Sundays in November are far from restful for ESPN’s Adam Schefter. During football season, the famed NFL analyst leaves his New York home at 5:30 a.m. and travels two hours to the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut. Here the television magic starts.
With phone in hand — a device he often refers to during live NFL coverage — Schefter researches, monitors, and calculates stats; reviews, replays, and scrutinizes games; and follows up on tips and players’ injuries. His goal is succinct: to deliver breaking news and cutting-edge analysis of the NFL’s biggest day of the week.
“The NFL is the most popular sport in the country, and my job is to follow up on every significant issue that occurs in the NFL — whether it’s a trade, an injury, a new development, or a trend. Whatever it may be,” says Schefter during the August pre-season interview. “My days are filled with, what I like to say is, ‘babysitting the sport,’ making sure everything is ok and checking to see if anything goes wrong.”
Repeat again Monday. “It’s Groundhog Day in a good way every single week during football season,” says Schefter, who covers Monday Night Football on SportsCenter, NFL Live, Monday Night Countdown, and more. “I love these days and weeks because each has a different story line, different games, different results, and unpredictable happenstances.”
Schefter will quickly tell you he loves his job and is grateful to be where he is today, but his passion extends well beyond game day and touchdowns. His family is his epicenter, and his philanthropic mission is to raise Type 1 diabetes (T1D) awareness.
“There are constants and the constants in my life are my wife, Sharri, our family, and her fight against Type 1,” says Schefter, a JDRF (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) ambassador since 2016. “Our hope is to continue to raise funds and awareness around T1D and hopefully find a cure for the disease.”
Schefter and T1D: Defining the connection
Schefter met his wife, Sharri Maio, on a blind date in 2006. When recalling their first meeting, he says he felt an immediate connection.
“There was, I believe, an instant chemistry because shortly after we began dating, Sharri started wearing her (insulin) pump, which she was always apprehensive about wearing,” he says, recalling the couple’s beginnings. “I think we were comfortable enough with each other that she basically knew it was the best and right thing to do. Now she’s had that pump on as long as we have been together, which is over 12 years.”
Several years prior to the couple’s 2006 blind date, Sharri suffered great loss. The young mother of then one-year-old son, Devon, lost her husband and Devon’s father, Joe Maio, during the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City. Joe was one of 2,606 people who died in the World Trade Center and surrounding area that fateful day. Schefter shares these experiences in his recently released book, “The Man I Never Met: A Memoir.”
While pregnant with Devon, Sharri developed gestational diabetes, a condition in which the body cannot make the extra insulin needed during pregnancy. One year after Joe’s passing, Sharri experienced another life-altering event: she was diagnosed with adult-onset Type 1 diabetes. “Every challenge that has been thrown Sharri’s way, she has overcome and then some,” Schefter says. “She is the strongest woman I know.”
A new beginning and life with T1D
Adam and Sharri married in 2007, and their family grew from three to four. In 2008, the Schefters welcomed their daughter Dylan into the world. When the ESPN commentator talks about his family and being a dad to Devon, 20, and Dylan, now 10, he beams with pride. When speaking of his beloved wife, her loss and managing T1D, several words come into play: “amazing,” “courageous” and “strong.”
“Another thing that is amazing about my wife, she takes on her life and the hand she has been dealt and never wonders, ‘Why me?’” he says.
When it comes to managing her diabetes, Schefter says, “Sharri battles (T1D) with great courage and determination…and has the greatest admiration from me about the way she attacks the disease.”
From the 50-yard line to Capitol Hill: Schefter’s role as a JDRF ambassador
When discussing his role as a JDRF ambassador, Schefter believes his family’s experiences with T1D coupled with his celebrity can be a powerful and rewarding force in the fight against the disorder that affects 1.25 million Americans.
In 2015, Schefter attended the JDRF Children’s Congress held in Washington, D.C. Serving as a T1D Role Model, the veteran television personality hosted the Town Hall forum, an event that gives children and families the opportunity to learn about the disease and interact with T1D role models. The experience was inspiring for all involved — especially for Schefter.
“When I went down to Washington, I was with so many young children living with T1D – fighting so bravely and courageously. Just to be a part of that community.…It’s almost like a fraternity – people who have Type 1 and the people who have been touched by it,” he says. “And I feel included in that fraternity.”
Looking to the future
When describing his goals for the near and distant future, professionally, Schefter is tackling the 2018 NFL football season with great intensity, and has his sights set on Super Bowl Sunday — the one game he attends each season. When probed, Schefter even made a pre-season prediction.
“My August Super Bowl prediction is Jacksonville and New Orleans,” Schefter says, followed with a chuckle. “But let me be very clear. It’s August 20th, and this story will run in November. I’m either going to look really smart or really stupid.”
Personally, Schefter says it’s all about his family. Philanthropically, he is determined to keep the T1D conversation and the need for a cure in the spotlight.
“My hope is to bring greater awareness to the disease and the importance of research, which could one day eradicate Type 1 diabetes. It’s personal, and I want to do all I can to help.”