Sports

Chris Myers Embraces Doing A Bit Of Everything As The Chameleon For Fox Sports

Chris Myers has done it all in his two decades at Fox Sports. From hosting studio shows to play-by-play to sideline reporting, he’s become one of the network’s most valuable assets for the versatility he provides and his ability to seem comfortable in any role he’s given – and in just about any sport.

For Myers, whose background prior to Fox Sports was chiefly in reporting, the first step in taking on new broadcast roles was learning the differences in each and what was most important to those jobs.

“I had to learn right away was when you’re hosting the studio show, there’s the sport, but it really is about you and the personality and the people you’re talking to and that’s kind of where it starts,” Myers told Uproxx Sports. “As a reporter, it’s about it’s about the story, the event, the news, the information, and then you get to the game. And calling play by play, it’s almost like a pilot. I had to learn a checklist before you take off.”

For Myers, it wasn’t just the event itself, or interacting with the talent – things that happen naturally over the course of the game — but instead about the basics. What’s the down and distance? How can he set up his analysts? And once that’s established, all the prepwork and the research can come out naturally when it’s necessary.

At first, you’re dialing back a lot of the information and words you had, even though it seems like you have the space to use it,” Myers said. “You don’t have to fill it all because you have, we talked about, you have the crowd, you have scenery, you have pictures and you have an analyst. So let that breathe a little, and then decide where you’re going to go and the play and the game will lead you to a story.”

After initially separating each, now that he’s been doing all of this for years, he’s found the ways those different skillsets required by each role can help him be better at the others.

Currently, Myers is in the midst of another season calling NFL games, doing play-by-play alongside Daryl Johnston and Jennifer Hale every Sunday, and while play-by-play requires its own unique approach, he feels his time as a host and reporter help him bring a more well-rounded approach to the booth.

Myers’ hosting duties have taught him how to have more fun in the booth to keep the viewers more comfortable, and also setting the table for Johnston to provide insight as the analyst. He also can’t turn off the part of his brain from being a reporter, which leads him to diving deeper into background on players and coaches in weekly prep, knowing he’ll have far more information than he could ever use, but ensuring that if the opportunity presents itself, he’ll be ready to offer something to the viewer that they likely didn’t know before.

“Daryl Johnston and I had a game recently where the Panthers were dominating the Saints and the game was pretty much over in the fourth quarter. So we were able to go back a little bit about Matt Rhule and more of his college roots,” Myers said. “Sometimes you don’t have time for that, but in a game like that you can get deeper in storytelling and talk about how he drafted a player in the fourth round because that player ran well against his team in college, and his wife had seen him do that and texted him during the draft and said ‘We should pick this guy, remember he dominated you when you were coaching it at Baylor.’ So having those kinds of stories ready goes back into the preparation from reporting and you use it in that kind of way.”

For Johnston, working with Myers allows him to do what he does best, which is focus on the game itself and trying to provide insight and information about scheme and the actual football. Myers’ focus on the people and stories, along with Hale, provides a balance to their broadcast team that, for Johnston, is refreshing.

“He adds elements that I don’t bring to the broadcast,” Johnston told Uproxx Sports. “You know, I’m more about football and what’s happening on the field. Chris has a really good balance with history and some interesting nuggets of information about the past, contacts, connections, and it’s really impressive to see how detailed he is. It’s an element that I’m not really focused on, but also one that I don’t have to worry about because I know that Chris is going to have all those angles covered.”

Lily Hernandez – FOX Sports

While each role influences the others, each sport requires a different approach. Myers has done football, baseball, NASCAR, boxing, and even dog shows with Fox, and he’s learned the importance of finding the different cadences and rhythms of each. He wants to bring the same energy to every broadcast – he says he tries to say “every night’s the Super Bowl,” which his family makes fun of him for – but where you fit information in and when you lay out as a broadcaster is different in every sport.

“I think that’s really, really important you don’t generalize and you don’t assume [as a broadcaster],” Myers said. “For football, it’s the snap of the football. There’s this aggressive feel, this contact, this, you know, violence within the rules. For baseball, it’s a little more relaxed so but make sure you don’t speak over the pitch, because you don’t know what could happen. It could be a home run, it could be fouled off and a great play by the ball boy, or it hits the umpire. So I think that kind of really separating each sport is kind of the first thing I’ve always done over the years.”

That ability to bounce back and forth, from sport to sport and from studio to booth to field, makes him an incredibly valuable piece for Fox Sports, and with over 20 years at the network, he’s built the requisite trust with producers and directors across Fox’s various sports properties, which allows him to drop in for big games and seamlessly integrate into the broadcast.

