Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 34
 
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of Ross Tucker)

MEDIA PLAYER: Ross Tucker, right, conducts an interview with venerable Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Tucker, a former Princeton University football star who played seven seasons in the NFL, has emerged as a sports media star since retiring from the game in 2007. The 2001 PU alum works as a broadcaster and writer covering a host of college and NFL football events. He appears on the SIRIUS Satellite Radio, YES Network, Versus, Sports USA Radio, and writes a column for SI.com.

Maintaining Ties to Football After NFL Career, PU Alum Tucker Emerges as Sports Media Star

Ed Benkin

When Ross Tucker’s pro football career ended after injuring his neck in 2007 while playing for the Washington Redskins, it looked like it might be time for the Princeton University alum to move beyond the game.

Instead, Tucker has become even more immersed in football after the end of his playing days, now working as a broadcaster and writer covering a host of college and NFL football events.

For the former Tiger standout lineman, a four-year starter for Princeton from 1997-2000, the neck injury has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“I’ve had a love of football my whole life,” said Tucker, 31, a native of Wyomissing, Pa. who played on the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and New England Patriots in addition to the Redskins during his seven-year stint in the NFL.

“I’m borderline obsessed with the game. I really enjoy it. This is another facet of the game. I’m trying to hone my craft. Just to be able to be around it is great. Every time I go to a game, I kind of pinch myself and laugh that I’m getting paid to go to a game.”

These days, Tucker is so busy that he doesn’t have much time to reflect on his good fortune.

Tucker hosts a show on SIRIUS Satellite Radio and also travels to the YES Network in Stamford, Connecticut on Tuesdays to tape another football show. He also writes two articles a week on SI.com and is scheduled to do 23 broadcasts as a color commentator for college and NFL games during the fall. Tucker’s NFL broadcasts will air on Sports USA Radio. He has also worked on NFL broadcasts for FOX and may be given the same opportunity this season.

Tucker’s college telecasts can be seen on the YES Network and Versus, and will feature a host of Ivy League games.

One would think it would be difficult for Tucker to hide his allegiance to Princeton during telecasts involving the Tigers, but his professionalism allows him to tell it like it is.

“I thought it would be more difficult than it is,” said Tucker, a 2001 Princeton alum who was an All-Ivy performer in 2000.

“But I really just watch the play unfold and say what I think. Whether I’m criticizing a play or complementing a player, I’m very objective. If people see I went to Princeton and think I’ll paint a rosier picture for Princeton, it’s really not the case.”

Tucker brings a wealth of football experience to his analysis. After playing four seasons with the Tigers, he became a member of the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent.

The 6’4, 310-pound Tucker stuck with the Redskins for two years before moving on to Dallas. Tucker’s next NFL stop was Buffalo, where he developed into a key member of the Bills’ offensive line. Later, Tucker had stints in New England and Washington before ending his playing career.

Over the course of his time in the NFL, Tucker played in 42 games and made 24 starts.

Taking advantage of an NFL program off the field put Tucker on his current path. He participated in an off-season broadcasting class for players and learned the basics of the media game.

“I thought it was really valuable,” said Tucker, referring to the program. “It was the first time you actually think about it as a career. You see what happens behind the camera and what it’s like to be on camera. You see the nuts and bolts of it. It gave me a much better appreciation of it. It’s much harder than players really think it is when they are playing.”

Tucker got a unique chance to learn the ropes of broadcasting right after his neck injury when he learned that Princeton was looking for a color commentator for its radio football broadcasts and jumped at the opportunity.

“It was a great experience,” said Tucker, who has kept connected with the college game through his work as a co-founder and CEO of gobigrecruiting.com, a website that allows student-athletes to submit highlight films to colleges online.

“I was on injured reserve for the Redskins and I knew my career was over, so it was nice to go back to my roots. You play for the love of the game and there are no oversized paychecks. I learned a great deal and that was how I cut my teeth and got my experience.”

Tucker’s classroom experience in Princeton has also paid off in his new line of work. “I’m really enjoying the writing aspect of my career,” said Tucker. “That’s why I really feel like I’m using my Princeton education. I was a politics major and wrote so many papers in college.”

Now, Tucker is writing quite a story as a rising media star who has gained national prominence in just a few years on the job.

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