June 19th, 2010

Personal Profile: Melissa Jacobs

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Name: Melissa Jacobs
Nickname: Roto Moto
Job title(s): Founder and Editor, TheFootballGirl.com
Full-time in fantasy? 1 year, although I wouldn’t categorize myself as “full-time” in fantasy. Otherwise do you think I would have taken Braylon Edwards so high in our super-early mock draft
Age: I’m a girl. Do you really expect me to answer? Here’s a hint, though. Older than Adrian Peterson’s number and younger than Stephen Strasburg’s number
Education: I went to U.C. Berkeley and received a B.A. in Political Science
Family status: Happily married to a big-time Bears fan
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Football. The best and only one I play.
Favorite sport to watch: NFL by a mile
Favorite team (any sport): Cal football
All-time favorite athlete: Jerry Rice. The San Francisco Treat.
Years playing fantasy: 15, since high school

I got my start in the sports industry when: In college decided I wanted to be a sports agent. I thought the law school part would be easy but didn’t have great contacts in sports so I got an internship at San Francisco’s big sports radio station, KNBR. It turned into a full-time job quickly.

Since then, my résumé includes: Executive Producer at KNBR Radio; Producer of The Sporting Life with Dick Schaap and ESPN the Magazine with Dan LeBatard at ESPN Radio; Talent Producer for SportsCenter, NFL Live, and Rome is Burning (won 2 Emmys for SportsCenter work); Project Manager for the ESPY Awards, NBA All-Star Game weekend and other ESPN special events; Freelance Producer and Television consultant … and now Editor of TheFootballGirl.com.

Three questions

1. You come to football (and fantasy) via a much different path from most of the rest of us. Can you describe for us your relationship with the NFL, in terms of helping to shape football content as well as direct interactions with players, teams, etc.? How did you get started with fantasy?

I probably have a bit of an advantage in terms of obtaining interviews just because I have a strong booking background. But calling for ESPN and TheFootballGirl.com are wholly different things. Those players, agents and team PR contacts that believe in our empowering women to participate in the NFL mission have been very helpful, yet some just see start-up and probably delete my messages despite long, positive working relationships. It’s been an interesting exercise in that regard thus far. As far as fantasy, I wouldn’t really say that I’m “in fantasy” as much as I love fantasy and think it’s a crucial aspect to have on the site. I’ve been playing most of my life and have been the commissioner of a pretty hard-core league for six years. Despite winning my league more years than not, I would never purport to be an expert, but I can make predictions and provide analysis, too.

2. How have you seen the female audience for football change over the years? What kind of evolution do you expect going forward?

The female audience is growing exponentially. That’s why I got into the business. Female NFL apparel is the fastest-growing NFL ancillary business. And David Geller, the head of Fantasy Games at Yahoo!, recently told me that female participation in fantasy football grew from 8 percent in 2008 to 14 percent last season. That’s a sizable chunk of the market. My goal for the site — and hope for the NFL — is to do more to encourage female engagement in the game. Family-friendly sections at stadiums and the awesome breast cancer awareness month is great for piquing female interest, but my hope is they’ll do more Xs-and-Os female marketing.

3. What does TheFootballGirl.com do differently to cater to the female crowd?

In terms of versus other sites, we sprinkle in female-oriented content without compromising the overall goal, which is to present the many layers of the NFL to female fans … and male fans, too. We have a Featured Football Girl where we interview a prominent woman who falls under the NFL umbrella. (Our latest was with Chris Cooley’s mom, who has recently recovered from Stage 3 breast cancer.) We have a Fashionista Girl columnist who dissects NFL fashions without steering too far away from the Xs and Os. And we generally intersperse content with more female-oriented references (perhaps Meredith Grey over Vinny Chase). What we do differently than many other female football sites is treat women like legitimate fans. We don’t do recipes, we don’t do tight ends, and we’re not overly saturated with Football 101 material (although we have some if anyone’s looking for a refresher).

Bonus: You mentioned the Alyssa Milano NFL apparel ad in a draft preview for Forbes.com. Tell us, does she make you want to buy one of those contoured “ladies” T-shirts or see a new commercial with, say, Justin Timberlake?

Funny question! I actually think Alyssa’s “Touch” clothing is very stylish and a perfect alternative to wearing your boyfriend’s jersey of the past. I do sell her stuff on the site but haven’t bought any yet. What I will buy are the awesome new t-shirts coming soon to TheFootballGirl.com! They are different from anything you’ve ever seen a female football fan wear before. Oh, and I’ll watch any commercial with JT.