Sports

Kevin Burkhardt went from obscurity to Fox’s NFL superstar

Residing in Bloomfield, N.J., the Burkhardt household’s week culminated with their Sunday ritual.

After church within the morning, Kevin Burkhardt, his dad, Wayne, his mother, Betty, and his brother, Brian, would cease on the Village Cabinet to choose up chilly cuts after which they sat in entrance of the TV to look at soccer all day.

Kevin someway grew up an Eagles fan in Giants nation and to listen to Pat Summerall’s voice increase out “Randall Cunningham” on a late fall Sunday afternoon would give Kevin chills.

Now, after the craziest offseason in NFL TV historical past, will probably be Burkhardt following Joe Buck, intoning throughout the nation on Fox Sports activities’ “America’s Sport of the Week” on late Sunday afternoons and, then, in February, ol’ Kevin from Bloomfield shall be on the decision for the Tremendous Bowl, turning into simply the twelfth TV play-by-player within the sport’s historical past.

Whereas this 12 months he shall be joined by his good buddy and one other Jersey man, Greg Olsen from Wayne, on the No. 1 workforce, none aside from $375 million man, Tom Brady, is within the on-deck circle after he retires from taking part in.

When the 48-year-old Burkhardt talks about all of it, he sounds as enthusiastic as a 7-year-old consuming ham and cheeses, whereas rooting for Ron Jaworski.

“It’s type of bonkers,” Burkhardt informed The Put up.

On Friday, Burkhardt will ring the opening bell on the NASDAQ change and Saturday, Burkhardt, beloved in New York by Mets followers, will throw out the primary pitch at Citi Subject.

Kevin Burkhardt in the course of the 2021-22 season with Pete Macheska, Greg Olsen and Artie Kempner.
Kevin Burkhardt

Burkhardt didn’t see this all coming. No person actually did. Buck was alleged to be a Fox Sports activities lifer, the voice of the World Sequence and the NFL for a technology.

However Troy Aikman had an opt-out and fled Fox for a $90 million contract to name “Monday Evening Soccer” on ESPN and Buck was left behind, not wanting to interrupt in a brand new analyst. He quickly left for his personal $75 million MNF megadeal.

“In the event you would have informed me in January that I might be calling the Tremendous Bowl, I might have laughed in your face,” Burkhardt mentioned. “‘What are you speaking about?’ I by no means gave it one thought.”

He’ll name this 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl with Olsen. The 2 go method again as Burkhardt referred to as Olsen’s video games in highschool. Apart from the upcoming sport in February 2023, Fox additionally could have the 2025 Tremendous Bowl.

By that point, Brady might be within the sales space. With regards to Brady as an analyst, Burkhardt would be the second-most essential particular person after Brady himself in making Brady a hit within the sales space. There shall be a brand new stage of scrutiny.

Since 2005, simply three males — Buck, Michaels and Jim Nantz — have referred to as the Tremendous Bowl. Patriots proprietor and NFL TV committee chairman Bob Kraft reached out to Fox head honcho Rupert Murdoch to pitch Michaels, most likely the best play-by-player of all time, for the job because the community has two of the subsequent three Tremendous Bowls.

However Fox Sports activities’ high executives, Eric Shanks and Brad Zager, believed Burkhardt deserved subsequent crack, believing he’s the current and the longer term. Burkhardt does have a powerful résumé.

Mets
Kevin Burkhardt working for SNY.
SNY

His work as an SNY sideline reporter made him a Mets people hero to the purpose followers had been chanting his identify on set in the course of the 2015 World Sequence as he sat subsequent to Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas and Pete Rose.

Whereas the highest MLB studio is a giant stage, the lead NFL TV play-by-play job is the top. The Tremendous Bowl is watched by round 100 million viewers annually. The NFL accounted for 75 of the 100 highest-rated TV applications, lots of that are in Fox’s late Sunday window.

Burkhardt has relatable qualities, simply mingling with stars and common folks, which most likely has one thing to do with him by no means forgetting his Bloomfield roots.

“My dad and mom sweated their butts off to present us holidays down on the Jersey Shore,” Burkhardt mentioned. “We went on two airplane journeys [both to Disney] our whole lives till I went to varsity.”

His mother remains to be a authorized secretary, whereas his dad is a retired credit score supervisor. Kevin’s first job was peeling potatoes for $4.25 an hour on the now shuttered Village Cabinet.

After graduating from William Paterson in 1997, Burkhardt’s profession didn’t skyrocket out of the gate.

He referred to as Jersey Jackal video games in Little Falls within the Northeast League. He toiled at 1,000-watt WGHT for eight years. He did slightly freelance for New York radio stations.

Fox
Kevin Burkhardt with brother Brian.
Kevin Burkhardt

“I used to be tenth on the depth chart,” Burkhardt mentioned. “I wanted three folks to get sick and one other to have a child — that sort of factor.”

His profession was not going nicely by 2004. He thought to himself, “That is bulls–t.” Annoyed, he wanted a change.

“I obtained uninterested in the grind of creating no cash and nobody returning my telephone calls,” Burkhardt mentioned.

He opened up the classifieds and simply regarded for a gap doing anything. He had by no means bought a automotive, however he landed a gig at Pine Belt Chevy in Eatontown.

Quickly after, Mike Trebino, the proprietor, heard Burkhardt on the radio and, because it turned out, had a greater ear than lots of the broadcasting decision-makers.

Trebino, who would develop into an excellent good friend to Burkhardt, let him come and go to do radio shifts, which led to gigs on WCBS and WFAN.

Fox
Kevin Burkhardt, proper, spouse Rachel, and son Logan
Kevin Burkhardt

“It was the most effective 12 months of my life,” Burkhardt mentioned.

By promoting vehicles, he realized helpful classes.

“In the event you don’t converse up and ask for what you need, you might be by no means going to get it,” Burkhardt mentioned. “If you’re not going to ask folks what they’ll pay for a automotive, you aren’t going to promote a automotive. So it turned my rallying cry to name up and be like, ‘Hey, I need to audition,’ or, ‘I’m adequate for this.’ And a few folks mentioned, ‘Are available.’ I by no means heard that earlier than.”

FOX
Tom Rinaldi, Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen and Erin Andrews.
Fox Sports activities

Since Fox awarded him the celebrated job, Burkhardt mentioned his spouse, Rachel — with whom he has a 15-year-old son, Logan — has given him recommendation and help. Buck referred to as and so they talked about how to deal with the brand new scorching seat. And his longtime MLB and NFL producer, Pete Macheska, informed Burkhardt to be himself and to not change as he goes from the No. 2 NFL play-by-player to the highest perch. It’s exhausting to not see Burkhardt taking all of it to coronary heart.

He lives close to Los Angeles nowadays, however he’s nonetheless the child from Bloomfield, who used to eat ham and cheese and watch Summerall.

“You don’t neglect that,” Burkhardt mentioned. “I’m fortunate. I’m dwelling an important life, however I don’t neglect the place it began.”

Whereas he was an Eagles fan, he grew up listening to Bob Murphy, Gary Cohen and Howie Rose as a Mets fan. He then turned perhaps the most effective sideline reporter in sports activities media historical past with SNY. On Saturday, at Citi Subject, he could have the consideration of throwing out the primary pitch.

“I’ll attempt to not bounce the hell out of it,” Burkhardt mentioned.

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