There are no off days in the world of breaking news. Just ask NFL Network’s Insider Ian Rapoport. At any given moment, he can receive a call or text that includes details on a trade, suspension, or other league-wide news. This doesn’t take into account his weekly television duties, nor his responsibilities as husband to his wife Leah and dad to sons Jude and Mac.
Given how filled his schedule can be, Rapoport makes it a priority to remain in great shape. That mentality was molded during his time as a member of the lightweight crew team at Columbia University.
Ian Rapoport recently spoke with M&F on his rowing days, how he’s managed to find a comfortable work/life balance, and he also detailed some of the most memorable moves around the NFL that he was first to report.
For Ian Rapoport There Will Never Be Anything Harder Than Rowing
Rapoport will never forget his first practice for the crew team because he spent the following 48 hours afterward in bed, questioning his decision to join the team. Fast forward a couple of months later, and he found himself looking forward to the early morning rises for three hour rows and following that up with 60 minutes on the Ergon bike in the afternoon.
Crew proved to Rapoport that there was another level of fitness he was capable of achieving. To this day, he says there is nothing like the exhilaration you receive after a good workout.
“Two things about crew,” Rapoport said. “I will never do anything harder. If I can get through that, I can do anything. The other thing is I always want to be at or near that level of fitness and feeling good.”
Ian Rapoport Will Find a Way To Get A Sweat In
During the beginning of training camps, Rapoport can be on the road for close to a month. With TV hits starting as early as 7 a.m. ET, Monday through Friday, it can be difficult to muster up the energy in the evening to squeeze a workout in. This used to be an issue for him until he got some helpful advice from his NFL Network colleague Tom Pelissero.
“He told me you need to get up at five and exercise before,” Rapoport said. “I would jump on the Peloton for 30 minutes before my seven o’ clock and it was the greatest thing ever because it gives you sustainability through the entire week.”
Ian Rapoport is a Peloton fanatic. As such, there are times where the Marriotts he frequents might not have one available and he makes due with using the ellipticals while catching an episode of White Lotus or he’ll use a stationary bike along with the Peloton app. “I always find if I don’t exercise, I just feel crappy,” he says. “Exercising gives me the feeling that this is one of the most important things I’ll get done in a day.”
Take Sleep As It Comes But Always Be Ready
During the season, sleep is at a minimum for Rapoport. He’s up 5 a.m., getting prepared for Good Morning Football or GameDay Morning four days a week and his nights might not end until after midnight. Tuesdays are reserved for sleep and help make up for the strain during the week. While sleep is essential, Rapoport must still be ready whenever there is information that becomes available about an impending transaction and he’s found a useful hack to stay on top of things.
“On the road, I’ll use my AirPods and if someone sends me a message, it reads it to me,” he said. “I broke the Bobby Wagner contract extension because I literally woke up and heard Bobby Wagner had just signed. I actually thought I broke it but it was literally someone texting me about the deal. I woke up, tweeted it and then went back to sleep.”
Just Order The Fish
Any reporter who covers a league or sports team knows how difficult it can be to maintain a good diet on the road. You’re either settling for room service, partaking in some of the staples around the downtown area or you’re limited to whatever establishment is open late to DoorDash something to hold you over.
Rapoport’s starts most mornings on the road with a Quest bar to avoid the temptation of buttery croissants or a large omelette. Lunch will be a sandwich or whatever options are available for media. When it comes to dinner, avoiding heavy and rich options is imperative to if he wants to wake up the next morning feeling his best. Rapoport also follows a simple rule if he does find himself in a steakhouse while on the road.
“Fish is your friend,” he said. “It used to be so weird for me to go to Indianapolis for eight nights and you’re at St. Elmo’s and not have a huge rib eye with cream spinach. But salmon is good and no one’s gonna make fun of me. Getting salmon at a steak place is OK.”
Find a Partner Who Can Work With You
There are three periods of time during the year where Rapoport considers himself not human: the couple of weeks leading up to the trade deadline, the day after the season when coaches are usually fired, along with the moves that are made the following weeks, and free agency. Phone calls can happen at anytime and while he enjoys every moment he has with his wife Leah and sons, Jude and Max, he has learned that he can’t be present when duty calls and not every call needs to be a long one.
“At some point, she was like, ‘I know you want to be here but this is actually not helpful,’” Rapoport recalled. “She knows if I take a phone call, it’s important. Sometimes sources are saying, ‘This trade’s about to happen, get ready.’ Sometimes it’s, ‘Did you hear about this other thing?’ Those are the ones where I’m like, ‘We can talk about that later.’”
Given how stressful it can be to be the first to report transactions, Leah also finds ways to ease Rapoport’s nerves. On Halloween, he was on the verge of breaking the news that defensive lineman Montez Sweat was getting traded to the Chicago Bears. He was waiting on one final ok before sending the news out, and in walks Leah dressed in his costume, a blow-up Prime bottle. “It was so stupid and funny,” he said. “I was so stressed, and it was perfect.”
Ian Rapoport is Always Be Ready
Given how important Rapoport’s phone is to being able to break the various transactions he has across his career, he still lives his life and that means he’s liable to break a story at any given time. The shortest period of time he’s ever worked on a story was six minutes. He was making calls around the NFL Draft and while speaking with a source, he was asked was he on the Rob Gronkowski news. Perplexed, Ian Rapoport asked what he was talking about before he was told that there was a deal being made to send Gronk to Tampa Bay. He made three phone calls that confirmed the move and broke one of the biggest stories of that offseason in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee.
And the stories only get better.
“Last year, during Halloween, I was dressed as a banana and taking calls on a multi-year pro bowl player who was trying to get traded,” Rapoport said. “There was breaking the Bears cutting a tightens while on a chairlift. From the pool of a beach club in Las Vegas.”
One of the top memories in recent years came last year. Rapoport was at Congressional Country Club in Maryland. He had been working for months the news that Baker Mayfield was getting traded to the Carolina Panthers. He’s playing golf with some friends when he gets a call that another reporter had the story and was close to breaking it. Rapoport started making some calls to parties to get the confirms he needed and the only thing needed for him to send the pre-loaded tweet to announce the news is a thumbs up emoji.
Ian Rapoport hit a shot into the bunker on the 15th hole and is frazzled because he can’t miss that emoji. After letting a group play through, his friends became impatient and told him he had to play. He handed a friend his phone and instructed him to hit send on the tweet if he got the emoji. He hits his next shot over the green and then ended up chipping back onto it. While walking away from the hole, he got the emoji, hit send and let out a yell that could probably reverberated around the course.
“I go to the next tee and hit about a 275-yard drive down the middle because i was so excited,” Rapoport recalled. “That might be my favorite.”
Follow Ian on Instagram @rapsheet