Ready for Special Olympics, Park Scholar Program after Graduation




After a busy 4 years at Algonquin Regional High School, I will be graduating this Sunday, June 5.

Right after graduation, I’ll be hopping on a flight to Florida to cover the Special Olympics USA Games for the second consecutive time to follow the story of 3-time silver medalist golfer and Flutie Fellow Tyler Lagasse. You’ll be able to follow my coverage on this page.

Once I return, I will be preparing for my next four years as a sports media major in the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. In case you have not heard, I was recently selected into the Park Scholar Program, Ithaca College’s full-ride scholarship program centered around service in the communications industry. I’d like to thank the entire Park Scholar Selection Committee for choosing to bring me on board for these next four years.

Check out this video of my official announcement from the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism’s 26.2 Can Do Fest before the Boston Marathon. I was there alongside football legend and Foundation co-founder Doug Flutie and voice of the New England Patriots Bob Socci, who have been a tremendous help with my goal to become a professional sports journalist.

I am really excited to begin the next chapter in my journey!

Featured on For the Fans Network

I was recently interviewed by Tom Eschen Jr., a sports reporter for For The Fans who is running the Falmouth Road Race for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. For The Fans (FTF) is an award-winning global sports provider delivering world-class international and domestic sports and lifestyle entertainment to dedicated fans everywhere.

You can also see a shortened version on Twitter.

The long and short versions of the interview will run sporadically on the “For the Fans” digital channel, which is on platforms like Roku Channel and Xumo TV among others. The pieces will run as filler content after live games and events, so they will be seen by many different audiences.

I’d like to give a special thank you to Tom Eschen and For the Fans for taking the time to highlight my story and talk sports with me. I wish Tom luck in the Falmouth Road Race, and you can donate to Tom’s Falmouth fundraiser for the Flutie Foundation here, which will help raise money for people and families affected by autism.

Featured on WCVB Boston’s A+ Segment

Recently, I was featured in a news segment known as the “A+ Report” on WCVB, Boston’s ABC affiliate:

The A+ Report is a segment about students in New England doing exceptional things in and out of school.

WCVB picked up my story after watching my Keynote speech at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) Visions of Community conference.

At the conference, I told the story of how I got into sportscasting and overcame adversity after being diagnosed as autistic.

You can see some clips of the speech below:

Since the feature on WCVB, Stitch has also picked up my story.  They included a shortened version of my A+ segment as well as an article about me and my story.

I’d like to thank Kristin LaRose and FCSN, Antoinette Antonio and WCVB, and Stitch for allowing me to share my story.  I look forward to more opportunities to share my story in the future.

My 2019 Visions of Community Keynote Speech

Special Needs Conference
Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Yesterday was one of the most memorable days of my life.  I told my story so far to 300+ people, and hundreds more were watching it live.  In my speech, I told the story of how I turned my obsessions of sports and writing into a passion – this blog.  My goal of the speech was to inspire others and teach people that obsessions aren’t always something that need to be controlled or discouraged.  After the speech, several parents came up to me asking me to get in touch with their kids.  If you have something you’re obsessed with, I encourage you to start a blog about it.  Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new passion – and eventually find a career.  I have found my passion, and that is the highlight of this first chapter of my life.  But this is only the beginning of my story.  Hopefully, I can take this passion and make it a career.  It all starts with the little things – internships, volunteering, etc.

For those of you who missed out on the livestream, I posted a video with just my speech:

Special Needs Conference
A picture of me walking up to deliver my speech taken by the Boston Herald for an article about the day (Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

After delivering the speech, I was featured in the Boston Herald.  You can check out the article they wrote below:

I am so thankful to the Federation for Children with Special Needs ( who gave me this incredible opportunity to be the keynote speaker in front of hundreds at the Seaport World Trade Center Ampitheater.


I’d also like to thank Joe Sciacca, the editor-in-chief at the Herald.  I met him back in 2015, and he has continued to provide me with awesome opportunities, the latest of which was appearing in the April 2, 2019 paper. Now I am officially on their website as a contributing writer. I also guest co-hosted one of their radio shows last summer.

Most of all, I have to give some credit to my loving, supportive family, who have helped me overcome my challenges and encouraged me in my budding sports career.


I really enjoyed this opportunity, and I hope that this is not just another milestone in my sports career, but the beginning of a public speaking career.


March Madness: Previewing the West Region

We have reached the final part of my March Madness bracket, and what’s in my opinion the most competitive region of all. I feel there are 4 real Final Four candidates from this region, 2-3 of which could have upside to take it all the way and cut down the nets in Houston. Keep on reading for my outlook on the region.

First Round Games

Des Moines

#1 Kansas vs. #16 Howard

I don’t see the Jayhawks repeating as national champions, but they’re not losing to a 16 seed, and especially not a MEAC team. Nobody in this MEAC really beat anyone of note, and this should be an easy win for the Big 12’s regular season champ. 

Pick: Kansas

#8 Arkansas vs. #9 Illinois

It wasn’t as smooth sailing for either of these teams as last year, but they still had respectable seasons. Illinois brought in Terrence Shannon Jr. from Texas Tech to lead the team with Kofi Cockburn gone. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks have one of the most stacked freshman classes in all of college basketball. I’ll bet on the younger team to get hot at the right time and come out on top.

Pick: Arkansas


#5 Saint Mary’s vs. #12 VCU

I’m not a huge fan of either of these squads, but Saint Mary’s has experience in this exact slot. They took down 12-seeded Indiana in the first round of last year’s tournament with some of their current core. VCU is a weaker 12 seed than the Hoosiers; they’re simply here because they won an Atlantic 10 that’s historically a stronger conference than it was this year. The Gaels are from a similar conference, but they were competitive with Gonzaga most of the year. That doesn’t happen very often.

Pick: Saint Mary’s

#4 UConn vs. #13 Iona

It would be fun to pick a Rick Pitino-led Iona squad, but UConn is just too good to be upset here. Between veteran big Adama Sanogo and breakout sophomore Jordan Hawkins, this team has the star power of a contender. They also had the Big East’s best freshman duo in Northborough’s own sharp shooting forward Alex Karaban and the 7-foot big Donovan Clingan. They have all the tool they need to make a deep run in this tourney.

Pick: UConn


#6 TCU vs. #11 Arizona State

The Sun Devils have prevailed despite the early season loss of Marcus Bagley. However, they don’t have a star to compete with TCU’s Mike Miles. TCU’s worst losses have come in games when Miles is out, so this is likely an under-seeding for the Horned Frogs. I don’t trust Arizona State to go that far in this tournament, and that’s something TCU has potential to do.

Pick: TCU

#3 Gonzaga vs. #14 Grand Canyon

Offensively, Gonzaga honestly doesn’t look much worse than they have the last couple years. The defense has taken a step back which caused closer games against Saint Mary’s, but they still have a pretty solid resume and have Drew Timme to lead the team. They may not quite be built for a national title, but I think they’ll make it out of this one.

Pick: Gonzaga


#7 Northwestern vs. #10 Boise State

This has been another chalky region so far, but I’m picking the upset in this one. Northwestern has seen growth from Boo Buie and Chase Audige that has helped them get to this level. However, their competition in the B1G was much easier than usual, so I’m not sure how much better this team really is than previous years. Boise State has a questionable resume as well, but they were very competitive all year in the Mountain West and have all 5 starters averaging 10+ PPG. 

Pick: UPSET ALERT: Boise State

#2 UCLA vs. #15 UNC Asheville

I think UNC Asheville is better than your average #15 seed, but this is UCLA we’re talking about. This is most of the same UCLA core that made a Final Four run as an 11 seed just 2 years ago. They may be without Jaylen Clark, but they’ll still have the trio of Jaime Jaquez, Tyger Campbell, and standout freshman Amari Bailey to lead the charge. That should be enough to avoid the upset and keep moving.

Pick: UCLA

Potential Round of 32 Matchups

#1 Kansas vs. #8 Arkansas

#4 UConn vs. #5 Saint Mary’s

#3 Gonzaga vs. #6 TCU

#2 UCLA vs. #10 Boise State

There are some tempting upset picks here. Arkansas is young and full of talent up and down their roster. TCU could make it very close against Gonzaga. At the end of the day though, this region has some of the strongest high seeds and I would not be shocked to see an all-chalk Sweet 16. Kansas, UConn, Gonzaga, and UCLA all have legitimate Final Four hopes. It could be a dogfight to the end between those teams.

