The Friday Five: Dianna Russini

Dianna Russini covers all aspects of the NFL for ESPN. You can catch her reporting, hosting or providing analysis on all ESPN platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter, where she combines information with a penchant for providing a good laugh.

We caught up with Russini for this week’s Friday Five…

1. Who is your biggest mentor?

I’ve never had one person directly guide me throughout my career. My parents have always supported all my career choices and my husband Kevin serves as a 24/7 sounding board. They are truly my core support system, sprinkled with some tough love here and there. It wasn’t until about six years ago that I began paying closer attention to my colleagues and even competitors. Most of my mentors don’t even realize they are my mentors, because I study their style from afar — reading their reports, watching how they communicate, their tendencies when interacting, and how they lead those around them. Journalists like Adrian Wojnarowski, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Bob Ley, Jeff Darlington, Hannah Storm, Steve Levy, John Anderson, Rachel Nichols, Jen Lada, James Palmer, Aditi Kinkhabwala, Suzy Kolber, Mike Greenberg. They all put on clinics through their work and I’m always trying to absorb as much as I can. They have NO IDEA how much I stalk their work and it’s probably a good thing.

2. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Bad texters. I’ve cut great people out of my life because they are bad at responding. Seriously, while people may not think it’s not a professional form of communication, it’s become a mini chat/email used constantly. It’s so easy to write back! The best emailer/text messager I have ever met is ESPN’s president, Jimmy Pitaro. He responds to everyone in minutes. He told me once he was taught as a leader the importance of communication and availability.

I always say to people in my life, if a man that busy can answer emails, you can send me back at least an emoji!

3. What is your favorite book?

I’ve read the book Mind Gym probably 20 times. It’s about how your mind influences your performance as much as any physical skill. It’s essentially about building mental muscle. Former Jets and Browns head coach Eric Mangini gave it to me 12 years ago, told me to absorb some of the lessons in the book, and apply it to my life. It was a valuable gift because the perspective helped me navigate many challenges.

4. If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?

Jesus Christ:  I have tons of questions but also endless thank yous to share.

Bill Belichick: He currently won’t answer my calls or emails, so maybe a nice dinner would get him talking. I make a great chicken Parmesan.

Elvis. When I was growing up, I was mystified by him. I’ve seen every Elvis movie and documentary ever made. My best friend’s mom had an obsession with him, so we did, too. Every Friday night, for almost two years, we watched a movie called “Elvis and Me.” I am still surprised our parents let us watch that at 7 years old!

5. What advice would you give your younger self?

Slow down! The journey can be long but it is just as important as the destination.

Also, while it pains me to admit, my mom is always right.


Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.

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