This was a great interview with Jason Romano. Jason was a 17 year ESPN producer who became an author and podcaster. In his first book, Live to Forgive, Jason talks about his struggles with his alcoholic father and then his struggle to become one, himself. In his journey, he meets his Heavenly father who helps him understand what true fatherhood is about.
Along the way, Jason talks about how meeting his boyhood hero, Darryl Strawberry, was a dream come true, and an unexpected blessing.
Jason has written two books, Live to Forgive and The Uniform of Leadership.. I heartily recommend both, but the story he tells in the first is truly faith-building and inspiring.
You'll be challenged and inspired by Jason.
You can visit his website at www.jasonromano.com.
Please check out his podcast, Sports Spectrum.
Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/balancingthechristianlife)
Be good and do good.
In this episode of balancing the Christian life, I talked to podcaster Jason Romano about the connection between sports and Christianity. Welcome to balancing the Christian life. I'm Dr. Kenny Embry. We'll talk about how to be better Christians and better people in the digital age. Let's go. So I got this message from a fellow academic Russell clay, about a great guest speaker he just had in class, I interviewed Russell for Episode 12 about work life balance. This guy is great. Russell was telling me his name is Jason Romano, and he understands Christianity and how it applies to the sports world. My interest was piqued. So I did a little research on Jason. And what I found blew me away. Yes, he had worked for ESPN for 17 years, and written two books. The first book was the story how he became a Christ follower, after growing up with an alcoholic father, and then his struggles become a father himself. In the book, Jason talks about finding God from dark places. I read the book in about a day. And I knew I had to talk to him. When I reached out to Jason, he was happy to give me the interview. And in this interview, I knew I found a guy who got it. He's a son, a dad, and a sports not and someone who's all in on Christianity. I think you'll like him. I do. The interview was about 55 minutes, and I got it down to about 35. All right, it's my very great pleasure to be talking to Jason Romano. Jason has worked for ESPN. He worked there for about 17 years as a senior manager and producer. He's also written two amazing books. The first book is the one that I read and just devoured. It took me all of about a day to read it. Because the story was that compelling. He's also got his own podcast called sports spectrum. So I mean, Jason is a sports nut. But he's also a devoted follower of Christ. So Jason, thanks for coming on, man.Jason Romano:
Kenny, thanks for having me, my friend.Kenny Embry:
Why are you so passionate about sports?Jason Romano:
I blame my grandfather and my dad, if I'm being quite honest with you, because that starts with me being five, six years old sitting on their laps watching baseball games, and we watched a lot of games in the summer when I would spend time with my grandparents and my dad. Certainly the NFL. My earliest memories are watching Sunday NFL games with my dad who's a big New York Giants fan. I did not follow in his footsteps. I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan. So we're both suffering cowboys and giants fans. Yeah, it starts back then. And you know, when that's been ingrained in you, and part of who you are, for so many years, you know, you kind of just gravitate toward it. I still love sports, I would say it's a different type of way that I love sports now than when I was a kid for sure. But that's where it started.Kenny Embry:
What is your view of sports now? I love it. I think sports is great. I just look at it. I don't take it as seriously anymore. Number one. I mean, even in my 20s certainly before I became a follower of Christ, I would wreck my week if my team lost a game. Like if the Cowboys lost a game in the 90s, especially when they were actually good. Like my whole week was wrecked. I was in a bad mood the whole week, if the Mets lost, you know, my New York Mets fan, it would take a few days for me to get over it and I would become a different person. And listen, I still struggle with that a little bit now. Whereas my mood and my attitude sometimes goes into a place that shouldn't when sports and my teams don't perform the way you hope. But I just don't take it as serious anymore. I look at it as it's sports. It's fun. I'm still a fan. I'm still cheering for my team. But when they lose, it's, it's okay. I mean, I can move on. It's not the end of the world. And I've actually I think it helps that I've left ESPN going into ministry and gotten to know a lot of players who are playing. And even when I was at ESPN, this was the case. So I can watch games now. And route for players