Syracuse University Magazine

Matthew Berry '92

Dream Job in Fantasy Sports Worldmatthew berry

Matthew Berry’s mother was recently elected mayor of College Station, Texas. “I am now above the law in College Station,” he jokes. “Stop signs mean nothing to me.” That sense of humor helped Berry launch a successful writing career in Hollywood and become the face of fantasy sports for ESPN. In the past decade, fantasy sports—especially fantasy football—have swept the nation. Participants form leagues, draft real-life players onto their teams, and square off in games, with players’ individual statistics determining who wins each contest. Millions of sports fans play—and for many of them, Berry is a sage. “College Station is where I first discovered fantasy sports,” he says. “When I was 14, the original book of rotisserie league baseball came out, and a few buddies wanted to start a league. I joined that league, and it is still together 26 years later.”

Berry credits some of his success to his days at SU, where he majored in producing for electronic media at the Newhouse School and found his calling in student media. He worked in student radio (WJPZ) and television (UUTV), and wrote for The Daily Orange. And the tiny budgets of student media helped him develop his creativity, overcome challenges, and build confidence. “You had to make due with whatever you could find,” says Berry, who is featured in the Newhouse Professional Gallery for his TV and movie work. “It forced you to be creative.”

While Syracuse provided a great start for a career in media, Berry had to learn about the ins and outs of fantasy sports, their burgeoning place on the Internet, and their media presence along the way. After all, it wasn’t like there was a designated career path for becoming a fantasy sports expert. But first, he had his sights on Hollywood. After graduation, he set off for Tinseltown, where he worked as a screenwriter for Married With Children and other television shows and co-wrote the feature film Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles with Newhouse classmate Eric Abrams ’92. Berry also continued playing fantasy sports. In 1999, he became a writer for RotoWorld.com as  “The Talented Mr. Roto,” offering fantasy analysis with humor and pop culture references. In 2004, he launched his own web site, TalentedMrRoto.com, and his audience grew along with fantasy football. Berry promoted his site heavily, appearing on ESPN Radio regularly. The network took notice. “ESPN called me about being a writer. They needed a fantasy guy, a guru like Mel Kiper, for fantasy sports,” he says, referring to the NFL Draft expert. “They wanted my column and said, ‘We want to buy your web site,’ and I said, ‘Sounds good.’”

Mr. Roto hasn’t slowed down. In 2006, he became ESPN’s senior director of fantasy sports, assuming a dual talent/management role. Two years later, Berry shed his management duties and was named senior fantasy sports analyst. He appears regularly on all the network’s platforms, and his good-natured personality and passionate yet humorous outlook have paid off. In September, Berry was made a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame.

These days, Berry doesn’t get to Syracuse often, but enjoyed speaking to students a few years ago, something he would enjoy doing more often. And his fondest memories of the University? “I loved working at the student TV station,” he says. “That was a lot of fun. I made some great friends at Syracuse who I’m still in touch with today, and my oldest fantasy football league is composed of all fellow SU ’92 guys.” Also on that list: Varsity Pizza, Sal’s wings, Orange basketball, and Newhouse professors Michael Schoonmaker ’83, G’85, G’94 and Lawrence Mason Jr. G’79, G’85. “I also enjoyed the one month of the year that it was warm,” Berry adds. 

—Sean Chaffin