14 Sports Reporters Who Worked Ridiculously Hard To Get Where They Are Today

erin andrews

In an era of sports reporting dominated by former players and coaches, it’s becoming harder and harder for the non-athlete to break through into the sports media field. 

However, there are several cases where people have worked extremely hard to make a household name for themselves without ever competing at sport’s highest level.

These reporters had to encounter numerous pit stops along the way to build up their reputations and prove their worth.

We’ve outlined the career paths of several well-established sports personalities to give you a sense of what it took for each to reach their current position.

Sage Steele, SportsCenter Anchor

Steele graduated from Indiana University in 1995 before getting her start in television as a producer and reporter in South Bend, Ind. at WSBT-TV and a Indianapolis Colts reporter for WISH-TV until 1997, before covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1998 to 2001.

She later became a debut anchor for Comcast SportsNet in Washington D.C., working on SportsNite and covering the Baltimore Ravens up until 2005.

Steele joined ESPN in 2007, and made her debut as a SportsCenter anchor in 2008.

(Source: ESPN Media Zone)

Bill Simmons, ESPN Columnist/Grantland Editor-In-Chief

Simmons graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1992, and earned a master's degree in journalism from Boston University a year later. He began at The Boston Herald covering high school sports and moved on to the Boston Phoenix for a few years.

But Simmons' career launched skyward when he prodded AOL's Digital City Boston website to bring him on as 'The Boston Sports Guy' in 1997. His edgy style came to ESPN in 2001, when the network introduced Page 2. He served as lead columnist for ESPN the Magazine from 2002-09.

Now, Simmons' several noteworthy ventures include 'The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy,' his podcast, The B.S. Report, and his role as Editor-In-Chief of Grantland.

(Sources: ESPN Media Zone, The New York Times)

Erin Andrews, Fox Sports Reporter

Andrews earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 2000. She began her career at FOX Sports Florida that same year. Between 2001 and 2002, Andrews covered the Tampa Bay Lightning reporter for the Sunshine Network.

She moved on to Turner Sports in 2002, where she began reporting on college football and covered all major Atlanta sports franchises, with the exception of the Falcons, as a reporter and studio host. She spent eight years at ESPN, beginning in 2004 working mostly in college football and basketball as a sideline reporter.

She joined Fox Sports earlier this year, and is making major contributions in the network's NFL, MLB and college football coverage.

(Source: Fox Sports)

John Clayton, Senior NFL Writer and Commentator

John Clayton earned his first job offer from the Pittsburgh Press before even graduating from Duquesne University in 1976. He worked his way up, becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers beat reporter, which he covered up until 1986. He began corresponding for the Sporting News in 1980.

He later moved to Washington to cover the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune from 1986 to 1998, adding a local radio show to the mix in 1990.

He joined ESPN in 1996 and can be seen on the network's several platforms on nearly all of its NFL coverage. He also regularly contributes to ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com.

(Sources: ESPN MediaZone, Duquesne)

Alex Flanagan, NBC and NFL Network Reporter

After graduating from the University of Arizona, Flanagan went to work as a news reporter and anchor for KCCO-TV in Alexandria, Wash. before working in the same capacity for WSFA-TV in Montgomery, Ala.

She moved on to the Fox Sports Network, where she was a featured reporter on The Keith Olbermann Evening News and The National Sports Report.

She worked as a college football reporter for ESPN for six years following her time at Fox Sports.

Flanagan joined the NFL Network in 2006 as a host and reporter for several programs on the network. She reported from the sidelines during last year's Super Bowl XLI and worked in the same role at the Super Bowl three years earlier.

(Source: NBC Sports)

Michael Wilbon, Pardon The Interruption/NBA Studio Analyst

After graduating from Northwestern University in 1980, Wilbon immediately joined The Washington Post as a sports reporter (he interned there for two summers during college), before becoming a columnist in 1990.

He began co-hosting Pardon The Interruption when it debuted in 2001 and joined ABC and ESPN as an NBA Studio Analyst in 2006. He left the Washington Post in 2010, but still writes columns for ESPN.

(Source: ESPN Media Zone)

Michele Tafoya, NBC Sunday Night Football Sideline Reporter

Tafoya graduated from University of California at Berkeley in 1987 and went on to get her master's degree from Southern California.

She began her career in radio at WAQS-AM in Charlotte in 1993, becoming the first female analyst to cover UNC-Charlotte men's basketball. Tafoya's first television job came as an anchor and reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis for three years beginning in 1995.

Her big break came in 1994, when she began reporting at NFL games, and hosting shows at CBS for the NFL and college football and basketball until 2000, when she joined ESPN and ABC as reporter for NFL Studio Shows and, ultimately, Monday Night Football.

She joined NBC as a sideline and feature reporter for Sunday Night Football last year, where she covered Super Bowl XLVI. Tafoya has been regarded as one of the best female sportscasters on television for a number of years.

(Sources: California Alumni Association, NBC Sports)

Jim Nantz, NFL and Golf Play-By-Play Announcer on CBS

Nantz has pretty much worked his way to becoming the voice of CBS Sports. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Houston, where he was a member of the university's golf team and worked at the city's KHOU-TV and KTRH Radio stations.

