Curt Menefee’s road to becoming the longtime host of FOX NFL Sunday

Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm goes 1-on-1 with Curt Menefee. Eric asks Menefee to take us through his career journey. From a local station carrying equipment In Iowa, and all the steps in between, to now being in his second decade as the host of FOX NFL Sunday. Plus, how does he keep all those big personalities and Hall of Famers on his set engaged week in and week out every NFL season.

Video Transcript

[CROWD CHEERING]

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ERIC EDHOLM: All right, Curt, so tell me a little bit about kind of where you started. I assumed, you know, you've got this kind of signature voice--

CURT MENEFEE: Football is back!

ERIC EDHOLM: --but it sounds like you were kind of interested more in, like, the production side of things when you first started getting into the business and getting into journalism in general. Can you just sort of walk us through your beginnings a little bit?

CURT MENEFEE: Thanks for having me, first of all. And I think you're right. You know, when I started in this business, my intent, or my idea, was that I wanted to do something behind the scenes. Now, exactly what that was I didn't know. I didn't want to be on camera, and I wanted to be involved in sports and television. So how do you do that? Well, there must be something I can do behind the scenes. And that was kind of my intent.

The first gig I had in sports television was an internship I did at CNN, back when they had sports, and I did that, and then, that fall, I went back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, called up all the local stations, said, hey, I'm willing to do anything. But one guy, John Campbell, who I'm still in touch with to this day, wrote my name and number down, and then called me up in April the following year, and said, hey, I just need someone to carry some gear at the University of Iowa spring game. And I said, I'll do it, because, you know, now, remember, you don't get to be on TV. You don't get to be famous by doing this. I was like, I'm just willing to do anything.

So I did that, and after that, he was like, well, what do you want to do in this business? And so I started talking to him, and that was where I had learned how to edit by being at CNN that summer. He taught me how to write. He taught me how to shoot a camera, a video camera, everything about the whole process. And I thought I was gonna be a behind-the-scenes guy, and John, at one point, just said, hey-- maybe a little bit like you did-- I like your voice. Why don't you put it down on tape, take some of the highlights that we do in sports each night, and just, after everybody's gone, play around?

And I did it, and unbeknownst to me, he took it to the news director. The news director said, hey, why don't we have him report on, like, high school and college sports? I was 19 years old at the time, and that's how I started out doing television and being on camera. And at that point, I did everything. You know, you shot. You edited. You know, you did the reporting. But I did it all, but I fell in love with being in front of the camera at that point, and then, as they say, the rest is history.

So I wound up leaving Cedar Rapids Iowa and going to Des Moines as a sports reporter. Then the first job I had as an anchor was in Madison, Wisconsin. Left there, went to work for a cable news network, Mizlou, SNN, Sports News Network, which was the precursor to ESPN News. Again, that's how old I am. So we did that, just 24 hours a day of sports news. That went bankrupt. I went to work in Jacksonville, Florida. Then, from Jacksonville, to Dallas, Texas, and then from Dallas to New York City.

But I'll tell you, all these stops-- I started when I was 19-- I was the number one anchor at the number one station in New York City. in the number one market, when I was 29. So all these moves happened in this initial 10-year period where you're trying to get your career started, and after that, it kind of settled down. I was in New York for 12 years, and then left there to come to the Fox network out in Los Angeles.

ERIC EDHOLM: I heard that Terry Bradshaw was sort of a guy who went to bat for you, if you will. I don't know, can you tell us a little bit about that?

CURT MENEFEE: Terry, when the opportunity came-- Again, JB left in 2006. First of all, let me backtrack just a little bit, because I want to give James Brown credit, and I'd love to, because I knew him probably better than anyone else on that set.

ERIC EDHOLM: Oh, wow.

CURT MENEFEE: And when he left, and he knew that I was going to audition, he kind of gave me, I guess, the cheat sheet, and said, hey, when you do the scoreboard, they're looking for four seconds here, and they're looking for this type of information, and this is how you need to set Terry up when you get him there, and this is how you need to set Howie up. So I went into the audition maybe even a little bit more confident than I would have been, because I felt like I knew some of the answers to the test, if you will. And so I did that. And, obviously, Terry was a big influence as to who would get that gig, because he's the guy that, you know, you sit beside, and he does the highlights, and that kind of thing, and so he really liked what had done, and went to, apparently, the management, and said, hey, this is our guy. Stop looking. So that made it really easy from that standpoint. And so Terry was in my corner, but all the guys have been, I mean, from day one, it's been great.

ERIC EDHOLM: So, with the current lineup, I mean, obviously, you know, you think Terry, Howie, you know, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, Jay Glazer, big personalities, right? I mean, these are guys who can carry the show by themselves if they need to. And how do you find your space in there?

CURT MENEFEE: I think, for me, the big thing has been-- and I hope that I've succeeded at it more often than failed, because nobody's perfect-- but I've always tried to keep in mind who I am. I mean, look, all four of the guys that are on the set with me are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You know, they've all won Super Bowls. Jimmy's won two. Terry's won four, you know? So when people are tuning in to hear someone's opinion about something, mine probably ranks fifth or sixth on that list, you know what I mean? I'm just being honest. And I think as long as you're comfortable with who you are, and remember who you are, and, again, it's not that you have no value. That's your value, is understanding your role. It's like being, you know-- people like to use the basketball analogy-- a point guard. You know, you don't drive the lane and try to score all the time if there are a bunch of 7-footers in there. Sometimes you're better off just passing, and letting the other guys score, and getting the assist.