And the winner is…

#4 UConn

You may have caught my pun at the end there, but I think it’ll be a Huskies vs. Bulldogs Elite 8 matchup to finish off this region. This UConn team is trending in the right direction, and it will take a lot to knock off the defending champs, but I trust them to do the job. The Gonzaga-UCLA game could go either way, but whoever makes it should give UConn a close game. At the end of the day though, UConn checks all the boxes for a Final Four team, and I actually have them cutting down the nets in Houston. If they can get past some questionable coaching decisions, they have one of the nation’s most talented and well-rounded rosters. They are very underrated as a 4 seed. 

In case you haven’t already figured it out based on these articles, here’s my complete bracket:

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the Madness! We sleep in May.

March Madness: Previewing the Midwest Region

March Madness is almost here, and I’ve been releasing my picks region by region. The first half of the bracket has been pretty wild; I picked a lot of upsets and had 3rd seeded Baylor and 6th seeded Kentucky making the Final Four. This half of the bracket will be a little bit chalkier, but that’s simply because it includes some of the nation’s top contenders for a championship. Keep reading for my first round picks.

First Round Games


#1 Houston vs. #16 Northern Kentucky

Houston may be without Marcus Sasser in their early round games, but this is still a talented team without him. At the very least they’re talented enough to knock off a 16 seed. Kelvin Sampson’s defense is elite, and they’ll still see plenty of offensive production between veteran Jamal Shead, freshman Jarace Walker, and others.

Pick: Houston

#8 Iowa vs. #9 Auburn

Kris Murray has stepped right into the role of his brother, at least offensively. The Hawkeyes had some rough patches in the B1G, but they are still a top 10 offense, which I think will at least get them out of the first round. Auburn really hasn’t impressed me this year. Their road in the SEC was just as bumpy, and they didn’t really beat many notable teams along the way. I’ll take the Hawkeyes to survive another day, but with their defensive problems, don’t expect it to last.

Pick: Iowa


#5 Miami vs. #12 Drake

Drake has been a popular upset pick, and these 12 seeds this year all look very dangerous. I wouldn’t count out Miami so fast though, they have one of the nation’s better superstar duos in Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack, plus depth behind them. This Hurricanes team has the talent to make a deep run, so I think they’ll at least take their first game.

Pick: Miami

#4 Indiana vs. #13 Kent State

This one’s another popular upset pick, but what’s even behind the logic that Indiana is upset prone. Trayce Jackson-Davis finally has help with the breakout of Jalen Hood-Schifino, and the Hoosiers have had their best season in years. This Kent State team has scared some teams, but they haven’t been able to finish the job against their toughest opponents like Houston, Gonzaga, and Charleston. Kent State will be able to keep pace most of the game, but I’ll bet on TJD to finish the job for Indiana’s first tournament win in a while.

Pick: Indiana


#6 Iowa State vs. #11 Pittsburgh

I don’t really like either of these teams. Iowa State did own Baylor all year but they also struggled against weaker Big 12 opponents. Pittsburgh has an underrated resume and came up big against Mississippi State, but I don’t trust many players on either of these teams to get the job done on a consistent basis. This game could really go either way based on which team’s top players have the better night, but I think the Cyclones are just a little deeper. They may be able to handle it in this one even if Jaren Holmes or Gabe Kalscheur disappoints, but I’m going to go with my gut and take the upset. Pitt has momentum after their last minute victory on Tuesday.

Pick: UPSET ALERT: Pittsburgh

#3 Xavier vs. #14 Kennesaw State

Kennesaw State is lucky to be here. It may seem like the preface for a Saint Peter’s style Cinderella run, but that Peacocks team was on fire in their conference tournament. This team just barely squeaked by Liberty. Xavier may be without Zach Freemantle, but they still have plenty of talent and should be able to stay alive.

Pick: Xavier

Des Moines

#7 Texas A&M vs. #10 Penn State

Many say both these teams are under-seeded, and I would agree, but this matchup is getting a little overhyped. Penn State is hot at the right time and the duo of Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy will bring the excitement, but the Nittany Lions lack depth behind them. Texas A&M has definitely exceeded my expectations, and the run all the way to the SEC Championship was impressive. I do think the team is a bit overhyped though, they got lucky over the course of that path to the title game and avoided facing Kentucky after their loss to Vandy. I’ll still take them in this one since they’re deeper than Penn State.

Pick: Texas A&M

#2 Texas vs. #15 Colgate

Colgate was getting a lot of hype as an upset pick last year and they fell short. Yes, they have a lot of veterans who score a lot of points, but they have struggled to finish the job against Power Five teams. Texas is more than just a Power 5 team. They are the champion of the absolutely brutal Big 12 and a potential national title contender. Look for Marcus Carr to drop 20+ as Texas routs the Raiders.

Pick: Texas

Potential Round of 32 Matchups

#1 Houston vs. #8 Iowa

#4 Indiana vs. #5 Miami

#3 Xavier vs. #11 Pittsburgh

#2 Texas vs. #7 Texas A&M

This may seem like a really chalky region, but most of these lower seeds in the Midwest just don’t impress me. Indiana and Miami will make for a fun game with lots of star power and could be the best candidates to knock off Houston early, but beyond that, I expect the top seeds to have a pretty easy path. 

And the winner is…

#1 Houston

The Cougars may end up with a tough Sweet 16 matchup between Indiana and Miami, but by then they should have Marcus Sasser back to lead their team and be able to get the job done and make the Final Four. Everyone loves to doubt the AAC, but Houston only lost 2 games to conference opponents all year. One was a close loss to Temple which they got revenge for later, and the other was the championship loss to a red hot Memphis team with Marcus Sasser sidelined. The Cougars beat Memphis twice when healthy, and come into the tournament with wins over Virginia and St. Mary’s as well. This could be tough down the stretch for them with Miami or Indiana and then Texas. However, even in a crazy year with no clear favorites, I think it would be foolish to pick a Final Four without a 1 seed, and I trust Houston more than any other.

I’ll be posting the final region and my full bracket shortly, so stay tuned.

March Madness: Previewing the East Region

The madness has almost arrived, and I’ll be continuing along with my picks. The East Region is one of the weaker regions this year, but that could make for a lot of upsets. Read below to see my overview of the region.

First Round Games


#1 Purdue vs. #16 Fairleigh Dickinson

I do think Purdue is a bit fraudulent, and they’ve had first round exits before. If I was going to pick any one seed to lose to a sixteen, it would be Purdue, but that’s just not something I see happening. Zach Edey should lead the Boilermakers to an easy win here, but watch out for an upset in later rounds.

Pick: Purdue

#8 Memphis vs. #9 Florida Atlantic

This is one of the most exciting 8-9 games in a while. It’s a battle between two arguably underrated teams. Headlined by the duo of Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams, Memphis just embarrassed #1 seed Houston in the AAC tournament. Boca Raton’s own FAU Owls only have 3 losses all year, beating every team in their conference at least once as well as getting past the much larger University of Florida. FAU gets the job done consistently, and if they were facing any other team, I’d likely pick them to make a run. However, Memphis is loaded with talent and hot at the right time.

Pick: Memphis


#5 Duke vs. #12 Oral Roberts

Many say Oral Roberts got unlucky with their draw here, but I don’t think Duke is as likely to make a run as many expect. Duke has had their moments and looked great in the ACC tournament, but they lost to ACC foes like Wake Forest and Virginia Tech and could be upset prone. Losses like that aren’t an automatic formula for an upset, but Duke is a very young team and no player on their roster is anywhere near as good as Oral Roberts senior point guard Max Abmas. Abmas has led ORU on a run through this tournament before, and I think he’s going to make a good effort to do it again.

Pick: UPSET ALERT: Oral Roberts

#4 Tennessee vs. #13 Louisiana

The Vols may be without Zakai Zeigler here, but looking at Louisiana, they haven’t given me any reason to believe they can pull off the upset. Their biggest win this season was a November one over the 10-22 SMU Mustangs. Tennessee will still have the best player on the court by far in Santiago Vescovi, and they have a good amount of depth around him. One missing starter isn’t going to stop them here.

