The last time Seth Meyers took the stage at the ESPY Awards, things could have gone better. “Last year I gave out the ESPY for Best Play to Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes, and that was a big old jinx,” says the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchor, who also happens to be a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. A year later, former Super Bowl MVP Holmes has been traded away for a 5th-round draft pick and, well, let’s just say that Big Ben has had some issues of his own. But the experience didn’t sour Meyers on the event. In fact, he’s hosting The 2010 ESPYs, which premieres July 14 on ESPN.
When it was announced that you would be hosting the ESPYs, you said, “If you asked anyone I played sports with as a kid, they would tell you the only way Seth was making it to the ESPYs was as a host or presenter.” Is that false modesty or are you really not an athlete?
Seth Meyers: No, I’m really not an athlete. The problem is that I look like I actually might be OK at sports, and that’s the real burn. There’s a real fall-off when you put a ball in my hands. … I will say that anyone who picks me for any position [on their team] has made a mistake.
When you do play, what are your sports?
I’m a runner. I can pretty much only do sports that don’t require turning or reaction time. … It was a bummer, too, because I was very covetous of the idea of being an athlete. It was tough because, sport by sport, they rejected me.
How about fantasy sports, though?
Huge fantasy football player. I played two years of fantasy baseball, but I stopped because I wanted my life back. … For me, what I love most about fantasy sports is that it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends. I’m in two leagues with college friends and one league with old Chicago improvised friends.
Is there anyone you’re especially hoping to meet at the ESPYs?
I have been very lucky — you know, I’m a huge Red Sox fan and I’ve done some stuff for the Red Sox over the years, like some charity events, so I’ve gotten a chance to meet a lot of the 2004 Red Sox, which is as good as it gets for somebody like me. … I just have so much respect for athletes who get invited to the ESPYs because that’s sort of the top of their game. I’m a big soccer fan, but I think because of the World Cup, there’s probably not going to be a lot of soccer players there.
One of the categories at the ESPYs is Best Moment. What are some of the sports moments that have stood out to you in the past year?
Well, I went to my first Olympics. I went to Vancouver and it was really outstanding. I saw speedskating and I saw Apolo Ohno. … And I was there with my girlfriend, so we went and watched pairs figure skating. I kind of went in with my arms crossed, and was so impressed. … She left the day before me, so we went to the short program together. Then the next day I went without her to see the long program. I was sold.
A lot of sports stars have crossed over into your world and hosted SNL. Who have been some of the best?
Well, first place sort of all alone — Peyton Manning. We kind of had high hopes for him because he’s so funny, and he was really good. The question is, do you consider The Rock an athlete? Maybe it’s not fair, but he’s great. [Charles] Barkley, for me, was just fantastic. He’s not the actor that Peyton is, but he certainly a giant, oversized personality which is always fun for our show, and he’s more than willing to make fun of himself, which is great. And I would also put Tom Brady pretty high on the list. And LeBron [James] was really fun.