and route for them to do well and understand that when somebody gets hurt or has a concussion or breaks a leg or something. I'm not just going to spout off on Twitter and be like, Oh my gosh, I actually empathize with them now especially because I know a lot of them and say oh my gosh, this is a dude's livelihood that he's worked so hard for and it's taken away from him. My fondest memories are my grandmother taking me over in 76 to go see a Reds game in the old Riverfront Park back when Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench and Pete Rose were there. And you know, my favorite memory of that that entire day two things. The hot dog and and my grandmother's patience with a couple of little kids. I was probably six or seven patients with two little kids that didn't understand the sport, but love the spectacle of it all. So and Oh yeah, yeah, well, I think a lot of our sports memories, you know, even people who aren't into sports that much stem from when you're kids because they usually involve a trip to a game like you described. I mean, the very first story in my book, lifted forgive is about me going to my first ever NFL game at nine years old with my dad. So, you know, those are my memories. I think of sports now. And I still remember being seven years old, and watching the Cowboys win 40 Niners in the championship game, I still remember these these moments as a kid, and they just bring real joy to my spirit a lot of times. Yeah, I get that. I, I remember having those kind of heroes when I was a child, I gotta tell you, man after reading your book, I'm a Jason Romano fan.Jason Romano:
Oh, thank you, buddy.Kenny Embry:
The story that you tell, really, the story that you tell them live to forgive, tells the story of really the important men in your life. And you absolutely start off by talking about your dad, would you have a very strained relationship with your dad, but also your brothers, and also your grandfather, Pa, who was unfortunately a Packers fan, but somebody that that one of the things that really impressed me as I look through that is, you learned a lot of really important Christian lessons from each of those guys.Jason Romano:
I did. Interestingly enough, we weren't. Well, I wasn't walking, you know, with the Lord during those years, especially as a kid growing up. I mean, I went to church with my grandfather. So the one thing I'll say from my grandfather, he was a gentle soul. He was a quiet, gentle giant of a man who was the most generous person you'll ever meet. And so spending time with him, you just get that just rubs off on you. This is a sort of quiet, gentle nature, I think of James 119 be quick to listen, and slow to speak and slow to become angry. That was George Romano, that was my grandfather. But he was always there for us to he was very present in our lives. Even though we didn't have a great faith or a relationship with God. During those years, we watched a man who, in essence was Christ, like in the way that he carried himself pretty much every single day, and we didn't even realize it. And my grandfather would take us to church, you know, on Sundays, when we were kids, you know, I did all the things you're supposed to do as a good Catholic kid, you know, I got baptized as a baby, I made my first communion at seven or eight years old, you know, I was confirmed, and you do your confirmation when you're 15, I think in 10th grade, and I did all of that. But really just did that out of obligation or to check a box or because my parents made me, it wasn't anything that I was interested in. And I honestly didn't know anything about who God was or who Jesus was even after walking out of my confirmation that day, and that sort of ceremony that you have when you celebrate that day. And it's interesting to me to think back to those days, because there were moments and my grandfather was my sponsor, which you have if you're confirmed in the Catholic Church, and so he was the guy that I still even then not realizing it look to, to be my spiritual guide in a lot of ways without even really talking about Jesus with him. My dad, I didn't learn a lot about my faith from my dad, maybe and what not to do. You know, my dad was good hearted man who just had a really difficult time kicking the bottle, and alcohol and addiction really crushed his life and in essence, crushed our lives in any kind of relationship that we wanted with my dad. So I say if there's a lesson there with my own father, it's that I really craved for and wanted a dad to be in my life and didn't have it. So that helped me kind of understand when I got older. And I was becoming a father myself, I knew what I wanted to do as a dad was just be the opposite of what my dad was for me. Yeah, my brothers, you know, they're my best friends. What's three boys growing up in a house with three kids and we're all close in age, or four years apart from oldest to youngest, with my brother, Chris, in the middle. Ultimately, it was my brother Chris, who led me to the Lord. So he has had the most influence on me and my walk with Jesus, no doubt, because of the example that he set. But because he had the boldness to actually say to me, hey, let me show you who this Jesus guy is. And because of him, probably where I am now,Kenny Embry:
