Corey Taylor was working in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, when the now legendary New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason blocked a punt in the first real home game since Hurricane Katrina.
And he was working in the Superdome for the 10th anniversary of that Monday night game when the Saints hosted the Falcons on Sept. 26.
But Taylor’s roles were much different on each of those nights.
He was a server in a suite as a high schooler in 2006, and the Northwestern State University broadcast graduate returned to his native New Orleans as a production assistant in his first season with ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
Taylor said he experienced a flood of emotions when he stepped inside the Dome for a game against the Falcons 10 years later.
“It was a surreal feeling, but it feels like everything has come full circle,” Taylor said in an e-mail. “I walked back to the area where we waited outside for the Dome to reopen 10 years ago.
“I had mixed emotions at first because that night 10 years ago, it makes you remember how tough it was to get back home. That game was special to all of us. To now work on the production of this game was truly a humbling experience.”
Taylor, who grew up in New Orleans East, was pushed out of his city by Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Rita forced his he and his family out of Lake Charles a month later, but they returned to New Orleans to rebuild.
“Losing pretty much everything in Katrina was the toughest process I’ve ever had to deal with,” said Taylor, offering condolences to those in the Baton Rouge area rebuilding after historic flooding. “There’s a lot that goes into rebuilding, but if you believe, you can make it happen.
“You have to be resilient, and it gives you a sense of pride to rebuild after taking such a loss.”
Taylor did much more than help his family rebuild — he made his way to Northwestern State where he worked in a variety of independent student media organizations.
Davey Antilley, a NSU broadcast journalism professor and director of NSU TV, remembers Taylor as a go-getter who produced news and sports packages, was a newscast anchor, filmed as part of the camera crew and hosted his own television and radio shows.
“I can usually tell in the first few meetings if a student is going to be successful, and after just one visit with Corey, I could tell he was going to be able to do anything he put his mind to,” Antilley said. “He was one of those students that if I needed something done, he was the first to volunteer.
“He liked to joke around when not on the air … but when the lights came on, it was all professionalism.”
Taylor, a 2012 NSU graduate in broadcast journalism said his breadth of experience helped him get his foot in the door at ESPN.
“I wouldn’t take back all the hands-on experience I received at NSU for anything,” Taylor said. “The journalism department was a crash course for so many things I still work on today.
“When you’re doing everything from hosting radio shows to reporting and producing for telecasts, you’re learning things that are being used daily by many news companies. My first day at ESPN, we worked on AVID (video editing) machines. I had experience working on those for three years, and some of my co-workers had never used one before.”
Handling video is one of Taylor’s primary responsibilities with Monday Night Football. He works in the production truck logging video elements for playback during the telecast.
Before Monday Night Football, Taylor worked in remote production for college football and NFL games as well as the NBA Draft and the National Spelling Bee in his first three years at ESPN. Taylor also helped produced ESPN’s hallmark show ‘SportsCenter.’
“I grew up watching sports daily, so ESPN was always a job I’d hoped for,” Taylor said.
“I attended a television/news convention in New Orleans, and that’s how I found out about a production assistant position at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
“It’s a competitive business, so students should get the reps you need in school. When you’re finished, you’re confident in whatever direction you choose in what’s a really broad field. NSU prepared me for that.”