From the field to the booth: These New Jersey athletes became sports broadcasters
North Jersey Record
When the New York Giants host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, a familiar face of New Jersey athletics will be making an appearance in the TV broadcast booth.
Greg Olsen, the Carolina Panthers’ tight end and former Wayne Hills High School star, will team with Kenny Albert on FOX’s game broadcast.
Olsen is available for Sunday’s game as the Panthers are on a bye week. He’ll help call the action just minutes from where he grew up.
This will be his second game as a member of the national broadcast team – his first came two years ago when he partnered with another New Jersey native in Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis.
“The two-man booth is a little different than a three-man booth because there’s not another analyst to lean on,” Olsen told USA TODAY NETWORK Northeast on Thursday.
“I’m excited for the opportunity, and for me right now, this is a one-week thing. Not thinking about my future just yet. I’m still focused on being a player and helping our team win, we’ve won four in a row and have a good thing going right now. But this should be fun, I really like doing it, it’s a challenge, and it’s always great to see things from the other side.”
Here’s a look at other prominent New Jersey high school athletes who later on ventured into the world of sports media:
The record-setting gymnast at Howell High School in the late 1980s specialized in vault and balance beam at the University of Maryland, where she was a four-time Academic All-American. Bernstein went from ESPN in 1998 to CBS Sports, where she was the lead sideline reporter for the NCAA men’s basketball championships and feature reporter for “The NFL Today”. She moved to the lead NFL game crew with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in 2003 and covered multiple Super Bowls.
A Hall of Famer and current NBA analyst for ABC and ESPN, he is a former coach of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies, and the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels.
Brown played football, baseball and basketball at St. Mary (Elizabeth) and then basketball and baseball at Niagara. He briefly coached boys basketball at Fair Lawn in the ’60s.
A Fair Lawn native, Burke played hockey at Paramus Catholic and now does play-by-play of New York Islanders games for MSG and the NHL for NBC Sports.
Burke starred on the basketball court at Manasquan High School, and Providence College after that. Upon graduating from PC in 1987, she pursued a career in broadcasting, beginning with Providence women’s basketball games on the radio.
Burke subsequently became the first female commentator for a New York Knicks game on radio and television, the first female commentator for a Big East men’s game, and the first woman to be the lead commentator for a men’s college basketball conference package. Burke has worked the NBA Finals as a sideline reporter since 2009, and is currently a regular NBA game analyst for ESPN.
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The former New York Giants wide receiver is an NFL analyst on several ESPN shows. The former Paterson Catholic and UMass standout was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He became a fan favorite with his salsa dance after every touchdown he scored. He helped the Giants win a Super Bowl over New England and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012.
His career was shortened by a torn patellar tendon. He was eventually cut loose by the Giants, and a short stay with the Chicago Bears ended his playing days, He signed a one-day contract to retire as a Giant.
A Jersey City native, Curry is a Hudson Catholic graduate and a longtime runner who has competed in the New York City Marathon. He now lives in River Vale.
After a career as a writer with the New York Times, he joined the YES Network and has been a staple of its New York Yankees coverage, on pre- and post-game shows and an occasional appearance as the on-field correspondent.
After a 15-year Major League Baseball career in which he played for eight teams, DeRosa is part of MLB Central, an MLB Network feature. An all-state football and baseball player at Bergen Catholic, the Carlstadt native attended Penn and was a seventh-round draft choice of the Atlanta Braves in 1996.
DeRosa hit 100 home runs in his career and hit .268. He’s been rumored to be a potential major league manager in the future.
The Teaneck native works for NBC Sports and has re-joined ESPN as a game of the week and studio analyst. He’s also president of an Illinois-based company that provides intellectual capital for start-up and emerging companies. A childhood friend of former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, Glanville attended Penn and was a first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1996. He played for three teams and had 1,100 hits and batted .277.
A graduate of St. John Vianney High School, Brookdale Community College and Seton Hall University, Hunter is the radio announcer for the Baltimore Orioles. He’s been with the Orioles since 1997, replacing Jon Miller when Miller moved to the San Francisco Giants.
Hunter got his first professional broadcasting experience at WJLK, which was owned by the Asbury Park Press at the time.
From South River, Kuharsky was a student-athlete at Rutgers Prep and went on to become an award-winning writer who covered the NFL for more than two decades.
He spent the past nine years helping build ESPN.com’s “NFL Nation” covering the AFC South and then the Tennessee Titans. He’s now a popular radio personality in Nashville, where since 2012 he has co-hosted “The Midday 180” on 104.5 The Zone.
The Colonia High graduate and former Rutgers Scarlet Knight serves as an analyst for Rutgers football games on the Rutgers IMG Sports Network.
After injuring his spinal cord in a 2010 game against Army, LeGrand became a motivational speaker. He also started “Team LeGrand,” a charity in conjunction with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which supports groundbreaking research and quality of life initiatives for people with spinal cord injuries.
The left-handed pitcher had a memorable senior year at Central Regional in Bayville. He struck out a New Jersey state-record 32 batters during a 13-inning game just weeks before the New York Yankees selected him in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft.
Leiter pitched for four different franchises over 19 big-league seasons, winning World Series titles with the Toronto Blue Jays (two) and Florida Marlins. He also threw a no-hitter in Florida. He has worked with the Yankees announcing crew on YES Network and currently is an analyst for MLB Network.
A graduate of St. Mary’s High School in South Amboy, Loughlin was a former high school student-athlete.