The relationship that you had with your dad in the book, you talk a lot about the importance of setting boundaries. And I think one of the things that is important for really everybody is that idea of boundary setting. For most kids, they start learning to set boundaries, right around the time that they go to college, they understand that they want to make different decisions than their parents did. Your dad taught you boundaries a lot earlier than that?Jason Romano:
Yeah, it's interesting, because college was where I first as I thought back about my relationship with my father college is probably where I first realized that I could set a boundary that I could go away to school, and get away from him and everything else going on back home. Yeah, I mean, I remember being 14 or 15. And we were getting ready to go to a New York Mets game, and it was a Mets Cardinals game. My dad's a big Cardinals fan. And it was a Saturday afternoon in the summertime. And I'm excited and again, I didn't get to do a lot of things just me and my dad. If we did anything together, it was always with all three boys. This was a moment where him and I are going to go to a Mets game together. This point, I understand that this man has an issue and a problem with alcohol. So at 1415, I'm getting it, I'm in high school, and I'm realizing what's going on here with him. But I still yearn and crave to have father son experiences with him. And certainly sports was really the only place that I could find that 1988 ish 1987. My dad tells me, he's got tickets to this to the Mets in the Cardinals game, and I'm like, Let's go, it's gonna be great. So we're all excited. And he was at that time going through a divorce. So he was staying at my grandparents house, who were his parents, we talked about pot, that's his father, I go over to my grandparents house, and I'm hanging out there and waiting for my dad, and he shows up and he's wasted, he's drunk, and it's bad. And it's a real bummer for me. And so I didn't know what to do with it. Instead of just being sad and handling it. I got really emotional, to the point where I ran into the bathroom in my grandparents house, and I shut the door. I locked the door. And I just sat in there on the floor, screaming and yelling at my dad, who was like, come on, Jay, it's not that bad. We're still gonna go to the game. And I'm screaming and yelling, why are you doing this, I can't believe you couldn't stay sober, even just for one day for your son. So we could go to a game together. And I'm lashing out and letting out all of these memories and emotions that probably have built up over my first 14 years of my life. And at that moment behind a door in ravine in New York, upstate New York, the night before we were supposed to go to a baseball game I'm having this moment, the door is almost a barrier. You talked about having barriers and boundaries, that door became this real life barrier and boundary to keep me from having to deal with my dad when he was drinking. But yet being able to scream through that door for him to hear how upset I was, was almost a way for me to say I want him to understand the decision that he had made. And how it's the wrong decision.Kenny Embry:
You described your brother early on in the book as a Jesus Freak. And then you became one as well.Jason Romano:
Yeah, did. It's weird, too. Weird to hear that word? I think of a song, what would it take to be a Jesus Freak? Honestly, I wouldn't even known what a Jesus Freak was, until I watched my brother become one. And when I say Jesus Freak for people listening, I mean that in the in the best way possible. My brother, Chris, he's the middle of the three boys. He was the first in our family to get saved, and to really begin a relationship with Jesus. And when it happened, it was a radical transformation in his life, like he went from going down a really bad dark path to turning his life around doing a complete 180. So this was a guy who was let's just say he had more than one girlfriend. He was doing some bad things, probably things that I wouldn't even honestly describe on the show. And things that I didn't even know about, in many ways, either. And so he gets saved. And he has this encounter with Christ, and his life changes. So here's what changed. I saw a man who was devoted and passionate about growing in his faith, who is devoted to going to church on Sundays, who after he would then get married in 1999. I saw a man love his wife in incredible way. I saw a man