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November 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Arlo White discusses his new job and time with the Sounders

arlo white mug.jpgThe news became official today: Arlo White is leaving the Sounders to be the play-by-play man for NBC Sports’ soccer coverage starting next year. I caught up with White this afternoon over the phone and here’s the transcript of that conversation:

* * *

(We all face decisions and crossroads in our lives, what made this the right move for you?) “As a broadcaster, coming from the BBC as I did before, I know what national broadcasting is all about and the cache that it holds — also, the responsibility that that holds. I had to weigh that up against a situation in Seattle that I loved. I was enjoying myself tremendously with the Sounders, and following the journey, and getting to know the fans as well as I did, and the coaching staff and the players, and watching the standard of play improve massively over the two years that I was there. But I had to look ahead to the next 10 years of my career really and when someone like NBC Sports comes calling for you, you have to listen. And that made the decision for me really — to go to a national stage. But I will always be thankful for the Seattle Sounders and the organization for giving me the opportunity. I’m especially thankful for the fans for accepting me as quickly as they did. I say this with absolute honesty: They were the two best years of my entire career so far. They’ve made such an indelible impression on me that I’ll never forget it.”

(You’re obviously a big guy on Twitter, what have you made of the reaction you’ve seen so far?) “Regarding Twitter, it’s been a strange week really because it’s been quite sensitive in terms of the buildup to an announcement. I’ve had to keep quiet. Normally I’m a very prolific tweeter and when things were sort of leaking out in dribs and drabs last week, I felt a bit rude ignoring everybody because I’ve made a point to get in touch with as many fans as possible after games, during the week, with little updates here and there. That’s been how I’ve used Twitter. So to suddenly turn around and stonewall everybody, I felt a bit bad about it. When certain things were released — I think it was a tweet from Grant Wahl and an article last week — I had over 300 messages on Twitter. A vast majority of them were expressing disappointment that I was going, but support for the decision that I’d made. That, to me, sums up the Sounders fans. They were so magnanimous about it and so supportive about it, while also being a little disappointed that I won’t be calling all the games next year. That sums up the class of the fans in Seattle. That’s what I’ll miss on a day-to-day basis. A truly magnificent set of people.”

(You’ve mentioned the fans, but what are some other things you’ll miss that made the job you had here special?) “The gameday experience was off the scale really. In fact, it will be even bigger next year with the opening of the Hawks Nest. I hope that NBC does as many Sounders games as absolutely possible. The gameday experience was second to none. And I’ll miss that interaction with fans before the game behind the goal. I’ll miss the roar. I’ll miss the anticipation, and the best seat in the house at the 50-yard line at a jam-packed stadium. I’ll miss the daily interaction with the players and the coaching staff. Sigi was so good to me with information and insight. Adrian Hanauer was fantastic is terms of his accessibility to get information. That insider knowledge and that sense of being a part of a soccer team and a soccer club I think was something that I grew to really love. I’ll miss that on a day-to-day basis, but as I said, in broadcasting terms, in terms of my career and what I’m going to experience in the next few years, it’s going to be something unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I’m looking forward to that immensely.”

(Is part of the plus that you’ll likely be coming to Seattle quite a few times a year?) “I genuinely hope so. You know for a fact that behind the scenes the national TV companies are going to be fighting for Seattle games, because they make fantastic television. They make wonderful spectacles. I’m hoping that the Sounders feature on NBC Sports an awful lot in the first season and in the future. Hopefully, NBC will allow me to come out a couple days earlier and I’ll meet with everybody and reacquaint with everybody and see some old friends. I would like that very much indeed. I’ve left things with the club on such a positive note that I know I’ll be welcomed back there and I’m looking forward to it already.”

(Do you have any idea with what the coverage will entail? Do you know any plans beyond having a weekly game?) “We don’t know the actual details at the moment. It’s all being sorted out behind the scenes, but there will be a pregame presence, obviously a halftime show, but also a postgame show, as well. They’re taking it very seriously. And I know that they’ve got the NBC Sports talk show on a daily basis on what will be the NBC Sports Network as of Jan. 2, so I’m looking forward to Major League Soccer and soccer as a whole featuring on that show, as well. They have a platform, they’ve made a commitment to the sport and to the league, and I’m sure that they’re going to cover it to the best of their ability. They’re certainly taking it very seriously indeed.”

(I saw on Twitter that you’ll be on with the Gasman on KJR later today, do you know if you plan to keep the weekly show going?) “Those plans haven’t been firmed up, but Mike and I have had some Twitter contact and messages. I’m sure we’ll talk about it. I certainly hope so, if he’ll have me. I know we had a good time doing that last season and that’s something I’d certainly like to continue.”

(I believe you still had a year on your contract with the Sounders. How was the team in accommodating this move?) “That’s the major thing really. Once again, I’ve talked about the class of the fans, but the organization as a club to work for, you look at the stature of the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer after just three years, the front office has been absolutely magnificent. Joe Roth gave his blessing to it. Adrian Hanauer gave his blessing to it. They both said they understood the opportunity and what this meant for me in my career and what this meant on a wider level for Major League Soccer, in terms of getting the call to go a national station and to front the coverage for a new company coming into Major League Soccer. So they understood the enormity of it on a personal level and from the sport as a country. As disappointed as they might have been losing me before the end of the contract, they could see the bigger picture, so they were very friendly about it, very amicable about it and I’ll always thankful for that, because I did have another year on my contract and they’ve allowed to go and take this opportunity. To the likes of Joe, Drew Carey, Adrian Hanauer, Gary Wright and the rest of the front office, it’s just a huge thanks for the previous two years, for the opportunity, for giving me everything I needed in my job to succeed and then when this opportunity came about, not standing in my way. I will always, always cherish the opportunity given to me in the two years that I had in Seattle. They were absolutely unbelievable.”

(Did they make you leave a list of candidates for your replacement?) “(laughs) I know they’ve drawn up a list, as you’d expect. I’m not party to who they might be and who might be on that list, but I’ve certainly put a couple names their way for consideration. It would be remiss of me not to at least put a couple of names under their nose for consideration. I’ve left them with that information and they’ll do with that what they will. It’s entirely up to them from this point forward, but I’m available to them as a sounding board if they require, of course.”

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