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Pitts goes to Broadcast Boot Camp


Texans guard Chester Pitts shares a laugh with NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen on set at the NFL's Broadcast Boot Camp this summer.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article first appeared in the *Houston Texans Gameday magazine on Aug. 28, 2008, for Houston's preseason contest at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After co-starring in a hit Super Bowl commercial this offseason, left guard Chester Pitts took another step in building his post-playing career by attending the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp this summer.

Chester Pitts is not one to shy away from the spotlight. His NFL Super Bowl commercial won him appearances on the talk show "Ellen" and a spot on the red carpet as the talk show host's Grammy Awards correspondent. Pitts doesn't plan to hang up his jersey any time soon, but when he does, he wouldn't mind being in front of the camera.

That's why the left guard decided to attend the NFL's Broadcast Boot Camp, a three-day program created by the league to develop a player's knowledge and skills in sports broadcasting.

Pitts had little experience in the booth before attending the program, and he thought that his deep voice could lend itself well to broadcasting.

"There's always the chance," Pitts said. "If I was good at it, I'd love to do it. But I kind of wanted to see how much interest I had in it and if I could be any good at it."

{QUOTE}Sean Washington, the director of player development for the Texans, said the NFL started the program to cater to the many players interested in the broadcast industry.

"As you can see, with the NFL Network and all of those other stations, there are a lot of former football players headed in that direction," Washington said.

During the camp, Pitts worked on reporting sports news, commentating, live interviewing and writing teleprompter scripts.

"It took me an hour to write a one-minute piece for a teleprompter," Pitts said. "People have no idea how difficult it is."

Fortunately for Pitts, he was able to work with professionals like Rich Eisen, Ron Jaworski and James Brown, a few of which were ex-players themselves.

"Those guys are the best in the business," Pitts said. "James Brown is so good and so eloquent and well-versed, very poignant."

From years of studying and practicing football, most players possess enough football knowledge to join a broadcasting team. They struggle with acting natural on camera and relaying the information in a clear and concise manner.

"You have to realize that you have to convert the language," Pitts said. "The terms and words I usually use have to be defined because a lot of people don't know a lot of those words. I can't just say that a defense is in cover two because some people might not know what cover two is."

Networks like to use ex-players because they can break down a team's strengths and weaknesses and offer audiences an inside look at a team.

"The reason they want us is because we can offer insight that no one else can," Pitts said. "We have actually done it. A regular reporter obviously has never played ball before. They have never scored a touchdown or been in a two-minute drill. We know the intricacies of the game that no one else knows."

Pitts' classroom this past June included NFL players such as Baltimore's Derrick Mason, Washington's Antwaan Randle-El and Minnesota's Darren Sharper.

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