Catching up with Chiefs fan, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner ahead of Super Bowl LV
Last year ahead of Super Bowl LIV, Fox News’ Harris Faulkner spoke with Chiefs Wire in an exclusive interview. She revealed how Kansas City and her time covering the Chiefs at WDAF-TV influenced her meteoric rise as a 6-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. Now, with Super Bowl LV on the horizon, we sat down with Faulkner again to talk catch up and talk about some of the biggest stories as the Chiefs seek a repeat Super Bowl title.
Chiefs Wire: I have a picture here from Arrowhead Stadium on August, 21, 1999. You sang the National Anthem ahead of the Chiefs vs. Buccaneers preseason game. Can you take us back to that moment?
Photo - Harris Faulkner sings National Anthem at Chiefs-Bucs game Aug. 21, 1999.
Harris Faulkner: It's crazy. You know it took somebody else to point that out to me recently. My husband... he says, "One of my friends asked about this picture of you that I put out in like a throwback Thursday a while ago. You know what I realized, (the Chiefs) were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers." I'm like, "No, no, no no!" I walked over and there was that little gold—or brass plaque on there and I mean I couldn't believe it. I just hadn't thought about it, you know? I said, "Boy I feel more tied to them than ever." And that day, I don't know why in the world they let themselves get down to the point where they had no one to choose from to sing that song. I don't know what had happened, but FOX was carrying the last preseason game and it was against Tampa Bay. Somehow or another they came up short on an anthem singer. I don't remember the exact backstory to it, but I just know that it was really last minute and they wanted somebody. Of course, I grew up on military bases, so the first song I knew the words to that was not a nursery rhyme was the national anthem because I had heard it so often. My dad was a combat pilot, growing up on those bases you would hear patriotic songs all the time. So that one was one that— it felt like a natural. The problem was, I talk for a living and you ruin your voice when you talk for a living. And if I could ever sing that song, I wasn't sure that I would be able to on that day. It just didn't even sound possible. I don't know how they got so desperate, but they did and I'm really glad they did because it's such a huge memory for me. Standing on the 50-yard line, centerfield, there were more than 70,000 people there and I just remember at the very end of the song. People had warned me, "They're not going to let you get the song out. You've got all these words that (fans) can chime in on— on 'home of the brave' they might say 'Chiefs.'" So the crew, the Chiefs organization had kind of got me ready. So when I got to, "land of the free, home of the brave" they put "the Chiefs" at the end and it was deafening... Now whenever I hear the national anthem, I will always pipe in, no matter where I am. If I'm at work and there's a baseball game on during the day and I'm in my office and they get to the part I'm like Chiefs! Because that's what it sounded like with 70,000-plus people. It was amazing.
Chiefs Wire: There will be more women in on-field roles during Super Bowl LV than ever before. What does it mean to you to see that type of representation on Sunday?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Harris Faulkner: Representation is always important. To see women rising competitively in any field is important, but when you have one that is so dominated by men because of the nature of who plays the sport, it's exciting. It's exciting to someone that would have such passion that she would hang in there and get to the top. To play in a Super Bowl game anywhere— when I say play, officiating I consider that part of the game— first of all, you don't even have on gear and you see referees get hit all the time. So I have just mad respect for them, who are just down on the field and they're making decisions that affect the game. I'm super excited for all of those who've gotten to a point where they can make dreams come true and create legacy path's for other young women to follow, whatever those roles might be. My girls, one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been that they see a strong woman, every day, bringing it for her own dreams. Because I didn't take my kids to the studio and sit them down while I was on the air. I think they've only visited maybe once or twice at ages that they would remember, just because of the nature of my job they're always at school or whatever and the news is hard. The news isn't a picnic. But now that they've gotten older— my youngest, Danika, is 11, she's in sixth grade and a competitive gymnast— she's my little assistant some days with my scripts and things. Because we're in lockdown basically for our house, we can't have crews coming in, we have one dedicated photographer who comes mask-in and all that kind of stuff. My daughter will come down and play the role of my assistant and so she gets to see someone who has that passion. When I started 20-plus years ago in the business, there were many more men than there were women in television news. So it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude and stick-to-itiveness and I'm glad to see that women are doing it in the NFL, I think that's fabulous.
Chiefs Wire: How important was it that the NFL was able to finish their season flawlessly given the COVID-19 pandemic, political climate, and civil unrest in the country?
