The Dallas Morning News
Fox NFL studio gig is latest post for much-traveled Menefee
One can only imagine where Curt Menefee’s career might be today if only he would have worn socks to work in his Dallas days.
Back in the mid-1990s when Menefee was the lead sports anchor at KTVT-TV (Channel 11), he liked to read the news sans socks.
For some reason, the thought of Menefee’s naked ankles sitting unseen behind a set infuriated some in station management. One Friday evening, Menefee and his news director had a very public newsroom disagreement that ended with the sports anchor being ordered from the newsroom.
There was a one-newscast suspension.
When Menefee’s contract expired in June 1995, both sides agreed that he would be better off trying to toe the line elsewhere.
Menefee hooked up with WNYW, the Fox affiliate in New York, where it turned out, no one cared if he wore socks behind the desk. Heck, they didn’t even care when he reported for work with no socks and wearing blue jeans.
Menefee’s work caught the attention of network executives at Fox Sports. By 1997, Menefee was anchoring a local sportscast and calling games on NFL Europe broadcasts. Two years later, he was added fulltime to the roster of the network’s NFL playby-play voices.
Eventually, Menefee gave up the local gig in New York. Calling NFL games in the fall and NFL Europe games in the spring was enough. NFL Europe provided the perfect workplace for someone who loved to travel. Between games, Menefee would fly off for a few days and discover another country.
Fast forward to February, when James Brown announced he would be leaving the comfort of Fox’s NFL studio for CBS’s NFL studio.
Before hopping a plane for a long-planned vacation to New Zealand and Australia with his Auckland-born wife, Annaliese, Menefee made it be known that he would be interested in Brown’s job.
Menefee returned to Los Angeles in April for his audition. Then he was off for another NFL Europe season. When Fox Sports boss David Hill called in June to talk about Brown’s job, Menefee was away touring Egypt.
“I want to go to one new country each year of my life,” Menefee said. “I love meeting people. You know everywhere I go, people are basically worried about the same things — feeding their families, keeping a roof over their heads and taking a little time to enjoy life.”
When Hill and Menefee finally hooked up, Hill, who had a slew of applicants, offered the seat alongside Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw on the Fox studio set. Menefee won’t work the pregames. Joe Buck will host those. But halftimes and postgames belong to Menefee. When Buck takes his three weeks to work the baseball postseason, Menefee will work the pregame as well.
Bob Costas hosts the NBC studio. James Brown is the man at CBS. Chris Berman is ESPN’s studio host. That’s pretty heady company.
Menefee believes that Johnson, whom he knows from their days in Dallas, put in more than a good word when candidates were being bandied about.
“A lot of people have called me to congratulate me on being the backup quarterback,” Menefee said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “I look at it like I’m in the starting lineup.”
Menefee has spent much of the preseason traveling to NFL training camps to meet coaches and players. He already knows some. He wants to know as many as possible.
He wants to establish relationships so that he might call during the season for information.
“Sitting with Jimmy and Howie and Terry, I can’t be the entertainer on this show,” Menefee said. “But I will have to ask football questions, and I want them to be informed questions.”
Menefee probably won’t have to ask anyone if a coach or player has to wear socks to work to succeed. He already knows the answer.