The NFL Network is debuting Tackle My Ride Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern, and while the name undoubtedly evokes Pimp My Ride, the show’s rather different. Each week, hosts LaMarr Woodley and James Torres will meet up with a NFL player who has a passion for cars and hang out with them before the player tells them about a deserving super fan of his team who could use a car retrofit. Woodley and Torres will then first surprise the fan with the news that they’ve been chosen for this car upgrade, work on the car in Torres’ shop, and then surprise the fan  again by revealing both the finished car and the player who picked them. Michael Mandt, the executive producer of original content for NFL Network, spoke to AA by e-mail about the show this week. Here are our questions and his answers.

Awful Announcing: Where’d the idea for Tackle My Ride come from?

Michael Mandt: It was an idea developed by myself and Jordan Levin, our chief content officer. Our original content group is interested in telling great stories through different entry points of access and in the long form, we want to produce some lifestyle format shows that are authentic to the NFL and our fan base, that will work [both] in a first run and as repeats in the offseason. The car process show format has a proven track record, and we’ve made a couple tweaks that will make this a great fit for the NFL Network.

AA: Why the focus on surprising fans instead of just working on players’ cars?

MM: Because making someone’s dream come true can make for great television, and in every episode, we see an awesome, real moment that couldn’t have been scripted. Also, a lot of NFL players are big-time car enthusiasts, and the same can be said for our fan base, so we wanted to produce a show that would bring the players to the fans in an organic way. We worked with a bunch of great players in this first season – Joe Haden, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kyle Rudolph, Brandon Carr, Cliff Avril…they each have a huge passion for cars, but the real payoff for them was seeing the moment when the fan gets surprised. They took as much joy as anyone in seeing that moment unfold. Same can be said for the teams who were involved, as they all take great pride in their fan bases,and for them and their players, this was a rewarding experience.

AA: What does LaMarr Woodley bring to the show?

MM: LaMarr brings personality, charisma, a passion for cars, and an ability to connect with the players (since he’s a former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion), as well as an ability to relate to the fans in a way that is heartfelt and genuine.  He also had great chemistry with our other co-host, master car builder James Torres.  They hit it off right from the start, and that chemistry is obvious.

AA: What does James Torres bring?

MM: James Torres is the total package for TV. He’s an expert in his field of custom car design, he pops on camera, he’s extremely likeable and he also brings a tremendous family workplace dynamic to show with his three boys.  While this isn’t a true docu-series a la Duck Dynasty or American Chopper, the family dynamic in this show is authentic because James and his sons do all the work, and they do it creatively, efficiently and effectively. They are a self-made family that our audience will appreciate and respect.

He also brings with him the support and credibility of Michael Strahan who trusted him with his own ride.

AA: Strahan’s credited as an executive producer who brought Torres in. Does he have other involvement with this?

MM: Michael helped us in selecting LaMarr Woodley as host, and he also was involved in the creation of the show.

AA: How did you pick the players for this?

MM: The most important criteria for us was finding guys who are true car enthusiasts. Each guy has a passion for the space and loved the idea of rewarding a deserving fan.

AA: Why should people watch Tackle My Ride?

MM: Anyone who is a fan of football and cars will enjoy this show, and anyone who is a fan of a good story will love it. Our players get their helmets off and get to share their enthusiasm for cars, but more importantly they get to create this incredible memory for fans.  There’s cool car scenery and process to bring you in, but what will keep you and hopefully bring you back will be the story of the fans.  They’re all likeable, they’re all doing great things in their community and when you stick around and see the moment their car is revealed to them, with the players they love, it’s moving, and puts a smile on your face.

AA: Anything else you’d like to add?

MM: Even though the name of the show is Tackle My Ride, we’re not trying to be Pimp My Ride.  Are we drafting of that show’s name?  Sure, you could say that, but James and his boys are upgrading cars in a practical way so that fans will actually be driving cars that work and are functional, not cars that have fishtanks in the back.  It’s really more Extreme Home Makeover than Pimp My Ride.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

Comments are closed.