While many sports fans might know Bram Weinstein from his time on ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor, he’s always been a Washingtonian first and foremost.
A native of Maryland, Weinstein grew up as a massive fan of the NFL’s Washington franchise. After attending American University in D.C., he embarked on a media career that included stints as a local sports radio personality, a Washington beat reporter, a sideline reporter for Washington game coverage, a news reporter for CNN’s Washington Bureau, a weekend anchor for Washington’s KHAS, the co-host of a political talk show, and more.
In 2020, he fulfilled his destiny and became the voice of the Washington Football Team (now the Commanders). While he’s been the franchise’s radio voice during a very tumultuous time (which many hope is now over with Dan Snyder’s sale of the team), it stands to reason that it’s pretty special to be able to call games for the football team you grew up rooting for.
“It was the job that I dreamed of doing as a child,” Weinstein told Brandon Contes in this week’s episode of the Awful Announcing podcast. “I’m only the third person to do it since 1979. So you better be patient about it because this job doesn’t open up very often, and when it does, not only do you have to be ready for it, but you have to be right-place right-time available. They have to then want you, and so there’s a lot that went into it that allowed me the opportunity to do it.
“Being the play-by-play voice of the team is by far, bar none, and not close, the best job I’ve ever had in this industry. It’s everything I had hoped it would be. And I do hope now that I think that, and that’s saying what it was, you know, like now we have a situation where I think a lot of this anger towards the franchise should be alleviated, or hopefully we’ll start the healing process of alleviating that for a lot of people that might want to get back into the Washington football team. And I’m hoping that that carries over so that we start having the community feel of the team that I had growing up that made me want to do this job in the first place.
“The galvanization of our community is the reason why I fell in love with this team and fell in love with the sport and fell in love for what they meant to us. And I’m hoping that they can bridge that meaning again and being any part of it, especially this part of it, is a privilege and an honor to do.
“I told them this when they hired me, I’m never quitting. You’re gonna have to fire me. So, you know, hopefully, I can maintain this position for as long as possible because I dearly love it. And I love being, you know, a passionate loyal representative of what I believe is the most important sports franchise in our nation’s capital.”
Weinstein also balances his time as the host of The Bram Weinstein Show on ESPN Radio 630 AM. It creates the potential for a lot of conflict given the nature of the two roles. However, he feels like he’s able to see the forest for the trees when it comes to the Commanders.
“I’ve kind of always taken the position of like, for me, this team, they are kind of like my family and at times on Sundays, my religion,” said Weinstein. “And, you know, with your family and your religion, not everything they do is great. And so you got to be open to having open conversations with them about how we function together. And I think that’s healthy, you know, to like to sit there and pretend that everything is great all the time is just not reality about anything.
“We’re not stupid. You know, I’ve always said, this is a very educated fan base here. I’m not talking down to anybody, I’m talking with everybody. And if we’re not having honest conversations, then I’m not doing my job.
“Now on Sundays, when I call the games for the team, I gotta keep most of my opinion out of it because that’s just not my job. I’m there to set up my analyst, London Fletcher, Julie Donaldson, anyone else we may have in the booth. I may frame a question a certain way to try to elicit answers, but I’m there to call a game. I’m a representative of the team.”
Contes asked Weinstein if he’d ever been told that he’d been too critical or gone too far when discussing the Commanders on the radio.
“I think everybody goes through it but nothing that really…I think most of the time if those conversations happen, it’s typically someone saying ‘I think you should know this for context,’ said Weinstein. “That’s how it really goes.”
“I think everybody who covers a team goes through that and, in my position, yes, it’s a little more tenuous and I’m aware of that. I don’t wanna make anybody angry.
“But, you know, at the same time, I’ve got an audience to cater to that wants to hear the unvarnished truth and there are limits because actually the hardest part for me, honestly, is that I see more than most of the other media. I’m allowed access to practices that they’re not because of my job. And so I have to be very careful and I would never ever, ever want to put this team at a competitive disadvantage by saying something that I saw that was not to be revealed for public consumption.
“On that side, if I ever do anything like that, I would expect to be fired. And so I’m very careful about that stuff. But telling the story of the team, even if it’s controversial…every once in a while, I’ll say something and somebody will call me and go, ‘I think if you knew this beforehand, you wouldn’t have said that’ and it’s just for context.”