Pick: Tennessee


#6 Kentucky vs. #11 Providence

It’s been a bumpy road for Kentucky, but despite struggling against Vanderbilt, the Wildcats were starting to look good down the stretch. They’ve won their last five games against any team not named Vanderbilt. They’ve had a number of big wins along the way including a sweep of Tennessee. Oscar Tshiebwe has looked as good as ever, and there’s more depth around him than on last year’s team that lost to Saint Peter’s. Many have called this the Bryce Hopkins revenge game for Providence, but when your best player is a guy who barely made the Kentucky rotation, that says all you need to know about who’s best suited to win this game.

Pick: Kentucky

#3 Kansas State vs. #14 Montana State

Keyontae Johnson has revived his career on this Kansas State team, but behind him and Markquis Nowell, this team is very shallow. Montana State hasn’t done much to prove they’re any better. However, they come from the same conference as Eastern Washington, who nearly dismantled the Kansas Jayhawks a couple years ago. This year, Eastern Washington was atop the standings again and Montana State shut them down. Kansas State is one of the most upset prone top 4 seeds in this tournament. I’ll say Montana State keeps pace with Kansas State and wins a close one at the end.

Pick: UPSET ALERT: Montana State


#7 Michigan State vs. #10 USC

It’s hard to bet against Tom Izzo in March, and this Spartans team has a nice core between Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, and Celtics forward Sam Hauser’s brother Joey. I think USC is deeper though, and they’ve already made a statement by splitting with UCLA and nearly doing the same against Arizona. It was a rough start to the season for the Trojans with a loss to mid-major FGCU, but they have turned it around and I expect that momentum to carry into the tournament. This will be a very close one, but give me the Trojans in the upset.


#2 Marquette vs. #15 Vermont

Tyler Kolek has been one of the most improved players in the nation this season and led Marquette to perform far beyond their expectations. I don’t know how sustainable it is in March, but I think they at least get past Vermont. The Catamounts played well in the America East, but haven’t shown much against higher level opponents. 

Pick: Marquette

Potential Round of 32 Matchups

#1 Purdue vs. #8 Memphis

#4 Tennessee vs. #12 Oral Roberts

#6 Kentucky vs. #14 Montana State

#2 Marquette vs. #10 USC

Purdue and Marquette are slightly weaker then most teams of their seed level, and they’d draw tough matchups here with Memphis and USC. I would not be shocked if both of the two get upset. I do see SEC standouts Kentucky and Tennessee surviving to the Sweet 16; it’s unlikely a mid-major (even Oral Roberts) can handle an SEC powerhouse and whoever makes it out of that Montana State-Kansas State game is no match for a John Calipari coached Wildcats squad. 

And the winner is…

#6 Kentucky

After a roller coaster of a year, I think Kentucky will finally put it all together and make a run to the Final Four. With high seeds like Purdue and Marquette out of the way in the later rounds, the door is open for an underrated lower seed like the Wildcats to make a run. Oscar Tshiebwe and company will be on a revenge tour after their embarrassing exit just a year ago.

Stay tuned for the other half of my bracket in coming posts.

March Madness 2023: Previewing the South Region

My spring break just so happened to fall on one of the busiest weeks in all of sports. March Madness and NFL free agency are starting up, the MLB is in the midst of Spring Training, and the Celtics and Bruins are chasing the top seeds in their respective playoff brackets. I’ll be putting out a lot of content this week, starting with the multi-part breakdown of my March Madness bracket.

In this article, I’ll be previewing the South region. After all four parts, I will be revealing my bracket in full.

Round of 64 Matchups


#1 Alabama vs. #16 Texas A&M-CC/Missouri State

It would be foolish to pick a 16 seed over a 1; UMBC is a special circumstance that may not happen again for a long time. I do think Alabama is a little overrated as a 1 seed, as they’ve had some ugly losses and lack concrete depth behind freshman standout Brandon Miller. However, their exit will not come in this around.

Pick: Alabama

#8 Maryland vs. #9 West Virginia

I’d say both of these teams exceeded our expectations this season. Charlotte transfer Jahmir Young stepped up to lead Maryland to some quality wins first at the Hall of Fame Tip-off and later across the B1G. Meanwhile, West Virginia has faced some bumps in the road in a difficult Big 12, but the committee accounted for three success in spite of a difficult schedule and has them as the 7th Big 12 team on the bracket. These teams have pretty similar track records, but West Virginia did it in a tougher conference.

Pick: West Virginia


#5 San Diego State vs. #12 Charleston

The Mountain West has never won a tournament game, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pick against every Mountain West team. This is too tempting of an upset to ignore though. This year’s 12 seeds are dangerous and will capitalize on any weakness in their 5-seeded opponents. SDSU may have the best player on the court in Matt Bradley, but Charleston is way deeper and should pull ahead later in the game as Bradley tires out.

Pick: UPSET ALERT: Charleston

#4 Virginia vs. #13 Furman

As expected, the Cavs were one of the ACC’s better teams this season. They may be without Ben Vander Plaas, but they still have most of their core with Armaan Franklin, Jayden Gardner, and Kihei Clark all ready to go. Furman has definitely had their moments, but they haven’t gotten it done against a team like Virginia (unlike some previous March Madness teams from the SoCon). I don’t see that changing in this one.

Pick: Virginia


#6 Creighton vs. #11 NC State

Many have Creighton as a sleeper as they quietly rebounded late in the season in spite of a January rough patch. However, I’m skeptical after Xavier knocked them out of the Big East tournament with ease. Arthur Kaluma has not quite been the superstar the Bluejays we’re expecting, while NC State has seen some elite production from both Terquavion Smith and Ole Miss transfer Jarkel Joiner. The Wolfpack had a pretty quiet year, but I think they match up well with this Creighton team.


#3 Baylor vs. #14 UC Santa Barbara

Baylor fell to a 3 seed after Iowa State had their number the entire season. However, this is a team I give a pass for playing in a brutal Big 12. The team is still stacked on both sides of the ball, led by a big three of Adam Flagler, L.J. Cryer, and freshman Keyonte George. UCSB has received majority of their scoring from their top two options, and that won’t be enough depth to keep up with this Baylor team.

Pick: Baylor


#7 Missouri vs. #10 Utah State

I think this a bit of an under-seeding for the Tigers after they competed with some of the SEC’s best teams like Tennessee. However, being in this spot caused them to draw a tough matchup in Utah State. The Aggies have seen a step up this year from every single one of their starters, and they’ve had some low lows, they developed enough of a resume to make it to this point. With Isiaih Mosley’s status in question, give me Utah State.

Pick: UPSET ALERT: Utah State

#2 Arizona vs. #15 Princeton

It would be fun to see the Ivy League champs pull off a first round upset, but I don’t see Arizona going down that easy. Arizona has at least split with every Pac-12 opponent, led by standout star Azuolas Tubelis and 4 other 10+ PPG scorers. They could be on upset watch in later rounds considering their lack of a bench, but I see them hanging on here.

Pick: Arizona

Potential Round of 32 Matchups

#1 Alabama vs. #9 West Virginia

#4 Virginia vs. #12 Charleston

#3 Baylor vs. #11 NC State

#2 Arizona vs. #10 Utah State

Watch out for West Virginia as an upset candidate; Alabama already lost to Big 12 bottom feeder Oklahoma and the Mountaineers played even better than the Sooners in that tough conference. I think the runs of the double digit seeds end here though. Tony Bennett’s defense should be able to shut down Charleston. I don’t trust NC State against Baylor; I really only have them winning as a result of Creighton’s inconsistency. Utah State may be able to get past a banged up Missouri team but they haven’t beaten anyone near the level of the fully staffed Arizona Wildcats.

And the winner is…

#3 Baylor

Baylor has one of the most stacked offenses in the entire bracket. Their defense has been lackluster, but I think that’s partially as a result of a tough Big 12 and Scott Drew should have their defense up to par with opponents in this region of the bracket. They will simply overpower their defensive minded opponents.

Check back for my previews of the other regions over the next couple days.

