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INTERVIEW: ESPN’s Marty Smith On Raising $500,000 For Eckrich Extra Yard For Teachers


On January 9, before Stetson Bennett IV led Georgia to a decisive victory over TCU in the College Football Playoff Championship Game, another gunslinger was raising money for Eckrich and the Extra Yard for Teachers Foundation.

ESPN’s Marty Smith raised $500,000 for the foundation with a series of successful throws during the ESPN pregame show outside of SoFi Stadium. We sat down with Marty to discuss his showing, his contributions to the foundation, and his favorite tailgating experiences.


Congratulations on your success in the Eckrich $1 Million Dollar Challenge. What was your strategy and approach to your successful throws?

Well, there were a couple of aspects that were different this year. This year we had the opportunity to throw for three different dollar amounts. There was a $250,000 opportunity and that’s where it started. It was a much larger hole to try to throw the ball through. I made that in just a couple of throws. Then there was a $500,000 hole. I made that maybe on my third attempt.

And then the million-dollar hole is barely bigger than the football and I missed my first throw there by maybe less than a foot.

We were able to bring it home and make a lot of money for Extra Yard for Teachers. Our educators deserve every cent they get. I’m just so grateful to Eckrich and Extra Yard for Teachers for doing everything they do to accentuate and champion those men and women who are teaching our young people. And as a dad of three, one high schooler, one middle schooler, and one elementary schooler, I want to make sure that they are champions.

Did you get any quarterback insight from Kirk?

“laughs” Yeah. “Move over, dummy.” He literally grabbed me by the shoulders because my first couple of throws at the $500,000 mark were to the right of the target.

Covering the games for ESPN takes you away from the typical fan experience on game day. When you do get the chance to host or attend tailgates, what’s your favorite part of the experience?

There are very few moments in our life anymore, especially with all the distractions, that everyone is completely focused on exactly where they are in that moment. And that’s kind of what the college football tailgate experience is. You’re so grateful for the excitement and the hope of what’s to come at whatever game you’re attending and you’re grateful for the shared energy of being there with people you love and people that you have like-minded interests with.

And one thing that anchors the tailgate is food. And that’s why Eckrich is such a wonderful partner for the college football space. They do such a great job of driving home that aspect of what it means to be a college football fan because all of their offerings are tailgate ready.

What’s your go-to Eckrich tailgate food that’s always a crowd-pleaser?

You can never go wrong if you have sausage. I don’t care what meal it is, what time of day it is, if I have the smoker out, there’s sausage on it, whether that’s at my house or at the tailgate, anywhere. All of their deli meats are as well, but I would say that the number one offering is Eckrich’s sausage.

This college football season produced a ton of memorable moments. What were some of your personal favorite highlights?

One of the cool parts about my job is I get the opportunity to not just cover games, but also dive into the fine detail of not just what people are, but who they are. And I love that so much. One of the feature pieces that I did for the Peach Bowl was on Kelee Ringo, Georgia’s defensive back, who will more than likely be a first-rounder in the NFL draft in April.

His mother had a very difficult breast cancer battle, and I got the opportunity to really learn about them as people. I was with the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia, for probably more than 60 days this fall. So I got to know so many of those young men so well, and their families so well, and all of that matters to me.

Looking forward to next season, what programs look to be the most competitive and have done the best job recruiting?

I think Alabama and Coach Saban because they were left out of the college football playoff, even though he believes they belonged because they didn’t get the job done. They lost to Tennessee. They lost to LSU both on the final play of the game. But I think they had five one-score games and they were not as disciplined as past Alabama teams.

As we’ve become accustomed to seeing Alabama teams coached by Nick Saban, he’s already made some changes. I think Alabama is gonna be a holy terror.

Georgia, all they do is reload. Kirby is not only a great football coach, but he’s also a phenomenal recruiter and they’re gonna be great again. I like LSU. Brian Kelly is a phenomenal football coach, he has recruited a very high level in that talent-rich, greater New Orleans area.

I think Dabo Swinney getting Garrett Riley as his offensive coordinator is gonna make for a new-look Clemson offense. And I think it was sort of time to get that new fresh blood in there in Clemson.

Lincoln Riley has it humming out west, and with Caleb Williams coming back as the Heisman Trophy winner and recruiting at a high level, they’re gonna be good.

About Eckrich


Eckrich is a brand of Smithfield Foods. Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, it began from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Today, Eckrich has grown to become of the most recognized regional premium deli and meat brands on the market. They’re recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care, and pride.

Whether you’re grilling smoked sausages in the parking lot or making a decadent deli sandwich while watching the game at home, Eckrich® – the Official Smoked Sausage and Deli Meat Sponsor of the College Football Playoff (CFP) – is a must-have menu item for an all-around delicious meal.

Tom Conroy Avatar BroBible
Tom Conroy is a journalist-turned-copywriter for BroBible. He is an NYC native, Marquette University alum, and current resident of Milwaukee, which means he spends a great deal of time screaming about the Yankees between bites of cheese curds and sips of Spotted Cow.