By Michael Rand
It seems you can’t traipse through the Interwebs these days without running into Erin Andrews. The ESPN sideline reporter is the subject of roughly 9 million sports blog posts every day, many of them dealing with the idea that she is what the kids consider “hot.” Why, just this morning we received a link to this post, which proposes to make Andrews a blogger birthday card for big No. 30 coming up. There is also a YouTube video featuring still images of her that has more than 1 million hits. Crazy, crazy, crazy stuff. This sort of thing is not uncommon for the types of athletes Andrews interviews, but it seems to us a little nutty for a member of the media to have such a cult following. So we decided to ask her about “Being Erin Andrews,” among other things. Here is Part I of the conversation we had Thursday:
RandBall: How do you explain and handle the phenomenon of “Erin Andrews,” and when were you first aware of this groundswell around you?
Erin Andrews: It’s all kind of exploded from college football on this year. It’s been kind of nuts. … When I first started I was a little sideline reporter for the Tampa Bay Lightning, we had a little message board on the web site, and I would think it was funny when I would see my name. Then I would see things like, “She needs a nose job,” or “Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard.” I was living with my parents at the time, and it was my first year in the business, and I ran out to my parents’ living room and started crying. My dad’s in the industry, and he said, “What’s your problem?” And I said, “Oh my gosh, I just read all this awful stuff about me on the Internet. People think I need a nose job and that I’m horrible.” He looked at me and said, “First of all, you need to relax. Second of all, if you’re going to do this, and you want to be working at ESPN or Monday Night Football, it’s going to get a heck of a lot worse. So either toughen up, or get out.” … So, I think it’s all gotten nuts in the past year. In college football and college basketball, before I would go out to eat with my play-by-play and analyst, and people would go crazy as they should when Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit walked in. And then people started being like, “Well, can we get a photo with you?” And I’m like, “What?” It’s just gotten crazy, so much so that during Major League Baseball, when people could usually care less — they’re yelling for Derek (Jeter) or Alex (Rodriguez) — last night [Wednesday] I was standing by the field and a bunch of people started screaming for me. At one point, a guy screamed, “You are my goddess!” and the Yankees players started laughing at me.
RB: Do you think it’s gotten out of hand? Every time you’re on TV, it winds up on YouTube.
EA: Yeah, that part is kind of scary. I think at the same time, though, you have to take it as flattering. If they weren’t talking about you, then people really wouldn’t care. I grew up in the industry. I know there’s only a certain time frame you have. I’m just waiting until the next big thing walks in. I’m sure she will, and she’ll be younger and hotter and everybody will freak out. And I’ll be like, “Wait a second, I thought I was a goddess!”
RB: Even today there was something people were making a big deal about, an interview with you and Joba Chamberlain. Something on Huffington, an awkward moment.
EA: Oh, really? It’s on what?
EA: I wonder what that’s about. Oh, wow. In a situation like that, not even knowing what it’s about, I’m playing it back in my head, “What did I do, did I do something wrong.” That’s where it’s out of control. We can’t really do anything without people taking notice. The worst thing is you can’t even come back and explain it. It’s just out there.
RB: The whole Bruce Pearl thing is a probably a good example of that, right?
EA: (laughs) I knew I was going to get phone calls about it. After it happened, I was getting text messages from a lot of my guy friends saying, “This will be on YouTube in 15 minutes.” And it was. I called my agent and I just said, “What do I do? Should I have something to say.” … But with (Pearl), I just find him to be such a character. It’s fun to have different characters. It’s like (Bill) Belichick, Ozzie Guillen in baseball. It’s cool when people aren’t the same. He’s such a passionate guy, and it was so funny. It didn’t even catch me off guard.
RB: Um, it looked like it caught you a tiny bit off guard.
EA: OK, well the face that I made when he did that, and anybody who knows me has asked me about it, my face is going, “My god, this is going to be all over the Internet.”
RB: So that’s a different level of self-awareness. That’s something a year ago you wouldn’t have thought of right away, right?
EA: Never. And I’ve had good teachers around me … I’ve learned from them what you should and shouldn’t be doing. We have, in football, a little tent they have on the sidelines for me during halftime, and I sit and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I have a Coke or a glass of water, because if I eat out on the field, people will make a ginormous ordeal about it.
EA: Yeah, with the sandwich. … But I mean, whatever. It has to roll off your back.
Part II ( of II) upcoming: Andrews talks about Beavis & Butthead and what she finds sexy in a man, but not necessarily in the same answer.