The number of written words given to NBC’s Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe, Kyle Martino, Lee Dixon, Graeme Le Saux, Steve Bower and Arlo White could fill a book. The talent at NBC Sports does a fantastic job of bringing the Premier League to us in the United States, but one unsung star often gets overlooked. His name is Neil Ashton.
For many, Ashton is the man behind the ‘Best of the Backpages’ segment that NBC Sports broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. While the idea is far from original (Sky Sports and FOX Soccer Channel had been doing it for years), Ashton still makes it a must-see segment, sharing his insight and observations regarding the soccer headlines from the UK press.
But pigeonholing Ashton as the ‘Best of the Backpages’ man would be selling him short.
When I recently spoke with NBC Sports Coordinating Producer Pierre Moossa, he explained what makes Ashton different and why they hired him.
“Neil’s exceptional,” said Moossa. “The number one reason we work with Neil is that he’s a journalist. He has absolute credibility. He’s not someone out there writing tabloid articles.
“Neil has all the inside information and perspective. And we love doing the ‘Best of the Backpages’ because you really get perspectives on stories.
“You go back to Championship Sunday, there’s nobody I trusted more with information. Neil was ahead of every single thing that was reported ahead of time, but he wouldn’t go on air until he had credible sources.
“Neil wasn’t going to break stories on social media or jump to conclusions. He was only going to do credible information when he had credible sources. It was done with the upmost journalist respect. We don’t want to speculate on air.”
Given NBC’s strive for perfection and the timing of the upcoming transfer window closing soon, Neil Ashton is NBC’s ace up its sleeve and a perfect fit for the broadcaster.