Brad Feldman has established himself as the voice of the New England Revolution after 22 years in the booth, but things could’ve been much different if he took offense to MetroStars General Manager Nick Sakiewicz throwing a water bottle back in 2001.
With the MetroStars on the verge of their first road win in four outings, Johnny Torres went down in the box due to a foul by Richie Williams. Caté converted the penalty kick, bringing the score line to 1-1.
Sakiewicz’s actions on the sideline summarized the emotions of the visitors as the General Manager believed that Torres had taken a dive. It also left Feldman with a choice.
“He threw a water bottle that hit the leg of the bench and it ricocheted off of the stanchion and hit my foot,” Feldman told The Bent Musket. “I remember thinking to myself ‘He didn’t throw it at you, he threw it out of frustration. You could make a big stink out of this like go at him or report him or whatever and there was a part of me that was like I don’t want people to see me punked here.’ Nobody wants to see the sideline reporter and the general manager of the visiting team, well a lot of people would probably love to see that, but I wouldn’t be sitting here having that conversation with you.”
Feldman remained calm, opting not to say anything on air. Feldman had an opportunity to confront the General Manager in a more private fashion when he saw Sakiewicz pounding on the official’s locker room after the game. The broadcaster decided to remain silent.
“But I was like ‘I’ve worked too hard to get to this point to get in a confrontation,’” he said.
Having just completed his 22nd year with the club, it’s safe to say he made the right decision.
Starting off in radio, the first game Feldman remembers calling for New England over the airwaves was with Butch Stern at Foxborough Stadium. Then a few weeks later Feldman stepped into the world of television, serving as the sideline reporter in that fateful game between the Revs and the New York MetroStars.
“I was pretty tight for that,” he said. “It felt like a big moment for me.”
From that moment came a 20-plus-year career as the voice of the Revolution. Even as the years progressed, Feldman would still get some nerves leading up to kick off.
“On the one hand, if you are not a little nervous in some way you’ve lost your edge,” he said. “That’s what drove me to prepare for every game the same way or prepare more than when I started out because you want to do a good job every time.”
But there is one moment when he felt he took off the training wheels and found his groove in the booth. It involves Feldman’s daughter Miriam who he describes as his guiding light in this life.
Without a teleprompter, Feldman would hang a script with a large font so that he could reference it during games. Miriam visited Feldman in the booth as she does at least once a year and gave her father some advice.
“She said ‘hey dad why do you use that script?’ and I said ‘what do you mean?’”
Feldman went on to tell her that the script isn’t necessarily what he reads live on-air and more just a crutch.
“She was like ‘take the training wheels off, you have been doing this a few years now, you can do it without the script,’ and she was right,” he said.
Feldman became the face of the Revolution TV broadcast. His dazzling suits and passionate play-by-play captured the love and attention of fans in New England.
But he hasn’t been alone on this journey. Feldman is quick to compliment the myriad of personalities that he’s worked alongside in the booth. Whether it be Jon Meterparel on the radio or Adrian Healey, Greg Lalas, Jay Heaps, Jeff Causey, Paul Mariner, and Charlie Davies on the TV side, Feldman had immense praise and gratitude for his colleagues.
Feldman called Healey “one of my best friends in the business,” mentioning that they still speak today and sometimes attend rock shows together. He offered positive remarks about Lalas and even though they fought at times on the air, Feldman said he really enjoyed doing games with him.
Working with Causey and Heaps was intriguing for Feldman as he covered the two when they were still playing. The longtime voice of the Revolution noted the differing perspectives even though both played the game.
“Jay brings a tremendous commitment and intensity to everything he does whereas Jeff has a more sort of laid back approach,” Feldman said.
He added that he didn’t get to spend as much time with them on the road as Causey and Heaps both had jobs outside of soccer along with joining Feldman in the booth.
Feldman’s relationship with Paul Mariner was something special. The two were broadcast parners for over six years. Mariner’s death in July of 2021 rocked Feldman as well as the entire Revolution family.
Feldman called Mariner’s memory “one of the great blessings to the sport and the club and to me individually.” He added that he misses Mariner every day.
