It was the 2002 world series, Angels vs. Giants, and, as I worked what would be my last World Series for ESPN, I was trying to get a one-on-one with Barry Bonds. It didn’t happen. Instead, he gave the interview to, of all people, an Angels beat reporter covering the Series for the Southern California Fox Sports television network.
OK. I shook it off. I had to. Cut to 13 years later. I was on The Rich Eisen Show (snappy title, right?) on the NFL Network when the Colts asked me to host their 2015 Kickoff Luncheon in Indianapolis. I needed a fill-in host for the show. That fill-in turned out to be the same woman who scooped me on Barry Bonds. She proceeded to book Shaquille O’Neal (she’d spent time covering the Lakers of the early aughts) and legendary broadcaster Al Michaels to be guests on her version of the show. If that wasn’t enough, football G.O.A.T. Peyton Manning happened to have a window to call in, meaning he wouldn’t be calling when I was back in the chair.
I shook this off. I had to. You see, in both situations, the reporter and broadcaster in question also happened to be my wife, Suzy Shuster. Now, many of you reading this may have a wonderful spouse of your own. You may have even learned that compromise is the glue of any long-lasting relationship. But I bet none of you have had a booking tug-of-war with your spouse over Peyton Manning. Or had Steve Mariucci read Dr. Seuss to your kids (Mooch loves Green Eggs and Ham). Or got married with Cowboys great Michael Irvin looking on from the bride’s side of the aisle in his electric blue tuxedo. (Yeah, that happened—Suzy worked with Michael on TV long before I did.)
In addition to run-of-the-mill marital strife, Suzy and I also have the conflicts of two die-hard sports fans—Suzy’s from Boston, and I’m from New York City. That combustible mix made for some dicey moments when baby gifts arrived: Patriots onesies, Celtics bibs, Red Sox pajamas. Those were dark days.
How did we get through it? Compromise, of course. With the Patriots winning as they have, I couldn’t really insist our children root for my childhood team the Jets—Child Services would have come knocking. Plus, the Michigan Wolverine in me is thrilled my kids root for Tom Brady. The Charles Oakley fan in me winced when Celtics gear first adorned our kids, but got used to it since the Knicks have proven to have an incredible aptitude for bad decisions and failure. As for the baseball conundrum, I drew the line at the Red Sox. That wasn’t happening. The Eisen/Shuster children root for the Yankees, particularly Aaron Judge. And for old-school sake, our daughter’s middle name happens to be “Mattingly.” And Suzy is fine with that. I think.
Which brings me to the query I frequently get: Who in the house knows more about sports? The answer I give is simple and without question: It’s Suzy. Compromise—it’s the glue of any good relationship.
Rich hosts The Rich Eisen Show on the AT&T Audience Network and the NFL Network’s NFL Gameday Morning. He and Suzy cohost Not Just Sports on PodcastOne.