Upon graduating, Nantz worked at KSL-TV in Salt Lake as an anchor beginning in 1984, broadcasting Utah Jazz games and doing play-by-play for Brigham Young football.

He joined CBS in 1985, as a host of the station's college football show, moving on to do play-by-play for college football games in 1989 and NFL in 1991. He's a main fixture at the NCAA men's basketball championship and Final Four for 27 years, and has been the voice of the Masters every year beginning in 1989.

(Source: CBS Sports)

Samantha Steele, ESPN College Football Sideline Reporter

Steele worked her way up to the forefront of ESPN relatively quickly. She graduated from Liberty University in 2009 and she interned for ABC Sports Radio and ABC Sports Television for three years in New York City.

Prior to ESPN, Steele worked at FOX as a studio host and reporter for college football and basketball.

She was hired by ESPN's Longhorn Network last year and most recently took over for Erin Andrews as a reporter on ESPN's College Gameday and also covers Thursday Night games and Super Tuesday College Basketball for ESPN.

(Sources: ESPN Media Zone, samanthasteele.com)

Bob Costas

Costas attended Syracuse University and kicked off his broadcast career at WSYR-TV and Radio. He later moved to KMOX Radio in St. Louis to do play-by-play for an ABA team, before doing regional telecasts for NBA and NFL games on CBS from 1976 to 1981.

Costas has always been a man of many hats for NBC. He began by covering the NFL, college football and major league baseball. His start came with his popular 'Costas Coast-to-Coast' late-night sports radio show beginning in 1986 and 'Later With Costas' from 1988 to 1994.

He hosted the network's NBA pregame show from 1990 to 1996, before becoming its top play-by-play announcer for 'NBA on NBC' from 1997 to 2000. He's been a focal point for nearly every Olympic Games since 1992 and still calls games in every major sport.

Costas has been named Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association eight times. He currently hosts NBC's 'Football Night In America'

(Source: NBC Sports)

Hannah Storm, ESPN Sportscenter Anchor

Storm is a University of Notre Dame graduate, who began her career working at Notre Dame's NBC affiliate WNDU-TV. She began working as a disc jockey at KNCN-FM in Corpus Christi, Tex. after graduating in the early 1980's, before becoming an anchor at Houston's KSRR-FM for four years.

Storm moved to television for the first time in 1988 at WPQC-TV in Charlotte. She became the first female host of CNN's Sports Tonight for four more years up until 1992. She worked for 10 years at NBC Sports following her stint at CNN, hosting four Olympic Games in addition to hosting the network's NBA and MLB coverage.

She moved away from sports when she became host of 'The Today Show' on CBS from 2002 to 2007, covering two presidential campaigns and two Super Bowls. She made the move to ESPN in 2008, where she remains co-anchoring SportsCenter to this day.

(Sources: hannahstorm.com)

Mike Tirico, ESPN

Tirico is another sports broadcaster who rose to the top rather quickly. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1988, he worked as a sports director at Syracuse's CBS affiliate WTVH-TV for four years.

After that, Tirico moved directly to ESPN, becoming a SportCenter anchor in 1992 and one of the network's original radio hosts, when it debuted in 1992, and eventually had his own show. Much like Nantz, he is one of the most versatile play-by-play guys for ESPN and ABC, covering the NFL, college football and basketball, the NBA and golf.

He became the play-by-play commentator for Monday Night Football in 2006, and continues to do so alongside former NFL coach Jon Gruden.

(Source: ESPN Media Zone)

Rachel Nichols, ESPN Reporter

Nichols graduated from Northwestern in 1995, was offered a job out of school at The Fort-Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (now The South-Florida Sun Sentinel) after spending time at the paper during college.

She worked at the Sentinel for a year before moving to The Washington Post, where she worked from 1996 to 2004. Although her background was in print journalism, she frequented on CNN, MSG and the Sunshine Network, among others during her time at the two papers.

She moved to ESPN in 2006, where she continues to serve as a breaking news and features reporter. She works on SportsCenter and contributes pieces to E:60 as well.

(Sources: ESPN Media Zone, YouTube)

Al Michaels, Sunday Night Football Broadcaster

Michaels' first television gig upon graduating from Arizona State University came picking the woman for ABC's The Dating Game. He would move onto public relations for the Los Angeles Lakers.

His broadcasting career began in 1968 when he began calling games for the Pacific Coast League and the University of Hawaii football and basketball teams. He became the lead announcer for the Cincinnati Reds in 1971 and the San Francisco Giants in 1974. He moved on to cover ABC's Monday Night Baseball from 1976 to 1989.

He was a main fixture in NBC's Olympic coverage beginning in 1972. One of the most famous sports calls of all time, 'Do you believe in miracles?,' was muttered from the lips of Michaels during the U.S. hockey team's upset of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games on NBC. He did play-by-play for ABC's Monday Night Football for 20 years beginning in 1986, before it changed networks.

He now works for NBC doing the play-by-play for NBC Sunday Night Football.

(Sources: Emmy TV Legends, Sports Stars USA, NBC Sports)

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