2023 NFL Playoff Preview: Bills return from crisis could resemble “Boston Strong”

My hometown New England Patriots are not in a great spot right now. Their offense has been making costly mistakes week after week, and while they’ve been able to stay competitive in most games, they are truly missing Tom Brady’s ability like no other to clutch up and win in any situation. In a conference loaded with young, exciting QBs, they now lack a franchise guy or a true offensive coordinator to develop Mac Jones into one. What’s worse is that it’s unclear what Bill Belichick is willing to do about it. However, as we begin an NFL playoffs without the Patriots, I think the outcome of these playoffs could still be something Boston fans will appreciate.

No, I’m not talking about Tom Brady going out with a bang and winning his 8th ring. He still has the clutch factor I mentioned earlier, but he can only go so far without scoring touchdowns the first three quarters of games. I’m actually talking about a divisional rival.

It’s not often I’m happy for the Buffalo Bills. They ended New England’s long streak atop the AFC East and if they won a title this year (or anytime during my four years in Ithaca), I would never hear the end of it being a Pats fan in the middle of Bills territory.

However, when I watched last week’s game between the Bills and Patriots, the energy at the stadium seemed unlike many games I’ve seen before. It did remind me of one very special day in Boston.

Back in 2013, I was in attendance for the Boston Red Sox’s first game after the Boston Marathon Bombings. To give you an idea of what Fenway Park was like that day, I give you this excerpt from an article I wrote about the experience:

“The energy inside Fenway that day was indescribable.  The pregame ceremonies began honoring the Marathon bombing victims, the police that hunted down the bombers, and the paramedics who helped many wounded victims.  The Red Sox were wearing special Boston Strong jerseys and there was a “B Strong” symbol on the Green Monster.  As part of the ceremony, David Ortiz firmly stated, “This is Our F***ing City!” I had been to several games before but this was different.”

Not many moments can unite people like that day did, but I think Damar Hamlin’s remarkable recovery from his scary collapse against the Bengals has done just that. Bills fans came ready with signs in Hamlin’s honor, and Hamlin himself delivered an inspiring message to the team from his hospital bed. If you watched the game when Hamlin’s collapse occurred, you will likely remember how shaken up his teammates were that night. This crisis, most importantly, is a wake up call about the need for more attention towards NFL player safety. Regardless, Hamlin and his teammates love this game, and at the end of the day, they’re going to continue to play. When Hamlin woke up, the first thing he asked was, “Did we win?” Hamlin’s perseverance inspired the Bills to play out the rest of this season in his honor.

That day at Fenway Park, the Red Sox won the game with Marathon Bombing victims in mind and went on to win a championship. I expect a similar trajectory for the Bills. While this is about a New England division rival, the Bills taking this energy and turning it into their first Super Bowl victory would be an inspiring story, and one that Boston fans can relate to.

The Bills have one of the best rosters in the league. I feel they have played some of the best football we’ve seen this year. Now, while other teams may have longer win streaks, I feel this energy will give the Bills the momentum they need to win it all.

Below I have outlined their path to victory, as well as my predictions for the rest of the playoff games this season.

Wild Card Weekend


49ers, 34, Seahawks, 28

Many are expecting a blowout here, but now is not the time to write off Geno Smith (as if there ever was a time to do that). I expect him to work with WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to put up a fight and expose a secondary that does not quite stack up with the rest of this strong 49ers defense. In the end though, I have the Niners winning this. They just have too much offensive talent all over the map for the Seahawks to handle. RB Christian McCaffrey will likely run all over the Seahawks front seven, forcing the Seahawks into the same fate all other #7 seeds have suffered, and the same fate they suffered in their last two games against San Fran this season.

Chargers, 28, Jaguars, 27

I think this is my pick for the most exciting game of the weekend. Two young franchise QBs on teams peaking at the right time battling it out in their first ever playoff appearances. I’m expecting a close game in which both offenses put up big numbers in both the pass and run game. In the end though, I still think Justin Herbert is the better quarterback of the two for the time being. Look for him to lead a game winning drive as the Chargers move on with a road win.


Bills, 28, Dolphins, 17

The Dolphins are the only team on the AFC side of the bracket without a surefire franchise QB. The team has been able to win with Tua Tagovailoa after giving him Mike McDaniel, a coach who believes in him, and two elite receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. However, that’s not enough for the AFC playoffs anymore, and besides, Tagovailoa isn’t a guarantee to play this game after repeated concussion problems. Whether Tagovailoa plays or not, this team is no match for QB Josh Allen and the Bills.

Vikings, 34, Giants, 21

This has been a popular upset pick considering the Vikings have a negative point differential, but come on. Do you really expect Justin Jefferson, the best receiver in the NFL right now, to fold against the 9-7-1 Giants? I’d expect the Giants to keep it close early, but QB Kirk Cousins will clutch up late in the game as he utilizes Jefferson. Let’s save the exposing of the Vikings for a team that has a more serious case for Super Bowl contention.

Bengals, 23, Ravens, 16

You have to give the Ravens some credit for their defensive performance lately; since acquiring LB Roquan Smith from Chicago they’ve allowed just 14.7 PPG. As a result, I’m not expecting an insane stat-line out of Joe Burrow here. The Ravens offense, on the other hand, has been dysfunctional without Lamar Jackson. I don’t expect it to get much better, as Jackson is unlikely to be 100% even if he’s back. Besides, even Jackson is 1-3 in his playoff career. Everything seems to be working for Cincinnati right now, and this Ravens team isn’t the one to stop them.


Buccaneers, 23, Cowboys, 20 (OT)

The Cowboys are actually favored on the road in this one, but when’s the last time you saw them beat Tom Brady? Fun fact: they never have. Even in this dysfunctional season, the Buccaneers took down Dallas 19-3. To be fair, QB Dak Prescott got hurt midway through that game, but Prescott hasn’t been looking all that sharp lately: he has a 15/11 TD/INT ratio in his last 7 games. I do expect the Cowboys to have the early lead here, as they have a lot of talent all over the map. Tom Brady isn’t going down easy though, and I expect him to lead a fourth quarter comeback and win it for the Bucs in overtime.

Divisional Round


Chargers, 35, Chiefs, 34

Patrick Mahomes has looked as good as ever despite the loss of WR Tyreek Hill. However, his performances against the AFC’s best this season have not been all that promising. He lost to the Bills and Bengals (despite those teams being seeded lower), and he may have swept the Chargers, but those were 3 point wins in which Justin Herbert was missing key receivers (Allen was out in the first one and Williams was severely limited in the second one). This one should be a close battle in which both QBs thrive. However, the Chargers are healthy and hot. I expect Herbert to shock the world and take down his divisional rival to advance to the AFC Championship.

Bills, 27, Bengals, 24

This will be an interesting one, as we finally see a rematch of Week 17’s canceled game. In addition, these teams have been playing at a level few others can, and I expect the winner of this game to go on to win it all. The Bengals have been on fire lately, with Joe Burrow continuing to improve week after week regardless of what receivers he has to work with. They still don’t have the momentum the Bills will have coming into this game. I do expect it to be very close, but I have Josh Allen working with Stefon Diggs to put together a big drive in the final seconds and set up a game winning Tyler Bass field goal.


Eagles, 16, Buccaneers, 10

This Bucs defense should be able to slow down the Eagles run game. However, the Eagles have the perfect defense to shut down Tom Brady. James Bradberry and Darius Slay are one of the best cornerback duos in football. They can each take on one of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, severely limiting the options for Brady to throw to in an offense that’s been dysfunctional at times. Evans may have 9 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, but at the end of the day, he’s a matchup-dependent receivers who feasts on weak secondaries. Brady will probably find Leonard Fournette for some checkdowns. Still, with his best two receivers locked up, it’ll be hard to make anything happen on offense. It could be Brady’s last game in a Buccaneers uniform, or any uniform for that matter.

49ers, 28, Vikings, 23

This is where I see the Vikings season ending. I’m expecting Brock Purdy and the Niners offense to put up a lot of points early on a weak Vikings secondary. Like always, QB Kirk Cousins and WR Justin Jefferson could work some late game magic for the Vikings. I don’t think it will be enough to come back for a win this time around. A 5-point loss is probably a generous prediction. I don’t think Minnesota is anywhere near the level of the Eagles or Niners, who I have meeting in the NFC title game.

