Jason Romano, former ESPN producer

Noah and Bjorn began 2021 by speaking with Jason Romano. Jason helped start and build “Sports Spectrum” - a podcast he hosts that interviews athletes, coaches, authors, pastors, speakers, and all different kinds of people about the intersection of sports and faith. “Sports Spectrum” recently surpassed 2 million downloads.  

Before starting “Sports Spectrum”, Jason worked for ESPN for 17 years as an Emmy-Award winning producer and senior manager, working on shows such as “SportsCenter”, “Monday Night Football”, “Mike and Mike in the Morning”, and many more.  

In addition, Jason has written two books: “Live to Forgive” and “The Uniform of Leadership”, which is an Amazon Best Selling Book.  

How Did Jason Come to Know Christ? 

“If it wasn’t for my brother Chris, I wouldn’t be talking to you guys about Jesus”--Jason Romano 

Jason says that when he was a kid, he would go to a Catholic church here and there with his grandpa. At this church he did his confirmation and made his first Communion, but this was the extent of his relationship with God.  

In fact, for the first 26 years of his life Jason never heard about who Jesus really is, what salvation is, or what the cross means. No one ever told him.  

As an adult, Jason’s brother Chris had been going down a bad path in life. One day though, seemingly out of nowhere, Chris did a 180 and his life became radically different.  

It turned out that Chris had accepted Jesus into his life.  

On the podcast Jason talks about how radically different Chris was, whether it was what Chris said during personal interactions, when watching football games, during a family gathering on a holiday, or how he acted.  

Jason says that at the time he didn’t think faith was necessarily something that he needed in his life, but that there was something attractive to him about his brother’s life since Chris had accepted Jesus.  

In the episode Jason describes the attractiveness of Chris’ life and how it opened his ears and heart to the possibility of faith in his own life.  

In 2001, Chris invited Jason to attend church with him. While the experience was a little odd for Jason that day, he talks about how something in the message resonated with him. Jason also talks about a conversation that him and Chris had after church, and how this was the first step towards him changing his life. 

How Did Coach Tony Dungy Impact Jason’s Faith? 

“When I went to ESPN I would think ‘This isn’t where I’m supposed to be a Christian. I’m supposed to be a producer here’ and I didn’t really understand how to put those two together”--Jason Romano 

Tony Dungy is a former NFL coach who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Coach Dungy is also a devout Christian. 

One day in 2010 Jason’s job was to spend the day with Coach Dungy and his assistants at ESPN while Dungy was in between interviews. 

 Up until this point, Jason struggled with what being a Christian meant while at work. He didn’t understand how to use his work as worship or how to be a believer in the workplace.  

In his mind, being a Christian was something that he did outside of work, but when he was at work his priorities were different.  

Jason identified himself based on his job, identifying himself as a producer that was a Christian rather than a Christian who happened to be a producer.  

Some of Coach Dungy’s assistants knew Jason from previous interactions and one of them told Dungy that Jason was a Christian. In the green room in between interviews, Coach Dungy asked Jason to tell him his story and about his faith.  

Jason told Coach Dungy about himself. However, on the podcast Jason talks about an important question that Coach Dungy asked him afterwards that he had no good answer to.  

Jason describes how his answer was disappointing to both Dungy and those in the room who knew him. In fact, after his answer one of Jason’s good friends, who happened to also be Coach Dungy’s assistant, told him how disappointed she was.  

Jason says that he was angry at the time for being criticized. However, he describes how much this question from Coach Dungy and the response to his answer really changed his life.  

In the episode Jason talks about how his perspective on faith in the workplace and how his priorities changed as a result of this interaction. Jason says that his heart and mind shifted and that he now went to work with the purpose of being the best example of Christ he could be.  

He was no longer just a Christian outside of work or a producer who happened to be a Christian. Being a Christian was now how he identified himself, including at work.  

What is God Teaching You? 

It can be easy to get caught up in the trap of identifying ourselves or being identified by others based on what we do. Maybe we identify with the sport we play, where we go to school, what our job is, or anything along these lines.  

This is something that Jason did, and he says that it’s something that a lot of other people do too. This can cause us to not honor God in the way we should.  

Maybe when we’re at practice or at our job, God and living life in a Godly way isn’t the first thing that’s on our mind because we feel that the situation we’re in is more important. We could feel, like Jason did, that we’re just an athlete or a producer, or whatever our job is, who happens to be a Christian.  

While the sports we play and the job we hold can be an important part of our lives, this is not how we should identify ourselves. Instead, we should see ourselves as a Christian that happens to be an athlete or a producer.  

Being a Christian and our relationship with God is how we should identify ourselves, and it is also how others should be able to identify us.  

When this happens, it can help guide our actions in all areas of life. While we of course want to be focused on our sport or our job, when we have our priorities correct, we can go about these things in a Godly way.  

Our heart, mind, and purpose will shift. No matter what happens or where we are, we can go through life and all the situations we are put in with the purpose of serving and loving others as an example of Christ.  

When we do this, others will take notice. Through our actions and love, we can then also potentially lead them to Christ.  

How do you identify yourself? Are you a Christian above all else? 

Do you enter situations with the purpose of being an example of Christ? 

Reading Suggestions 

  • Matthew 5:16 

  • Galatians 2:20 

  • Colossians 3:1-4 

To hear the discussion that Noah and Bjorn had with Jason about what it was like working at and being a Christian at ESPN, his favorite day at ESPN, how he came to know Christ, how Tony Dungy impacted his faith, and much more, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 38.