The longtime Westfield resident is the radio play-by-play voice of the New Jersey Devils after previously working as a pre- and post-game host on the TV side.
The former Harrison High School and Rutgers quarterback played eight seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins.
Lucas is now an analyst for his college alma mater on the Rutgers IMG Network and on SNY-TV for the Jets.
A former Colonia High School star and Ohio State linebacker who went on to become a head college football coach at Kent State, Kansas and Minnesota. Mason is now a studio and game analyst for the Big Ten Network.
Born in Jersey City, McCarthy graduated from Brick Memorial High School in 1986. He was a baseball catcher and called himself a “5-foot-10 rebounder’’ in basketball. He is now the Philadelphia Phillies’ TV broadcaster and also works NFL games on CBS, as well as college basketball.
A Marlboro High School graduate, Nantz is a play-by-play announcer for CBS and has been synonymous with some of the biggest moments in sports history. He is the lead commentator for CBS’s coverage of the NFL, as well as the NCAA Tournament and the PGA, specifically The Masters.
While at Marlboro, Nantz was the co-captain of both the basketball and golf teams.
A graduate of St. Joseph (Metuchen), where he competed in track and field at St. Joseph. He is the play-by-play announcer for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres Class A affiliate), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (NBA G League Indiana Pacers affiliate) and Purdue University Fort Wayne athletics.
Pearce (nee Rampone) starred in soccer, basketball and field hockey at Point Boro High School and went on to Monmouth University, where she stayed with basketball as a point guard while also playing soccer.
She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion who is now a FOX soccer analyst.
A graduate of East Brunswick High School, O’Reilly is a 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, three-time Olympic gold medalist and former University of North Carolina star. She served as a studio analyst for FOX Sports’ coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
O’Reilly, who earlier this year announced her retirement from women’s professional soccer, effective at the end of the 2019 season with the North Carolina Courage, is expected to have more broadcast opportunities.
A graduate of South River, the former All-State high school football player, NFL All-Pro and Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys hosts “Drew Pearson Live” on Dallas’ ABC affiliate (WFAA Channel 8) Sundays at 11:30 a.m. during the NFL season.
The former All-State football player at Edison, from which he graduated as Walter Percy, is a reporter and anchor for Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia (ABC affiliate). Perez, who also played football at Duke University, spent five years as a commentator for the Princeton University Football Radio Network.
Bill Raftery Sr.
New Jersey’s all-time leading basketball scorer at St. Cecelia High School in Kearny, Raftery was named All-State in basketball, baseball and soccer. He went on to play basketball at LaSalle, scoring a freshman-record 370 points, and was selected by the New York Knicks in the 1963 NBA Draft.
Raftery has served as a play-by-play announcer and analyst for CBS Sports’ college basketball coverage for over 30 years, and also worked for ESPN and CBS/Westwood One Radio.
A St. John Vianney graduate, Recco played baseball in high school. He broadcasts the news updates on WFAN’s “Boomer & Gio” morning show, and is the radio play-by-play announcer for Rutgers men’s basketball and Columbia football. He is also studio host on the Dallas Cowboys’ radio broadcasts.
Russini, a former runner at NV/Old Tappan, is now a host and reporter on ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” and “NFL Live” shows. She initially joined ESPN as a “SportsCenter” anchor in July 2015.
The son of Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms is a rising star in sports media. He’s part of the pre-game and post-game coverage of Notre Dame football, and is part of the Sunday Night NFL coverage on NBC.
Simms was a quarterback at Ramapo High School and the University of Texas, and was a third-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also played for Denver and Tennessee. In a 2006 game against Carolina, Simms absorbed several hard hits before he was hospitalized and had his spleen removed. After a long rehab, he was released in 2008.
From Jersey City, he is a star basketball player and a Hudson Catholic graduate who went on to play for Duke before becoming an NBA first-round draft selection. Now living in Rutherford, he is a Brooklyn Nets announcer, and a college basketball announcer for SNY and CBS. He also works the NCAA Tournament.
Tappen was a distance runner and basketball player in high school at Villa Walsh Academy in Morristown, and later set the Rutgers record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She works on NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the NHL and Notre Dame football, and has been part of several Olympics broadcast teams.
The East Paterson native coached East Rutherford High School (now Becton Regional) to two state-sectional titles and was a Rutgers assistant before head coaching stops at the University of Detroit and the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Has been with ESPN since its inception.
Weis was a member of Middlesex High School’s 1972 state championship football team. He commenced his professional coaching career in 1990 with the New York Giants under Bill Parcells. He coached alongside Parcells from 1993-99 with the New England Patriots and New York Jets.
Weis returned to the Patriots from 2000-04 as their offensive coordinator, helping the team win three Super Bowls. He was head coach at Notre Dame, his college alma mater, from 2005-09. Weis hosts “The Opening Drive” weekdays from 7-10 a.m. on SiriusXM.
A graduate of St. Joseph (Metuchen). Williams was a McDonald’s High School All-American, Naismith Player of the Year (at Duke University) and an NBA Draft first-round pick (No. 2 overall) of the Chicago Bulls. He is now an ESPN college basketball analyst.
Earlier this month, Williams inked a multiyear extension with ESPN/ABC and will continue to serve as a contributing analyst on “NBA Countdown”, “The Jump” and also the morning show “Get Up”.
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Staff writers Greg Tufaro, Tom McGurk, Steve Falk, Bob Jordan, Jane Havsy, Josh Newman, Greg Tartaglia and John Rowe contributed to this article.
This content was originally published here.