AFC Championship

Bills, 34, Chargers, 17

The way I have the Divisional Round matchups working out should make for some close, exciting games. I can’t say the same about this one. I feel the Bills and Bengals are operating on a level no AFC West team has reached, and this game will show it. Look, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert are both great quarterbacks. However, in comparison to the Bills, teams like the Chiefs and Chargers have some serious defensive problems. The Bills run game is nothing special, but I still think it will have an unusual amount of success against a flawed Chargers front seven. With the run game heating up, the pass game strong as ever, and the whole roster motivated, the Bills could be a scary opponent to face in the Super Bowl.

NFC Championship

Eagles, 20, 49ers, 17

This one will be closer since both teams have pretty competent defenses and each QB has an elite supporting cast. Putting the supporting cast aside, Brock Purdy is a pretty good QB, and I think he has a chance to become a franchise guy. However, I think Jalen Hurts’ dual-threat ability will set him apart in this game, and Purdy will fail to keep up with him as the clock winds down.

Super Bowl LVII

Even when the Bills were able to make it this far in the 1990s, this is where they failed; you may have heard about their infamous four straight Super Bowl losses. I have the Bills capping off this historic season with the first Super Bowl win in franchise history as they take down the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. It’ll be hard for the Bills to shut down the combo of mobile QB Jalen Hurts and RB Miles Sanders. However, this Eagles pass game is built very similarly to how the Bills pass game was in Josh Allen’s breakout year. The Bills secondary will take advantage of that, limiting the impact of Philly’s WR duo of A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. Meanwhile, Allen will take advantage of the fact that he has a deeper group of receivers, including all three starters from 2020 in addition to an improving Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie. This Bills team is always ready with their next player up, and that will make the difference in this one.

Comment with your thoughts on these predictions. If you’re a Boston fan, who are you rooting for in these Patriot-less playoffs?

2022 NFL Thanksgiving Day Picks: Expect close nightcap after early blowouts

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m back in Massachusetts for my first Thanksgiving as a college student, and it’s been great seeing my family and some friends back home. What makes it even better is watching a triple-header of NFL football on my home TV, including the first Patriots Thanksgiving football game in a decade (the last one resulted in the infamous Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble). Below you can read more about what I expect from the day; aside from turkey at least.

We kick off the holiday with the annual early afternoon Lions game, and I’m expecting yet another loss for Detroit. The Lions haven’t won their Thanksgiving Day game since 2016, and the Bills are one of the toughest opponents they’ve had in a while. The Lions may be on a three game win streak, but only the best of the best have been able to complete with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and this elite Bills offense. The Bills just completely picked apart the Browns defense on this same turf, and the Lions defense has struggled the entire season. The Lions have had some strong offensive weeks and may put up some points, but I don’t expect this game to even be close.

Next up we’ll have a classic Thanksgiving rivalry match-up as the Cowboys host the Giants. New head coach Brian Daboll has led the Giants to success in a number of close games, but they still fell short in their first match-up with Dallas, and I don’t expect this one to even be close. Running back Saquon Barkley won’t be able to bail out Daniel Jones against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Meanwhile, I expect the Cowboys offense to keep the momentum going after dropping 40 on the Vikings last week. The Giants are still likely to make the playoffs, but they’ll head home embarrassed after this one. Meanwhile, the Cowboys seem to have a leg up in the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes, and if this game goes how I expect, that will likely seal the deal.

We end the day with what might be the best matchup of the three. With QB Mac Jones getting into a groove again, the Patriots have won three in a row and brought themselves back into the playoff picture. The Vikings will be eager to rebound after what happened on Sunday, but it’ll require QB Kirk Cousins to make a statement in primetime, something he’s struggled to do his entire career. I’m not expecting an outstanding game from Cousins, and that will allow Jones and the Pats to make this competitive. However, Cousins will have help from both RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson. As much as I’d want to see the Pats pull this off, I feel at least one of them will make some big plays that win the Vikings this game.

That game will cap off an action-packed Thanksgiving day slate. Feel free to comment with your thoughts, and no matter what happens, I hope you enjoy these games and have a great Thanksgiving experience.

Career Profile: Feature Producer Josh Vorensky

A shortened version of this article was recently published in The Ithacan. Check out the full version below.

Josh Vorensky ’11 earned an Emmy for his work as an associate producer for a segment on ESPNews along with three other Ithaca College alumni. (Photo via Josh Vorensky)

For many individuals wanting to break into the sports media realm, the dream is to work with the worldwide leader in sports and be recognized for their work. Josh Vorensky ’11 has already reached the pinnacle of the sports media mountain.

Before ESPN, Vorensky had internships with New Jersey Networks, MTV and NBC during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Now, he works as an associate producer and feature producer at ESPN, creating features for shows and programs. In 2020, Vorensky was a part of the production team that won an Emmy for Outstanding Sports News/Feature Anthology for the Sports Center (SC) Featured segment that aired on ESPNews. As a feature producer, Vorensky tells the story of athletes as part of the Sunday and Monday NFL Countdown broadcasts.

I spoke with Vorensky about his experience at ESPN and his career as a producer.

Andrew Roberts: What are some of the things you always do before a production?

Josh Vorensky: Before production day you always have to have a location and crew picked out; you need to know what your story is about and how that location kind of fits what your story’s going to be. Let’s say it’s a story about an artist. You’d want to be in some kind of art studio-esque place, so you’d want to nail down the location. You’d also want to nail down the crew; you want to know what kind of cameras, the specs of what you want to shoot. So there’s basically a checklist of what you want to have before each shoot. You need to have your crew picked out, your location picked out and if you’re doing an interview, your subject as well. A lot of times you’ll have to do some pre-interviewing, get to know the person and kind of know what you’re going into.

AR: How do you organize your production information?

JV: I have to write everything down. I learn better that way and that’s what I usually do. I do things on call sheets (example pictured below) that keep everything organized, especially a shot sheet if it’s kind of a new crew. If it’s crews that I trust, I give general guidelines of what I want. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve kind of figured out the kind of shots I want. When you’re shooting these shots you just shoot what you need but always keep in mind the sequence of what is necessary.

AR: Do you have standard protocols for what you pack when you travel? How many days a month do you travel?

JV: I have a general backpack; I keep a toiletry kit in my backpack. I’ve been traveling a little bit less; it kind of ebbs and flows. One time I’ll travel twice in a week and then I just had a shoot today where I was remote producing. That’s kind of a benefit of the pandemic where you don’t have to travel for every shoot, which provides a better work-life balance.

AR: Tell me about a typical day. If there isn’t one, tell me about a few.

JV: I usually like to get started early depending on what the shoot is and when the subject is available. It’s usually somewhere north of an hour and a half for setup time and then whatever the interview is. During our office time, I’m editing, coming home with ideas and kind of getting everything ready. I’ve been in features formally for at least five to six years; my role at ESPN has kind of changed over time. I started as a project-based production assistant where I was doing things like highlights, rundown and prompter. As I got more experienced, I was working on “Outside the Lines” and doing these things called wraps. When I got promoted, I worked at “Baseball Tonight,” SCEU, which is the SportsCenter Enhancement Unit, and did some writing. Now this is going to be my fifth or sixth season doing features for Sunday and Monday NFL Countdown.

AR: What exactly do feature producers do?

JV: You do documentaries on athletes; you’re a storyteller, producer and documentarian. You help to create content for the network, and it’s a joy to do. There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing the impact the stories had on a wider public. That’s generally what I do; we pitch stuff all the time, I send ideas every week and help to complement our program and broadcast.

AR: What kinds of classes and extracurriculars would you recommend for someone who wants to be a feature producer?

JV: I took some screenwriting classes. I would say learning how to craft stories and craft news elements is very important. Volunteering for “Newswatch” helps, I think that knowing how to edit helps, knowing how to shoot helps and pitching as many ideas as you can, things that are new and creative. Especially in college, you have so much available time to do all this really cool stuff, and I’d just try to push yourself creatively and get a reel together.

AR: What qualities must you possess to be a successful producer?

