Lisa Guerrero Says FHM Filming Ruined Her Work on “Monday Night Football”
Lisa Guerrero is often regarded as “the luckiest woman in sports” after landing her dream job as a sidekick reporter for Monday Night Football in 2013. In her new book, “Warrior,” she reveals how the role turned into a nightmare in a dark place.
Producer Freddie Gaudelli hired Guerrero to change the landscape of sports broadcasting, and Guerrero explained in an excerpt published by Sports Illustrated that he was joining a reporter who also leaned toward the entertainment industry. Ultimately, however, the outside world’s assessment of her appearance, knowledge and value as a sports reporter became a point of contention between her and her employer.
“‘Nothing more than a teleprompter reader.’ “ABC’s ridiculous new low.” “Another example of appearance taking precedence over talent.” “A slut.” ‘A blow to women.'” Guerrero listed some of the responses to her job announcement. “What have I done to ignite this outrage? I was shocked, hurt and completely confused by the media response.”
As viewers cast aside Guerrero’s past decade as a sports journalist, they turned to what they called her “controversial past” as a model, actress and cheerleader. Eventually, photos of the journalist were made public that put her start at Monday Night Football in jeopardy.
“I did a photo shoot for the men’s lifestyle magazine FHM, which is scheduled to be released at the start of the soccer season. It was a strategic decision to promote my brand and raise my profile during the damn sports show when I [ The Best ]. But when the media heard the photo of me in black and white underwear, they were even more convinced that I was hired for all the wrong reasons for Monday Night Football.”
Guerrero recalls that Disney executives were “furious” when they found out about the photo shoot and questioned her placement on their “family-friendly broadcast. However, she chalked up the reaction to “feigned shock” as the company’s publicity department allegedly ended up negotiating with FHM to get her on the cover.
“Then, for the promotional photo for the show, I posed next to [co-hosts Al Michaels and John Madden] in a powder blue blazer. However, the cropped photos, including the Times Square billboard, were not from that official ABC photo shoot,” she continued. “Instead, without my permission, they superimposed a photo – a photo of me in a gold sequined bodice, looking inviting – that was taken from a modeling gig I was in years ago. “
While Guerrero believes she was initially hired because of her credentials, she notes that the negative publicity affected her working relationships and the level of trust her producers had in her to get the job done.
“A lot of eyes would also be on me – judging me, writing about me, commenting on me. Any missteps are magnified. My dress and makeup – even my lip gloss – are scrutinized,” she said of the lead time heading into Monday’s first regular season game on football night. Despite all her preparations, her producer instructed her to remember the words he wrote for her rather than improvise.
“I believe I know the reason behind the request. Freddie was probably embarrassed by the way I was portrayed in the media. I don’t think he could fire me because I was his first employee,” she wrote. “So instead of firing me, Freddie micromanaged me. Maybe he thought he would be the brains behind bimbo.”
Guerrero continues, “I had been writing copy for ten years, but suddenly I felt reduced to a dummy for a ventriloquist. When I deliver Freddie’s words, it’s unnatural. It didn’t sound like me. I felt like an actress playing a role I didn’t want to play. Some critics have noticed this. They would say I looked uncomfortable, that I was looking down at my laptop too much. But Freddie instructed me to deliver his script word for word. If I didn’t, I would have been hanged.”
She recalls Godley screaming into his headphones during live broadcasts and suffering the disadvantages of performing well at work under pressure. That pain stayed with her day and night, even in her happiest moments.
Now, as an award-winning investigative journalist, Guerrero can’t believe how dark it’s become as she writes about her engagement to baseball player boyfriend Scott Erickson being derailed by an undercurrent of depression. “Who decides to get married when they’re also contemplating suicide?” She remembers thinking at the time.
She also opened her heart to miscarriage while doing live sports coverage.
“I didn’t see that I was in a dangerous vicious cycle. I didn’t see that I was completely out of touch with reality. I didn’t see how sick I was mentally and physically. I had been completely checked out,” she wrote.
After that experience, she decided to take a stand.
“I thought about all that I had lost off those fields – my dignity, my courage, and now my pregnancy. There was nothing left to bear. In that moment, I vowed to stop letting Freddie have so much control over me,” she said. “In the last few games, I stopped carrying Freddie’s notes. I spoke in my own voice. I took my headphones off during reports. That way, if Freddie screamed at me, I would never know.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255, or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.