BRISTOL, CONN. — The actual games may still be weeks away, but Ivy League football is officially back and ready for the 2019 season, as evidenced by Thursday’s media festivities at ESPN headquarters.
The "worldwide leader in sports" played host to representatives from all eight Ivy teams for a daylong celebration of Ancient Eight football and the expanding partnership between the conference and the ESPN+ streaming service.
Representing the Quakers were coach Ray Priore, senior running back Karekin Brooks, and senior safety Sam Philippi.
As part of the experience, the trio toured ESPN’s massive campus, glanced behind the scenes at content production, participated in a SportsCenter read-through, and, in culmination, joined the studio live on ESPN+.
In that last portion, Priore, Brooks, and Philippi were interviewed by acclaimed television personality and Yale football alum Jack Ford. In addition to answering questions from Ford, the Quakers fielded queries from a host of media members sitting in the studio’s audience.
The questions themselves spanned various topics — from a quarterback battle between Ryan Glover and Nick Robinson to the team’s trip to China last March.
While coach Priore and company did not elaborate much on game plan details, the Quaker representatives did speak glowingly of their spring break trip, citing the “chemistry” and “leadership” fostered by such an experience.
That leadership was on display throughout the interview process, especially when Philippi was asked about his season-ending injury from last year. The two-time All-Ivy honoree refused to deem 2018 a “lost year,” saying instead that his experience last year was “very meaningful” and that, even injured, he was able to be with his teammates “every step of the way.”
Continuing that theme of leadership was Brooks, the star running back and two-time All-Ivy selection. When asked by Ford about Penn football’s unique commitment to community service, Brooks spoke glowingly on the subject, saying that such social consciousness “embodies the Penn football character.”
Penn was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League's preseason poll released last week. The favorite is Yale, followed closely by Dartmouth and Princeton. Penn was one of three teams to not receive one of the 17 first-place votes, along with projected bottom-dwellers Cornell and Brown.
Those projections won't be tested for another month. The day's focus, therefore, seemed to be more on the experience of touring the Bristol studios than answering meaningful football questions. After all, those questions will be answered over ten games in the fall. Touring ESPN's headquarters is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
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