Trev Alberts pulls no punches when choosing the most disappointing pro football player ever. He picks himself.
"I don't shy away from the fact that I was probably the biggest flop in NFL history," says Alberts, 31, the 1993 Butkus Award winner as a linebacker at Nebraska and the fifth selection, by the Colts, in the '94 draft. Alberts's most celebrated moment in three injury-plagued pro seasons came before he even played a down: It was as the subject of a heated on-air confrontation on draft day between Indianapolis director of football operations Bill Tobin and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., who blasted the selection. Although Alberts proved Kiper correct on the field, he made a quick and deft post-NFL switch to broadcasting. Now he's one of a handful of network commentators working the college and NFL beats simultaneously.
His broadcasting success didn't come overnight. During his rookie season in the NFL, when he was sidelined by an elbow injury, Alberts was hired to be a college football analyst for then fledgling ESPN2. It was a job he took less than seriously. "I was very immature and didn't do any preparation," says Alberts. "I didn't really care about television."
That changed following his forced retirement. After several months working as an institutional bond salesman in Lincoln, Albert became a college football analyst for CNN in 1997 and two years later joined CNN/SI's NFL preview show. At first, Alberts says, his on-field NFL failure gave him an inferiority complex. "When I started doing the NFL show, I was too intimidated to call coaches," he says. "I was almost ashamed of my NFL experience. It took time to get over that."
By contrast, Alberts felt right at home analyzing the college game, a role in which he never hesitates to state his strong opinions. For example, he's a vociferous critic of the Bowl Championship Series and advocates a playoff. "No matter what Fresno State does, it won't play for the national championship," he says. "It beat powers in three main conferences, but even if it goes undefeated, it has no shot. To me, that's fundamentally wrong."
Alberts spends the early part of his week preparing for Saturday's CNN/SI College Football Preview show. Then, around midweek, he starts doing his research for NFL Preview on Sunday morning. "A lot of guys have bigger names and better credentials," Alberts says of the football analyst fraternity. "Let's face it: I'll always be a guy with 48 career NFL tackles or something like that. I can't change that. So I just have to work harder at this job."