The Football Girl Podcast: ESPN’s Stephania Bell on the Realities of NFL Player Safety

From the The Football Girl Podcast, hosted by Melissa Jacobs. Please subscribe in iTunes to get the pod in your feed the second we press publish!

In the second episode of The Football Girl Podcast, we welcome acclaimed ESPN Injury Analyst Stephania Bell. You can find Stephania in all corners of the Worldwide Leader. Among her numerous duties are co-host of The Fantasy Focus Podcast, host of Answering the Bell podcast, and an analyst on ESPN2’s Fantasy Football Now. Her insight is invaluable not only to the fantasy football community and fans but also to her co-workers who often rely on her expertise for their reporting.

In this episode we talk to Stephania about an underreported source for the league’s continued concussion issues and ask point blank: Can the NFL ever be safe? We also have a very unbiased conversation about Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ upward trajectory. (She’s a fellow member of the Faithful.) Please see below for highlights of the show.

A quick note on Stephania’s background which is both fascinating and important for those who want to follow in her path. After graduating Princeton, she embarked on a successful medical background for 20 years, including earning a master’s in physical therapy at University of Miami, having a practice in California, and then teaching and working in the sports medicine department at University of Kansas. All the while she partook in fantasy sports which sparked a brilliant idea: why not take her background and apply it to the ever-growing fantasy industry.

A friend then took Stephania to the prestigious Fantasy Sports Trade Association meeting to pitch her injury analyst idea. She connected with KFFL, a prominent fantasy website at the time, and then started part-time for Rotoworld, where she gained even more exposure. In 2007 ESPN tasked its fantasy star Matthew Berry with expanding its fantasy operation. He had met Stephania before and saw the overall package – a woman with a valuable niche offering who was comfortable on air. The rest is fantasy history.

The Football Girl Podcast rundown:

Melissa Jacobs (1:15): Our resident 49ers fan reveals her bet with her Bears fan husband.

Stephania Bell (7:11): On the balance between analyzing injuries for fantasy vs. non-fantasy purposes.

Bell (11;38): Is fantasy football saving the NFL?

Bell (16:00): Don’t fully blame the league for the safety issues.

Bell (21:50): How exactly concussions are diagnosed and treated.

Bell (26:10): What constitutes a suspension?

Bell (35:10): On the 49ers’ unified locker room

Bell (37:20): 49ers winning back their fan base

Jacobs (49:20): Melissa’s Musing on the brutality of football

A couple of highlights:

Bell on Rob Gronkowski’s late hit on Tre’Davious White:

“I thought he should have been ejected. I just want to go back to that. Why was he not ejected? To me, that’s on the officials. How are you not ejecting that player in that moment. Even if a player is suspended, to me, the ejections, there’s something that does to the tenor of the game. Because you eject a player, you are saying ‘We mean business. This player’s out!’ And if a player is ejected that’s going to potentially impact that game right there and I do think other players would go, ‘woah.’ Everybody is paying attention.

Bell on Jimmy Garoppolo not receiving a game ball after his winning first start as a 49er:

“Maybe Kyle Shanahan is really a genius because what did Jimmy Garoppolo do but make those receivers looks so good that they all got game balls. It just builds mutual trust and respect.”

Follow Stephania on Twitter at @Stephania_ESPN

Follow Melissa on Twitter at @thefootballgirl