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EX-NFL QB WORKS HIS WAY UP TO THE SIDELINES

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Come and listen to a story about a man named Malone.

No, not that one. Or even that one."Professional athletes generally jump right into the booth to be an analyst," says Mark Malone, a nondescript. ex-NFL quarterback now working the sidelines on ESPN telecasts. "There's nothing wrong with that. These guys have a marquee value.

"But while I spent 10 years in the NFL and reached a level of success, I'm probably not going to the Hall of Fame unless I visit.

So I started in this business from the bottom."

The climb to the present has taken him three years and to a plum assignment on the high-profile football telecasts.

"I learned how to write, learned about production, learned about being an anchor on a local level," Malone remarks, "I wanted to be remembered for other things outside of football telecasts. If you only do football, you become pigeon-holed by your peers and by viewers, I wanted the transition to be a complete one. I wanted to be a good journalist, be able to do the `newsy' features.

"Every day is a learning experience. but I feel like I'm starting to scratch the surface. People in the business are beginning to take me seriously."

And Malone is wise enough to accept football assignments which will bring him both visibility and credibility.

"I'm amazed at how big this production is each week," Malone says of ESPN's Sunday night shows. "There are 16 cameras and 12 tape machines, so it's comparable to a playoff of Super Bowl game.

"The NFL has placed quite a few restrictions on the sideline reporter. We realized that and decided to do it differently than the others. We decided to focus on an interesting matchup or player and put an `iso' (isolated) camera on that matchup or player on every play. Then we analyze why he's winning or losing the battle, backing it up with statistics. No one has tried it the way we have, so it's a blueprint. We want to take the telecast a step further."

And, in the process, take Malone's career a step further.