When the NFL Network kicks off its Thursday night games tonight, Sept. 13, the work of at least one openly gay man will be front-and-center. Producer Matt Brady, who has been the brawn behind many memorable sports images you’ve seen on TV, produced a Thursday Night Kickoff pre-show video for the network. It’s just part of his sports-television portfolio that spans over a dozen years.
It’s been a storybook Hollywood career for Brady, who came to Los Angeles at 19. Soon after arriving, he landed a job working for actor Randy Quaid. When Independence Day blasted into theaters, Brady was smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood.
Soon after, someone from ESPN contacted him looking for a location manager for a stage to shoot the 1999 ESPY awards campaign with Samuel L. Jackson. But they didn’t just need just a location manager, “they needed a production manager, a crew, a prop master, basically everything,” Brady told Outsports.
Every year, the ESPYs would come back to him for more work in Los Angeles. Soon, somebody from ESPN moved over to Monday Night Football and brought Brady with him. As word got out about Brady’s freelance talents, he scored work with Wimbledon, NBC Sports and the NFL Network. In 2001, he founded MRB Productions, which today is a go-to production company in the sports and entertainment arenas.
Brady said he doesn’t know many other openly gay people in his field, though in recent years more have trickled in. And while he’s openly gay, he says he hasn’t come out to many people he has worked with. He says he doesn’t have to.
“Gay is probably one of the top five words that people would use to describe me,” Brady said of his personality and demeanor.
Despite the once-homophobic tenor of sports, Brady said he never encountered discrimination. For the athletes’ part, he’s working with them on a limited basis, executing a job with them for a few hours and parting. Still, he’s never heard a whisper of homophobia from any professional athlete he’s worked with.
“My job is about working for people who are creating television and entertainment content for the networks,” Brady said. “The people I work for are evolved.”
One of his most memorable spots infamously featured Desperate Housewife Nicolette Sheridan dropping her towel in front of Terrell Owens minutes before a Monday Night Football game in 2004. They had shot the piece in a whirlwind in Philadelphia, Brady escorting Sheridan personally to the City of Brotherly Love, the Friday before the game. That’s a tight turnaround for film, but Brady was happy with the end product.
Brady said he thought the spot was funny and went to bed that night without a care in the world.
“The reaction was crazy and totally unexpected,” Brady said. “I remember waking up that Tuesday morning. It was on the front page of all these papers. It sounded like the nation was in an uproar. They were calling it Towelgate.”
Brady is also particularly proud of the NBA Finals opening sequence that ABC has now used for years (video below). The piece won MRB Productions an Emmy.
“I’m a fan of athletes. I’ve gotten to work with some really cool athletes. But I’m not home watching football.”
One of his favorites to work with was Owens, because “he’s so funny.” He’s also enjoyed working with Peyton and Eli Manning. Peyton is “really nice and really easy-going and funny,” while the whole family is “pretty awesome.”
Brady is currently single and living in the Hollywood Hills. He’s currently working for the NFL Network and ESPN, and diving into many other areas of entertainment.