I’ve never met Rich Eisen, but I’m told by those who have we’d get along wonderfully. He’s a New York native, a passionate sports fan, survived small market TV sportscasting and ESPN and truly loves THE $100,000 PYRAMID. He is proudly Jewish, married a gorgeous fellow Jew and sportscaster (Suzy Shuster–boy did I crush on her when she was single at FOX Sports), and is the de facto Chris Berman of the NFL Network, that channel’s first hire nearly 20 years ago. All that and he’s as follicle challenged as moi.
The idea of a year-round, 24/7 channel dedicated exclusively to pro football was novel in 2003 and one with a particularly daunting business issue. What do you show between the Super Bowl and the opening of summer camp? Sure, NFL Films has a library of Super Bowl highlights and blooper shows, but that inventory gets stale fast. One of their more novel solutions to the spring drought was their decision to make a TV event out of the NFL Combines, the first chance for most college stars to showcase their talents and physical attributes for scouts considering drafting them. Using a central location with the domed stadium in Indianapolis, it is an intense but relaxed environment that has provided a chance for coaches, talent and broadcasters to effectively extend the concept of summer camp coverage to a different season and four days of live content with decent ratings potential close to network upfronts.
This year, after a one-year gap for COVID, the Combines have returned, and so too has Eisen’s quest to shatter the 6 second barrier on the field in Indy (Last year, he used the empty field across from his new offices at SoFi Stadium). Since 2005, when challenged by Broncos running back Terrell Davis, he has regularly taken his own turn at the 40-yard dash that has emerged as the premier event in this talent competition. To make things even more challenging, Eisen does his sprint in a suit and tie.
Eisen is self-deprecating, quick-witted and humble. He has also gotten better with age. After debuting with a 6.77 in 2005, he has hovered just above and below the magic 6 second level since 2014. In 2020, he slipped under the 6 level for the third time in eight years. This weekend, he returns to Indianapolis again. And best of all, he’s doing it for charity. The event can be supported by utilizing the hashtag #RunRichRun, and this year may likely see him go over the half-million dollar cumulative mark raising money for the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital that treats pediatric cancer patients.
So not only will I urge you all to donate, as will I, but I’ll double my donation if he breaks 6.0. For perspective, that’s about a third longer than the typical winning combine time, but then again those are achieved by conditioned athletes less than half his age in cleats. It’s chai regardless, and double chai if he meets my challenge.
And I’ll go one step further. If we can have a Pyramid showdown mano a mano, I’ll reiterate my donation, and I’ll again double it if he beats me. I’ve seen him play. He’s good. But Pyramid’s my game. :). So I’ll hope he’ll put up his own stake and double if he loses. We’ll all be winners.
You go, Rich. And good Shabbas.