FOX NFL reporter tells PEOPLE about deciding to go back out on the road to cover the current football season amid the coronavirus outbreak

By Lindsay Kimble
September 29, 2020 03:19 PM
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Lindsay Czarniak
| Credit: Courtesy Fox Sports

It's been a year of change for everyone, but Lindsay Czarniak is taking it in stride — especially when it comes to covering a totally revamped football season.

The FOX NFL reporter is back on the road covering the 2020-2021 NFL season, handling game coverage duties for the network. Things have certainly changed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic — Czarniak is no longer really on the sideline, with her camera crew now positioned in stadiums' front rows.

″I was really bummed because you're a sideline reporter, you want to be down there,″ she tells PEOPLE. ″However, here's what I will say: from experiencing it now for [a few] weeks, it's given me a different vantage point, and it has actually opened my eyes to some unique things that I don't think I would have been able to see last year.″

The lack of fans at most stadiums also opens up what the 42-year-old is able to take in from the field, she says, explaining, ″I heard frustration at a different level than I've ever heard. I heard chatter when the players were upset, and I saw them celebrating in a way that almost gave me chills.″

Says the reporter, ″There's a definite silver lining to the access that we are given now."

Czarniak started her sports journalism career covering the Miami Dolphins at a local news channel in Florida. It was then that she fell in love with the ″storytelling aspects″ of the area, and sunk her teeth into learning more about athletes when they weren't playing their sport.

″I really just love the opportunity to share what's going on, and talk about a game, and cover a game, but also let people understand the context behind it,″ she says. ″My favorite part of the weekend — besides when kickoff happens — is sitting and getting the access to these players and coaches, and just hearing them talk about what they've gone through this week in life.″

Czarniak, who also covers NASCAR for Fox, was faced with a tough decision when it was announced that the NFL season would go on, despite the pandemic. As the mother of two young children — son Delano, 6, and daughter Sybil, 3 — with husband, Today's Craig Melvin, the reporter says her ″first thought" was making sure her family was safe, should she return to traveling for Fox NFL.

Lindsay Czarniak
| Credit: Courtesy Fox Sports

″It makes sense for us, and it's something that I love to do,″ says Czarniak. ″And so that's awesome, but there's always a guilt that I feel. ... But I will tell you, those kids, they have a sense of humor. The past two weeks when I've gotten home, it'll be feet and arms and whatever in our bed at 3:00 in the morning.″

As far as homeschooling the kids, who are in a hybrid in-person and at-home learning model, Czarniak admits the stress involved but says ″I know that I'm not alone, and teachers are doing everything they can do.″

″We're loving the chaos right now, and trying to work through it just like everybody else is,″ she tells PEOPLE.

Credit: Courtesy Fox Sports

But that doesn't mean she hasn't cherished all that extra home time with her family — in fact, she's loved being around Melvin while he films Today from their Connecticut basement.

″I was in the kitchen and I was pouring my third cup of coffee, and then all of a sudden I heard this booming voice downstairs,″ she says, laughing, ″And I was like, 'Okay. Yep.' And I looked at the clock and I'm like, 'It's 11:00, that's him coming on for his show.' "

Says Czarniak, "It's been fun to have more time around each other. ... And it's also been fun to heckle him, because now I have the opportunity sometimes to go down and I'll try to just annoy him right before his show. And that's just fun. It keeps things fresh."