SBD/January 24, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Weekend Plans With HBO Sports' Ken Hershman: Dinner Parties, Crossword Puzzles

Hershman and family are long-suffering NFL Jets fans
The Northeast has been hit hard with snow and freezing temperatures again this week, stirring up even more conversation on the NFL’s first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl. HBO Sports President KEN HERSHMAN, a New Jersey resident, said, “The Super Bowl, I dunno, I think they’re getting a little nervous.” Though a regular at MetLife Stadium for Jets games, Hershman said he gave away his Super Bowl tickets and will instead host a viewing party at his home in Morris County. “Too cold and too chaotic for us,” he said. “I know going anywhere near that stadium on the weekend will be crazy.” But before Hershman can turn his attention towards football, he has to get through a jam-packed schedule this weekend that includes a retirement party, a Saturday night boxing match and Sunday family dinner.

GOODBYE IS NEVER EASY: Our longtime boxing director MARC PAYTON is leaving to retire after 33 years with the network. So we’re having a Friday night sendoff for him, which should be very special. He’s just one of those industry sweethearts that everybody who encounters him respects his work and more importantly loves him as a person. He’s going to be really missed, but he’s done it for so long and he deserves a break. He wants to travel and enjoy the nice things in life and he’s earned it. We’re going to miss him but we’re going to keep tabs on him and keep pulling him back in to support us as we need it, especially as we develop a new director. ... We prepared a nice video tribute for him and it’s going to be really fun.

THREE'S COMPANY: On Saturday I’ll go to the gym in the morning. One of my daughters is home from college so we’ll probably go to a little local dinner, have some eggs and catch up. I have three daughters. One named JILLIAN, who lives in New York, and the other two are in college. My oldest is home for the winter break, and she’s very much into the theatre. So if we can catch Broadway shows together or see some movies, she likes that kind of thing. My middle daughter, she goes to the University of Wisconsin so we go out there and go to Camp Randall Stadium and watch football games and hang out with her and her friends. But now she’s in Spain studying a semester abroad, so we’re going to go visit her over there. The little one, she’s 18, is all about sports. So she always wants to go to a Knicks game or a boxing event or whatever. We’re also long-suffering Jets fans so we like to do those games as well.

MAN'S BEST FRIEND: We have two puppies and they’re a handful, but they’re great dogs. One is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the other is a combination of a Cavalier and a Cocker Spaniel. We enjoy them. We had a Welsh Springer Spaniel that passed away a few years ago, so we’ve only had these guys for about eight months now. I have an extensive travel schedule so they keep my wife company while I’m away. But we have some trails nearby and a dog park and a fenced-in yard, so I like to run around with the dogs for a little bit before I head into the city and get ready for the fight.

A GOOD, CLEAN FIGHT: Saturday night we have our first boxing event of the year in New York City at Madison Square Garden. So I get to come in and go to the mecca of boxing, see one of our up and coming boxing stars in MIKEY GARCIA in what will hopefully be an exciting fight. And there’s a whole bunch of activities around that fight that I’ll be attending. ... There’s not a lot for me to do the day of the fight, it’s really up to my production team. So what I’m doing is networking and talking to people and working on plans for future events.

PRIME SEATING: I go to my seat and I get to enjoy the fight as every fight fan in the arena gets to do. Sometimes I’ll sit as a fan just in the regular seats, and other times I’ll sit at our production table where I can listen to the telecast. It depends on if I have guests with me or if I’m by myself. If I’m by myself, most of the time I’ll sit with the media in the production area and listen to the telecast and be able to interface with the boxing press while the fight’s going. My youngest daughter is a big fight fan, she loves to come so she’ll be coming Saturday night. My wife and my other daughters like all the hoopla around the fights, and just tolerate the boxing part.

PUZZLE ME THIS: I love the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, and it comes on Saturday, which is the best. And I love to get up in the morning early, after the gym, pick the paper up from the driveway and have a chair in a room where no one else is, while everyone is sleeping, and do the crossword puzzle. That’s my guilty pleasure for the weekend.

GATHER 'ROUND THE TABLE: We have a Sunday night dinner with my wife’s family and us, it’s a tradition every Sunday night and that’s how we sort of end the weekend. I grew up here and my wife grew up in New Jersey. Her parents are here, my parents are still in the area and her sister and their family are still here. So we run around and buy food and wine and dessert for that and then prepare that big meal. We host it at our house or theirs -- it rotates but no official schedule. ... My brother-in-law’s a real chef so it gets pretty complicated, but he does all the cooking and I just drink the wine.
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