The athlete and broadcaster lent his voice to competitive matches at E3 this week, giving live commentary on a slate of Nintendo video tournaments. The lifelong fan of Nintendo extols the skills and passion of esports players.
LOS ANGELES — Jordan Kent strides past giant displays of Super Mario, wading through Nintendo employees and fans in the Japanese company’s gargantuan booth at the E3 trade show.
“That’s one of the most exciting things I’ve done for work,” he said.
The thing was giving live commentary on a slate of Nintendo video tournaments here this week, lending his voice to competitive matches of “Splatoon,” “Arms” and “Pokken.”
Kent is in an unusual position for someone diving into esports, as competitive video gaming is known: He has been at the heights of the other kind of sport.
At the University of Oregon, Kent was the school’s first three-sport letter winner since World War II, competing in track, basketball and football.
He was drafted by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, spending two years on the fringes of the roster, appearing in nine games. He was out of the NFL a year later, and today works as a broadcaster in Portland for Comcast SportsNet.
Kent is also a lifelong fan of Nintendo, a habit that began when his family got an NES console when he was 5.
“The gameplay is so fun, the whole philosophy of having fun,” he said. “The characters become part of who you are.”
Kent got on the gaming giant’s radar via Twitter. An Oregon alumnus working at the company saw his posts about Nintendo and invited Kent up for a tour of the company’s North American headquarters in Redmond. Kent returned the favor at Oregon’s football facility in Eugene.
At some point, esports came up, a conversation that this year turned into an invitation to call Nintendo’s tournaments at E3.
Kent studied up, streaming esports broadcasts on his tablet while cooking, and…