“We became friends while he was still the top assistant to Steve Nicol, which is an unusual thing I think,” Feldman said. “It started when he first walked in to go to HR and then we became friends in that first preseason when the Revs went to the Azores. Steve and Paul invited me to watch a game at the pub and we just never really stopped hanging out after that.”
Feldman added that while Mariner and himself come from two very different backgrounds, he likes to think that they both have an optimistic and curious approach to life.
Then there is Feldman’s most recent partner, Charlie Davies. Feldman said that Davies and Mariner have a similar mindset when providing commentary as the two former professional players both had the mindset of a striker.
“Not just for scoring goals and leaning into life but when they’ve got an opinion, when they want the ball they want the ball and they see every referee’s call, almost every referee’s call, through the lens of a striker and you can’t move them off the spot,” Feldman said.
Feldman went on to note that with both Mariner and Davies playing international football they can see things that he might not but they were quite stubborn. Feldman added that he expects great things to continue to happen for Davies when it comes to broadcasting.
Even with Feldman speaking about each individual at length, the play-by-play announcer emphasized that each relationship he had was “special” and “a blessing.”
When it comes to broadcasting Revolution games, there are an abundance of memories for Feldman. Ever since Bruce Arena began managing the Revolution, his halftime interviews with Feldman and Davies have become must-watch television. Whether it be the legendary coach’s Long Island sarcasm or the occasional post-interview headset toss, the broadcasters have been a part of plenty of memorable moments.
Feldman joked that it was amazing that none of the headsets that Arena tossed have actually ended up broken.
“I try to never take it personally when he was gruff,” Feldman said. “He respects the job we’re doing. He’s let us know that and if it ever came across that he was trying to diss us, imagine how he talks to his players. That’s just Bruce.”
One of the TV moments that lives rent free in the brain banks of fans in New England is the infamous “Does anyone know what’s going on?,” halftime interview. A technical snafu left Arena unable to hear Feldman and thus spurned countless hilarious social media posts. Feldman himself even called it a hilarious moment.
“You just have to roll with it,” he said. “That’s live TV.”
Feldman added that the group he worked with helped to limit those mistakes thanks to their great communication.
When Feldman looks back at his time calling games for Kraft Sports and Productions, he doesn’t necessarily want to be known for a specific call or moment. He just hopes that viewers at home could tell how passionate he was about his job and the game of soccer.
“I love doing it,” Feldman said about calling games. “I hope that comes through in my enthusiasm and when I express my gratitude in my sign offs because there are people that know more about the history of soccer or soccer in New England. There are people who know more about the Revolution or MLS than I do. Especially now, [the younger] generation, the information that’s out there, the way people study and approach the game, I’ve got a lot of respect for that but I don’t think there is anybody who brought…”
“There are people that have as much passion as me but I would defy you to find anybody that would be characterized at least as sane who loves it more than I do. I put my back into it in part because I was like ‘this is too good to be true and I can’t screw this up because I want this.’ I feel like it was such a huge opportunity. I would have been just as enthusiastic in Dallas or Kansas City, but this is where I’m from. I was born in New Hampshire. For the most part, 16 of my first 18 years I grew up in and around Boston and I’ve been back here for the last 22-23 years so most of my life I have been in New England.”
Feldman then went on to say that he roots for all the Boston teams and pondered on his experiences with soccer in the region growing up. Along with rooting for the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins, the announcer also fell in love with local soccer teams such as the New England Tea Men.
“I went to watch the World Cup at the Boston Opera House on close-circuit TV,” he said. “I used to go into Harvard Square and spend my allowance on Total Football, World Soccer and I was crushed when the Tea Men moved to Jacksonville so the idea that this ended up being what I did, when there are other things I could have done, I don’t even want to have that discussion. This is what happened and it was so damn great.”
With the upcoming Apple TV deal beginning in 2023, local broadcasts have been nixed with MLS taking control of the game broadcasts. Even as the 2022 season winds down, a lot is unknown.
Whether Feldman continues calling games with the arrival of the deal remains to be seen but he feels grateful that he got to experience the thrill of calling games for the Revolution.
“Whatever happens next, being able to do this for 22 seasons was beyond anything I could have imagined,” he said. “You ask me what my favorite thing is? My favorite thing is that I did it. I can’t believe I did it.”