The game at Hard Rock Stadium is a double homecoming of sorts for Czarniak, whose sports broadcasting career began in South Florida in 2003. Czarniak was working as a news reporter in Jacksonville at the time, when a chance meeting at a NASCAR race led to job covering sports at Miami’s WTVJ. One of her roles at the NBC affiliate over the next two years was hosting “Fins TV,” a half-hour program that featured stories about Dolphins players’ lives off the field.
In June 2005, Czarniak received a call from the late George Michael, who offered her the sports anchor and reporter position at WRC. She called D.C. home and covered the Redskins regularly for six years before leaving for ESPN.
“If you had said then that I would be going back to cover the Dolphins and Redskins, it’s just crazy,” Czarniak, who handled sideline reporting duties for several Redskins preseason games during her tenure at WRC, said in a phone interview this week.
A Centreville High School and JMU graduate who grew up rooting for the Redskins and still considers herself a fan, Czarniak said she wasn’t surprised that Jay Gruden was fired on Monday after an 0-5 start.
“I feel the pain of the audience I’m reporting to,” said Czarniak, who couldn’t be more happy about the accomplishments of her favorite baseball team, the Nationals, this postseason. “I am excited about the change of identity and philosophy that it is clear the Redskins are taking into this week. In a lot of ways, it’s a fresh start. I’m fascinated to see what the commitment to the running game is going to look like under [interim coach] Bill Callahan. How many carries will Adrian Peterson have? Will it take them back to last year and result in more wins? This is the first glimpse that people will have into what this team could have the rest of the season and what’s worth building on.”
“I know that’s not likely to happen, but I just know what the fan base would react to,” she said. “It feels like you’re in the bottom of the bucket, and what do you do? There are a lot of talented players on that team and I’d like to see them make the most out of what they have. When I heard Tomlin as a rumor, as a Redskins fan I thought, he’s a Super Bowl-winning coach that the players genuinely love who has proven himself, and I got a little excited.”
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