who became a dad a year later, in 2002, my nephew Samuel, and I saw a man who loved his son, and an incredible way. And I'm not saying he couldn't have done that without Jesus. But there was something very attractive about watching him do that with Jesus. Initially, when he became a Christian, I thought he was crazy. I thought he was in a cult, I thought he was nuts. And you know, that idea of the word freak. I understand why people look at others who maybe people who aren't Christians look at Christians and say they're Jesus freaks. I get it. Because that's how I viewed my brother said, what a freak he is. He's crazy. But I was happy that he wasn't doing what he was doing before. But then again, I watched him live this faith out for almost three years, and really be devoted to it and grow and be loving and caring. And he was exuding the fruit of the Spirit. And so that became attractive to me enough to where I was, like, accepted of it. But I still didn't think I needed this newfound faith because at that time, 2001 I was married to my wife, Dawn, I had the job at ESPN, we were just getting ready to move into our first house, on the surface, and from a worldly perspective, things were great. In fact, I remember when I came home and told my wife that I began this relationship with the Lord and she said something to the effect of a Why do you need this? You know, or why, why? Why did you do that? That's more for Chris, you don't need that. We're fine. And so I got what she was saying because she was right. In essence, from a worldly perspective. We were fine. But that day, it was Mother's Day. 2001 You know, we had some other things going on. We were trying to get pregnant after we got married. And we were unsuccessful, and going through some infertility issues that I would not wish on anyone because those are difficult seasons to walk through. So I had that looming in the background. I think that had a lot to do with me initially saying, Yes, yeah, kind of looking at God as a genie in the bottle, say, Maybe if I just accept this lord and savior, that I'll become a dad. And so my heart was open that day when my brother Chris introduced me to Christ, and he brought me in the back bedroom of his house and sat me down after church service and said, let me tell you about who Christ is, do you want to hear I was open to it. But I think I was open to it, because I was looking to get something out of it more than I was open to it, to just be open to it. But that was the seed. You know, that was the planted seed for me that over the next year, I really went on this journey. And understanding and learning who Jesus was, and I was watching televangelists on TV, and I was reading stuff on the internet, I was reading the Bible, I didn't even know what I was reading. And I was trying to memorize scripture and just trying to understand who Jesus was. And looming in the background was this hope that we would get pregnant, but understanding that this wasn't how faith and Christianity work, you don't get saved, in order to get God to give you something, it's the complete opposite of what it truly means to begin a relationship with Christ, like the gift is what Jesus already did for us on the cross. And then everything after that is whatever it is, but your faith and your hope is put it in him. And so once I got that, and understood what salvation in the cross met, and who Jesus was, somewhere around 2002, is where I started to really say, Okay, I'm in on God, I'm completely fine with being called a Jesus Freak, because he's everything.Kenny Embry:
How would you describe your relationship with God now?Jason Romano:
it's still a process. If I ever said it's perfect and great, I would hope that you would hang up on me seriously, Kenny, because any person that says their relationship is perfect and great, is completely missing the idea of who we are as flawed human beings, and our need for who Christ is. So I would say it's much more evolved and in a better spot, if you want to call it that, that it was 19 years ago, but it's still growing. You know, I wish I knew more scripture. I wish I could just, in fact, I watch my brother Chris, now who's a Bible college president, and doing amazing things for God. Nobody knows more about the Bible, in my opinion than Chris Romano. I watch how he does it. And I'm like, jealous. And I strive to know more about the word the way he does, and to be able to just spring out Bible verses in the way that he does it the way I used to be with when it comes to statistics in the NFL. And so it's evolving. I'm grateful that I get to work in ministry, which is a unique challenge, actually, I think because in ministry, it's easy to get caught thinking that the work that you're doing replaces the relationship that you have with God. But that's a dangerous place to be as well. But being in ministry and being able to be around matters of faith, and to go to a meeting, and make sure that we spend time in prayer and studying God's word in a meeting for my job. Before we actually talk about the work in my job is pretty cool. So I'd say it's, it's evolved to a much better place than it certainly was. But I'm not where I used to be. But I'm not where I want to be yet.Kenny Embry:
