The Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos game on CBS on Nov. 1 was produced by what was likely the first African-American producer and director duo in NFL history, according to The Athletic.
The game was produced by Kimani Morales and directed by Mark Grant.
“I was afraid that my career would end before I had the chance to work with a person of color sitting next to me,” Grant told The Athletic. “I have been privileged to cover many great sporting events in my time at CBS and have sat next to many talented producers. However when my career is over, I want to be remembered as someone who helped open the doors for others who look like me. Kimani and I working side-by-side is just the beginning. Hopefully one day people of color leading a production becomes so common that no one even notices.”
Grant has worked for CBS Sports since 1998 and previously spent a decade at ESPN. He and Morales had worked together prior to the Chargers-Broncos game on non-NFL properties, including last week for a Louisiana-Lafayette-UAB college football and on college basketball games, according to The Athletic.
For Morales, who has been at CBS in various roles since 2000, Chargers-Broncos was his first time serving as a lead NFL producer.
“I’d go with appreciative, bittersweet and hopeful as my main thoughts,” Morales told The Athletic. “I’m appreciative because there was no guarantee this day was coming. Without Mark it doesn’t happen. Without belief from management it doesn’t happen. Without great co-workers who pass down knowledge and support it doesn’t happen. But it’s also bittersweet because it is crazy how few Black producers and directors exist when the main sports we cover have so many Black athletes and fans.”
Morales said that changing the norm is top-of-mind. According to 2018 data from the U.S. government, 6.93% of producers and directors across all industries are Black, while 77% are white.
“So how do we change that? Answering that question is my mindset right now because if we all operate the same as it was not much will improve. I am hopeful since I’ve seen the Black community at CBS Sports unite to support one another and actively work with management on planning out steps for short term, long term and systemic change,” he said. “The goal is to have a day like today become ordinary, and I think with everyone pulling in the same direction it can happen.”
“CBS management is very aware of the lack of African-American producers and directors and is aggressively making a push to give deserving people of color a chance,” Grant said.