CHARLOTTE – It’s the night before Dick Stockton’s 619th NFL game in the broadcast booth, his penultimate broadcast of the 2018 season, and he’s celebrating with a little trivia. The production team, along with Stockton, Mark Schlereth, and sideline reporter Jen Hale, are enjoying a light dinner while running through talking points for the Carolina Panthers’ Week 16 game against the Atlanta Falcons on Fox. After noting all the milestones Christan McCaffrey is close to hitting – with graphics to match – Stockton quizzes the team on a little MAAC fun.
“Anybody know the mascot for Canisius?” Stockton asks.
The room has no clue. One voice offers up the Purple Eagles (that’s Canisus’ biggest rival, Niagara), and there’s a few shaking heads before Stockton smiles and delivers the answer: the Golden Griffins.
A phrase that follows those who last in the industry as long as Stockton has is “he’s forgotten more than you’ll ever learn,” but in the case of Dick, it doesn’t seem as though he’s forgotten much of anything. He’s as sharp on his college basketball team names as he is on the golden era films he’ll still watch on TCM, or lyrics to showtunes he plays at home after self-teaching himself the piano his senior year of college.
And despite a Hall of Fame career that’s seen him call Super Bowls (for the NFL’s international broadcast), NBA Finals, the Olympics, Villanova basketball’s historic upset of Georgetown, and Carlton Fisk’s epic home run in the 1975 World Series, he’s still able to get up for a game between two underperforming, playoff-missing NFL teams on a sunny December day.
“I really enjoy what I do,” Stockton says. “Doing the three hours of a game, when it’s over it’s like it went 10 minutes. That’s what it seems like to me. I really relish the blank canvas and then not knowing what’s going to happen.”
Schlereth and Stockton started a routine neither had done with any other broadcast partner prior to this season. The day of the game each week, they’d get up and have breakfast. It wasn’t some grand gesture; it started with Mark asking Dick to do so. It’s become tradition, and it’s allowed the pair to grow more comfortable with one another, both personally and professionally.
It’s important for the pair to talk, not even about the game, but just talk to each other and foster their relationship. They take turns paying, but they order the same thing each week — Mark’s taken to calling it “eggs and ham” — at 7:30 a.m. every Sunday during the season.
“I tell him every week: ‘You know what’s going to happen?'” Schlererth says. “He’s like, ‘What?’ It’s a running joke. I go, ‘They’re going to kick the ball off and a game is going to happen, and you and I are just going to get to talking about it.’ What a blessing. How cool is that? But he’s been an incredible mentor, and I have just so much respect for him as a human being, as a partner.”