By Christopher Tenpenny
Every football fan dreams of watching their team play in the Super Bowl and for Jonathan Pope, that dream became a reality during Super Bowl LV where he was part of the CBS camera crew and got to watch his childhood team, the Kansas City Chiefs, play in the big game.
“It was pretty rad,” Pope said. “There’s so much preparation and management that goes into it, it didn’t sink in right away. Then during setup, they played the Chiefs’ “Tomahawk Chop” song over the stadium speakers and I just got goosebumps.”
Pope was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline for most of the game and did not get to see a ton of the game while he was working, but as the Chiefs lost 31 -9, it was not such a bad thing for the longtime Chiefs fan.
While being a part of the camera crew during the Super Bowl seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity, this was not Pope’s first Super Bowl.
He was on the field for Super Bowl LIII in 2018. In fact, Pope can be seen at a variety of sporting events all throughout the year. He has covered PGA Championships, KU basketball games, Chiefs and Royals home games and much more. It all started by accident.
Pope graduated from Harrisonville High School in 2001 and went to Missouri State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass media operations. After that, he began to work for Metro Sports and was in charge of logistics.
During games Metro Sports broadcasted, he would help with production, but never behind a camera. One day, a cameraman did not show up to work and Pope volunteered to help out. He fell in love behind the camera and eventually started his career as a freelancer in 2009.
Now Pope can work for whoever wants him as he has built a solid reputation. When asked about how he honed his skills, Pope said it was all about practice.
“I know it’s cliché, but I got lots of repetition,” he said. “I just kind of developed an instinct on where I needed to be and what I needed to be shooting. It started with me doing Chiefs pre-season games and then it became Chiefs home games and now CBS will fly me out wherever they need me during the NFL season.”
Pope earned one of the top television awards. In 2019, Pope was part of the CBS technical broadcast crew for the Masters Golf Tournament. The coverage earned the CBS team an Emmy as the Most Outstanding Technical Remote team during the 41st Annual Sports Emmy Awards. Everyone on the crew, including Pope, were given a personalized Emmy award.
Pope also has a trademark which makes him easier to spot on gameday which started with a gift from his mom.
“My mom kept asking me where I was during games and she could never find me,” Pope said. “She gave me bright orange shoelaces to put in my shoes. After the next game, she still couldn’t see me so I went into Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought the ugliest pair of orange neon shoes so she could always see me.”
Now Pope can be seen wearing a variety of bright shoes of all colors and is easy to spot.
Pope has been at a lot of sporting events and concerts during his career. His favorite game he covered was the American League Wildcard game in 2014 with the Kansas City Royals and Oakland As.
“Just being from Kansas City and feeling the energy of the crowd was awesome,” Pope said. “Then in 2015, when the Royals won it all, it was cool to be on their charter bus and travel during the World Series games.”
Pope’s work Royals fans will recognize the most is the “Salvy splash.” It’s the moment after a Royals home win where catcher Salvador Perez comes out and gives a Gatorade bath to whoever is being interviewed. Pope was the camera man for most of those interviews from 2014 to 2016 and said he got soaked almost every time.
While Pope’s job allows him to rarely be home, traveling around the country and covering major sporting events is a dream come true, even if it was not his original plan.
“I never thought this is what I would be doing,” Pope said. “I went to school for something else and just kind of fell into this. To me, it’s the best job in the world and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”