris Mortensen has become a great friend and mentor.

Morning Brew:How did Twitter change your job?

Schefter: It put us on the clock 24-7. Thanks, Twitter.

Morning Brew:Alright, here are a couple rapid-fire questions. What’s the most unique thing on your desk?

Schefter:A rock that my daughter gave me for Father’s Day few years ago that says on it, “Daddy Rocks!”

Morning Brew:Which current coach that would be the best owner?

Schefter: Bill Belichick or Gregg Popovich.

Morning Brew:What’s your monthly phone bill?

Schefter: Goes to the company — thankfully.

Morning Brew:Buy/Sell/Hold — Soccer in the U.S., Las Vegas as a pro sports city, NFL TV ratings

Schefter: Buy….Buy….Buy

Morning Brew:What’s your most memorable sports moment of all-time?

Schefter: Michigan winning the National Championship in basketball in Seattle in 1989, with my college roommates and me in attendance