Kay Adams Is Betting Against the Spread
“I know I want to be credible and I know I want to be entertaining,” says the infectious and in-demand sports broadcaster Kay Adams, sitting down for a Pilsner in the lobby bar of the Crosby Street Hotel in downtown New York. Adams, 36, born to two Polish immigrants, has in a few short years become a kind of lodestar for sports enthusiasts, that rare combination of encyclopedic knowledge and telegenic charm. For six years, on NFL Network’s daily morning show “Good Morning Football,” she manned the panel of analysts with pep and discretion, shepherding conversations between pundits along thoughtfully—no small achievement in the world of sports talk shows, where spirited dialogue frequently goes left, mired in crosstalk and provocation. If female anchors on these programs are often deputized as moderators of a sort, introducing topics for their male co-panelists to then debate, Adams had come to transcend the role, acting as both diplomatic host and bona fide expert in her own right. “I’m a natural conversationalist,” she said, taking a swig of beer. “I wasn’t just somebody passing everyone else the ball. I had things I wanted to say. And now, I have a whole hour where I can say them, and make the decisions about who the guests are.”
Adams is referring to her new show, “Up & Adams,” to which she decamped over the summer after her contract with NFL Network ran out. Airing everyday at 11am on FanDuel TV, the streaming arm of the billion-dollar sports betting company FanDuel, “Up & Adams” exhibits its host with free reign, cultivating the kind of laid-back, water-cooler atmosphere that suits her aptitude for humor, statistics, and easy repartee. “It’s such a win, as a host, to be able to draw something out of someone when you get in the rhythm of talking to them, disarming them, asking them questions,” Adams says of her new show, whose guest list so far reads like a Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton. In a November episode, for instance, Adams got NFL star DK Metcalf to talk candidly about the now-viral moment when he was carted off the field mid-game—not for an injury, but in order to poop. Days earlier, she hosted Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton in studio for a brainy discussion about the league’s officiating issues. “It happens everyday on ‘Up & Adams,’ and it never happened on ‘Good Morning Football’ because I didn’t have the time.” “Up & Adams,” she adds, “is a bit more chill,” affording Adams a litany of “little freedoms” that weren’t available to her when anchoring a show produced by the largest and most powerful sports league in the country. “Being able to drink a beer,” she notes, “or show a name brand.”
But there are challenges, too. For one, Adams is not a betting woman, and she’s keenly aware of the risks involved in attaching herself to a sportsbook company, even if her show itself doesn’t resoundingly endorse online gambling, which was legalized when the Supreme Court, in 2018, struck down a longstanding federal ban on the practice. Now, betting on sports with your iPhone is legal in 31 states, plus Washington D.C., and FanDuel is set to bring in nearly $3 billion in revenue this year alone. “It’s very new to me,” Adams says, “but I’m smart enough to understand that it’s not going away.” When her deal with FanDuel was announced, some fans assumed she’d be hosting a show about gambling. “It’s not a betting show,” Adams is quick to note. What interests her most, however, is the opportunity to liaise between “the NFL that I grew up loving and the sports betting world, which I knew nothing about. But it’s everywhere, it’s part of our game, it’s in the culture, and there’s a natural human curiosity.” So, in that same spirit, we asked Adams, a proud Cincinnati Bengals fan by way of Chicago, to take the over or under on a number of topics, from how much football merch she owns to how many hours she spends in pre-show glam every morning.
How many pieces of Bengals merchandise do you own?
Over. When I went to Cincinnati I had well under that number, but people brought me so many gifts. I have vintage shirts that I acquired. People were bringing me jean jackets that they worked on and made, and sweatshirts. It was so amazing. What a beautiful run that was last year. So, well over 10.
How many hours do you spend in pre-show glam?
Well under. Oh my gosh, one hour, tops. It’s more lighting and camera. But I do love a glam.
How many hours of sleep do you usually get?
Man, what do I say if it’s right there? It’s not over or under. It’s right around six. But let’s go under. Five-and a half is usually what I get. I don’t need much sleep.
How many hours of football do you watch per week?
Over. We have to watch it all, somehow. The condensed versions of the games on Game Pass are really helpful. It’s 20 or 30 minutes. But I think it still counts for over 15 hours.
How many Super Bowls will Joe Burrow win?
Over. Over two is tough. But I have to say over.
How many apps are on your phone?
Oh, can we count? How am I supposed to know? I mean, look at these things. British Airways, come on. I don’t use any of these. I don’t own a house. I use Google Docs. I use Instagram. I use FaceTime. I can’t Zelle to save my life.
How many jobs have you had?
Bartender, ice cream shop, radio host, waitress, SiriusXM. I would say less.
How many DMs do you get per week?
Over. We should make it how many DMs do you get a week about your feet, and it would still be over a hundred. It’s fine to be into feet. There’s people that you and I both know that are really into feet. I mean, if “Up & Adams” doesn’t work out, I might become a foot model. People make bank.
How many cocktails do you have per week?
Over. Mostly on the weekends, though. I usually have one drink during the week. I don’t really go out during the week anymore. When I lived here in New York, I was reckless. I’d have a show early in the morning, but I would not hold back. I was living my life.
How many times have you yawned on camera?
Well under 10. I’ve never yawned. I’m never tired. That would not be good for the brand. The lights go on and I’m good. I’ve done shows on no sleep. Sneezing, I’ve done that. I’ve coughed, I’ve sworn, I’ve done all that stuff, but never yawned.
How many times has a subject left you starstruck?
Well under. Joe Burrow, I’m such a fan of, but I’m not in awe of him. But meeting his mom and dad, and watching them and learning about them, that was exciting to me. If I met Julia Louis-Dreyfus, though, I don’t think I’d be able to breathe.
How many flights do you take a year?
I’m going to say over. I think I took 50 in Africa this summer alone. We flew everywhere, it was insane.
What’s your ideal stiletto height on set?
Over. I would say I live in the five-inch world. That’s what I like.
How many “elite” quarterbacks are there in the NFL?
[Patrick] Mahomes is the first one that came to mind. Joe Burrow, Lamar [Jackson], Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady. Who am I missing? We can throw [Justin] Herbert in there. That’s seven, so under.
How many more years will Tom Brady play?
Over. He’s going to play next year, but it will not be in Tampa Bay.
How many more years will Aaron Rodgers play?
Hm, I don’t know. And I don’t know if I care. But I’m going to say over.
How many more years will Dan Snyder be an NFL owner?