How a broadcaster broke barriers and made NFL history.
Andrea Kremer C’80 was working on a story for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel this past June when she missed a telephone call from David Baker, the president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Give us a call when you get a moment,” his voicemail said.
When she did, assuming it was about coverage of the year’s induction ceremonies, and Baker instead told her that she was being honored with the Hall of Fame’s prestigious Pete Rozelle Radio–Television Award, her immediate response was an expletive followed by asking if he was kidding. “I said I guess that it’s good to have my reaction like that then, as opposed to later, and we laughed,” she says.
Kremer is only the second woman—and first working mother, she proudly notes—to receive the award, which recognizes “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”
“Truthfully, I did not think it was going to happen,” says Kremer, who has won two Emmys, a Peabody, and was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame last year. “I’ve worked for four networks and don’t have one network that has pushed me, and truthfully I’m not the lobbying sort. I think your work should speak for itself.”
She also thought the NFL might not recognize her because she has done stories the league “isn’t thrilled about,” such as on players’ use of marijuana and abuse of the pain-reduction drug Toradol, as well as cheerleaders’ very low pay. “I’m a journalist and my job is to tell important stories,” she says. “That’s what I’ve done over my career.”
Last year also marked another milestone for Kremer, as she and longtime friend Hannah Storm became the first all-female team to call an NFL game when they shared the booth for Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football broadcasts.
Though she’s been reporting pro football for several decades, this past NFL season was the first time Kremer did analysis for a live broadcast. She says her best advice came from former head coach and famed sportscaster John Madden. “He said, ‘Don’t feel as if you have to cram for the test. You’ve been preparing for this for 30 years.’”
Kremer got into journalism after graduating from Penn, first as a sports editor at a suburban newspaper. From there, she worked as a writer and producer at NFL Films, a groundbreaking company devoted to producing commercials, television programs, feature films, and documentaries for and about the NFL. Before long, the late Steve Sabol, one of the founders of NFL Films, suggested Kremer go in front of the camera.
“He wanted to do something different to change our national show, This Is The NFL,” Kremer says. “I didn’t have any experience in front of the camera, but the ‘deal’ I made with them was, let me produce myself—the producer in me can bail out the talent that I didn’t know how I would be.”
She ended up having more talent in front of the camera than she thought, and her career soon began to skyrocket. In addition to her work on Real Sports and the Amazon broadcasts, Kremer also serves as chief correspondent for the NFL Network and co-–host of CBS Sports Network’s We Need To Talk, the first ever all-female nationally televised weekly sports show. She has also worked for ESPN and NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts.
Kremer has covered three Olympics, MLB All-Star Games, NCAA Final Four games, and many other sports. But football has always been her first love, nurtured when she and her parents spent many Sundays watching Eagles games at the since-demolished Veterans Stadium. And although, as an objective journalist who grew up in Philly but now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son, she didn’t root for either team in last year’s Super Bowl, she knew what the Philadelphia Eagles win over the New England Patriots meant for her hometown. And she’s marveled at what she calls the “explosion” of football’s popularity since her career began.
“It is the quintessential television sport,” she says. “And as we’re seeing, it’s going to be the quintessential sport to bet on, whether it’s fantasy sports or legalized sports betting.”
When being honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kremer had to give a speech. She’s done reports on many topics in many fields related to sports, but she wanted her talk to be one of the most important events of her career.
“I think I wrote it in about two minutes,” she says. “I knew what I wanted to say, knew how I wanted to say it, how to approach it, and I wanted to make it like a story. I wanted to avoid the laundry list of people to thank, and yet represent the people, whom I call my mentors. And truthfully, I wanted to nail it, like anything I’ve done in my career.”
Based on the response, she succeeded in her quest.
“It was really amazing how strongly it resonated with so many people,” she says. “It obviously resonated with a lot of working moms, who understand the struggle that you have, and the idea that, ‘Mom goes away because she has to, not because she wants to.’ This probably was the biggest stage that I’ve ever been on—and that’s from someone who’s spoken to 110 million people in front of a camera at the Super Bowl.”
— Jon Caroulis