JV: I think you have to be able to think creatively, be very diligent, but also be able to take a step back, take a few breaths and look at the bigger picture. It’s very easy to walk into an environment and want to shoot everything, but you have to think about what you need for your story. When I was younger, I wanted to get as much b-roll as possible, but how does that fit within the wider story? I think overall, you have to be organized, willing to think creatively, focused, and calm. 

AR: What would you recommend for college students interested in production to do outside of classes and extracurriculars?

JV: Outside of the TV extracurriculars, I would say get yourself into other hobbies. I’m in an orchestra out of work. I like to run. I try to keep myself as well-rounded as possible. It’s nice to step away sometimes. If you find other clubs outside of TV, feel free to join. Personally, I was involved in Hillel during my time at Ithaca.

AR: Is there a typical career path for producers?

JV: I don’t think there is. I think people have gotten here in a number of different ways. Some people have interned here, others have shadowed here. I would get some real world experience if you can and be ready to learn.

AR: What do you like most and least about your job now?

JV: I love my job. I think it’s awesome. I love being able to tell stories and meet people; I find it incredibly gratifying being able to create some cool stories and push myself creatively. I do enjoy traveling. I don’t know if there’s a worst thing, honestly. 

AR: If you could talk to your college self, what would you say to them?

JV: I would say to take a step back sometimes and not overload myself. I loved Ithaca; I did find there was a lot of competitiveness, especially in the Park School. That was good; it made everybody better. I think the most important thing to know is to focus on yourself and how to make yourself better. Don’t look at what other people are doing. I found myself doing that a lot. When I took a step back, just enjoyed myself and made my own TV show, I think I was a lot less stressed, I became more confident and I definitely prepared myself to be in the career that I am in. So focus on yourself, don’t worry about other people, take inspiration from them but don’t feel like ‘I wish I could do X like them’. Just be yourself, just do it. Create your own path. What I loved about Ithaca is that even though I was involved in sports, I did way more than sports. I didn’t isolate myself into just doing sports. I think my first two years, I was way too concerned with what other people were doing. Once I just enjoyed what I was doing and charted a path for myself, it made everything a lot easier and more fun. 

My Take on spending time with Josh

Overall, feature production is not an easy job. It requires a high level of creativity and requires some technical skills. However, Vorensky really enjoys it, and it can be a fun job for many others too. Those interested have great opportunities to gain a wide variety of experience at Ithaca through ICTV as well as classes in areas like TV production, journalism and documentary studies. If you focus on yourself and carve your own path, you have a high chance of success in the industry.

Career Profile: Sports Broadcaster Tom Eschen

A shortened version of this article was recently published in The Ithacan. Check out the full version below.

Since graduating from Ithaca College, Tom Eschen ’11 has held many different positions in broadcasting. Recently, he accepted a job with CBS6-WRGB. (Photo via Brian Purcell)

Ithaca College has alumni that have succeeded in many different careers, and since attending the college, Tom Eschen ’11 has gone on to work in the sports broadcasting field.

Eschen recently accepted a new position as a news anchor and reporter at CBS6-WRGB in Albany, all while he continues to expand upon his broad array of experience in broadcast media since graduating from the Park School.

Before CBS6, Eschen spent the last 11 years of his career showcasing his versatility working at several broadcast networks, including Lax Sports Network (LSN)/For the Fans (FTF). Before joining CBS6, he served as a sports anchor, sports director, host and has also done play-by-play for a wide variety of sports. Eschen’s website says he has done work in all parts of the broadcasting world, including anchoring, reporting, shooting and editing. 

I spoke with Eschen about his career path and advice for students looking to make it in the sports broadcasting world.

Andrew Roberts: What are some of the things you always do before going on the air?

Tom Eschen: It depends on what I’m doing. For a play by play broadcast, I just do a thorough review of my notes. I make sure I understand some of the more important parts of what’s going on for the players: streaks, slumps, things of that nature, … if I’m actually there and not doing it remotely, I get a sense of where everything is on the field, where my sight lines are, and what my noise levels are. I also make sure I know my promotional material. If I’m doing something in the studio, it’s kind of the same. Over the course of the day no matter what studio show you’re doing, you’re reading through script and making sure you look nice. I also try to make sure I’m not too serious, kind of relaxed.

AR: Tell me about a typical day. If there aren’t any, describe a few typical days. 

TE: I think that’s the beauty of the business, that there is no typical day. I’m at a career crossroads. Tomorrow is my last day at the Lax Sports Network and For the Fans. I am moving on to becoming the weekend anchor in Albany, New York [at WRGB CBS 6]. Typical days are very different depending on where you are. Right now, if I was to go and do a studio show or a baseball game, it’s different considering it’s a different network. I go in, review my notes, do play-by-play for a baseball game, and then I turn around, review [the] scripts for a lacrosse show later that day. At the news station in Albany, I’ll get in, check in with everyone and determine what our big story is that day for our 6:00 and 11:00 news. I’ll be talking through that as a team and figure out what some of the other stories are, things to follow-up on or things that are going to be happening in the next couple days. That’s how you kind of fill out the newscast. Studio work kind of mirrors itself no matter what you’re doing. You work together and figure out how you’re going to put your show together and see what’s going on around the world to help dictate that.

AR: How much do you travel for your job on average?

TE: In this next job, I’ll be able to get out of the studio a lot more. Right now, I’m doing a lot of things remotely. In the next job there is more like what I did at the beginning of my career working in news and sports in Syracuse and Michigan. You’re going out, you’re talking to people on a daily basis, finding their stories, giving them a voice and meeting with them to do that. I tried to find different ways to do that, like Zoom interviews and Skype. But going out and actually being able to go to different places in the viewing area allows me to travel from town to town. In my job in Michigan, I would go to playoff games, so that would be the furthest travel I’ve done but on a micro scale you’re getting in the studio and leaving to see what’s going on within the region.

AR: What do sports broadcasters do?

TE: I think the best sports broadcasters succeed in opening up the world of sports to people who don’t necessarily love sports. They try to transcend that gap between sports experts and casual sports fans. I think that’s what the best sports broadcasters do in any role. They could tell the backstory of a player who came from nothing, and now here he is succeeding at the highest level; they tell a story that can relate to a lot of people. I think the sportscasters that are the best are themselves and don’t try to go over the top, or be someone they’re not. That’s the most effective, entertaining, and meaningful way of being able to communicate.

AR: What qualities must you possess to be a successful sports broadcaster?

TE: Speaking from my own experience and from what I’ve seen, a big thing is really immersing yourself in whatever topic, place, sport, or team that you’re covering. To be successful, you have to be an expert at the end of the day. To be able immerse yourself in who people are and what they’re all about is really one of the only ways you can effectively tell their story. If you’re just doing it at an arm’s length, without really doing the work, research, and preparation, you’re not getting the full story and you might not tell the story the right way. I think a thing that I’ve always had success in and I’ve seen others succeed in is immersing themselves in whatever it could be. I had to do Austrian Bundesliga Soccer out of the blue. I hadn’t seen soccer, and wasn’t a huge fan at the time, but I tried to learn everything I possibly could about this sport and this country. The reviews are pretty good, people are pretty happy about it, and at the end of the day I knew more about it than I even thought I would and appreciated it more too. I think once you research [a sport], you start to think it is kind of cool at the end of the day. I think that also comes in the local news aspect, when you go to a city or a town, and have to tell everyone what’s going on in terms of sports there. You have to know where the best high schools are, what teams people like, and immerse yourself in that same way. You have to help yourself relate to them by doing that research. You have to really become a part of that culture.

AR: What kind of classes and extracurricular activities should one focus on if they want to be a sports broadcaster?

TE: I would say as many extracurriculars in communications as possible. They each give you opportunities to explore, be creative, and do your own thing over time. It’s just consistently doing those things. Some people would dip in and then do other things the rest of their college career. I think being really consistent until you know what you want to do is really important. You can really recognize the different facets of media and how stories are told in different ways and I think that makes you stronger at the end of the day.

AR: What would you recommend to someone who wants to be a sports broadcaster on air?

TE: First be yourself, don’t try to be someone that you’ve seen or think is successful. Also recognize that like anyone else, you’re part of a team. There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that help make that product work. If you really want to be successful you have to recognize what everyone brings to the table when it comes to putting something on the air. It makes the product better when you recognize the talent you have around you. You can’t just say you’re the face of this, and you’re the one to thank. The last thing I would say is that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but it’s about how you move on and deal with that failure. You’re never going to know everything. There’s people that have done it longer and better than you but if you try and learn from them you’ll become better. There’s going to be things that you don’t do well and can improve upon.