Pictured - Harris Faulkner with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
Harris Faulkner: Well, I mean there were some outbreak situations that they had to align themselves for, but they did it beautifully. I wouldn't say that it was flawless, but I would say their execution of what they needed to do was flawless. It wasn't easy— and I've talked with coaches and players. I remember when Patrick Mahomes, well just recently, the barber who was going to cut his hair, who was around some other players and they got him out of the way of Mahomes. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, apparently. Little things happen like that and the NFL has been— and the NBA— there have been other sports too that have been really good about bringing us some entertainment at a time when that distraction was so needed. It was something that we could all agree upon, mixing in politics and the cultural and justice pathway and the journey that we've had in 2020 and now on into 2021. Those things just don't go away, we're still talking about what happened on May 25, it hasn't been a year yet since the death of George Floyd. So there's a lot going on and I think for the NFL to play a role in just doing what it can do. It's the only place in the world where you can see that level of football. They're the only ones doing it, when you're the only game in town doing it and you bring your game, that's a blessing to the fans and I think to the country as well. It's an all-American sport. So it's pretty cool and I'm grateful to them for giving us a season as a fan because I'm a parent and I have an athlete in my family. For encouraging those of us who are raising kids who love sports. We have to find ways to keep our kids on the courts or field in any way shape or form. Throughout the pandemic to see the pro's do it, it was frustrating at times when we were completely shut down, but now that things have opened up a little bit, we can participate with a lot of buy-in from fellow parents and student-athletes. But it's nice to have that example that it can be done and when it's done well, you get a Super Bowl with your Chiefs in it.
Chiefs Wire: Last time we spoke you had "Outnumbered" and "Outnumbered Overtime," but now you’ve got "The Faulkner Focus." Can you tell me a bit about your newest show?
Pictured - Fox News anchors Martha MacCallum and Harris Faulkner ahead of the 2018 AFC Championship Game
Harris Faulkner: It's one of my favorite topics to talk about right now because you talk about those six women in the NFL— I'm a woman of color in the daytime with her name on a show. I'm humbled by that, I really am. The success of "Outnumbered" has just been outstanding and without "Outnumbered Overtime" I wouldn't have "The Faulkner Focus." So I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be on cable's No. 1 talk show at Noon ET on Fox News. But "The Faulkner Focus" is a vision that I had about what I thought was missing over the last year, certainly over the last six months. And that is a place for people to know that their voices aren't just welcome at the table, but they're also necessary. I, in no way shape or form ever intended to ignore 74 million-plus people who didn't vote for President Biden, but not ignoring them isn't the same as hearing them and listening to them and that was my goal. So each day I wanted people that supported whomever they did to know that there is representation. That's an important word in my world, particularly as a woman of color, because I know that's what brings success. When you have representation of not just skin color or faith or whatever it is— but diversity of thought and life experience and roads to success that are all different. When you bring all of that to the table and visions for the way forward for this country, we need everybody, especially right now. Look at how challenged we are with the pandemic? You lay that on top of so many things that we faced this year as a nation. You know I grew up a military brat and my dad taught me, "You always want to hear from your squadron, all of your troops before you're really mission-ready. You really want to hear from the ones that you don't agree with and those who don't resemble you because great, great decisions and great ideas come from outside you." If you don't have all the answers, where do you think you're going to get them from? Certainly not people who think just like you do or only have your experience. You need everybody. So I execute three things every day with every story that goes into "The Faulkner Focus." Is it true, is it necessary and is it now? So I'm excited, I really am. When I get up in the morning, I have renewed vigor after all of these years doing television journalism because I think this is the time for us to mean it in journalism when we say we want to give a voice to the voiceless. This is the time when we must mean what we say, when we want to gather the facts. That's fine, I say I want the truth, which is the facts with context and perspective and I have to mean that and walk that walk.
Chiefs Wire: A year ago when we spoke you said that you knew the Chiefs would win the Super Bowl after they beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in Week 14. Well, now we’re going up against Brady, who you say "has the special, special sauce." What’s your prediction for the game this time around?
Pictured - Harris Faulkner with former Chiefs kicker Nick Lowery at Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida
Harris Faulkner: Well, OK. I was raised by a mom that loves to cook and I meant it when I said he, "has the special, special sauce." Tom Brady is the greatest of all-time, this will be his tenth Super Bowl appearance. But there's a new GOAT in town and my mom used to say, "Everybody can learn the recipe." So I think Patrick Mahomes has some sauce to bring of his own. I also believe that it's going to be a real GOAT pasture. Because there are some other greatest of all times coming up too. I think Travis Kelce is pretty special. On the other side, the fact that (Rob) Gronkowski would go to be with his former teammate out of retirement, what they've been able to accomplish this year. And Tom has a lot of great people he can pass to. If the game serves us well as fans on either side, no matter's who jersey you wear there's a lot of special, special sauce to be had. Go get some chicken nuggets so you can get some of that! I think in the end, the Chiefs will win it. It's going to be a shootout. The defense that the Chiefs brought to bear in the AFC title game, you know a home game, so they didn't have to take it to Buffalo as they did you know when (Joe) Montana was the quarterback, and I covered that game and we didn't win. It was a little different matchup this time, but Josh Allen was amazing and the Kansas City defense was able to contain him. So they're going to have to do some of that with Tom Brady. They're very different quarterbacks (Mahomes and Brady)... there's always this thing with the passing of the guard. We don't know how long Tom Brady is going to play, but we don't know who Patrick Mahomes is going to be yet. So this is exciting. It'll be Chiefs and it'll be close, I'm only picking three points between the two teams. I'm not going to be as crazy bold as I was last year because I know how these teams match up. But just remember we've already beaten them in 2020.