About one year ago, ESPN launched a brand-new version of NFL Live primarily featuring Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, and Mina Kimes, hosted by Laura Rutledge. The cast understood the gravity of their undertaking, attempting to create a new vision of the network's most popular NFL show. Speaking to The Big Lead in August 2020, Orlovsky and Spears made their goal very clear: they wanted NFL Live to be the most educational and entertaining football show on television.
One year later, there are no metrics to determine if they succeeded in their goal. But turn on the TV on any weekday at 4 p.m. ET and you can see the vision they've worked to make reality. Every segment has a purpose and each analyst attacks it behind their own strengths. Spears is the entertainer, Orlovsky provides the X's and O's football acumen, and Kimes always has the latest analytical outlook on deck. That isn't to shoehorn any of them into a particular archetype. Part of what makes the show great is the camaraderie and chemistry interlacing each segment that everyone helps execute. But in the overarching scheme, everyone has a role to play. Just like in football.
This new iteration of NFL Live now has a season of experience under its belt. On a conference call Wednesday, Orlovsky explained to The Big Lead how the NFL Live felt they accomplished their Year 1 goals.
"We put in the work. I don't believe that any of us went on television and said things that we weren't prepared to say or that we didn't believe," Orlovsky said. "I believe that we did a really good job of teaching and getting ahead of things. We were the first show that started talking about pre-snap and at the snap motion last year. We took a lot of pride in that. In fact, we were the first show talking about how Tampa Bay needed more of it in their offense. You take pride in that stuff.
"I thought we did a really good job of teaching while also trying to be entertaining. Taking [it] very seriously that we got 38 minutes from people and trying to give them the best 38 minutes that we could."
As in football, though, the crew is looking ahead, not backwards. A sophomore slump is not necessarily limited to sports. Orlovsky elaborated on how he personally wants to grow in this second year of the NFL Live experience.
"I’d say one of the things we learned is that what I want to talk about is not necessarily what people at home want to hear, what they’re really in tune to listening to," he said. "Challenging myself to always focus on getting to people at home and getting them to walk away thinking they learned something.
"Marcus is blessed with the gift of entertaining. I’m trying to sprinkle it in, but that’s just not my gift. My gift is to try to teach and make people feel smarter. That’s something I want to do even more so this year. I want people to walk away saying they learned something they didn’t know because they watched NFL Live."