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There is no telling if any of the players the Jets draft this week will be any good in the NFL. However, if they one day want to work in sports media, they will be picked by the right team.
The Jets are the worldwide leader in producing football analysts – especially at ESPN. The network has around 20 full-time NFL studio analysts, and one out of every four is a former Jet. If you count college, there are eight former Jets on the ESPN payroll.
Here is the current roster:
That’s not all.
Seth Markman, the vice president of production, is sort of the GM of the NFL and college studio shows. He grew up a Jets fan in New Jersey. The new host of ESPN’s draft coverage, Mike Greenberg, is a Jets fan.
J-E-T-S!, ESPN! ESPN! ESPN!
Markman says his Jets fandom has nothing to do with all the ex-Jets, and we’ll take his word for it.
“I think it is sort of a coincidence for most of it,” Markman said.
He has eyed Jets and recruited them. But they have also fallen into his lap.
Take Tannenbaum, for instance, who joined in 2019 after Bill Polian retired. As the Jets GM, Tannenbaum did a show on SNY and liked it, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to go into TV after leading the Dolphins. Markman wasn’t sure Tannenbaum would be any good.
“I got to tell you, of all the guys, he was not on my list of sure-things in television,” Markman said. “I was sort of like, ‘We’ll give him a try. We’ll see what happens.’ He wasn’t looking for much money at the very beginning.
“He was very honest about just seeing if TV was something he could be good at. We were kind of skeptical, some of us. We were like, ‘Sure, we’ll give you a shot.’ I think he is one of the few people who has totally exceeded the expectations I had. Usually, it is the other way around. Usually, we have some big expectations and they don’t meet them.”
Tannenbaum is now all over ESPN, giving the GM point of view. He may receive another NFL front-office shot, but he has made a burgeoning career at ESPN. He has also started a football think tank called the “The 33rd team” that has partnered with his alma mater, UMass. It offers free content.
Tannenbaum, Ryan, Scott, Sanchez and Woody were all part of those Jets AFC Championship runs in 2009 and 2010. They were successful and, led by Ryan, were outspoken.
“They were sort of a flashy team,” Markman said.
Woody was a media go-to guy, affable and informative, which allowed him to make a name for himself as an offensive lineman.
“I tried to be accommodating,” Woody said. “I tried to shoot it straightforward. It really paid off for me. The media was great to me. I was always one of the guys that they came to for stories, quotes, win, lose or draw, whatever the case was.”
Markman noticed Woody’s potential. When Woody tore his Achilles tendon in 2011, Markman called him and offered him a job. Here he is, a decade later, still going strong. He won championships in New England, played in Detroit, but being in the media capital of the world probably helped him the most.
“When you are in this New York market, it can really take you places if you embrace it.” Woody said. “That was my mindset.”
Besides the current group, ESPN’s recent alumni have Jets roots.
The Jets are the Patriots when it comes to ESPN analysts. New England does have four current ESPNers, with Tedy Bruschi, Randy Moss, Rob Ninkovich and Woody. The Jets, though, are a factory from college to the pros.
“How come Al Groh never made it?” Tannenbaum quipped.
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