The last time Andrea Kremer came to Atlanta to cover a Super Bowl, she was eight months pregnant. The Rams were based in St. Louis. And her son William decided to come early. CONTRIBUTED BY BEN LIEBENBERG / NFL
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A funny thing happened the last time the Rams, Andrea Kremer were here

Well, well. The Rams and Andrea Kremer are back in Atlanta. For the Super Bowl.

If that doesn’t spell trouble or tickle your funny bone just a little, you probably weren’t paying attention the year Atlanta hosted its second Super Bowl.

But a funny thing happened.

It’s January 2000, four days until Super Bowl XXXIV, a matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the St. Louis Rams. Kremer, eight months pregnant and the first full-time female NFL game analyst, was finishing up dinner with her boss and his wife at Canoe restaurant in Vinings, 3,000 miles away from her husband and home.

But no worries.

Kremer had checked in with her OB-GYN and been cleared for travel. After all, which was more improbable: Atlanta having an ice storm or Kremer giving birth at the Super Bowl?

By 2000, Kremer was considered a veteran reporter, having covered every Super Bowl since 1985. Before arriving in Atlanta from her home in Los Angeles, she had made stops in St. Louis and South Carolina working for both ESPN and ABC Sports. She was that good.

“When working for different people, whatever assignment I’m doing gets 100 percent of my preparation, 100 percent of my effort and 100 percent of my attention,” Kremer told me recently.

Andrea Kremer poses with her husband, John Steinberg (left), and their son, Will, after receiving the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award last year. Kremer told Will in her acceptance speech that she hoped all the time she spent away from him had been “somewhat validated” by the award. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Compartmentalizing was a skill she learned early growing up in Philadelphia, juggling ballet, swimming, field hockey and tennis throughout high school and then dancing professionally while at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I loved sports my whole life,” she said.

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Although that wasn’t the norm, her parents were very supportive. They bought her books and took her to every game possible, even held season tickets to the Philadelphia Eagles. She could rattle off player stats as well as any seasoned sportscaster, and she was becoming quite the writer.

But it never occurred to her that that could be her life’s work.

And so after graduating from UPenn in 1980, Kremer spent a year in law school before leaving to dance, in New York and Philadelphia, while also starting to do some freelance writing. In 1982, she was named sports editor at the Main Line Chronicle in Ardmore not far from where she grew up.

“I was writing six stories a week, editing, making contacts,” she remembered. “It was a great first job.”

In 1984, she left the Chronicle to work for NFL Films, first as a producer and then as an on-air reporter for the national syndicated show “This Is the NFL” and claiming an Emmy nomination for writing and editing the critically acclaimed “Autumn Ritual.”

Her stint with NFL Films ended in 1989, when she became the first female correspondent for ESPN, providing in-depth reports for “SportsCenter,” “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Monday Night Countdown.”

Before Andrea Kremer, though, there were few female sportscasters.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t exist,” she said. “There were no women I could look up to and think, I want to do what she does.”

By the winter of 2000, that had certainly changed.

Kremer, in town to cover the Rams-Titans matchup, was nearing the end of her pregnancy. After an earlier miscarriage, it finally looked like she and her husband were going to have a baby.

Andrea Kremer with her husband, John Steinberg, and newborn William Raymond Steinberg, who was born in Atlanta when his mother came to town for the 2000 Super Bowl. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

She finished up dinner and headed to the bathroom that night at Canoe.

“Wow, I heard that women become incontinent at the end of their pregnancy,” Kremer muttered to her boss’s wife when she returned to the table. “I’m kinda peeing on myself.”

They’d made their way back to the Hyatt when Kremer felt another leak. Luckily she was wearing black pants.

Back in her hotel room, she telephoned her husband and told him about the peeing episodes.

Don’t be silly, he told her. Your water broke. Call the doctor right away.

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John Steinberg, possibly the only man who couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, high-tailed it to the airport and purchased a ticket on the first red-eye to Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Kremer and the boss’s wife had made it to Crawford Long Hospital, where doctors decided it best to delay delivery as long as possible.

Steinberg arrived the next morning — on the last flight before the ice storm shut down Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — to find his wife working from her hospital bed and suddenly a subject of the day’s news cycle.

“Pre-eminent football reporter about to give birth,” one headline blared.

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The following Wednesday, doctors decided to induce labor, and on Jan. 26, four days before Super Bowl XXXIV, Kremer gave birth to a small but healthy baby boy they named William Raymond Steinberg, but sometimes call Billy Ray to remind him of his Southern roots.

“You always remember how children were born but not 3,000 miles away from home,” Kremer said. “I am every pregnant woman’s cautionary tale.”

Of course, a lot has happened since the St. Louis Rams bested the Tennessee Titans 23-16 that weekend and Kremer gave birth.

The Rams are now the Los Angeles Rams. Will is a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Washington. And Kremer is, among other things, a multi-Emmy award winner and recent recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, which recognizes “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.” Just days ago, we learned she and Hannah Storm will return to call NFL games on Amazon Prime.

This weekend, she will be covering the Rams again in a duel with the New England Patriots.

God knows how that will turn out. The good news is Andrea Kremer is not pregnant.

Find Gracie on Facebook (www.facebook.com/graciestaplesajc/) and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at gstaples@ajc.com.

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