AR: Is there a typical career path for sports broadcasters?

TE: Ideally, you go from a small market to a medium market to a big market, and then you’ll be set for life. But I don’t think it ever works out like that, at least from what I’ve seen. Some go from a small market straight into a big job like play-by-play for a pro team through their networking, connections, or talent. Then you have others in the business that do some different things, like going from sports to news. I don’t think there’s a typical or a right path to take. There’s a lot of people that I know that did it for 5-8 years then went to the PR side of things, because this is a lifestyle that isn’t exactly ideal. It’s not really a 9 to 5 job. I think people’s priorities change over time. The earlier you can recognize where your priorities lie, the better off you are. There’s always going to be a choice of what your path is going to be. You have to expect the unexpected.

AR: What do you most and least like about your job?

TE: I don’t believe in complaining about things personally, because I think that I’m pretty lucky to be where I am, so I don’t know if there’s a least. It is tougher with the hours at times to have a social life and find a good group of people and friends moving from place to place, so that’s probably the most challenging thing that comes with the job. But I think the fact that you get the opportunity to give people a platform, advocate for them, and help their voices be heard is really powerful. Those moments have meant the most to me, when you can see their appreciation for it. It’s a very unique connection you get that I don’t think many professions offer. I think that makes journalism pretty unique in that aspect.

My Take on spending time with Tom

I really appreciate that Tom took the time to meet with me and provide well thought out answers to help support students that are trying to follow similar career paths that Tom has taken after Ithaca. I may have never met Tom if he did not reach out to me when he decided to interview me to showcase my experiences, and help support my advocacy for the Flutie Foundation for Autism. You can view the story broadcast on the For-The-Fans (FTF) network here.

As seen by Eschen, being a sports broadcaster is not an easy job to get into or persevere at, but it can be a very rewarding one. You have to make sure to do your research and immerse yourself in the content you’re covering. You may have to work long hours and sacrifice your social life. However, you get the opportunity to show your true personality in published media, tell the stories of the people around you, and work in an entertaining industry.

Cortaca Recap: Experience proves valuable as Wingfield outplays Boyes, leads Ithaca to finish undefeated

Quarterback A.J. Wingfield posted one of his best performances of the season to lead Ithaca to finish the regular season undefeated and bring home the Cortaca Jug with a 34-17 win over Cortland at Yankee Stadium.

Wingfield, a senior, completed 18 of 20 pass attempts for 209 yards and 3 TDs. He also added 28 yards on the ground. 

Wingfield was supported on offense by versatile running back Jake Williams, who had 132 total scrimmage yards and 2 TDs. Wingfield targeted him and wide receiver Michael Anderson the most. 

Despite his impressive mobility, Cortland quarterback Zac Boyes, a sophomore, struggled with a completion percentage under 50 and a 1 to 2 TD to interception ratio. Cortland was also nailed by penalties, losing a total of 65 yards on 6 penalties.

The closest the Red Dragons came to victory was within 3 points of Ithaca. With Ithaca leading 20-7 early in the third quarter, Cortland running back Jaden Alfanostjohn ran in for a TD. Cortland followed this up with a strip sack of Wingfield, giving them the chance to take the lead. However, Ithaca’s defense held them to a field goal.

Ithaca regained momentum after this, with Wingfield throwing it deep to wide receiver Julien Deumaga for a 40 yard TD to make it 27-17. When Cortland got the ball back, Boyes underthrew his receiver and was picked off. This allowed Williams to break off for a 43 yard TD of his own and truly secure the lead for Ithaca.

The Red Dragons had several missed opportunities throughout the game. They had the chance to cut Ithaca’s first half lead to 3 points, but standout defender Matt DeSimpliciis picked off Boyes in the end zone just before halftime. When they kicked it off to Ithaca to begin the second half, they let Michael Anderson run 87 yards on the return, setting up an easy scoring opportunity for the Bombers.

While Cortland had put up bigger numbers than Ithaca and gone 9-0 leading up to this game, Ithaca may have given them a reality check. Wingfield’s experience showed as he looked more comfortable than Boyes in front of the Yankee Stadium crowd.

The bracket is not finalized, but both teams have locked up playoff berths by winning their conferences. After this game, Ithaca will likely end up with the higher seed.

NFL 2022 Preview: Who takes it home in a changing league?

I’ve had a busy first few weeks here in Ithaca. However, this annual article is one I could not miss. Once again, football is back, and I am excited to share my preview for the season.

The NFL seems to be at a sort of crossroads. We may be nearing the end of the story for longtime legends like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, the story for a new generation of players including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert is just beginning. It’s left the NFL in an interesting position; there are so many competitive teams that the standard for contention has raised. Two years ago Tom Brady won his 7th ring, and last year veteran QB Matthew Stafford finally took one home. Will this year be another win for an aging team, or will the youth of the league begin to take over? Read my predictions below and find out what I think, starting with my division by division standings.

AFC East

  1. Buffalo Bills (15-2, #1 seed in AFC)
  2. Miami Dolphins (9-8)
  3. New England Patriots (8-9)
  4. New York Jets (8-9)

For many years, the Patriots ruled in this division. Now it’s the Bills and then everyone else. Led by young standout QB Josh Allen, the Bills are as stacked on paper as any team in this league. The defense has its inconsistencies, but still has a lot of talent including what’s arguably the best safety duo in the league (Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde). Offensively, Allen has a plethora of weapons including elite WR Stefon Diggs, emerging WR Gabriel Davis, and TE Dawson Knox. 15 wins is a tough feat for any time, but it’s not out of the question here.

I have the Dolphins edging out second as their defense should win them some games. However, I don’t see them making the playoffs with QB Tua Tagovailoa under center. WR Tyreek Hill can make big plays for days but he’s not going to bail Tua out of every situation. If anyone has the chance to sneak into a wild card slot, it would be the Pats. I have them at 8-9, but this team has a high ceiling and a low floor. It all depends on whether QB Mac Jones can build on his rookie success and if Bill Belichick can coach up the young talent on the defense despite losing several big names like CB J.C. Jackson.

The Jets will remain in the basement here, but they’re definitely trending in the right direction. A year from now, this offense could be a scary sight assuming QB Zach Wilson improves and RB Breece Hall is as advertised.

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens (12-5, #4 seed in AFC)
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-6, #6 seed in AFC)
  3. Cleveland Browns (7-10)
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-13)

If there’s any team I’m counting on to go from worst to first, it’s the Ravens. With QB Lamar Jackson injured for much of last season, the Ravens were on the bottom of a competitive division. Now, Jackson returns alongside RB J.K. Dobbins, CB Marlon Humphrey, and CB Marcus Peters. Humphrey and Peters now headline what might be the NFL’s best secondary. There’s plenty of signs that the Ravens can put last season’s struggles behind them.

I do think the Bengals remain competitive after their surprise Super Bowl run last year. QB Joe Burrow and WR Ja’Marr Chase aren’t going away anytime soon. I don’t expect the kind of run we saw last year, but I also don’t expect the Bengals to revert below .500. That leaves the Browns and Steelers falling behind in this division race.

The Browns will be without their new QB Deshaun Watson for the first 11 games. While I think their RB duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and their strong defense can win them a few games in that stretch, Watson would have a lot of ground to make up in order to catch these other teams in the division. I’ve been projecting a Steelers decline for years now, but over the last few years Mike Tomlin has kept them afloat. Between a tough schedule, tough division, and declining defense, I find it hard to believe that Tomlin will extend his above-.500 streak any longer.

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts (12-5, #3 seed in AFC)
  2. Tennessee Titans (8-9)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-13)
  4. Houston Texans (1-16)

If the Colts played in any other division, I’d have them around .500. In fact, I have them 6-5 in non-AFC South match-ups. However, I can’t see any other team in this division giving them much of a challenge. Their defense is strong enough that QB Matt Ryan will be able to get the Colts out to leads in these games without much pressure.

