He was nervous and perspiring heavily. He was out of his comfort zone of doing short TV sports segments in New York. And he looked at the wrong camera when he opened the show with co-anchor Karl Ravech. But a SportsCenter institution began that night and is still going strong.
|Steve Levy - 2005|
“Steve Levy’s contributions to ESPN and SportsCenter over the past 25 years are immeasurable,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, studio production. “Not just what viewers see but behind the scenes as well. He’s always been the ultimate team player and he continues to make us better.”
While Levy’s ESPN career is closely associated with SportsCenter, and he has hosted the show from Super Bowls, NBA Finals and other big events, he also is again part of ESPN’s college football announcing crew for the coming season. And over the years, his versatility has been on display as he has done play-by-play for NHL and college hockey, including calling the three longest televised games in NHL history.
He and close friend Barry Melrose, hockey analyst for ESPN, have covered the Stanley Cup Finals for SportsCenter for 24 consecutive years, and Levy also has hosted NHL and NFL programs on TV and radio.
Levy almost didn’t make it to ESPN, turning down his first job offer and considering passing a second time.
“I was strictly a New York guy,” he said. “I was doing The Fan, I was doing local CBS, and MSG halftime, and between periods of the Rangers, and I really never wanted to leave Manhattan. I was living in a high rise and living the life at such a young age.”
But when ESPN came calling a second time, Levy decided to take the job after the TV station he was working for felt he was too young for a promotion.
“My agent said if we turn them down again, they won’t come back a third time,” he said. “So I said alright let’s go.”
“We’ve always said that was the highlight and nothing could be better,” he said. “The interaction with the soldiers – eating with them every day in the mess tent – that’s just something I’ll never, ever forget.”
He also recalls the summer of 1998 covering the home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. “We were cutting in live all the time, covering all the home runs,” he said. “What a memorable stretch of SportsCenters.”
And as SportsCenter has evolved over the course of his career, Levy has evolved with it, from hosting half-hour shows jammed with scores and game recaps in the 1990’s to today’s longer shows and even bringing fans up-to-date in the morning with a brief edition on the ESPN App. And he has appeared in 46 of the iconic “This is SportsCenter” ads.
“Obviously going to ESPN is the greatest decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “It’s been so good, I’ve been treated great, and I’m still to this day the happiest anchor in the building.”