Rider. Linebacker. Kabaddi player… Phoebe Schecter certainly has a varied athletic resume – and that’s before you begin her coaching stint with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL. Yet she is in the spotlight this weekend in a different role: TV pundit.
Schecter will be on the field in Arizona on Sunday as the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs meet in the Super Bowl, providing her expert verdict on events to Sky Sports viewers. “There are people who are completely new to the sport and people who have been following the sport since the 1980s, so it’s about reaching both audiences,” she says. “I try to make the game easier, to teach and to share knowledge.”
The special thing about Schecter’s story is that she only got involved in American Football ten years ago when she moved from Connecticut to the UK. She originally crossed the Atlantic to work for a member of the Dutch equestrian team, but when she was looking to connect back home, she took to American Football games.
“I had never played contact sports, but being outside of your comfort zone makes you more willing to take risks,” she says. “I went along and had no idea what I was doing, but it grew from there. I fell in love with it.”
She went on to represent the Great Britain team (she has dual citizenship through her mother), is an ambassador for NFL Flag, the non-contact version of the sport, and plays an integral role in helping the sport grow in the UK. She is also captain of the UK kabaddi team and describes the ancient sport as “a mix of British Bulldog, rugby off the ball and MMA”.
Schecter has undoubtedly made the greatest progress off the field. First, she is one of the few female coaches to have worked in the NFL and spent a year with the Bills as of 2018. While there has never been a female head coach in the league, there are more women in coaching roles and Schecter believes their influence is growing.
“I would be looking for someone to take on the positional coach role so they have the space to monitor that and there are definitely women on their way to do that,” she says. “Ultimately, the goal is that if you’re a great coach or a great reporter, gender has nothing to do with it.”
That feeds into the second point of how she’s built a successful career as a television analyst – another sphere where there have been few female faces in the NFL.
“I think I was impressed,” she says somewhat self-deprecatingly about her first appearance on Sky’s NFL Overtime program. “They asked me back! I never thought I would do this, but I’ve always wanted to be a bridge between the US and the UK, I want to help bring the cultures of the two countries together.
“I always try to over-prepare because I would rather have more information than be stuck. Ultimately, I am a coach; I’m on screen, but I’m still a coach, so I want to share my experience, to educate, not to speculate. I’m not one for hot takes. I love being able to talk about something I love.”
If the chance to return to coaching in the NFL comes along, she says it would be a “no-brainer” for her to accept, but for now she’s excelling on camera. So who’s her tip for the Super Bowl? “Eagles to win.”