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Jackie Maldonado, Director of Game Presentation and Live Entertainment Producer for the Houston Texans

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What ultimately attracted you to the NFL?

Yes, the NFL has only 10 home games a season, but the difference between those and the 41 home games NBA teams have is the expectation of a fan and what you experience on a game day. The NBA’s big games are opening night, games on TNT or ABC or big matchups. Those were games that I loved. The NFL offers 10 games that all matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s preseason or midseason, you are producing an opening-night feel every game of the year.

An NFL fan has their jersey on, face painted and is standing and cheering for three-plus hours. What they experience and want out of the game experience is very important to us. I love that pressure of putting on 10 opening nights and serving the expectation of the fan coming to an NFL game.

I never thought about it that way, but that’s really interesting. Can you explain what your job entails?

Game presentation is creating the atmosphere for our fans. We are essentially creating everything other than the plays on the football field. It’s the talent or celebrities on the field pre-game, cheerleaders, the mascot, the music, the call to actions asking fans to get up and get loud, corporate features on the video board, halftime show, on-field promotions, etc. It’s creating that fun element of game day, but we’re also the intensity that brings the stadium to life.

How many changes year over year do you make in your game-day production?

That’s something we’re really proud of here at the Texans. We’re not just evolving our show year to year. It’s evolving game to game. Our season ticket members are very important to us, and we don’t want the show they see in Week 1 to be the exact same thing they see in the last game of the season. For example, a partner will have one feature for half the season and a second for the other half, and we will rotate those throughout the game. We do this for multiple partners to create variety for our season ticket members. That’s our challenge. We want our fans to enjoy it and feel like they have a different experience every time they come to a game.

OK, so what does game day look like for you?

It’s crazy. It’s production meetings, rehearsals, pre-game show, the game itself and a post-game show. On a typical Sunday when the game kicks off at noon CT, I’ll get to the stadium at around 6 a.m. Our first production meeting is at 7 a.m. and we transition to rehearsals from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., which is when the doors open. Once that happens, I am up at the press box making sure that everything is on point and we’re getting ready to do our pre-game show, which goes right into producing the game. It’s making sure that cues are happening when the team runs out onto the field, the talent is where they need to be and making game day come to life. I’m in the press box and I talk a lot. We don’t rest until long after zeroes are on the clock because we go right into our postgame show. That’s about a 12-hour day.

Once that headset comes on, it’s tough to even get a bathroom break. I’m constantly cuing the DJ with music or other features. I’m intentionally very dehydrated on game days. It’s nonstop communication, directing the game and making sure everyone is where they need to be.

Image & Story Credit: nfl.com

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