Monday, Nov. 21: Feature reporter and essayist for Fox’s World Cup coverage in Doha, Qatar.
Tuesday, Nov. 22: Fly from Doha to New Jersey. Time at home: 18 hours.
Wednesday, Nov. 23: Fly from New Jersey to Dallas.
Thursday, Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Day sideline reporter assignment for Fox’s coverage of Cowboys-Giants.
Friday, Nov. 25: Fly in the morning from Dallas to Columbus, Ohio.
Saturday, Nov. 26: Sideline reporter for Fox’s coverage of Michigan-Ohio State. After the game, fly to Kansas City through Detroit.
Sunday, Nov. 27: Sideline reporter for Fox’s coverage of Chiefs-Rams.
Monday, Nov. 28: Fly through Dallas to Doha on a 14-hour journey to Qatar. Put finishing touches on a feature on U.S. captain Tyler Adams.
Tuesday, Nov. 29: Do live wrap-around on the Adams feature for Fox’s live coverage of U.S.-Iran World Cup game.
“Nothing is even remotely close,” says Fox Sports reporter and host Tom Rinaldi of his last week’s schedule, shown above. “It’s been an awesome stretch in every way. I was in Doha for the first week of the World Cup, which was fantastic. I was at the USA-Wales match. The next morning (Nov. 22), I flew from Doha to New Jersey. I was home for about 18 hours or so, which was great. I was able to see our son back from college for Thanksgiving and our daughter and my wife. On Wednesday (Nov. 23), I flew to Dallas and was on the Giants sideline for the Thanksgiving game in Dallas.
“Then I flew into Columbus on Friday for The Game, where I was thrilled to have the chance to step in for Jenny Taft because Jenny is the sideline reporter for the U.S. men’s national team in the World Cup. So I did Ohio State and Michigan and then flew Saturday night after that game to Kansas City through Detroit to do Rams and Chiefs on Sunday. Then on Monday, I flew from Kansas City to Dallas and then from Dallas direct to Doha. I landed, got to the hotel in Doha, got cleaned up, and then coordinated with my producers, including Joel Santos, who I co-directed the John Madden documentary with, and is heading up the production here. I got to the venue (Al Thumama Stadium) for the USA-Iran game to do a wrap-around pregame piece we had on Tyler Adams. On Wednesday night, as I talk to you, I am awaiting some interviews with players on the U.S. team.”
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Plenty of sports broadcasters have had crazy travel stretches, but look at the variety of assignments Rinaldi just experienced. It’s head-spinning. On Wednesday, he popped on the phone with me to discuss the journey for a segment on my Sports Media Podcast. You can hear the entire interview below.
Given the condensed schedule and so much preparation for multiple events, Rinaldi said he benefitted significantly from fellow NFL sideline reporter Erin Andrews, who asked questions in production meetings and Zoom calls that were helpful to him. For the Michigan-Ohio State game, he praised Fox college football producer Chuck McDonald and that crew for making him feel welcome and said he was helped by having familiarity with the coaching staffs and officials at Michigan and Ohio State.
“Having been around those programs and to know some of those players and their stories was very helpful,” Rinaldi said. “So there’s already a base of research. Then to come back to the World Cup, my role is largely to be a featurist and essayist, and we tried to shoot as much as we could prior to me leaving.
“Now I’m more in reactive mode that the U.S. has made it through the group stage. Our mandate is to do as much as we can in and around the American team. I’ve done some pieces that were not rooted in the men’s national team, but most of what we’ve done has been, and of course, now having made it into the knockout stage, that’s what we’ll be working on. We’ll do as much as we can with the U.S. team as long as they go. Then, whenever and if that journey ends, we’ll continue to cover the teams that are still alive and tell those stories as best we can. Both for the soccer fan and for the broader American sports fan who I believe does get caught up in the World Cup.”
Rinaldi has worked in sports media since the late 1990s. (He had a brief stint as an English teacher in suburban Pittsburgh prior to entering journalism.) He knows what he just experienced is a once-in-a-career stretch.
“I don’t want to sound like a shill, but I’m so incredibly grateful,” Rinaldi said. “Who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to be at these games and these events? To be in ‘The Shoe’ for Ohio State-Michigan, and then to be in the stadium for the USA against Iran? To be part of the Thanksgiving tradition in the NFL, and then to be on the sideline to see Sean McVay trying somehow, someway to solve Patrick Mahomes? It’s an awesome set of opportunities and a 10-day stretch I’m not ever going to forget.”
(Photo: James D. Smith / AP)
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- Tom Rinaldi’s ‘awesome’ global journey: World Cup to NFL and back in a week
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