A really touching part of your book was the process you had to go through to get Sarah, do you mind rehashing that story?Jason Romano:
You know, we have four and a half years of infertility. And when I say infertility, I just mean we couldn't get pregnant. My wife and I started, we were pretty, pretty soon after we got married, we decided we wanted to try and have kids pretty quickly. And we got married in November of 1999. And pretty soon thereafter, we wanted to start a family we realized about a year in a little after a year of our anniversary. It's like something's wrong here. We we haven't gotten pregnant yet. Most people within a year are able to conceive and have a child and it wasn't happening for us. And I watched it happen to my brother, my brother, Chris, who I mentioned, he got married in August of 99. And he had his son Samuel in June of 2000. So we're talking about pretty much a honeymoon baby here. So I watched that, and I'm like, yeah, that's gonna happen to us too. And it didn't. And so 2001 comes 2002 comes 2003 comes in, we're still not able to have children. It's crazy. It took a toll on our marriage, it was really hard. Because initially when I got saved, that was the reason and then I was growing in my faith. And I'm coming to a place where I need to be able to accept that God may not want us to have kids the way that we think we're supposed to have kids naturally. And my wife at this time is not a Christian. She's not walking with the Lord. So she had not begun her her journey. So we're in a really interesting quandary here where we're not able to have kids. It's not working out that way. We go to doctors and we get diagnosis and we get shots and we get tests and all these things that you're supposed to do with an infertility specialist. And it still wasn't happening, they had these two different types of surgical procedures you could do to try and get pregnant one was called in vitro fertilization, which is the popular one a lot of people know about. And one is called intrauterine insemination, I UI. So IVF is very, very expensive. It's not covered by insurance. And it costs somewhere around 10, grand, maybe more. Now, to have an IVF. treatment, I UI is covered by insurance, and is much less expensive. My wife and I decided we were gonna try a UI and see if that worked. And the percentages were much lower IVF I think it's like 60 or 70%, that you get pregnant, I UI is somewhere in like 20% range, maybe even a little bit less. We try UI, we get one treatment down, doesn't happen doesn't work. Go to the second treatment about three, four months later, doesn't happen. Negative, not pregnant, we're bummed at this point. And I'm fairly new in my faith less than two years, and I'm thinking God, what are you doing here? Like, why is this not happening? All we want to do is be parents, people are having babies that they don't even want. And we're here going through this. And we don't get it. The second time we go through it. It's negative. And my wife and I have a conversation. And she's like, I'm really dumb with trying, it's just too hard. It's too much. I said, Well, we get three of these covered by insurance through ESPN, why don't we do a third. And if it takes great, and if it doesn't, we'll stop quote unquote, trying, we'll figure out maybe adoption or something else, you know, my wife was not too keen on adoption initially, because I think she felt like that made her inadequate to be able to really be a mom in terms of giving birth to her own kids. So we tried the third and praise God, the third takes and I remember finding out I was the one who found out that my wife was pregnant before she was because you go and you do the test in the surgical procedure. And then the doctor calls you with the results. My wife was at work, middle of the day, and I'm home because I was working nights at the time. And I get the call and I start screaming and I fall to my knees just really weeping and crying. And so so much excitement that we were pregnant, and I call my wife and she's got to kind of maintain her personality not to get too excited because she's at work. And then she comes home and we give each other big hugs, and we're just so excited. But then the hard part starts because now it's nine more months. And you're just hoping and praying that it gets through all the way to the end. And you have a child praise god it did. And and Sarah was born June 6 of 2004, and is our miracle child, I tell people and our only child, she's 16. Now, like I said, and a handful, but I'm so glad that I'm a dad, and I'm so thankful to God that He blessed both my wife and I to be able to be parents. What does it mean to you to be a dad, Sarah's dad, his title that I'm so honored to have. I remember initially early on, I recognized the responsibility that I had to not just raise her, but to teacher and to emulate to her who God was to be able to do things with my daughter that I never had, and didn't have as a normal way of living when I was a kid. And that is to raise her up in the ways of Christ. If everything else in life is taken away from her, but she's a follower of Christ. That I feel like I did my job. so far. So good.Kenny Embry:
