Old habits tend to die hard when Dale Earnhardt Jr. is involved.
A motorsports legend, Earnhardt joined NBC’s NASCAR coverage in 2018, only months after he stopped being a full-time racer. Nearly three years later, Earnhardt is still applying his tricks and tactics that made him such a successful racer, but he’s now doing it with a microphone in his hand.
Dale Earnhardt Jr .joined the broadcast booth after he retired
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined an extremely long list of notable athletes who immediately pursued a broadcasting career when their playing — or, in Earnhardt’s case, racing — days ended.
Earnhardt had done some broadcast work during his 19-year racing career. NBC wisely scooped Earnhardt up in 2018, months after he retired, and gave him numerous platforms.
Earnhardt hosts a podcast, Dale Jr. Download, and is on the network’s NASCAR coverage. He is expected to continue in his color commentating role next season.
Barring any changes, the 2021 NASCAR season will start in February at Daytona.
Earnhardt Jr. is a mainstay on NBC’s NASCAR coverage
Television networks have wisely tried making popular athletes a mainstay on their broadcast coverage immediately after they retired.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo signed with CBS in 2017, months after his final game, and instantly became a fan favorite. Romo signed a long-term deal with CBS earlier this year that will pay him roughly $17 million per year.
Fox gave ex-Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez a chance on the network’s baseball coverage. Rodriguez has thrived in the studio there, although his work at ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball is a far different conversation.
By his own admission, Earnhardt hasn’t been perfect. He has acknowledged that his brutal honesty leaves other drivers “annoyed,” including friends of his.
However, Earnhardt has proven NBC correct in their decision to hire him and give him numerous platforms. The two sides appear to have a bright future together.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is using a sense of competition to thrive
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is using familiar tactics to leave a lasting impression and legacy at NBC.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Earnhardt acknowledged that his racing career brought an “addiction to competition.” Even in retirement, Earnhardt can’t shake free from those addictive tendencies.
“I make a competition out of everything. I walk out of the broadcast booth after every race and I grade it. I’ll say it wasn’t that good or we did a great job. It’s a competition with no one other than myself. You want to win in life, no matter what it is that you do.”
Earnhardt has positioned himself for long-term success with that attitude. It is clear that Earnhardt is eager to be the best at what he does, and he does not view this as solely a way to make money.
NBC also deserves credit for creating an environment that allows Earnhardt not only to channel those tactics but freely express that is how he approaches his work.