ESPN's Marcus Spears on the NFL's "Second Acts Podcast." Screengrab: The NFL’s “Second Acts Podcast.”

When Marcus Spears started at the SEC Network he didn’t know you could make money in TV.

Now, look at him.

“I didn’t know anything about the business of it,” Spears said during a recent appearance on the Second Acts podcast with Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman and Roman Harper. “I learned a lot of that by the elevation of, like, being on these big shows and understanding how that works. Dude, like I said about (DeMarcus Ware), I’m a kid. Y’all see, I got sweats on; if I could wear this on every show on TV and kick, that’s what I would do.

“I have a healthy respect for the people that aren’t in front of the camera, and that keeps me humble, bro. Because you realize how good they’re at what they do, but you also realize they’re in a position to screw you or help promote you. Showing you in a good light, letting you be like producers when you have those production calls. Producers know.

“They send me a question, if I don’t answer it — it’s like, ‘Oh, he got something on this.’ And if I answer it, I give a one-word answer ’cause I don’t know what I’m gonna say. And you have to build a relationship where they know, ‘Marcus is fine; he’s gonna bring it.’ You gotta build trust in knowing that you gonna have the information.

“And then, when they turn the camera on, bro, I’m just me. I’ve been being this guy since I’m five.”

That’s why being “Swagu” across ESPN’s platforms has resonated with viewers. Spears has found his footing in being himself. He just wants to be where he’s at. He’s not in competition — he did that for nine years in the NFL and four years in college.

“I’ve competed my whole life,” he said. “I didn’t come in TV to compete. I came in TV to see y’all ascend and do a great job and have fun. Bro, I dug fence post holes with my grandfather growing up. And these people pay me to sit on TV for an hour and a half and talk about something I know front to back, dude.

“So, I’ve seen over time how I guess the most disappointing thing for me being in the media as I sit today, I see how so many grown men fight to be in the middle of it all. And they fighting with each other, and it’s like, ‘Bro, you kidding me? Like, what are we doing?’

“First of all, there’s enough space out here for everybody. I just kind of keep that mentality, bro. If y’all came on NFL Live, I’m gonna be the same guy, but we’re gonna have a great time. I’m not going on TV to prove the people that I’m the smartest — none of that matters to me. What matters to me is that when you sit down and you watch if I’m on any show, is that you feel like you hanging.

I’ve always kept that. I said that my first interview coming into SEC Network. I didn’t know what I was going to be doing…and I’ll never forget a reporter asked me when we were doing the media days because that was the inception of the network, they was like, ‘What do you want to get out of this?’ ‘I want people to feel like they in my living room chilling.’

“And that’s how I like to do TV. And when producers and stuff try to overproduce, I don’t do well with that. And I think I’ve been honest about it to ESPN…I hate saying anything good because people think I’m a company guy, but to their credit, they’ve adjusted to a different wave, and man, I get asked to go be myself.”

And it shows.

[Second Acts Podcast]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.