“The biggest thing that we have in our business is trust, and trust goes both ways between the truck and the talent, and the talent in the truck,” Richie Zyontz, who produces Fox’s Super Bowl broadcasts, told Uproxx Sports. “When you develop an element of trust, it just eliminates a lot of the nonsense that gets in the way. So, when Chris comes out for the playoffs and basically I haven’t seen him all year, he now transitions from play-by-play to sideline reporting on the biggest games of the year including Super Bowls, I have complete trust in him. I’ve been blessed to work with great sideline people like Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews, and Chris, like them, you can just trust them. You know that if Chris says, ‘Hey I got something,’ I don’t need to waste 30 seconds asking “what do you got?’ because our business is just split-second decisions, and a second in our business is a long time.”

For Myers, the opportunity to do different sports and take on different roles was what drew him to Fox in the first place. He had a background in football and baseball, but with Fox adding NASCAR when he arrived at the company, he got to truly dive into something wholly new to him.

“I grew up on football, baseball, basketball those sports, and NASCAR — I wasn’t the car guy my brothers were, and they would always try to get me out to go to the races,” Myers said. “So I did have to kind of grow in it, and in a way it was kind of refreshing for me. I will say that the fans and people in the sport really took me in and it was kind of a warm feeling that you know, to kind of get into something new.”

Part of Fox’s overall push for their NASCAR coverage was to find the balance between offering the nuanced insight diehard fans wanted, while also making the broadcast accessible for those who were new to the sport. Myers, being part of that latter group, felt his job was to do what he does best, which is keep things light and try to let fans get to know the drivers and people in the sport better. Maybe better than any other sport, Fox has been able to find that balance between giving detail while also defining things for a casual viewer, and for Myers it has opened his eyes to how that can be important on sports like football, where it can be easy to assume the viewers are well versed in terminology and scheme, when that isn’t necessarily the case.

“The NASCAR experience reminded me in doing NFL, we hear terms that were acceptable to us, but I have to have the view that the person watching it could be a 10 year old or an 80-year-old grandmother, along with the die hard football fan,” Myers said. “So I gotta make sure if [Daryl] says, ‘Hey they’re in a Cover 2,’ I’ve heard it a lot, I have seen it and know what it is, but a lot of people, they’ve heard it but they don’t really know what it is or how it affects the game. So I have made an effort to when they say the Z receiver, I’m like well, Daryl, who is the Z receiver and why is he the Z receiver? Some of them are obvious, like the slot receiver, so I don’t want to sound so elementary that you’re offending the die-hard football audience, but I might just tap him and say why did the cover 2 work on this play?”

Myers’ career is a testament to his ability to draw influence and inspiration from all of the different roles he takes on and sports he covers, while also recognizing how separate and different each is and respecting that. It’s a fine line, but one he’s managed to live and thrive in at Fox.

“They allowed me to do different types of things. To be the network’s sideline reporter on a Super Bowl and to call an NFL game or a Major League Baseball game and then to be in the studio or be on the pre-show for NASCAR. So I think doing all of those things helps you in the next thing because there’s always a live TV situation that you don’t expect.”

One of the most memorable of those live TV moments from Myers’ career is that he was the sideline reporter for the Fiesta Bowl between Oklahoma-Boise State, and was interviewing Ian Johnson during his now-famous proposal to his girlfriend after scoring the game-winning two-point conversion, which Myers played an unwitting role in.

“The real story is when I said, ‘Ian do you have a minute to go live on national TV?’ And he goes ‘Live? National TV? Yeah, I’ll do it.’ But he said ‘I want to propose,’ and I thought he wanted to propose a playoff system or something because they didn’t have it in place,” Myers recalled. “So, I’m doing the interview and they’re wrapping me, it was a great game so there are a lot of questions, but I got to finish up because the producer doesn’t know what I had heard, and I’m thinking propose he hasn’t proposed the playoffs yet, he just keeps talking about Boise State. So then I knew he had been going out with a cheerleader from the team, just from our study, our prep that week, and she comes running over and she’s standing by him and he looks at so I said, ‘Are you gonna propose or what?’ or something like that he goes, ‘Oh yeah, yeah. I don’t have the ring, but this is my girlfriend, will you marry me?’ And he kneels down. So I took a lot of heat for, ‘Ah, Myers blew the surprise,’ but he later thanked me and said he kind of froze in the moment because he got caught up in the game. That was one of those off-the-radar kind of moments.”

It’s a moment Myers won’t forget, and it’s all part of a career that’s taken him all over to some of the biggest stages in all of sports. He is Fox Sports’ chameleon, someone adaptable to just about any situation, able to bring both lightness and professionalism to whatever role or sport he’s dropped into.

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