An unexpected path to a very animated sports career

by Joe Rapolla (FCRH ’13)

When Kenneth “Kenny” Pordon (FCRH ’07) was an undergraduate at Fordham, he was sure of one thing: He wanted to work in sports. Mr. Pordon was right on the money, but he’s found himself in places in the industry that he hadn’t expected.

“Originally, I was working at WFUV and was sure I wanted to be in broadcasting, on air,” he recalled. “Eventually, I realized that I liked the business side of things much more.”

Today, Mr. Pordon is the coordinator of fan strategy and marketing for the National Football League. The fact that this wasn’t his original plan is not too unusual; it often takes a trial-and-error approach for people to narrow down where they want to be within an industry. All experience is valuable, however, and Mr. Pordon said that his years with WFUV and a stint as an intern with ABC opened the door for him to the NFL’s Junior Rotational Program.

This program is the NFL’s entry-level gateway. After a long, detailed application and interview process, accepted applicants begin work in a variety of areas, from assisting the commissioner on reports to hauling boxes at events.

“When you’re in the JRP, working hard and being detailed-oriented is key,” Mr. Pordon said. “Whatever task you are handed, you have to take it seriously and do it well.”

Mr. Pordon did, and in more than three years in the program, he became involved in some huge projects, such as Super Bowl concerts, NFL drafts and the league’s efforts to expand to the United Kingdom. One of his most significant achievements was developing a financial model for Thursday Night Football’s over-the-air syndication deals. Mr. Pordon left the rotational program last March to take his current position.

Right now, he is on the production team of RUSH ZONE, an animated show that the NFL produces for Nicktoons. “RUSH ZONE is very important to us because it exposes a young market to the NFL,” he said. “We’ve found that the our best fans, the ones who go to a game or more per year and continually buy merchandise and apparel, are those who began watching football as children or teenagers.”

“The earlier we tap into this market,” he added, “the better the experience will be for future fans, since we will have greater ways of serving them.”

Seven years ago, if you were to tell Mr. Pordon that he would be working with the NFL in fan relations and animation, he would have said you were crazy. The path to success and happiness is often unpredictable.

“I never would have thought I would have wound up in animation,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I love it, and I can’t see leaving.”

 

 

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