No, man, I think you're right. Jordan Peterson, I'm not sure if you're familiar with through that, guys. This is not an exact quote. But basically he says that our our greatest joys end up being our greatest responsibilities. In other words, the things that we shoulder on as a responsibility. Being a dad, being somebody who does good work, those end up being our greatest joys, we keep on thinking, now we need to fight for our rights. We need to fight for it. No, go be the most useful person in that room.Jason Romano:
Jesus talks about denying yourself picking up your cross and follow me. I'm like, yeah, denying yourself is really where the great joy happens. When you take yourself out of the equation when you realize that this world is not about you. Yeah. And listen, we all struggle with the ego side of just being alive as humans. But when you become a dad, that goes out the window, if you want to be a dad who's present and in the life of their child, you know, that's not what I have with my dad. You're right. It's my greatest joy, for sure. And listen to I enjoy taking her to practice every single day for volleyball at 330. And picking her up at six, praying that this kid will just get her license so she could drive herself now. Yes. I get a little tired of that. But I also know I'm going to miss that in a year or two. Yeah. And so I don't ever say I'm not taking you today. Sorry. As long as I can. I will. I'm going toKenny Embry:
Yeah, I completely agree. I'm just thinking about you know, all the soccer practices that I've taken my kids to,Jason Romano:
Well, she's 16 now, she got her permit and that terrifies me in its own right. I'm looking forward to the day when she can kind of take herself To practice and not have mom and dad have to worry so much. But there's also going to be times because we don't have other kids, where we're going to be like, Man, I'm gonna miss this.Kenny Embry:
Somebody told me that that parenting, the years are short, but the days are long. And I, I think that's about right.Jason Romano:
That's smack dab on. I mean, there are so many times I told you when she was 13 and 14, those days were long, long, long days. But those years flew by Yeah, and I missed them in a lot of ways. I really do.Kenny Embry:
Well, good luck on the insurance. That's about to come your way.Jason Romano:
So don't want to think about that yet. Thank you, buddy. I appreciate it.Kenny Embry:
Listen, you had an unusual job, and you've had a lot of exposure to a lot of names that everybody would recognize, yeah. Can you tell me what, what is it like to have that kind of access?Jason Romano:
Unbelievable, you know, I mean, as a kid, you know, from a work perspective, you know, your dream is to be a professional athlete. And then when you're No, you're not going to be a professional athlete, when I'm 16 or 17. And realize that's not going to happen. The next best thing that I wanted to do was talk about professional athletes, or just athletes in general, at the highest level, and to be able to now be in my 40s. And have said, I've been able to not only talk about some of our best, you know, athletes that you see are coaches, but to get to know them, to have some of them be friends of mine, to be able to interview them on a show that I host like, that's just silly. It's crazy. Yeah, that this is this is where God has brought me. But I feel like this is the door and the destination. This is the Proverbs three, six, and all your ways acknowledge Him, and he'll make your path straight. It's not the straightest path when I look at it from a worldly perspective. But I look back now and man, that's about a straighter path as you could have ever carved out because I see what God was doing, even when I wasn't following him or even knew who he was. And it's brought me now to a point where I can talk to these athletes and work in their sports world, just like I always do. But I get to do it now for a greater purpose and a greater cause. And to make the name of Jesus known. I'm so grateful.Kenny Embry:
