Football and Hip-Hop: ESPN Anchor Stan Verrett on His Saints Nation, the Culture of Rap and Dodging the N-Word


The 2012 NFL Season kicks off tonight! Much respect to the schedule makers for opening the season with the Dallas Cowboys and World Champion New York Giants. Thank you for showcasing one of the toughest divisions and heated rivalries in the NFL right out of the gate. The entire night will have the feel of a blockbuster event.

The Pregame Concert will star Mariah Carey and No Doubt. Not exactly Hip-Hop – unless Ma$e makes an appearance in a shiny suit, or Eve avoids questions about Stevie J long enough to perform “Rich Girl” with Gwen Stefani. 90’s collabos aside, I’m ready for some football, and I’m equally ready for the media coverage.

After the big game, tune in to ESPN SportsCenter to check out New Orleans own Stan Verrett. Stan alongside Neil Everett, the hosts of “SportsCenter” from L.A. at 1am ET / 10pm PST – 9am ET/ 6am PST. Stan sat down with to talk about the first rap song he memorized, his early days in Radio, and to clear up an on-air misunderstanding which leaked onto social media:

Stan’s reaction to Hurricane Isaac causing disaster in his hometown of New Orleans

My family and friends there weren’t affected by Isaac as compared to Katrina. Isaac caused power outages. And there are still people going without power. Hurricane Katrina really devastated my family. My parents lost their home, family members lost their homes. So along those standards, Isaac wasn’t really that bad. The levies held up better this time around. But some of the people in the outlining areas, such as Plaquemines Parish which is south of New Orleans, right on the Gulf were hit very hard. We’re praying for those people, and hoping they’ll be able to put their lives back together.

Stan talks about his deep roots in Hip-Hop

My initial career was in Radio. I went to Howard University. I worked all throughout college at the Hip-Hop/R&B station DJ 100 in D.C. Fresh out of college, I worked at Z93 Charleston, South Carolina. Then I went to 103 Jamz in Norfolk, Virginia, hich at the time was the #1 Urban Station in the country. This was back in the early ’90s. Steve Crumbley (Program Director), he was the only director playing Hip-Hop all day! Other program directors thought he was crazy, but he was way ahead of the curve. I did a morning show there. Music has always been a part of my life. Music was my job, the way sports is my job now.

I remember when “Rapper’s Delight” came out. Once I’ve heard it, I knew I had to memorize all the words to it. I listened to it all the way through, then recorded it on cassette the next time I heard it. I sat there with my tape deck and wrote down every lyric. It was easy to see how huge Hip-Hop was going to be back then.

Long before Reasonable Doubt

My passion for Hip-Hop grew in the mid to late ’80s. Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick! I remember when “The Show” came out. If you went to a party in 1984 and ’85, once Doug E. came on, that’s when the party started. Slick Rick had the most underrated Rap album of all-time: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. KRS-ONE was doing his thing (Criminal Minded).

PE (Public Enemy) came along at the right. PE really summed up the life and times for us at Howard University. The students took over the administration building. There was a strong sense of activism that we were worried we’ve lost. Everybody was trying to be Cosby Kids in the late ’80s, or get MBA’s and work on Wall St. Howard has always been about that, but for me it was about the activism. When “Fight the Power” came out, it summarized not just what was happening out Howard, but consciously across the country. PE has always been my favorite group.

Stan circles back to Jay-Z

We played singles on the radio. Songs like “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, “Ain’t No…” with Foxy. But I didn’t really appreciate Reasonable Doubt until a couple years later when I was able to sit down and listen to the entire album. Reasonable Doubt is in my Top 5 albums, along with The Blueprint. I felt like the Blueprint catapulted Jay into the top spot. The soul hooks and soul samples, the concepts and storylines all on one album, were historic for Hip-Hop.

One Nation, under The Saints

I am Saints Nation for life! I am a diehard Saints fan! I’ve been to 38 games the past three seasons. I’ll be attending every home game this season. That’s my home! I’m trying to make a few road games, too. I’m excited to see Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Mark Ingram, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson! That Saints Offense is LOADED! I can’t wait to get out there and see them do their thing. And our defense coached by Steve Spagnuolo should be proven this year. Anybody who knows me, knows I’m diehard about the Saints. Covering the NFL is the reason why I’m a sportscaster.

Hip-Hop bonds with Sportscasting

I’m 46 years old. Every person in my generation who grew up Black in America was influenced by the Hip-Hop Culture. It’s a part of Black Culture that grew into National Culture. I look at the wordplay of a Kanye West, of Lil’ Wayne especially, the concepts they’re able to convey. Essentially, we’re all in the same field of communications. We’re all in the same business. We’re communicating ideas, using our words in a clever manner. The best MCs are able to convey ideas in a clever way. You want to get a rise out of the crowd; make them say, “WHOA!” That’s the same way with us. Whether it’s a catchphrase or how you flow through highlights, we’re trying to bring a reaction out of our audience. I’d pull up older Rap songs on YouTube for inspiration. And while I’m thinking about it, a song I feel a lot of people have slept on is ‘Time’s Up” by OC.

If Stan could book the perfect Rap Tour

Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Jay-Z & Lil’ Wayne.

Stan addresses about a misunderstanding

There was a show a few months ago, where word got around that during the highlights, I used the N-word (Time… Distance… N-word with a problem). I said, “Time… Distance… neither one a problem.” There was this kid who made a video trying to insinuate I’ve said otherwise, and shared the video as well. I’m trying to clear that up the best I can. But once a week, someone on Twitter would reference that, and I’d be like, “Dude, that’s not what I’ve said.” So to everyone reading this on, I’d like to say one more time that I didn’t say that. If I didn’t, I’d be fired from ESPN if I said it.


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