“I was shocked,” said Paulsen, who had reached out to his contacts at the Ted Leonsis-owned expansion franchise about getting involved with the team in some capacity over the summer. While Paulsen’s sports journalism career began in the fourth grade, his play-by-play experience to this point has been limited to high school sports broadcasts and a summer of Bowie Baysox games.
“Doing play-by-play has always really been my ultimate goal,” said Paulsen, who previously worked as a Redskins beat reporter and has several other gigs outside of his radio show. “I miss being at games. When you’re a beat reporter, you travel around to all the stadiums and you’re at the games and you feel like you’re kind of part of the day. Now, being in studio for Fox 5 and with the Caps coverage I’m doing for CSN, I enjoy that and it’s awesome and I love those jobs, but part of me has always kind of missed being at the games. I think that’s why I want to do play-by-play.”
A Valor spokesperson said the team is still searching for the right broadcaster partner — or partners — to pair with Paulsen and hopes to announce the entire broadcast team in early 2017. The team has yet to decide whether Paulsen will travel with the Valor, or if he’ll call road games from a studio in D.C. All games will be streamed on Monumental Sports Network, Leonsis’s subscription-based digital platform. Baltimore’s to-be-named expansion Arena Football League team, which is also owned by Leonsis and introduced Omarr Smith as its coach on Wednesday, will have a separate broadcast team.
A casual fan of the Arena Football League for years, Paulsen said he plans to watch game film with Valor Coach Dean Cokinos before the season to learn some of the intricacies of AFL strategy. He expects that part of his role as the Valor’s play-by-play man will be to help fans understand the indoor game.
“I think a lot of people compare it to the NFL, and they shouldn’t,” he said. “It’s a different brand of football. I think the amount of offense and the scoring make it a really easy, neat thing to watch on television, and it’s a good product as far as broadcasts go, but it could be difficult to call, probably, because of the pace. … The more I can educate and know about the concepts and nuances of the AFL, the better.”
Paulsen, who was at Verizon Center for the Valor’s uniform unveiling on Saturday, said he’s also looking forward to the behind-the-scenes access to the team that’s not at broadcasters’ disposal in most leagues.
“It’s a great chance to do something with a team that I think is going to have success here, and a lot of people are going to get to like,” Paulsen said. “If I wasn’t calling the first game in the booth, I would’ve been there as a season-ticket holder, as a fan, because I think the idea of it is really, really cool, and I’m excited about it.”