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Kaylee Hartung enjoyed her job as a sideline reporter for ESPN, but five years ago, with a desire to grow as a reporter, she left to join CNN as a reporter and two years later moved on to an opportunity with ABC News.

She no longer reported what she saw and heard on the sidelines or spoke with players and coaches after big wins. It’s not that sports aren’t real life, but Hartung was now covering events happening around the world that were really about life and death.

“I just spent five years in a lot of storylines appearing on the worst days of people’s lives and that’s so often the job in the news,” Hartung said. “I was in Parkland, Florida in the hours after that mass shooting. I’ve seen more natural disasters than I can count, from hurricanes to wildfires where people lost everything, not just their homes, but also their loved ones.

“It’s a job that I didn’t take lightly and for which I have so much respect. But now I’m so excited to start celebrating the best days of people’s lives again.

Hartung is back in the sports world as a sideline reporter for Amazon Prime Video’s coverage of Thursday night football which begins this Thursday when the Chiefs host the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium (8:15 p.m. EST). Kaylee is part of a team that includes legendary NFL voice Al Michaels and analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who is ESPN’s top college football analyst.

She’s been on the football sidelines several times before, but now Hartung is thrilled to be part of an NFL national broadcast team.

“It didn’t sink,” Hartung said. “I think when the ball gets thrown at Arrowhead (Stadium) it will all become very real. When you talk about the people involved and the opportunity it represents, I feel so lucky to be part of the team.

Amazon and the NFL have reached an 11-year, $11 billion deal for the first-ever all-digital package in league history. This season, Amazon will air 15 games from week two through week 16. Ultimately, it will be football shows, but with a streaming deal there are new opportunities for you to keep viewers interested. and engaged.

Kind of like an NFL 2.0 TV show with a lot of old mixed in with a bit of new, including the ability to keep tabs on other aspects of the game, including fantasy football.

“It’s an incredibly exciting thing to be a part of…to help build something new,” Hartung said. “Everyone involved in this feels the same. This excitement is very real from Al and Kirk to everyone on the crew. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to streaming a football game. What I think we’re going to do overall is change the expectations of NFL fans for the whole viewing experience.

Hartung, 36, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and earned a degree in journalism and politics from Washington and Lee University in 2007. She began her broadcasting career with CBS News as an assistant by legendary journalist Bob Schieffer and had his first taste of sideline reporting in 2010 for CBS College Sports.

“It’s one of those jobs where until you do it, somebody has to give you a chance to let you do it,” Hartung said. “Until you do, you don’t know how good you’re going to be and you don’t know how to solve problems.”

It was before that first side opportunity when producer Steve Scheer gave Kaylee valuable advice and it was to study then NBC Sunday night football secondary reporter Michelle Tafoya as much as possible.

And that’s what she did.

Once Kaylee secures the TNF working with Prime Video, she asked producer Fred Gaudelli for as many tapes of Tafoya as possible.

“I watched his Emmy reel submissions from his last five seasons,” Hartung said. “I’ve watched her entire compilation season of all the reporting she’s done in the last two seasons. That’s how much I think of her.

Melissa Stark, who replaced Tafoya this season on Sunday night football. Stark was ABC’s sideline reporter Monday night football for three seasons but left in 2003 to join NBC News and Sports. After a time at NFL Network, she returned to NBC and is once again on the sidelines of NFL games.

And now Hartung is ready to work with the same people Stark worked with.

“I’m so glad she’s back,” Hartung said. “She was the first woman that made me think I wanted to do and that was when I was in high school. It wasn’t until this year that I met her and we texted before and after the game (49ers/Texans pre-season) I think the world of her and now working with guys from her original team is not lost on me.

Goals, skills and techniques can vary from one secondary reporter to another and this always leads to a burning question… what is the role of the secondary reporter?

As far as Hartung is concerned, it’s about satisfying the viewer and giving him the best possible information.

“The challenge I try to set myself every game is that no matter how well I prepare, I’ll never know as much about these teams as their most proven fans,” Hartung said. “My job on the sidelines is to make sure that from my perspective, I can tell them something they didn’t know or something they’re interested in…to make sure I improve that viewing experience.”

Kaylee Hartung is no stranger to the big time. After five years covering some of the biggest news for CNN and ABC, she’s back where she wants to be on the sidelines of football games, but this time it’s the NFL.

For many, this might be an “oh wow” moment, but for Hartung, it will be a defining moment for her and something she has been working toward for a long time.

“I’m afraid my head will explode at Arrowhead Stadium before the ball is even thrown,” Hartung said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of emotions that come with that. I learned to be on TV at college football stadiums across the country. I think I’m better at my job and transmitting the movement when there are 60,000 screaming lunatics around me.

And they will certainly be howling in Kansas City on Thursday night.


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