Before he was one of the nation’s most prominent NFL reporters, Adam Schefter was a freshman at the University of Michigan looking for something to do with his time.
First, he tried to rush a fraternity, but that didn’t work out. Then he went to the football offices, looking to help out, but they didn’t have a job for him. He went to the basketball team’s office for the same reason, and they didn’t have anything for him to do, either.
It took three misses, but Schefter eventually found something to pour himself into: The Michigan Daily. It changed his life.
“I was always very curious about newspapers,” Schefter said in a phone interview. “I loved sports growing up, and that kind of combined two interests when I had no other opportunities. And it just led to, honestly, just a thought. I never, never, never imagined that it would turn into my vocation.”
Schefter, now an ESPN NFL Insider who appears on numerous NFL shows on the network, in addition to frequently contributing to ESPN.com and ESPN Radio, arrived at the Daily as a timid freshman, one who was still finding his way. But eventually, he found a passion. By the time Schefter graduated from the University in 1989, he had served as the paper’s managing sports editor and covered Michigan hockey, men’s basketball and football for the Daily.
“It was something that captivated me and interested me and motivated me,” Schefter said. “I loved it. I was drawn to it.”
An airport conversation during what Schefter believes was his junior year helped solidify his career path.
He was waiting for a flight to cover a Michigan men’s basketball game in Minnesota when he approached Detroit Free Press sports writer Thomas George, who was on the same flight. In their conversation and the ones that followed, George helped convince Schefter that sports journalism was actually a viable career path.
“To me, that was something that was unattainable, something that somebody else did, not me,” Schefter said. “The more I talked to him, the more I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I can try this.’ ”
And Schefter did. After graduating from the University, Schefter earned a master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism before starting a newspaper career. He worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post before transitioning into television.
He considers the Daily to be the launching pad of his career, a place where he was able to learn about himself and his future profession.
“If I didn’t go to the Daily, I wouldn’t have done this,” Schefter said. “It set me on a path to doing what I am doing today. If I hadn’t gone down there, I can’t imagine that I would have left college and all of a sudden decided, ‘OK, maybe I should try to become a sports writer.’ ”
One of the experiences that stands out most to Schefter from his Daily career was the opportunity to cover legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler in his penultimate season, Schefter’s senior year.
Schembechler held court at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor every Monday, and Schefter never missed a single one. He loved listening to the coaching icon and learning from his experiences.
“I’d go and I’d have my best meal of the week, lunch on Monday, Weber’s Inn, and I’d get to listen to Bo Schembechler,” Schefter said. “What was better than that? Getting a free meal and getting to listen to Bo? It didn’t get better than that.”