Spoken like a real son of New Jersey, Kevin Burkhardt mentioned he doesn’t give a fuck if individuals — particularly these commenting on social media platforms — like him or not.
“I do attempt to return and have conversations with followers once I can, as a result of I do really feel like most of them turn into fairly good, however there’s at all times any person who’s going to be bitter it doesn’t matter what I do,” Burkhardt, FOX’s new NFL lead play-by-play commentator, informed Deadspin. “In the event that they don’t like me, I don’t give a fuck. I can’t let it have an effect on how I do my job.”
And the Bloomfield, N.J. native must have thick pores and skin, as he’s changing Joe Buck. The son of a broadcast legend, and a lightning rod of criticism, Buck is taken into account by many professionals to be one of many best play-by-play males of all time. But, when you had been to look on-line, you’d discover hundreds of feedback from informal followers detailing their disdain for ESPN’s latest NFL broadcaster.
“I believe all people’s indignant about all the pieces,” Burkhardt mentioned. “Joe Buck is among the best to ever do it, so I by no means understood the hate he bought on-line. I imply, it’s a subjective enterprise. I’m not naive. I do know there are folks that don’t like my fashion, possibly don’t like the way in which I name a recreation. That’s superb. You simply hope that you just do the sport justice and also you make it an gratifying expertise.”
When pushed additional on how his on-line presence can have an effect on his demeanor, Burkhardt responded, “Look, everybody needs to be beloved, proper? That’s the aim, however on the identical time if individuals on Twitter are going to criticize me then it’s like ‘You attempt being on TV uncensored for three-and-a-half hours reside.’ There’s no delete button. For everybody that claims they may do it higher, I don’t go right into a hospital and critique a coronary heart surgeon on his process. The percentages are they [internet trolls] can’t do it higher.”
This opportunity has been a long-time coming for Burkhardt, who covered high school football and even worked at a local car dealership before landing broadcast gigs including Sportsnet New York.
“I feel a lot of pride. I would say I’m being with it. I worked a lot of lower-level jobs and sold cars and all that. I take pride in the whole thing,” Burkhardt said. “I just hope that people look at me, certainly when you’re just starting out in the industry and you’re overwhelmed, and say ‘Hey, if that dude can go to a Super Bowl, then maybe I can do this!’ I know that’s corny, but I do take a lot of pride in that.”
Burkhardt admitted that he does feel a little bit of added pressure given the responsibilities being put on his shoulders this season, but also claimed that pressure has never bothered him.
“That comes with the territory. If you don’t want the pressure, you shouldn’t go into national broadcasting.” Burkhardt continued, “Will this be different? Yes. I’ve never done a Super Bowl. I’ve never done an NFC Championship… but I welcome that part of it.”
If anything, Burkhardt has earned this opportunity. He started out working at WGHT in northern New Jersey covering high school football and other local events for eight years before finding his next gig. During that time, Burkhardt also worked as a broadcaster for independent baseball squad, the New Jersey Jackals, and as a sales associate for a Chevrolet dealership. That was followed by several freelance gigs before getting his big break in 2007 at SNY.
“I didn’t expect to get that job when I applied for it,” Burkhardt said. “I had to have so many things along the way happen to get me to this point, and so many people believe in me.”
Burkhardt admitted that the sports broadcasting industry has changed since then. Whether it be the free-agent markets we’ve seen for big-name announcers switching between major networks or just the level of expectation put upon low-level announcers in their first jobs, Burkhardt holds fast that as long as you love working in the industry, and that love for your work shines through, people will eventually take notice.
“I think everyone’s feeling should be, ‘If you love this or you love something else, that’s why you grind.’ That’s why I traveled on a 12-hour bus ride to Quebec City doing independent baseball making $25 a game, because I loved it,” Burkhardt said. “So, that has not changed for me, and I don’t think it ever will.”
Burkhardt’s passion for broadcasting was on full display during his time with the Mets. Despite the team never reaching the postseason during his time in Queens, Burkhardt came into every game with an enthusiastic attitude, just happy to be getting paid to do what he loves. As the field reporter, Burkhardt had many opportunities to mingle with fans and prominent members of the community. From a career trajectory standpoint, Burkhardt claims he never wants to go back to his position at SNY. He does miss that aspect of the job though.
“I was really fortunate. I had a great relationship with the fans,” Burkhardt told Deadspin.” I always tried to give them the time of day when I could. It was special. You don’t get that on a national stage. I mean, I’ve had plenty of great interactions nowadays, but it’s different when you are on TV every night to the same market to the same fanbase. You develop a relationship. People feel like you’re family. There were a lot of those fans that I got to know personally. I still feel like it’s there, too. I feel like I’ll always be an honorary Mets broadcaster because of the fans, and that’s a pretty special thing. I feel like that will always be home to me.”
The feeling seems to be mutual. Burkhardt is scheduled to toss out the ceremonial first pitch at the Mets game on Sept. 3. However, despite Burkhardt growing up a Mets fan and being a part of that community for most of his life, throwing out the first pitch at a game had never really crossed his mind until the opportunity arose.
“It’s funny. I saw a lot of first pitches, being the sideline reporter, but I never really thought about myself doing it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. I mean, it’s a full circle,” said Burkhardt. “To come back and throw out the first pitch as a sort of ‘Welcome Home’-type thing as a national guy to kick off our NFL season on FOX. It’s amazing! I don’t think it’ll fully hit me until I get to the stadium.”
When asked what the gun will read after that first pitch, Burkhardt just laughed. I tried to give him some credit. I asked him if 70 was in the question, but the William Paterson University (N.J.) graduate stayed humble.
“Oh geez, I’m 48. I did go out to the park with my son though,” he said. “I hadn’t thrown a baseball in a while, full exposure. I had to at least get the arm loose over the weekend. It’s been a long time. Hopefully, that got the cobwebs out, so I can at least get it to the body of whoever’s catching.”
Throughout his career, Burkhardt has had the opportunity to work with many great athletes. His partner this season will be Carolina Panthers’ great — and fellow New Jerseyan — Greg Olsen. Burkhardt believes the two of them already share an incredible connection that comes through during their games this season. He cherishes every partner he’s ever had and never tries to look too far into the future at what opportunities may lie ahead. However, with Tom Brady having already signed a contract to become an analyst on FOX after he retires, I couldn’t help but ask if he was perhaps a little more excited at the prospect of working with him.
“I can’t even think about it. For one, I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Second, I love my current partner [Olsen]. There’s an excessive amount of on my private plate to assume 2-3 years down the highway, when I’ve a lot on the road this 12 months.”
Burkhardt mentioned he’s texted with Brady about his future place at FOX, however Burkhardt went on to say, “that was the final time I used to be going to consider that this season.”
Burkhardt’s capacity to remain within the second and deal with what’s instantly in entrance of him has performed a big position in his capacity to develop as a broadcaster. It’s most likely one of the vital contains a commentator can have provided that their job is actually to name what they see proper in entrance of them.
That mentioned, Burkhardt nonetheless appears again at what he’s been capable of accomplish and encourages anybody with the same ardour for broadcasting to stay by means of the brutal beginnings of the profession if their love for the trade is robust sufficient. Burkhardt is aware of that not everybody will get the alternatives he’s been given, however he hopes his story can persuade a couple of extra individuals to intestine it out after they imagine getting out of the trade is the one choice. It might have taken him 25 years, however Burkhardt has lastly reached the highest, and he’s not coming down anytime quickly.