Last week, I had the pleasure to speak to presenter Nat Coombs. Nat is best known for his work on American Football but has also covered sports such as English and European Football, Darts and Baseball.
Nat is well known for his show on TalkSport2 every Sunday, as well as his podcast ‘The Nat Coombs Show’.
How It All Began
I talked to Nat about how he got into presenting and how the career path started for him.
“It wasn’t hugely planned. I kind of stumbled into it a little bit. I was always a performer and come from a family with a rich tradition of acting. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and stand up came next”.
“I did my first gig and did well in my first competition. I did stand up for 4 or 5 years and landed an agent, but I realised early on, that it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life”.
“Within minutes of anchoring my first live NFL show, although I was terrified, I knew this was what i wanted to do. When I found presenting and live anchoring, it all made sense”.
“Try lots of different things would be my advice and play around. Don’t worry too much if the people around you know exactly what they want to do and you don’t. It will all come together”.
I wanted to ask Nat how he got into American Football.
“I was a kid who was crazy about sports” Nat replied.
“A light came on and I became obsessed with any sport. That was around the same age I discovered American Football. I turned it on TV one day. I already had an obsession with America”.
“I turned on the Channel 4 highlights show and thought it was amazing. I had to teach myself because we didn’t have the internet. I bought any book I could find in Smiths. I found there was a First Down newspaper and got it delivered to my house and started teaching myself”.
“For a long time I followed the game through reading about it and American Forces radio. If you tuned your radio just carefully enough, you pick up this faint signal and get live games”.
“My first few Super Bowls where I had to go to bed, I would be under the covers listening to John Elway and Favre win Super Bowls when I should be in bed”.
Nat’s main sport is of course, American Football. I wanted to find out from Nat Coombs about what other sports he was in to.
“I love football, baseball, basketball. Pretty much any sport. I come from a big rugby family, Nat answered”.
“Cricket is huge in my family. Test match specials were always on the radio. It’s a brilliant sport for radio as is baseball”.
“I love the Winter Olympics. You’re watching crazy events you would never watch any other time”.
The Super Bowl Experience
The biggest thing on my bucket list is going to a Super Bowl and Nat has been fortunate to go to many. As an individual who would fulfil a childhood dream by going to one, I wanted to find out from Nat what this experience is like.
“The first one was 2013 in New York which was the Seahawks v Broncos. I was pitch side for that. The first one I anchored was the one the year after”.
Sadly for Nat, the first Super Bowl he went to was probably the worst Super Bowl of recent memory, with the Denver Broncos losing 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks.
“There’s something incredible about being on the sideline for that. You are within touching distance of the players. It was unbelievable”.
It is safe to say Nat had an eventful first Super Bowl experience.
“We had been out all week in New York, it was freezing. Very different to how Miami was this year. We were making alot of features, doing alot of interviews. The presenting team was me, Colin Murray, Mike Carlson and Terrell Davis”.
“We were putting in a shift in freezing cold weather. By the time game day came around, I was sick as a dog. I’ve genuinely never been that ill in my life”.
“We were in Manhattan and had media shuttle buses taking you to the stadium every hour, which is what typically happens in a Super Bowl city. On game day, you have to catch one of the official buses”.
“We had a production meeting early on in the hotel. They said to get some sleep in my room and set my alarm. I went to my room and got to sleep. My phone rang and it was my producer”.
“Nat, you’ve got to get down there now. They’re cancelling all the later buses. The last one is in 40 minutes time”.
“I had to leg it across. Then I got to the hotel and was told they were going to a different location the other side of town. I had to get a subway and was crammed into this subway feeling like death warmed up. I get to where I need to be. I’ve missed the last bus. I have to find my way to the stadium. I get a train”.
“The train only goes so far. I managed to get a cab. The cab couldnt take me into the stadium for security. They drop me off at a hotel opposite. My producer is freaking out and I’m doing this at 100 degree fever”.
“I get to pitch side and the whole thing was an absolute blur though you can’t really tell from the broadcast. I then had to be on the pitch about to interview Peyton Manning”.
“I was flying out with Colin Murray on what ended up being the last flight back because there was such bad weather”.
“The whole runway was frozen. The plane circled around JFK for about two hours. All Colin kept saying was that this was great and we would spend another day in New York. I just wanted to go home”.
Nat has presented the BBC NFL Show from time to time with former players Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora. Watching this show in 2015 turned me from a casual fan to a big fan of the sport. I was keen to know what it was like to work with Jason and Osi.
“They’re brilliant. They are both very strong characters in different ways. They make it easy to work with”.
“They both have great senses of humour and at the same time know their stuff”.
“I remember doing our first Super Bowl together, first time we had worked together, we hadn’t had much time to chat before”.
“You could tell in a few minutes of the show rolling, that this guy has so much about him”. Nat answered when talking about working with Osi Umenyiora.
Nat then talked about working with Jason Bell.
“J Bell has so much energy and charisma. He has really developed as a presenter. He puts in so much work”.
“I’ve been following the game since I was a kid and have watched thousands of games. You sit and watch a game with them and they will see something so quickly”.
“It’s an education. The speed of which they can analyse whats happening is unbelievable. You’re constantly learning and having a great time with them”.
Outside Of The NFL
Nat’s work mainly revolves around sport. I wanted to see how Nat Coombs spends his time outside of work.
“I coach my son’s team and did my badges. I love that and being out there with them. It’s got me back into playing. I probably play six a side about three times a week”.
“Our team needed a goalkeeper, so I volunteered and loved it. It’s a family of goalkeepers. My eldest and youngest play in goal. I’m definitely number three in the power rankings in the family!”.
“I like eating out and being with friends. I’m a massive movie buff. So is Osi. We’d end up spending alot of time talking about films. I’ve been reading recently the Harry Bosh books”.
“I absolutely love the Field of Dreams”, Nat replied after I asked him what his favourite film was. “Im a huge David Lynch fan. I have to take a comedy and would probably take Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
As a final question, I wanted to ask Nat what the highlight of his career was so far.
“I think it would be the first time I stopped and look around me and realise I’m anchoring a NFL game in London at Wembley Stadium on television. The first time I did it I spent weeks worrying about it.
“You’re in the moment so you are totally in the zone. I had a breather and looked around, theres 80,000 people. I’m seeing Jason Osi and Carlson. If I don’t do anything again, that this is special”.
It was a real privilege to interview Nat, who is someone I have followed for a few years. Nat presented the BBC NFL Show for a second week running on Saturday and you can catch him on TalkSport2 every Sunday at 5pm covering the evening’s action.
His podcast called ‘The Nat Coombs Show’, which you can listen to twice a week, can be found on http://smarturl.it/n2t2b4.