The Daily Valet. - 6/8/24, Saturday

Weekend of June 8th
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
He never planned on being a broadcaster, but Taylor Twellman is doing a damn fine job at it now.

From the Desk of ...

Taylor Twellman


How the Apple sports commentator gets it done on the road


Taylor Twellman lives and breathes sports. He comes from a long line of sportsmen—his grandfather was a Major League Baseball outfielder. His dad and uncles all played professional soccer. So the fact that Twellman was a Major League Soccer MVP with the New England Revolution and a standout player for the U.S. Men's National Team is no surprise. The shock came with a career-ending injury. But that put Twellman on a different path—he has dedicated himself to generating awareness about the dangers of concussions and head injuries in sports. And it's also led to an exciting career as an in-demand broadcaster. Last year, he left ESPN to become Apple TV's lead soccer analyst as the streamer announced more consistent and comprehensive coverage of a sport that's only getting more popular in America.

Broadcasting was never in Twellman's life plan. “I fully expected to play longer than I did, but the concussion changed my life and career forever,” he says. “I always thought I'd be in the technical side of things (GM or a coach), but a buddy of mine at ESPN, Tom McKneeley, convinced me to try TV and it's been the greatest surprise ever how much I've enjoyed it.” That doesn't mean it's easy. The guy has a lot of proverbial balls in the air these days. Not only is he calling games for Apple TV's MLS Season Pass, but also hosting a podcast in between speaking engagements for his foundation. We caught up with him to learn more about how he works and gets it all done.

What's currently on my desk:
Apple MacBook Pro, Coles ribbon mic, Louis Vuitton Damier backpack, Segment notes and Wiley Wallaby licorice

My home office and mobile office
are a little different.

At home, my office was built primarily so that I could do remote work for ESPN and other entities with professional lighting, and a bookshelf that can be creative and changed. The desk is there so I can do notes. My Apple TV 4K is there so I can watch four games at once. It was all set up with the mindset that I can do multiple things in an area of my house, allowing me to feel comfortable and flourish. But, of course, a lot of my work is done out of the house and on the road and that's where things get really exciting.

There are a lot of reminders of my past in my office.

The three jerseys in my office are the first jerseys worn by my dad and brother in their professional careers and that's pretty cool to see. I've also got some of my earlier bobbleheads there.

I’ve put a lot of work in at this desk.

During the pandemic, I would do five hours of radio a day for four days a week for ESPN in this office, along with filling in for other shows and creating any kind of content that was needed to have a conversation about sports during a time when no sports were happening. I think Scott Van Pelt and I did TV for 10 minutes each day and I'm not sure we said anything that was coherent to sports yet we laughed for seven of the 10 minutes. That's a story I will tell my kids for years.

One of the best parts of working
with Apple? New tech.

Anything on my desk that is Apple is always new and improved because now in my role as the lead analyst for Apple TV and MLS Season Pass, I need to make sure that my game is on point. But, in saying that, my desktop is old.

My job now starts long before kick-off.

Of course, watching games is most important. But talking to people inside the team, outside the team and the media that regularly follow the team are important conversations as well. It's very difficult to try to be completely in the know 24/7 with 29 and soon to be 30 MLS teams, so relationships are key. Over the past 15 years, I have built trusted relationships with people all around the league to help me gather all the information I'm looking for each week. Knowing who to turn to and who I can trust for all the different things we need to cover is incredibly valuable. I always want to be fair and get things right, so I have worked hard to establish an open line of communication with all the coaches and technical staff. I always want them to have the ability to really explain things or share their side of a story regarding any important topic.

I don’t use a lot of productivity tools.

Obviously, Microsoft Office is huge for me in preparing for games. The Notes app on my iPhone is massive because I can send notes to different people so they can edit on the fly while also trying to put together segments and even the rundown of the show. Is Wiley Wallaby licorice considered a productivity tool? It should be.

I’m not against lunch at your desk.

Sometimes, it's necessary. Especially when I'm working in a hotel. But if my written notes are out, I will never eat around them. If it's just computer work, then sure, I can eat lunch at my desk.

I try to find a rhythm with all my work.

Last year, I started my podcast, and over the past eight weeks, I've started to do some video podcasting and create content for Major League Soccer and its social media channels. I'm amazed at how quickly the information for those different shows is regurgitated. The feedback, both positive and negative, and the interaction with fans has been fantastic. The schedule is exhausting, but it's part of the job.

The only way I can stay focused is to step out of the flow for a bit.

I don't set myself with any time limits, but I do make sure that I step away from my phone and the 24/7 news cycle because you can get lost in the sauce and then forget about a normal life every now and then.

Look, “inbox zero” works. I’m definitely an inbox zero kind of guy.

Otherwise, things will get lost in the fray. And anyone who says they don't believe in inbox zero ... be careful, they're crazy.

Switching “off” after work comes down to three things ...

Kids. Golf. Pool.

I thrive more with criticism than plaudits.

I would say this is one element that's contributed greatly to my success and growth, both on and off the field. The constant need for constructive criticism in order to improve.

I learned early on that when you speak for a living, you have to stand by your word.

If you're not going be able to say something critical to someone's face, then you shouldn't go on national and international TV and be critical because it's unfair to the subject at hand.

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