So you want to be Adam Schefter?
ESPN’s NFL reporter is on 24-hour call. He carries a Blackberry and iPhone, both of which are in constant overdrive.
Just from spending a few hours with him during Schefter’s recent visit to Northwestern, you can see it appears to be a manic existence.
“It’s constant,” Schefter said. “It never stops.”
In part 1, I talked to Schefter about his Twitter plans for the NFL draft. In today’s Q/A, he addresses Twitter; ESPN’s credit issues; the pressure to be No. 1; and the real reasons why he doesn’t take a vacation.
You have more than 2.2 million followers on Twitter. Is that amazing to you?
I like to say I paid off a bunch of people to follow me. I honestly can say I don’t even think about it. At some point, you get numb to it. It becomes just a number.
When I first started in 2009, you’d see these numbers: 50,000 followers, then 80,000. It used to blow me away. That doesn’t happen anymore.
I’m flattered that people take an interest in me. I’m not stupid enough to realize that people are there for football information. They are there for their fantasy football updates, injury updates. People thank me for helping them win their leagues. I didn’t even make the playoffs in one of my leagues.
It’s not me; it’s what I do.
How much is Twitter a part of what you do?
100 percent of my job is to report information for ESPN. Ninety-five percent of that gets posted on Twitter. Fortunately or unfortunately, Twitter has become a journalistic scorecard. Who has the story first? It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous.
Stories like the Mike Rice story are unique enough to where the credits last. But there also are so many trades, signings that are of the garden mill variety.
Does it matter if somebody reported something two minutes before someone else? Please, it’s so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
But isn’t there pressure to be first with the story?
Nobody says, ‘You must get this.’ Yet having said that, nobody puts more pressure on myself than me. We’re all self-driven. If I miss a story, I don’t like it. I can’t stand the feeling. That’s what drives you to make that extra call, to send that extra text.
What about the criticism that ESPN doesn’t give enough credits to outside outlets who break news?
You don’t hear me asking for credit.
I will say this, and I want it stated clearly: ESPN does a great job of giving other people credit. ESPN gives more credit to other (outlets) than any other newspaper, network, blog site. By far. It really irks me when people accuse ESPN of not giving credit. I will defend my network to the hilt here.
We’re a big target. We’re under constant scrutiny. I had people tell me when I got there, it’s like playing for the Yankees. If anything goes slightly wrong, it draws more criticism than anything else. They were right.
Today, I did a podcast (at Northwestern). After I’m done, I look on my Blackberry and see Julian Edelman re-signed with the Patriots. So I put it on Twitter. I then found out USA Today reported it eight minutes ago. Damn.
So I erased the tweet and put up a new tweet that said the Patriots had signed Edelman as reported by Mike Garafolo of USA Today.
Why did you do that?
Mike has been very gracious to me. I wanted to reciprocate.
I don’t want to insult anybody. I don’t anyone to say, ‘ESPN is not giving someone proper credit.’
It’s the world we live in.
What is your world like? Even during this interview, you’re constantly checking your Blackberry and iPhone.
It’s constant. More people are vying for more information than ever before. There’s the need for speed. I’m so thankful I spent 16 years covering a newspaper beat (the Denver Broncos). Your story would appear on the doorstep at 6 a.m. and it would live for 24 hours. Now you get 24 seconds to rest up and we’re on to something else. It never stops. The news cycle is on steroids.
It’s not that Twitter overtakes your life. It’s the job that overtakes your life. It’s a challenge. I try to do my best when we’re out to dinner at a restaurant not to leave my phone on. But then if you’re 2-3 minutes late with a story, you’re late. People say, ‘Where were you?’
‘Well, I was eating a hamburger. Can I do that?’
You received some attention because you said you never take a vacation in a recent interview. Apparently, there is more to it. Can you elaborate?
We have two kids and five dogs. I wanted to stop at three dogs. My wife (Sharri) wanted four and five. So we compromised and got four and five.
My wife is uncomfortable leaving the kids and the dogs. She won’t put the dogs in a kennel. They are like our children.
Second, and most important, my wife is a 9/11 widow. She doesn’t like to fly. It’s not something she chooses to do.
Not taking a vacation is something I don’t choose to do. I wish we could take a vacation. I wish my wife wanted to fly more. It just happens that there are some extenuating circumstances involved here.
My boss, Seth Markman, has a mandate for me. He says I must take a one-week vacation during the off-season where I don’t bring the Blackberry and iPhone and cut myself off from civilization. As much as I would love to take him up on that, it’s just not going to happen.
Steve Carell recently visited Bristol and you did a bit with him. What was that like?
It was the coolest thing ever. We were in make-up, and he’s a big Patriots fan. I told him Wes Welker just signed with the Broncos. He had no idea.
We did the scene during commercials (of SportsCenter). You know what was amazing about it? He does the first take. He says, ‘Can we do it again?’ I thought it was very good, but it wasn’t good enough for him. So we did it again, and that’s the one we used.