Fans often dismiss the NFL’s preseason games as meaningless exhibitions, but broadcaster and former pro lineman Ross Tucker ’01 sees something different. “I love preseason football,” he told PAW, “because I know how important it is to the people participating in it” — particularly the second-team players, who begin each game knowing they’ll play “15 to 20 snaps for all their dreams to come true.”
Not long ago, Tucker was one of those anxious dreamers. He played for five teams in a seven-year NFL career, primarily as an offensive guard. After retiring, he joked in guest column for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback that he was “the only 28-year-old Princeton grad that has been fired five times already.”
Tucker prepared for life after football with offseason internships in several fields, including commercial real estate, finance, and sports marketing. But the experience that made the biggest impression was an NFL-sponsored broadcasting boot camp, where he learned the basics of TV and radio. The former politics major also was ready to give writing a try. “I figured if I can write 18 pages on Machiavelli, I probably could come up with 1,000 words on the Bengals’ offensive line,” he said.
As a broadcaster and columnist, Tucker has built a career that spans several platforms. He hosts a Sirius XM radio show; appears three times a week on NBC Sports’ Fantasy Football Live; provides color commentary for college games (including the new Ivy League Friday night series on NBC Sports Network) and NFL games on Westwood One radio; and writes for Sports on Earth. He also runs Go Big Recruiting, a service that helps high school athletes send video footage to college coaches, and hosts a growing slate of football-themed podcasts.
On air, Tucker blends the experience of a former player with an understanding of the fan’s perspective — and aims for interesting, intelligent debates. “Smart sells,” he said, “no matter what the business is.”