I think one of the things though, and this was this, I watched on an ESPN documentary from I don't know, 10, 15 years ago, they were talking about, they were talking to an expert. And one of the things that he said is the problem with most of these guys who are professional athletes, is they will rise to the height of their of their earning potential before they rise to the height of their maturity. There are so many of these guys, that will basically rise up fast and flame out quick. And that but there are some people and you've met some of these guys who have the depth of character, that it doesn't make any difference if they're on the field or not. I mean, you talk about Darryl Strawberry, and he wrote the foreword to your book, or you talk about Tony Dungy, what is it about those guys that make them different, you know, even well past retirement,Unknown:
a lot of it is integrity. A lot of it is how they carry themselves. I think of a guy like Tim Tebow right now, I've never, I mean, I have met Tim, but I haven't spent a ton of time with him. But I think about a guy who is not playing football anymore, which is what he was most known for, for a long time, sort of a larger than life character had an okay NFL career that fizzled out probably earlier than it should, you know, as a broadcaster now, but the things he is doing away from football, or why this guy I think, is revered. It's because He cares about people. It's because he loves God and is unashamed about it. But he does it in such a beautiful way that isn't condemning or ever screaming at someone, or trying to tell people that their side is wrong. And his side is right. There's a real beauty to that. And I think that's the same with Darryl. That's the same with Coach Dungy. It's the same with a lot of athletes that I've met. But when you're done, and suddenly football is can't be an identifier of who you are. You have to think that there's something bigger because that football world even though that's what people know you for baseball, we're like Darrow that was all temporary. And the only thing that really is going to last is our faith in Jesus. And so that's the common ground. I see in a guy like coach Dungy, a guy like Darryl coaches in the in the football world still, when he's out there working with NBC and using his platform with football, but I know deep down and talking to him and people who are very close to him. The only reason he does those things is to continue to build his platform so that he can tell people about Jesus. And that's where his mind is, and he loves football too. Like that's, there's a love there for that. So why not do it? You know, Darrell, you know, and that's one of the guys that I've become really good friends with is Darryl strawberry, which is still crazy to say out loud. I mean, he's got a new book coming out in January of 2021. And it's very little baseball and this book, it's all about what Jesus has done in his life. I mean, the books called turn your season around, and it's about his season of life post baseball. And so that's what makes these guys different is they've really truly found their calling and their purpose and it's bigger than In sports, I identify with that a little bit more now, certainly, you know, when you were asking me earlier about what's changed and how I love sports now versus being younger, like, I look at sports now. It's recreation. It's fun. It's interesting. It's something I cheer for. But I look at it as a platform for a greater purpose. If I can use sports in any way to be able to tell people about Jesus, and let's go, that's I'm all in. And I know Darrell looks at it that way, too. If people want to invite him in because he played baseball, that's fine. But I'm telling you wherever he goes, you're going to hear the gospel presented. That's who Darryl strawberry is now. Yeah. And that's what I hope I would become and hope to be as well.Kenny Embry:
In your second book uniform of leadership. You talk about the some advice that you got from Dungy, which was basically grow where you're planted. And that idea of I guess, platform, I'm extremely impressed with Dungey. I think he is he's one of those guys. He reeks a character, man. I mean, that's, that's Dungy, right there. I don't know, strawberry nearly as well as you do, obviously. But I mean, these guys, they learned that relationships were more important than than professional athletics. And they begin with the first and most important one, which is, God, what's the best piece of advice that you've gotten from any of these guys? Because as you say, you're a friend of Darryl Strawberry, now,Jason Romano:
