Finding Your Calling: An Interview with Jim Nantz, CBS Sports Commentator & 2016 Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum Speaker

Shelley Dean

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Few sports commentators are more respected or well-known than Jim Nantz. From the Super Bowl to the Masters to the NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball, Nantz has covered it all during his more than 30 years at CBS. Nantz has not simply covered the biggest sporting events in the world, he has excelled at each of them. His ability to entertain audiences led him to receive three Emmy Awards and to be named National Sportscaster of the year five times.

“It has been my dream to be a sports commentator since I was 11 years-old,” revealed Nantz. “Through my teenage and college years I worked every angle, I did everything in my power to make that dream a reality.”

In September Nantz will be a speaker at the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum where he will share how perseverance and passion have propelled him to the top of his field.

Nantz was the first commentator in history to complete the triple play of covering the Super Bowl, the Masters and the NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball in the same year – but that feat was nothing new for Nantz. He has always been a trailblazer. He was the youngest sports commentator in history to be named to the Pro Football and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Though two of Nantz most cherished achievements, Nantz’s calling in life was much greater than any award or accolade.

"I was put on this planet to do more than call great sporting events, but to use that platform for a greater good,” explained Nantz. “My father and I have the same voice, he may not have ever been on TV, but it’s his voice that has provided my success. I knew that I had to use that to achieve a greater calling.”

Nantz parlayed his professional success to bring attention to a very personal calling – the fight to end Alzheimer’s. After watching his father suffer with the disease for 13 years before finally succumbing to it in 2008, Nantz knew he had to use his voice to bring attention to this devastating illness. 

After his father’s death, Nantz co-authored the New York Times Bestseller Always By My Side, a book chronicling his father’s long journey with Alzheimer’s. The book galvanized the Alzheimer’s community, bringing together partners, children and caretakers, and becoming the catalyst for the Nantz National Alzheimer Center (NNAC). 

“It is my calling. My life’s work,” said Nantz of the NNAC, a cutting-edge research and treatment center at the Houston Methodist Hospital. The Center is dedicated to funding innovative diagnostic discoveries for early and accurate detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementing illnesses in hopes of one day finding a cure.  

“My wife and I work tirelessly with an outstanding team to increase funding for research and generate awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the possible effects that concussions have on these diseases,” said Nantz 

Under the leadership of Dr. Stanley Appel and Dr. Joseph Masdeu, the NNAC has become a world-renowned center with a focus on improving care and treatment for patients through the advancement of scientific research, the investigation of the causes of this debilitating disease, and provision of effective tools, guidance and support for patients’ families and caregivers.

Nantz believes in surrounding yourself with a good people and going for the win in everything you do. That is what he has done at NNAC and what he is doing in his most recent venture.  

After many years of researching wine, and a chance meeting with wine entrepreneur Peter Deutsch, Nantz is following another long time calling – wine production.  

Deutsch approached Nantz at a restaurant to tell him how his book reminded him of his own relationship with his father. Inspired by their shared passion for wine and a deep respect for their fathers they partnered to form Deutsch Nantz Alliance (DNA) and created ‘The Calling’ wine brand.  

“I had a concept – to craft a high quality, iconic brand,” said Nantz. “I just had to find someone who shared the vision and passion and when I met Peter I realized we could team up and build something special.” 

Nantz, like many of the speakers, knows Mr. Blanchard personally. Nantz met Mr. Blanchard at the Masters many years ago, calling him a ‘gentle spirit with a presence that he knows how to lead and produce greatness.’ Nantz will be a featured speaker at the 11th Annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University. The event, named in honor of Jim Blanchard, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Synovus Financial Corp., is the premier leadership event in the region and offers an intimate setting with some of the world's foremost leaders. The 2016 event is scheduled for September 12-13, at the Columbus Georgia Convention and Trade Center. Tickets and tables are available online at