Not just a man’s league: WVU grad Spieler tackles world of NFL Films
Not all members of the NFL suit up in pads and helmets. Some wear pencil skirts.
It’s after midnight as Lindsay Spieler (think Cameron Diaz mixed with Charlotte Jones-Anderson) arrives to her home outside of Philadelphia, changes clothes and sets her alarm for 4 a.m. She has just spent the day in Cleveland as part of the Top 100 Tour, at the training facility of the Cleveland Browns, her old stomping grounds, talking with different players and having them fill out ballots for the NFL Network Top 100 Players show.
As tired as she is, she goes to bed thinking this may have been one of the best days of her career.
Tomorrow she plans to do it all over again, but this time she’s off to the New York Jets.
Her alarm sounds as it is still pitch black outside. She puts on the absolute minimum amount of make-up to look alive and awake, picks out the most comfortable yet professional work/travel outfit, and is out the door on her way to One Jets Drive… grabbing Starbucks on the way could go without saying.
Welcome to the life of Lindsay Spieler, Player & Talent Relations Coordinator at NFL Films.
The mission of NFL Films is to find, share and capture America’s football stories in fresh and interesting ways.
Having been in business for nearly 45 years, they have grown from six to 250 employees and opened a 200,000 square foot state-of-the-art production facility. They have filmed over 9,000 games, produced over 600 hours of original football programming and won 119 Emmys. They were the first to do many things, such as hire a women executive in the NFL, wire players for game sound, edit sports films to pop music and use reverse angle replays.
Spieler’s main duty with the company is to book all NFL Players & Talent for the shows they produce for ESPN, CBS, Showtime, NFL Network and other media outlets.
“The stuff I get to do is pinch-yourself worthy,” Spieler, a WVU graduate, told WVUPros in a recent interview.
It’s been 11 years since Spieler graduated from West Virginia University. A Pittsburgh native, she chose WVU for her volleyball career because of the whole community.
“Mountaineers are a very proud and loyal group, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
Spieler played volleyball for the Mountaineers from 1999-2003 and was fortunate enough to get a job in the NFL directly out of school. She held several various positions with the Cleveland Browns front office for nine years. It’s quite a rarity for someone to stay with one team that long in a business with seasonal turnover. Then in 2013 she took her current position with NFL Films.
She still keeps her ties to WVU, trying to get back to Morgantown once a year for a football game and keeping in touch with many of her former teammates.
“We have a pretty notable presence in the league, so I usually run in to a Mountaineer or two when I’m on the job,” she explained.
Her favorite WVU memory came during her first year out of college working for the Browns when the NCAA Tournament was held in Cleveland and the Mountaineers beat No. 2-ranked Wake Forest in double overtime to advance to the Sweet 16.
“The BEST game. Ever.”
Which means a great deal coming from someone who has experienced as many sporting events as she has.
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
The Top 100 Tour was just one of her recent projects.
In less than two months at the end of regular season, NFL Films had to knock out as many team visits as possible to get ballots filled out for the Top 100 Players show. The teams were split between her and a few other producers. From Nov. 14 to Dec. 17, she had visited with the Titans, Eagles, Redskins, Steelers, Buccaneers, Jaguars, Browns, Jets, and Giants. It was a lot of work but she enjoyed the traveling (and racking up the frequent flyer miles!).
What Spieler likes most about her job is the platform the NFL provides and the impact the game can have on people, causes, and communities.
One specific cause she is passionate about is working with Team Gleason to help people suffering with ALS and raise awareness for the cause.
She also enjoys being able to help others along their professional journeys. Last year she was the moderator on a panel with current and former NFL players at SXSW in Las Vegas.
In her two years at NFL Films, she has already gotten to do some pretty cool things and meet some great people.
She recalls a shoot she did with LL Cool J for the CBS Thursday Night Football kickoff special. It was filmed at the Giant’s facility with Victor Cruz.
“He was everything you would think LL Cool J would be,” she said.
Snoop Dog was also another interesting person on the list of who NFL Films has worked with. They sent a crew to his compound in L.A. to film for “A Football Life” on the 2006 Rose Bowl that recently premiered. He is a big USC fan.
Another favorite was Charles Barkley. She filmed with him in Lake Tahoe at the American Century Championship for CBS Thursday Night Football. She also enjoyed being at the NFL draft in New York for the first time.
“The energy in the Green Room was indescribable,” she said.
The most ‘up there’ person she’s worked with? Jerry Jones.
“That’s football heaven right there,” she said. “When Jerry Jones is telling a story – you pay attention!”
LISTEN UP, KIDS
Spieler credits her time in Morgantown for helping mold her into the person she is today, on both a personal and professional level.
“What’s expected of WVU student-athletes really prepares you for a smooth transition to the real-time hustle of the professional world,” she said.“In football especially, the grind is very real, and you have to be willing to put in the time.”
Her advice to current students preparing for future careers may seem odd at first, though.
“Don’t network.” she instructs.
Spieler believes that it takes much more than just networking. She says that building genuine and sincere relationships is a must.
“Especially in professional sports industry, people can spot an opportunist a mile away, build real relationships,” she explained.
Spieler will now begin her journey in Arizona for the Super Bowl, just another thing to add to her list of surreal experiences.