The Titans show some promise as usual, and RB Derrick Henry isn’t going away. Outside of Henry though, this roster looks uninspiring when compared to other AFC rosters. If there’s any surprise contender in this division, it would be Tennessee, but I personally wouldn’t count on it. The Jaguars should see marginal improvement from QB Trevor Lawrence, but I don’t think they spent their money in an optimal way to support him. There are still many holes up and down the roster that leave Jacksonville far from playoff contention. They still show more promise than the Texans though. I don’t see QB Davis Mills as much more than a strong game manager, and outside of WR Brandin Cooks he doesn’t have much proven talent around him to rely on.

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3, #2 seed in AFC)
  2. Los Angeles Chargers (12-5, #5 seed in AFC)
  3. Denver Broncos (9-8, #7 seed in AFC)
  4. Las Vegas Raiders (7-10)

Some people expect four teams above .500 in this division, and I think that expectation is a little lofty. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this might be one of the most competitive divisions in recent history. While I do have the Broncos and Raiders losing a decent number of games due to their tough schedules, I think both these teams will be better on the field than their record shows. The Raiders do have some major defensive question marks, but with WR Davante Adams on board, this offense is too good for Vegas to hit rock bottom. I expect the Broncos to be in the mix for much of the season. QB Russell Wilson’s historical late season struggles combined with a tough schedule will cause them to fall behind the Chiefs and Chargers, but I still have them holding onto a playoff spot.

I think the Chiefs maintain the crown here, as QB Patrick Mahomes makes up for the loss of WR Tyreek Hill by utilizing a variety of new faces in the WR corps such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Chargers could be a threat to that, as their defense gets even stronger with the additions of Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. I also think QB Justin Herbert is almost as capable, if not just as capable as Mahomes. Either of these teams could be in for a deep playoff run.

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-6, #4 seed in NFC)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (10-7, #7 seed in NFC)
  3. Washington Commanders (6-11)
  4. New York Giants (3-14)

The NFC East still has not had a repeat winner since the 2003-04 Eagles, and I don’t see that changing this year. The Cowboys, who won in 2021, lost a good portion of the stacked WR corps QB Dak Prescott utilized to get them there. The Eagles, meanwhile, brought in a new #1 WR in A.J. Brown and upgraded the defense significantly. As long as QB Jalen Hurts plays at a serviceable level, I think the Eagles take over in this division, though I still have the Cowboys sneaking into a playoff spot.

The Giants have a lot to prove this year. This might be QB Daniel Jones’ last chance to show that he can succeed with a healthy offense around him. I don’t have much faith in Jones or his WRs though, and I expect now healthy RB Saquon Barkley to get frustrated and leave after another losing season in East Rutherford. The Commanders should outpace them by a little bit, but I don’t see Carson Wentz as the long term answer at QB (who knew Dak Prescott would end up a more reliable QB than either of the top 2 picks from his draft class?). Despite a strong defensive line and some upside across the roster, there are still many problems to address in Washington before they can compete once again.

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-4, #1 seed in NFC)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (13-4, #5 seed in NFC)
  3. Detroit Lions (6-11)
  4. Chicago Bears (2-15)

A lot of people are making the case that either the Packers or the Vikings will be the sole success story from this division. Why not both? The Packers may have question marks at WR, but QB Aaron Rodgers has made do with that before and he can do it again. Meanwhile, the Vikings will leave the Mike Zimmer era behind them. I expect the talent they have in all 3 aspects of the game to finally translate into wins under new HC Kevin O’Connell, and O’Connell has already drawn comparisons between WRs Justin Jefferson and Cooper Kupp (who had his historic season in O’Connell’s system).

The Lions can only go so far with Jared Goff under center, but this roster does show some promise. Their defense should be at least serviceable at this point and with a strong supporting cast, Goff could have the occasional big game if he’s not under too much pressure. Bears fans may have faith that Justin Fields can lift this team out of its misery, but I’m not expecting much in Chicago this year. Matt Eberflus is not much of an upgrade over Matt Nagy, and I think the Bears will be giving up too many points for Fields to make up the lost ground.

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints (12-5, #2 seed in NFC)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5, #6 seed in NFC)
  3. Carolina Panthers (8-9)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (5-12)

The Saints are the team I’m expecting to exceed most people’s expectations this year. To start off, their defense might be the most well-rounded, filled out defense in football. In addition, a lot of people are concerned about a RB Alvin Kamara suspension, WR Michael Thomas’ health, or QB Jameis Winston’s capability as a starting QB. I don’t think these are really valid concerns at this point. Winston has been fine and thrown far less picks since his eye surgery a few off-seasons ago, Kamara’s suspension is unlikely to happen until 2023, and all signs point to Thomas being a full-go this season. At their peak, this team could be scary.

I have Saints sweeping the Bucs in the regular season (as usual), but that won’t stop Tampa Bay from staying neck and neck with them in the division race. Even without WR Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski, any team with Tom Brady (even an aging Tom Brady) under center is going to be competitive. Besides, Brady still has one of the NFL’s best supporting casts.

QB Baker Mayfield should allow the Panthers to avoid the basement of the division and win a few extra games. Mayfield has RB Christian McCaffrey and WR D.J. Moore to lean on, so that should help him out, but this team still doesn’t quite stack up with the Saints and Bucs. That leaves the Falcons at the bottom, who despite an improving defense don’t have much to be excited about this season.

NFC West

  1. Los Angeles Rams (11-6, #3 seed in NFC)
  2. Arizona Cardinals (9-8)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (8-9)
  4. Seattle Seahawks (2-15)

Despite a tough schedule, I expect the Rams to remain on top of this division. QB Matthew Stafford may start off a little slow due to his elbow injury, but he has a strong supporting cast, and Rams DT Aaron Donald is still in every other QB’s nightmares.

Behind the Rams, I don’t see much promise in this division. The Cardinals have relied on strong starts in years they’ve made the playoffs. They’ll be without WR DeAndre Hopkins for 6 games, so that might be more difficult than usual. There is a lot to like about the 49ers, but the secondary is a concern and we haven’t really seen how much QB Trey Lance is capable of. I’ve seen Patrick Mahomes comparisons, and people who expect Lance to be like Mahomes and lead San Francisco to the playoffs in his first year starting may be disappointed.

I still expect those two teams to finish well ahead of Seattle. The Seahawks have no proven options to start at QB, which will likely hold this offense and the entire team back throughout the season.

Playoff Predictions

There’s a lot of competitive teams in the league right now, so I’m expecting a lot of playoff upsets much like last year. I have 4 of 6 wild card teams winning their first playoff game, and essentially half the teams advancing to each round after that are wild card teams.

In the NFC, I have Tom Brady clutching up for the playoffs and beating the Rams, Packers, and Saints on another Wild Card Super Bowl run. In the AFC, I think the Chiefs or Chargers could put up a good fight, but in the end I have Josh Allen leading the top-seeded Bills to a conference title.

A Bills-Bucs Super Bowl will bring a very interesting narrative: Tom Brady against his former divisional rival. I’m expecting a Super Bowl LII like game, with Brady putting up a serious fight, but falling short in the end. It will signal a new era for the league in which the Bills, not Tom Brady, are the team to beat.

If the Bills do actually win this Super Bowl, I may not hear the end of it now that I’m living in Ithaca which is clear cut Bills territory. However, my unbiased opinion is that they are the most likely team to come out on top. This could be the year their roster is talented enough for them to put it all together and win on the biggest stage.

Will Brady retire after playing in another Super Bowl? If he wins, I think it’s pretty likely he does. However, after a loss, he may still be hungry for more.

Before I wrap up this article, I want to include one more prediction: my pick for tonight’s opener.

Opening Night

It would be easy to predict a shootout here. However, I’m expecting more of a close, defensive battle in this one. QB Matthew Stafford should play it a little safer considering his elbow problems, but I still expect him to connect well with WRs Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson. In the end though, QB Josh Allen is better equipped to win this game. Allen and his receivers at full health are a scary sight, and even if Stafford was healthy I think Allen would be likely to outperform him.

Enjoy tonight’s game, and enjoy the rest of the season. I’ll have more NFL coverage on this website as well as weekly Flutie Foundation-sponsored NFL episodes on The Master Plan Podcast with my cousin, Michael Philipkosky.