Brandon Weeden excited for broadcast career
‘Gonna be a fun gig’: Weeden excited for broadcast career
STILLWATER — Brandon Weeden feels the game-week butterflies and he craves the reps.
Live action, with pads cracking and linemen blocking and footballs zipping down the field.
His playing days are well behind him, but Weeden — the former Oklahoma State and NFL quarterback — is making his return to the game in the broadcast booth on Saturday.
He’ll provide color commentary for the Oklahoma State-Missouri State game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium on ESPN+. Weeden is excited, and a little worried, that his debut in the booth is at his alma mater.
“It helps from a preparation standpoint, just because of my familiarity with some of the players and the scheme,” Weeden said. “But I can’t be biased, even though it’s a team I love and a team I follow. I gotta call it like I see it. I can’t have the orange sunglasses on.
“It’s gonna be fun, and easier maybe, talking about Oklahoma State, but if they come out and play bad in the first quarter, I gotta call it like I see it.”
Weeden quarterbacked OSU to a 23-3 record over his two seasons as the starter, winning the Big 12 title in 2011. He was a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns and spent seven years in the NFL with four different teams.
Weeden’s NFL career ended after the 2018 season, which he spent with the Houston Texans. At that point, he began contemplating what his next career move would be.
“It was probably six or eight months after I was done playing, I was seeing what I wanted to do next,” Weeden said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to get into coaching. Obviously, I wanted to stay around sports. I’ve been in sports my entire life. But in what capacity that is, who knows?”
He began to explore some broadcasting opportunities, with guest spots on radio and television.
During the 2019 season, he was invited to a behind-the-scenes experience for a Monday Night Football broadcast, getting to sit in the booth with a headset, just a few feet away while Joe Tessitore called the game. Then Weeden did the same for a Fox broadcast of a college football game.
Early in 2020, he was selected to go to the NFL’s broadcasting boot camp in Ohio, which is both a training ground and a showcase of sorts, with all of the NFL’s broadcasting partners seeing the work being done by the trainees. Only 33 people were selected for the boot camp in 2019, so it’s a highly valuable opportunity for a former athlete pursuing a broadcast career.
“The boot camp was going to be in April of 2020 and obviously, in March the world shut down, so it got canceled,” Weeden said. “When COVID hit, ESPN was laying off people, so I felt like maybe my timing just sucked, I got unlucky. I’ll just have to do some other stuff.
“I don’t want to say I wrote it off, and I’m glad I didn’t. I always thought this would be a lot of fun. I thought I would be decent at it. It’s gonna be challenging, but I’m ready.”
OSU coach Mike Gundy thinks his former quarterback will hold up well in the booth.
“He ought to be good,” Gundy said. “He knows the game. Should have a little Tony Romo in him, should be able to call things before it happens. You start calling plays out before it happens, all of a sudden you get a $6 million contract.
“Weeden ought to be a guy who can do some of that. Plus he has a great personality. People like him. He comes across good. So I would guess that he would do really well.”
Just like his playing days, Weeden has felt the nerves building toward game day.
“I’m gonna feel a lot better on Sunday than I would if I was playing,” Weeden said. “But I’m still just as nervous, still got the same butterflies. I feel like it’s a game week and I’m preparing like I’m playing, which is kind of fun. I do miss that side of it, which is why I think this is gonna be a fun gig.”
Following his debut on Saturday, Weeden will be back in the booth the next week when Kansas State hosts Southern Illinois, another ESPN+ production. After that, the schedule is mostly unknown, so he’ll learn of future opportunities as they come.
For now, Weeden is ready for the live action of calling a game.
“Until you get in the booth and put the headset on, you don’t understand all the stuff that goes on,” Weeden said. “It’s gonna take me a few games to get comfortable. I don’t expect to go out this first game and knock it out of the park. There’s gonna be some bumps in the road. For me, it’s just about getting those reps, and the only way to do it in this business is to get in the booth and start calling games.”