ESPN’s Kenny Mayne was at the park yesterday, filming this week’s “Mayne Event” segment for Sunday NFL Countdown. There are plenty of people on ESPN whose schtick tires me out at this point, but Mayne isn’t one of them. I got a chance to talk to him about his brief career with Jim Zorn, their similar hairstyles, and how much work actually goes in to making a two minute comedic sports short. (Vladimir over at Cooley’s Blog also talked to Mayne, and asked a few questions about Mayne’s favorite ways to hunt Rams. It’s worth watching.)
Here’s my interview with Mayne, and I’ll have some behind-the-scenes type video from The Mayne Event shoot a little later on.
I read your email proposal for the segment, and I was impressed by how much detail went into it. How long do the actual scripts run?
“They’re all different. For my money, if it’s funny, I don’t think there should be a real time limit. If it’s three minutes, great, if it’s 2:40, great. The bosses prefer things shorter, anything from two minutes to two and a half, which really goes by pretty fast. You need three or four great scenes, a couple of lines, a couple of tracks, and that’s two and a half minutes.”
It’s a full production, though, like a commercial shoot or something on that level.
“Without as many people. Unfortunately, [Producer] Drew [Gallagher] was just reprimanded for wasting company money, so we have one camera. I think on this shoot it would’ve been great to have two cameras to have everything happening at once and not have to worry about reshooting the same reactions. But, yeah, we look at them as mini-movies or mini-commercials … actually, not mini-commercials, but a longer commercial.
“The biggest part of it is just getting people to go along. Most teams are pretty receptive; I’ve done this for a number of years, so they know they’re gonna be shown in a good light, we’re not out to get anybody. I can only remember once when we out and out took a shot at a guy, and it was totally in fun with his blessing.”
And that was?
“We did a piece on the “Worst Player Ever to Win A Super Bowl” – it was a take on the standard “Best Player NOT to Have Won a Super Bowl.” He was a tight end for the 49ers whose name is going to come to me…. [NOTE: It never did come to him, but it was Brett Carolan.]
“Anyway, we had Steve Young saying, “I’d rather get picked off than throw to him,” just totally, you know, being silly with what that standard story was.”
As far as this Redskins team, you actually have a history with Coach Zorn, right?
“Yep. Believe it or not, I can say I was his teammate for about three weeks—”
“–82, yeah. I went to training camp, or pre-training camp and threw for a while, signed a contract free agent deal. But then I went to Cheney, which is where they held their workouts, and failed the physical on the first day. So….
“He and Dave Krieg were the first two I told after I failed, and I give Krieg a hard time about this, because it was like they felt bad … and then they just went back to their conversation and I left. Another rookie goes away.”
Is that where you and Zorn both picked up that hairstyle?
“No, I don’t think I copied Jim as much as there’s nothing else to do with my hair. I don’t have as much as I once had, and it’s better kept short and straight up.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Jim’s, obviously. I’m in high school when he was first starting with the Seahawks, which was [my] home team. He’s a good guy first – he has great principles and he just loves the game. I knew coming here – I didn’t know they’d start THIS hot, but I knew they’d have success over time, at least, because he has a great mind for the game, he has such energy … he’s older than me by a couple of years, but he just seems young. There’s not a big bridge between the players and him where … I’ve got a feeling they look at him like, “He’s one of us. He still moves around, he can still throw,” and it’s not like he can’t show them how to do it, because he can still do it.”
I can’t remember, for me, another coach who comes across as so … interesting, or entertaining, at least not on purpose.
“I agree. There have been coaches over time who try too hard or they playact, say the goofy thing or whatever. Jim’s just a naturally fun-loving guy and not in the silliest way. It’s more natural. He’s just a guy who’s fun to hang around and a very interesting guy to talk to. You can just sit there and talk to him about certain pass coverages or gadget plays or whatever, and he’ll just talk all day long. He loves the game, and loves to talk about the hardcore part of it as well.”
Excellent. I’ll let you get to your shoot now – thanks for the time.
“Thanks – let’s hope it all comes off. Once we had Jim Zorn’s blessing on this, I think all the players followed.”
Actually, how do you get guys to do this? Is it ever tough?
“Sometimes. There are teams that … the Colts, we don’t even bother calling them anymore. I wanted to do a couple of things with Peyton – one of them even became a commercial, the thing about how long it takes him to snap the ball. I was going to pretend that he speaks a rare form of Gaelic, and the center has to translate for him, and they run the playclock down to :01 each time. And the team was just like, “We’re serious football men and we don’t do things that are off-message.” But that leaves, 28, 29 other teams to work with.”