Like light beer, foam fingers, and cries of “If you paid as much attention to me as you do that damn game, our marriage wouldn’t be in the crapper,” TV sports journalist Andrea Kremer goes hand-in-hand with football. This season, the Philly native and Penn grad ends her 17-year ESPN career to join NBC’s new Sunday Night Football as its sideline reporter. The 47-year-old tried sticking it to Exit Interview, but couldn’t hide from the revelations we uncovered, including her allegiance to Howard Eskin and her secret for making athletes talk. Game on, Kremer. Game on.
Exit Interview: Just so you know, this is pretty lighthearted in tone. …
Andrea Kremer: I’ve read a couple of your columns. Lighthearted is good. Do you know who my dad was?
EI: Um, no.
AK: I. Raymond Kremer. He was a very prominent judge in Philadelphia, battled the media most of his adult life. He was Frank Rizzo’s attorney in his libel case. C’mon! Do a little research here, man!
EI: I did!
AK: I thought I would go into law, but I realized it was not for me. I went home for Monday Night Football, Eagles/Giants. We’re sitting at Jimmy’s Milan, I lean over to my mom and go, “I’m taking a leave of absence from law school.” And she says, “Please tell your father after the game.” That, compounded with the fact I went into the media — oh my God.
EI: More shameful is that you became a Dolphins fan.
AK: Some girls had Barbie. I had Larry Csonka. In 1972, when the Dolphins lost to the Cowboys 24-3, I was just despondent. Every week before the Super Bowl, I would clip out all the articles and present my parents with a scouting report.
EI: As the first female correspondent for ESPN, did you feel like you’d been air-dropped into a frat house?
AK: I was always treated with respect. In the early ’80s, I was doing a story on Mike Quick. We were just talking, and he stops, looks at me, and goes, “You really know what you’re talking about.”
EI: I once asked Suzy Kolber if there was an athlete she’d like to catch with his towel down, and she practically reached through the phone and gave me a forearm shiver.
AK: If I want to see something, I can see it at home. The only time I recall being even an observer in a conversation about body parts of players, it was my cameraman at NFL Films. It’s the men. Because hey, it’s all about size for you guys, right?
EI: Absolutely. I also understand there’s a secret behind your on-air interviews. Or should I say, beneath! Tell us about The Box.
AK: Oh, The Box! Well, from a technical standpoint, you never want to appear on television in any way that’s distracting. And a size discrepancy, when you’re five … do I have to tell the truth about this?
EI: You’re barely pushing five-foot-two, right?
AK: But that’s barefoot!
EI: Have you ever fallen off The Box?
AK: No, but [ex-Buffalo Bills QB] Jim Kelly tried to nudge me one time. That was after the Bills won the championship game. He never tried to do that after a Super Bowl, because, hello Jim, you never won a Super Bowl.
EI: Zing! Nice one! You once worked for WIP. Do you still know any of the Philly sports media types?
AK: You know what? Howard Eskin was one of the most supportive people of my career. When I was leaving NFL Films and going to ESPN, Howard brought me into the station, taught me how to read a teleprompter. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.
EI: These days, he asks female callers how dinner’s coming along, and if they’ve finished the laundry.
AK: I don’t doubt that. It’ll kill Howard to hear anything nice about him.
EI: I think he learned something from you, too. The co-anchor on his TV show is, like, six-foot-five. Howard uses The Box.
AK: That’s hysterical. It’s good to know after all these years, I can give back to Howard Eskin!
EI: What does NBC have in store for its NFL coverage? I guess Janet Jackson won’t be performing?
AK: When you hear Al Michaels and John Madden, it’s like a Pavlovian response. You think big game. Their camaraderie is tremendous. I just have to make sure I don’t screw it up.
EI: Most sideline reporters — Tony Siragusa, for example — seem completely useless. Is the job that hard?
AK: I’ve never done the sidelines. If I had to follow someone like Lesley Visser, I couldn’t do it. She is the standard. But you can add from the sidelines. As John and Al told me, you have a different vantage point, literally and figuratively. To me, that’s key — what is germane to the game?
EI: Do you think John and Al were referencing The Box when they said you have a different vantage point?
AK: [lowers voice conspiratorially] Think how I might be able to surreptitiously weave my way around and no one will see me. “Hey, who’s that kid on the sideline?” The height is an advantage!
EI: Do you know about the Curse of Billy Penn?
AK: Fo fo fo?
AK: Fo fo fo? C’mon, Moses Malone? That was the last championship, correct?
EI: Yes! And then the Liberty Place towers went up —
AK: Taller than Billy Penn! That’s right.
EI: I just had a brainstorm. Put Billy Penn on The Box!
AK: But then sponsorships will come in. Reebok will want to get on The Box. Nike. You’d want to be neutral.
EI: When the day comes, can I hang with you during the parade? It’s gonna get a little crowded, and you’ll have a better view.
AK: Will you carry my Box?