It wasn’t long ago that Mike Mayock was well-regarded as a draft analyst by hard-core NFL fans but largely unknown beyond football obsessives. Now Mayock is becoming one of the most prominent people in the football business, and he sounded on a conference call today like he’s a little shocked that just being a guy who likes talking football has turned into a successful career.
“I love talking football — it doesn’t matter if I’m at the dinner table or down the street with my buddies,” Mayock said. “But to me there’s nothing like doing a live game. . . . I can’t believe they pay me to do live games. It’s mind boggling. My father was a coach for 45 years and he calls me Jesse James without a gun. He says, ‘You’re stealing money, son.’ And he’s right. I’m blessed to call games for a living.”
Mayock’s new on-air partner, Brad Nessler, said he views sitting next to Mayock in the booth as an honor.
“Mike and I have known each other a long time and worked a few games together back in the day,” Nessler said. “Everyone uses the term ‘rising star’ with Mike. I think he’s always been a star, but people are letting him do his thing now.”
For Mayock, doing his thing means, in his words, “A football telecast that answers all the questions.” Mayock hopes he’s helping to illuminate the game for fans who are already knowledgeable but want to know more.
“I start with a fundamental approach,” Mayock said. “I think football is the greatest game on earth, especially on television. And if you respect the game, I think the viewer will appreciate the telecast.”
NFL Network has confirmed that it first made the decision to make Mayock the color commentator for its package of prime time games, then went looking for the play-by-play man who could do the best job alongside Mayock. After considering several other broadcasters, they picked Nessler — perhaps in part because he realizes that Mayock is the star of the show.
But Mayock doesn’t talk like a star. He talks like a football fan who’s thrilled that he gets to be a fan for a living.
“If you told me 10 months ago that I’d be calling Notre Dame games, followed by an NFL playoff game on NBC, followed by NFL Network offering me this package,” Mayock said. “I would probably inquire as to your hallucinogenic choices.”