the best piece of advice from any of these guys will get well done. Geez, it wasn't even coach Dungy. It was his assistant, Jessica, who happened to be with Coach Dungy, who told me that I could look at work as worship at ESPN and bloom, where you're planted, or grow, where you're planted, whatever word you want to use, and the idea that God has placed you where you are right now for a purpose. Don't miss that. But take advantage of that. Even if you feel like you're in a place that's a very dark place a very bad place, or you're just not enjoying it. You know, like some people have jobs if they don't enjoy. But understand that God's got you there for a reason. So let's take advantage of that. And bloom where you're planted, right where you are, and be a light to all those people that you come in contact with and be a representative of Christ right where you are. That's probably some of the best advice I could ever have been given. I mean, Darrell gave me some great advice. When he told me that ESPN is great, Jason. But the kingdom is where the greatest fulfillment and joy are going to come from. And it's funny to hear that because I've heard that for many people. But when you hear it from your hero, who let me put you this way. When Darryl strawberry came to ESPN Kenny, I wanted to talk to him about baseball the whole day. Because the 86 New York Mets 13 year old Jason was sitting with his hero. Yeah. And we didn't talk baseball the entire day. Not once we talked about faith in Jesus, we talked about family. We talked about his alcoholic father, we talked about my alcoholic father, we talked about his addictions. And we talked about grace. And we talked about reconciliation, and healing. None of that has to do with the 86 Mets. But it's one of the greatest days I ever had at ESPN was that day. And I have a new friend now. Who is Darryl strawberry. He's not the 86. Mets Darryl strawberry hero even though he is but to me, he's the guy who's out there telling people about Jesus and talking about things that are so much more important than any homerun that he ever hit. Or any guests that I ever booked at ESPN matters that truly are Kingdom minded, that are eternal. That's where Darrell is mind is that and so that's where I got to be atKenny Embry:
17 years, you step away from ESPN? What do you miss? And what do you not miss?Jason Romano:
Great question. I don't get asked this that much. Believe it or not, I miss the people. I miss the adrenaline rush that comes when you're in a really breaking news moment where the adrenaline rushes and you kind of put everything to the side and you really go and you just start doing your job. And hopefully you do it. Well. I miss the camaraderie of the people, I miss being around people who are excellent at what they do. Not that I'm not around those people. Now I got to be careful how I say that. Because the people I work with now are incredible. But I miss where you're in a place with 3000 people or 4000 people and every single one of them knows they have to be at a level that is ESPN quality. Yeah. So I missed that I work from home now. My Home Office is where I am. And I'm at home all the time when I travel, when there's not a pandemic and see people in and hang out with my colleagues sometimes. And so you miss being around the people that you're around because we're built for community. I don't miss the work, because it's sports, and I loved it. And I'm not saying that. I didn't like it. But I understand the work I do now is more purposeful. And could that work have been purposeful at ESPN. Sure. But you're not talking about Jesus at work, you're just not. That's not what ESPN is. It's to serve sports fans anywhere, anytime, anyplace. That was their motto. Now, our job in sports spectrums role that I work in is to glorify Jesus through the world of sports. It's a different purpose. So I don't not like the things that I did at ESPN, I just don't miss it. By the way, IKenny Embry:
The work that you're doing now, your podcast is fabulous. You do a great job with that man, and your books. I mean, your books, especially your first one, I was really taken by that first book Live to Forgive, that is such a compelling story. And you tell it so well.Jason Romano:
I appreciate that. Brother. Thank you.Kenny Embry:
I in my podcast, be good and do good.What do you think is good?Unknown:
What I think is good. Well, the easy answer is God is good. But I think good is taking ourselves out of the equation. I think good is when we, as people wake up every single day with our hands open and saying how can I help impact and serve someone else? I think that's what makes a great leader.Kenny Embry:
Listen, man, I appreciate what you're doing. I appreciate you doing this. You didn't have to. And I appreciate the life that you're trying to live. I wish you well with that, man.Unknown:
Kenny. Thanks, buddy. Great to get to know you. I'm honored that you asked me on your show and All the best to you. Thanks, man.Kenny Embry:
Well, I hope you enjoyed my interview with Jason. If you'd like to read one of his books, I put both in the show notes for this episode. Also, I put the link to his podcast sports spectrum and his website there as well. Jason, thanks for being who you are. So until next week, let's be good and do good.