Bart Scott Tackles New TV Role
NEW YORK — Bart Scott is still yapping, saying whatever's on his mind.
Whether you like it or not.
Scott was one of the NFL's biggest trash-talking playmakers during an 11-year NFL career as a hard-hitting linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. His teammates loved him, opposing offensive players couldn't stand him — but everyone heard what he had to say.
These days, it's still much of the same. Scott has made a seamless transition from the football field to the TV studio as an analyst on CBS Sports Network's "That Other Pregame Show" every Sunday during the NFL season.
"I love informing people and try to give it to them without being too technical," Scott said. "I love breaking down film and being able to explain why someone is playing at a high level or isn't playing at a high level. You might not believe me, but I can take the film, and here's the evidence.
"It's almost like being a teacher because you're making the viewer a smarter football fan."
Scott's new TV teammates include Adam Schein, Brandon Tierney and former NFL executive Amy Trask, and they tackle issues around the league, whether it's discussing how teams or players are performing or weighing in on the Miami Dolphins' locker room controversy.
"I thought it was a great opportunity for me to grow as an analyst and to bring something different that I didn't think they had, which was a young, African-American defensive player," Scott said. "They have a lot of great talent but it's mostly coaches, quarterbacks and offensive players, so I thought I could offer something a little different."
And, as you might expect, Scott pulls no punches.
"I'm honest and you might not agree with what I say, and if you prove me wrong, I'm man enough to say that I'm wrong," he said. "I can come here and I can do it my way. I always have. If I talk about something, understand that I kind of know what I'm talking about because I've seen it, not because I listened to what somebody else said about it."
That approach has made Scott a welcome part of the show that launched this season as an alternative to other networks' pregame programs.
"Some people don't realize how tough it is to be a successful analyst and have that translate into great television," Schein said. "Well, Bart gets it. He works incredibly hard, studies the game, he talks to people. He's not afraid and he has incredibly strong opinions. It's amazing, and frankly a joy, to see where he is as opposed to Week 1.
"He's polished, and he's going to be a star."
Scott had a sometimes-contentious relationship with the media during his four years with the Jets, coming off as moody at times, even issuing a self-imposed media boycott at one point. But, he could also be one of the game's most refreshingly honest players, offering up "the juice," as he called it, when he really wanted to make a point.
His "Can't wait!" declaration after the Jets beat the New England Patriots during the playoffs following the 2010 regular season is still a YouTube hit.
"I've always understood the dynamic, and I understand we all need each other," he said. "I was never against anybody, but now as a member of the media, I get to decide how I tell my stories and what principles and morals I choose to report with."
Scott hyperextended his right big toe in Week 3 last year, but kept playing even after three bones were torn from the ligament, an injury that would end most players' seasons. Scott played in a size 13½ cleat — he's normally a 12 — which he cut the top off of and filled with foam so his toe could get support.
"Now, you try to make a tackle off of that," he said. "That's what a leader does. A leader does what a lot of guys feel like they couldn't do."
After the season, doctors drilled a hole at the top of the toe and re-routed his ligament, which no longer extends to the end of his foot, so the toe doesn't bend. The 33-year-old Scott was criticized by some for appearing slow and old, but he never publicly revealed how bad the injury was until late in the season.
"My teammates were aware of it, and that's all that matters," he said. "I battled for my teammates and for myself. It wasn't the media's business."
He was released by the Jets in the offseason, but a healthy Scott planned to play again. There were a few offers, but nothing that excited him. So he started thinking about his post-football career.
"I didn't want to be one of those guys where people feel sorry for you because you're not the same person," Scott said, "like Muhammad Ali fighting Larry Holmes."
Sundays are a different type of game day now for Scott, who goes over his notes when he gets to the studio, watches plays from the previous week and chit-chats with colleagues.
Kickoffs are when the cameras turn on at 9 a.m. The four-hour show is live and largely ad-libbed — perfect for a guy from whom no one ever knew what was going to come out of his mouth next. When CBS Sports Network was auditioning for Scott's spot, Schein immediately predicted the former linebacker would get the job.
"He not only has a personality, but he's really, really smart," Schein said. "He's funny, he's energetic. There's always a method to Bart's madness. He's one of the brightest former players I've ever come across."
Scott's new role has also given him an opportunity to change the image some had of him as a big-mouthed, blustery jock.
"People didn't realize that I was an educated man and that I could articulate myself and I am a college graduate," he said. "I've got an economics degree and I don't think a lot people would believe that. I wasn't a dummy. ... I'm not just black or white. I've got a lot of different colors to myself."
He overcame the odds of having a long NFL career after being an undrafted free agent. Scott now plans to take the same never-quit approach to his new life in the studio.
"My goal in this genre, for as long as I do this, is for me to be seen as one of you guys and not a former player trying to do it," Scott said. "I don't want a free pass. I've got a lot of ground to make up. I know I can do it.
"And, I plan to be the best. That's the goal."