Jackie Maldonado, Director of Game Presentation and Live Entertainment Producer for the Houston Texans

What ultimately drew you to the NFL?

Yes, the NFL only has 10 home games per season, but the difference between those and the NBA teams’ 41 home games is what a fan expects and what you experience on a game day. The big games of the NBA are opening night, games on TNT or ABC, or big matchups. Those were games I loved. The NFL has 10 games that all count. It doesn’t matter if it’s pre-season or mid-season, they create a premiere feeling every game of the year.

An NFL fan has his jersey on, his face painted, and stands and cheers for more than three hours. What they experience and expect from the gaming experience is very important to us. I love that pressure of doing 10 opening nights and meeting the expectations of the fans that come to an NFL game.

I’ve never thought about it, but this is really interesting. Can you explain what your job entails?

The game presentation creates the atmosphere for our fans. We essentially create everything other than the games on the soccer field. It’s the talent or celebrity on the field before the game, cheerleaders, the mascot, the music, the call to action urging the fans to stand up and get loud, corporate features on the video board, halftime show, on-field actions, etc. It creates that fun element of the game day, but we’re also the intensity that brings the stadium to life.

How many changes do you make to your matchday production year over year?

That’s something we’re really proud of here at the Texans. We don’t just keep developing our show year after year. It evolves from game to game. Our season ticket members are very important to us, and we don’t want the show they watch in week 1 to be exactly the same show they watch in the final game of the season. For example, one partner has one feature for half the season and a second for the other half, and we’ll rotate these throughout the game. We do this for multiple partners to create variety for our season ticket members. This is our challenge. We want our fans to enjoy it and feel like they have a different experience every time they come to a game.

Okay, how does match day look for you?

It’s crazy. It’s production meetings, rehearsals, pre-game show, the game itself, and a post-game show. On a typical Sunday, when the game starts at 12pm CT, I arrive at the stadium around 6am. Our first production meeting is at 7am and we go to rehearsals from 8am to 9:45am via doors open. Once that happens I’ll be up in the press box making sure everything is in place and we get ready for our pre-game show which goes right into the production of the game. It ensures cues are given as the team steps onto the field, talent is where it needs to be and game day comes to life. I’m in the press box and I talk a lot. We don’t rest until well past zeros on the clock because we’re going straight into our postgame show. That’s roughly a 12-hour day.

Once the headset is on, it’s difficult to even take a bathroom break. I give the DJ music or other features all the time. On match days, I’m intentionally very dehydrated. It’s about constant communication to run the game and make sure everyone is where they need to be.

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