Rich Eisen, media superstar


Do you watch Hollywood Game Night?

If you don’t… check it out. Mindless fun. Pretty good show to have on when you are just looking to wind down and smile. (Unless you’re ultra ultra ultra competitive, in which case you might not want to watch it just before bed.)

A few months ago, Jane Lynch hosted an episode based on sports, and Rich Eisen was one of the guests. Now, I could tell you a few of the finer points of the evening (and I think I will)…

  • During a game called Show Me The Music that is designed around charades and song titles, Eisen was trying. Then they hit one song… “I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls… and he stepped to the side. Still, his miming of howling at the moon for “Hungry like the Wolf” turned into a magical moment. (It was also a brilliant example of foreshadowing for the team captain and ending, who couldn’t get that answer even though he was correctly getting the “hungry” part of the title.)
  • Eisen’s emotions were on full display as the game of Popped Quiz was played. Repeatedly he knew the answers… well, there were a few claims that he did, although it didn’t go as well when it was actually his turn to respond.
  • He was on fire during Where Ya Goin’? and might have even completed a comeback for his team. The difficulty? (Back to our hungry wolf moment.) His team captain stumbled with one of the clues. He didn’t know that the Hollywood Bowl wasn’t a sports facility or that the Hollywood Bowl wasn’t an event, and his team lost way too much time on one failed clue.
  • Oh yeah *** Spoiler alert *** I need to tell you that Rich’s team lost.

And that last item is where the real magic happened, and serves as the true reason I’m writing this about Rich Eisen today.

The team captains are the game’s real contestants. They are, for all intents and purposes, everyday people that applied for the opportunity to compete for cash prizes by leading a team of celebrities in these games. The moment his team lost, Rich extended his hand to the other team’s captain. It was a brilliant display of sportsmanship. (And one that—while I’m sure does happen from time to time—I had never noticed previously.)

If you want to find Rich, it’s not that hard. He recently worked on a video with Katy Perry, and appeared a few times on the Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon run of The Odd Couple. Unite those with Hollywood Game Night, and we already have a trio of some cameo-based work. There is more. But the real fun from Rich is on television and radio for sports.

Rich Eisen hit ESPN in the mid-1990s. And, during a run of roughly seven years, he was involved in a bit of everything for the network… hosting news shows (yes, that does mean SportsCenter), and radio broadcasts such as for Major League Baseball. And then… around 2003… he made a gigantic, and for many an unexpected leap. He was the first on-air hire and effectively the face of the NFL Network, which continues with multiple efforts there to this day. Currently, Rich also hosts a weekday show that airs on DirecTV and radio.

Here’s the craziest thing though… regardless of what he’s doing, I always find Rich to be that guy extending his hand to the winner on Hollywood Game Night. And here’s what I mean…

It starts with a bit of a cliché… because for a professional living, Rich gets to do what so many would love to do for free. Attend the biggest sporting events, interact with celebrities, and seemingly select a project to work on next based on his interest and enjoyment of it. Not a bad deal.

It moves into a different area… where Rich presents himself, and I have no reason to believe that his personal life is otherwise, as a likeable, down-to-earth, approachable everyman that recognizes and appreciates what he does and his surroundings.

And it concludes over here… he gives credit to those deserving of it. Like spending an afternoon with your best friend, if you invest a bit of time in listening to him or watching him, you’ll find Rich boasts a bit about his favorite teams (and his ties to the University of Michigan... where he completed his undergraduate studies), shifts conversations to a variety of topics and interests from the expected sports into current flavors of the day, and always seems to be ready to shake an opponent’s hand (in victory and defeat).

I have no clue why I started writing this column. Honestly, it’s a bit of a profile effort, and not quite where I would normally go. And I will say that someday, I would be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet Rich, speak with him, and perhaps even interview him for the web site.

(Side note – Rich, that invitation is open. Along with an invitation to you, your family, and the folks on your show’s team to stop on by our house and enjoy a barbecue with my wife and perhaps a few friends. We’d love to meet all of you. Just let me know what beverages to get on ice ahead of time.)

More to this essay however, I find myself impressed by someone that seems to get it. I may not watch all of his shows or listen to every broadcast. I do find myself appreciating what he does in and around industries that so often seem drenched by entitlement and lacking in maturity.

Keep up the good work, Rich. It’s good to know you’re around.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at