Courtesy Ross Tucker ’01

Ross Tucker ’01 was an NFL offensive lineman who played with five teams in a seven-year career before becoming a sports broadcaster for the Philadelphia Eagles, CBS, and several other media outlets as well as hosting numerous podcasts related to football. As the football season gets underway, PAW spoke with Tucker about his journey from Princeton into podcasting. 

How did your experience as a student-athlete at Princeton shape your career?

I had an awesome time at Princeton, but I think one of the things I had learned was overcoming adversity. I had come from a high school where we hardly ever lost, and unfortunately in my four years at Princeton we never had a winning season. I have learned to celebrate the wins in life and not just the wins on the field. I’ve learned to appreciate the opportunities playing with some of my best friends and also realized that even if things were going well for me personally or if I was having a really great game, we still might not win. You have to realize that’s a part of life sometimes, life is not easy, and there are challenges for all of us along the way.

What is next for you/what are you looking forward to continuing to work on?

Growing up I never envisioned being a professional football player, but I loved reading the sports section in the newspaper. The first time I saw my name in the morning newspaper I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to write for Sports illustrated or be a broadcaster for ESPN because I loved sports media. I love football and I love talking, so my friends always joke that if someone should have a job talking about football it should be me. 

I ended up becoming a much better player than I ever thought I would be, and as a result I got recruited by a lot of colleges. When I got to the NFL, every offseason as a player I would have a different internship as a financial adviser or at a commercial real estate company, and so I forgot about wanting to be a broadcaster.

[In] what ended up being my last year in the league, the NFL had a broadcast bootcamp and at that point I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to play. I thought I might get into finance, since I accepted a job my senior year with Lehman Brothers on Wall Street, but at that point I knew I had to do something to keep football in my life. I had even thought about covering the Princeton football games on the radio. 

The boot camp went well; [meanwhile] I got hurt and ended my career. I was able to do the Princeton games while I was on reserve for Washington and immediately started getting media gigs writing for Sports Illustrated, Comcast television, and SiriusXM. The next thing I knew I kind of had a media career. That’s how I got started. 

What have you enjoyed about being a podcast host? 

The older I get the more I realize how much good fortune plays a part in things. After Sports Illustrated, ESPN hired me to write for them. I was excited. ESPN also asked if I would host their NFL podcast and I said absolutely, I would love to. This was 2009 and I had never heard of a podcast in my life. I just knew they were going to pay me to talk about football and that was good enough for me. 

Over the next couple years, the podcast grew, people really liked it, we started to get sponsors, and the advertisers and the advertising agencies were telling me how well the show was doing. After a couple of years, I caught wind that they might not renew my contract so I set up so I could do podcasts on my own. Before I started my first episode, I already had a profitable podcast business because the advertisers from ESPN had signed up.

Have you followed the Tigers’ progression over the years? 

I follow the team very closely. Unfortunately, I am usually calling a game, so I don’t get to watch the games very much. When I am done covering a game I usually tune in. I love when they play on a Friday night because I get to watch. I’ve stayed in touch with the coaches and know some of the players, too. I am very much involved with them, and I’ve been very proud of their success over the past few years. 

— Interview conducted and condensed by Sophie Steidle ’25