Within the vast umbrella of the NFL are countless women making an impact in a variety of unique “dream jobs.” Our Featured Football Girl series celebrates these women by taking an inside look at their fascinating careers – how they got there and advice they have for those aiming for similar success.
This week’s Featured Football Girl is Amina Hussein, Coordinating Producer, Sunday NFL Countdown. Hussein talks about her meteoric rise at ESPN, the trash talking she engages in with one particular ESPN analyst, and the coolest celebrity she’s met – a name you likely wouldn’t guess in a million years.
Hussein (far right) on the set of NFL Live at Super Bowl XLV
Melissa Jacobs: Tell me about the job of a Coordinating Producer?
Amina Hussein: As a Coordinating Producer I oversee the entire production of the show (most recently, NFL Live) The staff ranges from the producers, associate producers, production assistants and the of course, the talent/analysts. Along with the oversight of personnel, I am also accountable and responsible for the quality of the content that we produce – It’s my job to make sure that we are editorially correct on a daily basis.
MJ: Take us down the Amina Hussein career path. How did you get to this point?
AH: As I think about my path, I have to laugh because a lot like me, it was not traditional. I was fortunate enough to land a great internship at KNBR radio in San Francisco, and soon after graduation I was hired full time. I did everything from producing the Morning Drive show, afternoon show with Rod Brooks, Warriors, San Francisco Giants pre and post game shows and my favorite…the Raiders pre and post game show.
For those who know me and my love for the Oakland Raiders, this was my dream job! Granted it was not easy producing a post game show after the infamous tuck rule or the Super Bowl blowout….(I still remember that sick feeling in my stomach when I was told by a few of the offensive linemen the Saturday before the Super Bowl that Barrett Robbins was missing….really??? Not this weekend, not the day before the Super Bowl!) Needless to say, that was my last Raiders post game show…I had to go, it was too emotional.
And go I did…..all the way to Bristol, Connecticut. I took a job as a radio producer where I worked for nearly two years before I applied for a job as a Talent Producer on the television side. As a Talent Producer I worked primarily on the 6pm ET SportsCenter, booking guests for the show. My role expanded to the NFL and I worked my first Super Bowl for television in 2006 in Detroit. I believe that experience is what drove me establish myself as a top Talent Producer and eventually led to my next role as Talent Producer Manager, where I oversaw a small staff of Talent Producers that serviced virtually every show.
My work establishing the Talent Producer group as an important department within studio production led me to another opportunity within ESPN. In 2008, I became a Coordinating Producer and helped to launch the morning SportCenters. This was a huge step in my career, and I learned from some of the best television producers in the business. After a little over two years on SportsCenter, my passion for the NFL, and an opportunity, led to my move from SportsCenter to NFL Live. (and, now in the fall, Sunday NFL Countdown!)
MJ: You mentioned being a fan of the Silver and Black. First off, I’m sorry. Second, how much razzing on the NFL Live set have you received for your allegiance?
AH: Well, they all know I’m a diehard Raiders fan, and through good, bad and ugly I root for my team. So yes, I set myself up for some razzing – but trust me I give it back! I work with Tedy Bruschi on a regular basis and as much as I respect him as a person, and analyst, he was there that day in the snow. So I still tell him when it comes up “IT WAS A FUMBLE,” and yes he talks trash right back! I know, I know, it was like nine years ago. I still haven’t gotten over it.
MJ: How difficult is it to keep up with all the new analysts? Is there actually a max number that ESPN would hire or is just infinity?
AH: Well, as ESPN Continues to grow, so does the need for NFL. Our fans, like myself can’t get enough football. Of course I am biased, but I feel that we have the best in the business, and when they are here in Bristol, they work hard. The guys not only appear on TV but also radio, podcasts, ESPN.com, local ESPN sites; the daily requests are endless. I work really hard to make sure they do a number of different platforms and still have enough time to prepare for NFL Live. Every morning we have a meeting at 10am, which is a football fans dream – except during the lockout. (I actually do this for a living!) All the guys are great, and I have developed good working relationships with all of them, which makes it easy to do my job.
MJ: What advantages and/or disadvantages have you found being the “female boss” of former NFL athletes and coaches who come from a world where female peers, let alone managers are nonexistent?
AH: In my current role, I really don’t feel that I have any disadvantages. I have been successful as a Coordinating Producer and every role I have had at ESPN, and I can honestly say I have always been able to be myself everyday. The analysts respect me as well as the staff. I was also lucky enough to work with/for Stephanie Druley, who advanced through the ranks to lead NFL studio production before accepting the Vice President of Production job with Longhorn Network this year. She set the precedent for women working on the NFL at ESPN. I began working on the NFL because of her, and she had a big role in my move this fall to Sunday NFL Countdown.
MJ: What’s the coolest event you’ve attended by virtue of your job?
AH: So many….Super Bowls, ESPY’s, Michael Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. My goal is to go to every NFL Stadium. I have about fifteen more to go. Also, I have never been to Canton, it’s on my bucket list!
MJ: Coolest athlete or celebrity you’ve met?
AH: So many, I’m not sure the coolest. I know meeting Marcus Allen years ago was fantastic; he’s the reason I became a Raider fan. I won’t comment on the end of his Raider career – still not sure what happened! I usually never get excited about meeting athletes, but when Chris Mullin was in the same line as me at the Bristol Café, I had a moment…..I was excited and proceeded to tell him I was a big fan, raised in Oakland and about my RUN T-M-C poster growing up. I know, awkward.
MJ: What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps? (And who doesn’t?)
AH: Always do your research. If you are covering a game, or working on a show, you should always be prepared. At work, ask questions and be present, especially in meetings. You have a voice – use it! In any organization, know the organization and personnel, whether it’s the company you work for or the team you are covering. And make sure they know you and your work. Lastly, have a mentor and be a mentor.
MJ: And finally, if you could ask Al Davis one question, what would it be?
AH: What really happened between you and Marcus Allen? Doubt I’d get an answer. So I’d ask him if the Raiders will move back to LA. Doubt I get an answer with that one either. So I’d ask about Nnamdi’s contract…how did that happen and why? I would have been disappointed if it was a trade, but at least we would have gotten something. Geez ……ok I’m done