11:45am PT by Michael O'Connell
Tim Howard Talks Broadcasting Future: 'It's Still In Its Infancy'
NBC Sports was one of the few to get into the Tim Howard business before that business was booming. The broadcaster first signed the soccer goalie in 2013 to do occasional commentary for its stateside coverage of the English Premier League.
Now that his star-making appearance during the 2014 World Cup is behind him, the new face of the U.S. team returns to the U.K. for his full-time job with Everton. This season he'll again be offering his voice to EPL telecasts — with the added bonus, for NBC Sports, of a wildly boosted profile.
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"On the surface, it seems so easy, but then you get in the booth and your knees start shaking," Howard told reporters on Tuesday. "It takes such skill. As a player you know the game, but to apply that and do it in the right way is very, very hard."
Offering his voice to seven games last season, Howard will join NBC Sports for as many as ten this year when the season kicks off on Aug. 16. He maintains that the commitment will continue to be modest, thanks in large part to his full-time job.
"I think I got the balance right [last season]," said Howard. "To be honest, my schedule is eat, train, sleep and try and recover. I spend a lot of time in my home in Manchester, feet up on the bed, just resting."
He's using that resting time to watch more matches and hone his skills as a commentator. Now 35 years old, Howard is mulling broadcasting as something more than moonlighting once he's done playing.
"I didn't know if television commentary was something I wanted to do," he said of last year's move. "Dabbling in it is the obvious thing to do right now, but I realize how difficult it was doing just 7 or 8 games last year. ... It's still in its infancy, where I am at the moment, but if I can do this after I'm done playing, that's something I would enjoy."
Still, that seems a ways off. When asked if there was the possibility of seeing Howard on other NBC Sports soccer coverage, like U.S. Major League Soccer, producer Pierre Moossa said that would likely be too much.
"The No. 1 focus for us is to not interfere with his day job," he said. "It will only be premier league games that he will be joining us for."