ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay, recovered from COVID-19, opens up about ‘dark place’

ESPN analyst Todd McShay was emotional Wednesday thinking about a reunion with his children, who he hadn't seen in nearly 40 days. Speaking for the first time publicly since his coronavirus diagnosis, a fully recovered McShay said on The Adam Schefter Podcast that he had a newfound perspective on life.

The network's NFL draft guru said he's "fully healthy" and no longer quarantining in his Boston home, paving way for him to finally hold his daughter and son in his arms Wednesday night.

"I'm gonna run down and probably plow over people in front of me and pick (his kids) up at same time if I can do it," McShay said. "I'm gonna squeeze those kids so hard when I see them. Hug my wife (Lauren) and hold on tight. .... I had two physical pictures of my children (in the hospital). One of my daughter and one of my son. When I'd wake up in a dark place, I'd look at them and it'd inspire me to keep going and keep fighting."

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The 43-year-old McShay said he tested positive for coronavirus at the worst possible time – right before the NFL draft when his year-long hard work and on-the-clock coverage was ramping up. He kept trying to push through his symptoms before getting admitted to the hospital and announcing he was battling the virus on April 23. He said the ultimate decision to miss the NFL draft, where he was expected to be the main voice on the ABC/ESPN studio for the first time in years of reporting, was heartbreaking.

"I got really dark in the hospital," McShay said. “I knew the draft was going on and I couldn’t watch it. I didn’t watch the draft until Saturday night. I woke up late that night and there was a re-air and I started watching it then because I knew it was over. For whatever reason, I couldn’t watch the draft knowing that I wasn’t a part of it, wasn’t on it, and I felt like I was letting everyone down."

McShay jokingly said he was watching "Magnum, P.I." in his hospital bed because he couldn't bring himself to watch the draft. He described coughing constantly, having a hard time breathing, sleeping for 15 hours straight at times and finding it hard to gather energy for a text.

"I had to give up. I had to let go, and that was really difficult for me to do," he said. "I was eating peanut butter out of a jar to get something in my body. ... It's hard to explain the exhaustion level. That would be the biggest takeaway in terms of what it did to me physically."

The 2020 NFL draft was aired virtually and experienced record ratings as one of the only live sporting events to air on national television since the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation or postponement of all major sports. McShay was mentioned at the beginning and end of the broadcast. The avalanche of support left McShay deeply touched. He said he finally made the decision to turn over his phone for five days, and when he got it back there were hundreds of texts from coworkers.

"Part of (testing positive) was that I made myself vulnerable," he said. "If there was any time during the year where I was least healthy it's March to early April, getting prepared (for the draft). ...Y ou have to get rid of your phone. I started to get better when I let go, rested and took care of myself. I was in a unique period, but you've got to focus on your core people. If it's wife, husband, children, focus on them."

McShay joined ESPN in 2006 as a college football and NFL draft analyst. He has become a staple of the network's coverage alongside analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

"There's no rush (to get back to work)," McShay said. "The way-too-early mock draft can wait a little bit."


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