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The Voice of Sports

Jim Nantz began his dream job as a sports commentator right out of college, and to this day is thrilled by The Masters, March Madness and his NFL broadcasts
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Jim Nantz, May/June 2011

(continued from page 6)

Nantz winces from the back pain as he gets up from the couch and heads into the recording studio to finish the Rolex commercial, focusing on getting the tagline exactly right.

“Rolex. Live for greatness,” he says several times into a microphone, then looks up from his script with a question for the recording session director that hints at his attention to detail.

“Do you want a comma after ‘Live’?” he asks. “Or is it just ‘Live for greatness,’ one phrase?” The director offers him a reading of the line and Nantz nods, then says, “You know what? I’ll give you 10 of them and you can choose.” In less than a minute, Nantz utters the line 10 more times: “Rolex. Live for greatness.”

But every reading of the commercial tagline is different: a slight pause here, a change of vocal pitch there, up a shade on this word, a bit more punch on that one. It’s not as simple as just emphasizing a different word each time or altering pace from slow to fast; there’s a different tone to each version, a shift in shading that changes the feeling, if not the meaning, of the four-word catchphrase.

Then he looks up and says, “You think you’ve got something you can use?”

The director looks slightly amazed and says, “Oh, yeah, absolutely.”

Nantz, who prides himself on not repeating a well-crafted turn of phrase, continues to rack up a record of NCAA tournaments and Masters coverage. After a quarter-century, his schedule may be repetitive but his approach never loses its freshness, curiosity and eye for detail. The rest of it—the travel, the time away from home—is just part of the job.

Between the NFL season, March Madness and his PGA coverage, Nantz is on the road most weeks, estimating that he spends 180 nights a year in hotels (“But there used to be years where that number was a lot higher,” he says).

“This counts as a day off,” he offers, about the day in the recording studio, because he’ll spend the night at his home in New Canaan, Connecticut, and get to spend time with his 17-year-old daughter Caroline (Nantz and his wife Lorrie divorced in 2009). He also owns a residence in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Deer Valley, Utah: “But I probably had eight or nine days in Deer Valley in December and maybe one night in January,” he says. Actual vacation time during the year? “Maybe a week or two in June and July,” he allows.

When he’s in serious road-warrior mode, he uses exercise as his outlet: “I look for the release of getting some sort of workout,” he says. “I go for a run; even if it’s a light jog, or even a walk—I need that. I’ve run or walked through all the great cities. I try to get to know the places I’m visiting. I don’t mean touristy things; I mean just dropping in to the vibe of the city. I feel I can make my way around any city at this point. I have favorite restaurants in every city. That’s my day: Can I get a workout and a great dinner?

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Comments   1 comment(s)

Tracy Rowe — KS, USA,  —  November 20, 2011 5:32am ET

I have a collection of 40 cigars dating from 1897 to 1944 with a variety of brands. They are individual cigars in mint condition. The history or occasion is available for each one (wedding, birth of a child, company picnic, etc.). Any ideas where to sell them? Thanks, Tracy

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