Tim Howard’s next super-human feat: doubling as an English Premier League goalkeeper and TV announcer.
The U.S. star will work up to 10 games for NBC Sports Group during the upcoming season on days his club, Everton, isn’t playing. Howard did seven matches for NBCSN last season, and the network announced Tuesday that it had formalized the relationship by signing him to a multiyear deal.
At age 35, Howard is still one of the top goalies in the Premier League, and he showed why at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. His 16 saves in the Americans’ 2-1 loss in extra time to Belgium in the second round made him a social media sensation back home.
Howard figures broadcasting could be a big part of his post-playing future — though he’s still not sure exactly when that will start. He’s signed with Everton through 2018, but has yet to decide whether to stick with the national team through the next World Cup four years from now.
“I still have to have some long, hard conversations with a few different people that I have not quite had yet,” Howard said on a conference call Tuesday.
In the more immediate future, he will either serve as a game commentator in the booth or as an on-site studio analyst for high-profile matches on NBC networks. Howard said he found last season that fitting his broadcasting preparations into his training schedule worked smoothly.
If, say, Everton is playing on a Saturday and he’s calling a game the following Monday, Howard will do most of his research early in the week, since Everton doesn’t really start strategizing about its opponent until closer to game day.
“I spend a lot of time in my home in Manchester, feet up on the couch or in bed, just resting because that’s my job,” he said. “So, it was actually welcomed, all of the information and statistics and game prep kind of filled up the time that I would normally be watching DVDs or something.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is certainly familiar with fitting in the demands of a TV job. He did studio work for ESPN in Brazil during the World Cup.
Howard had always assumed he’d “dabble” in TV work because “it seems like the obvious thing to do.” His experience last season, when stepping into the broadcast booth made his knees tremble, convinced him that he wanted to keep at it.
“I got nervous when I was in the games; I was wanting to learn all of the time,” Howard said. “I was trying to absorb as much information as I could, and that spoke volumes to me because there wasn’t a lot of things that I felt that passionate about.”
For NBC, Howard’s presence is highly appealing as it sells international soccer to an American audience. His fame makes him a recognizable face to more casual fans, while his long, successful Premier League career makes him a credible voice.
“He adds such a unique perspective to our broadcasts,” said NBC co-ordinating producer Pierre Moossa.
Play-by-play announcer Arlo White joked that “this is our biggest signing of the Premier League off-season in the transfer window.”