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Stalk Softly
Leigh Montville
August 23, 1999
Even with enhanced sideline access, Monday Night Football's Lesley Visser will pick her spots
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August 23, 1999

Stalk Softly

Even with enhanced sideline access, Monday Night Football's Lesley Visser will pick her spots

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Now to Lesley, down on the field....

"I had a moment last year when Chris [Boomer] Berman gave me the lead-in from the studio at halftime," Lesley Visser, in her second season as the sideline reporter for ABC's Monday Night Football, says. "I interviewed David [Boomer] Wells, who had pitched his perfect game for the Yankees a couple of days earlier. Then I had to send the show back to Boomer Esiason in the booth. It was Boomer to Boomer to Boomer. A triple Boomer."

Now to Lesley, in the cold....

"I started doing this in 1988 for The NFL Today on CBS," Visser says. "I replaced Irv Cross. I always thought Irv Cross talked funny from the field, different from the normal way he talked. I found out why. He was freezing. You're out there in the cold, nowhere to go for about four hours. It's hard to enunciate when your body is frozen. I've tried everything to keep warm. I tried battery-operated socks once. What a disaster! I had to buy shoes two sizes too large. I had to buy D batteries. I clunked around in these shoes, and the batteries wore out, and I still was frozen."

Now to Lesley, behind the line of scrimmage....

"That was John Madden's advice," Visser says. "He said I always should be behind the line of scrimmage, not in front of it, when I was talking from the sideline. That way, unless something weird happens on the play, I won't be knocked over by a wide receiver and a defensive back while I'm talking. It's a problem. You're down there in the noise and chaos."

Now to Lesley, in a bunch of new places....

"There are a lot more things sideline reporters can do this season," Visser says. "The NFL opened up. At halftime we can interview coaches going off the field and coming back on the field. During the game we can talk with players on injured reserve. We can go to the bench area to get information. It's all for the better, I think. We're in this age of instant information, news in a millisecond. You never want to compromise the competition, what's going on on the field, but this way we can add to the information."

Now to Lesley, in a more visible role on MNF after these NFL changes and the departure of Dan Dierdorf....

"We're going to have to figure out a lot of this as we go along," Visser says. "Talking with the coaches, especially. There are a lot of times, to be honest, when it's better to paraphrase what the coach says rather than talking to him on the air. Sometimes it's the third or fourth question that gets the answer you need. You won't have time for that if you' re doing the interview live. There are going to be coaches, too, who won't want to talk. Which is fine. The goal is to explain the situation better, like when Bryant Young of the 49ers broke his leg last year or when Bill Cowher of the Steelers was waving that photograph [showing that his team did not have too many men on the field] in the official's face on the sideline. We should be able to learn more now."

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