My advice to the young ones looking to get into this profession, any profession, always has been not about overcoming fear of failure, but disregarding it altogether. Like horse trainer Nick Zito once said, “you can’t even lose if you don’t enter.” My football coach at UNLV, Tony Knap, said look deep first, you can always find something.”
This from veteran ESPN reporter, Kenny Mayne, who is parting ways with ESPN next Monday, May 24.
If you’re a law student, lawyer or other legal profession looking to get off the beaten track, live your dreams and do what your peers are afraid to do, read on.
After twenty-four years as a sports reporter, Mayne said he had a lot to unpack so he just sat down and started writing – in a story in Monday’s Los Angeles Times. (It’s worth paying the one dollar to read it).
All Mayne, who was working sports TV in Seattle, wanted to do was work for ESPN. Enough so to quit his job.
“Even without the guarantee of an ESPN future, I quit my TV job in 1989 and paid the bills by assembling garbage cans, then selling prepaid legal insurance before graduating to long-distance sales for MCI. There was another interview with ESPN (while I was selling prepaid legal insurance), which resulted in a 1990 gig covering the Goodwill Games in Seattle and subsequent freelance work for the next four years, when I decided a bolder approach was called for. I sent Walsh a letter.”
Mayne pestered ESPN for five years altogether – but he did get the middle box checked, a strong sign in is mind.
In a visit to Bristol, ESPN’s home office, before this letter, Mayne told ESPN’s Vince Doria, who knew Mayne was not a sports stats nerd,
“Look, I still don’t know who the fifth pitcher on the Cubs is, but if you tell me to do a story on the sonofabitch, it’ll be the best story in the building.”
In the middle of a MCI sales call, ESPN called – twenty-seven days after that letter.
That first night, Mayne was so scared he couldn’t even run the computer. There may have only been 4,500 viewers, but he was keyed up like Walter Cronkite doing the moon landing. His producer, seeing he was scared to death, came over and asked if he was okay.
“I lied and said yes and thought to myself that if I run out of the building and drive away right now, no one will know I sucked at this. Doria [ESPN head] eventually will come to terms with the terrible hire he made. Walsh will say, “I told you he doesn’t know about middle relief.”
Now that he’s out, as Mayne describes things, “Inside my home, outside my home, people still think I have a future.” He’s got the love.
He told his wife, who was a little anxious, “When it’s time to worry, I will tell you it’s time to worry. It’s not time to worry.”
If Mayne hadn’t quit his job and pestered ESPN, he’d be selling for another company in Seattle.
Nothing wrong with that, but he’d not have had the life he has. He’d not call Sue Bird, Stuart Scott, Aaron Rodgers, Chris Berman and Bob Ley as friends.
Give it a shot, what do have to lose? Even if you’re not successful, and you will be, what have you got to lose? You get up and do it again.