Communication in Action: How Grad John Booty’s Schieffer Degree Helped Him Succeed

John Booty ’98 presents his keynote for the Gorvetzian Family Speaker Series.

How does a shy, young man from Carthage, Texas become a National Football League (NFL) Legend and sports communicator? By learning to overcome his fears and keep moving forward, grad John Booty ’98 explained how he used the tools he learned in his communication courses to succeed on and off the field.

The Department of Communication Studies celebrated its Gorvetzian Family Speaker Series with alumnus John Booty. Booty returned to campus and spent the day talking with undergraduate and graduate students, networking and telling them about his journey. He focused on the power of facing your fears, which for him was public speaking, and never giving up.

“It was truly an honor to host John Booty, a graduate of our department who played TCU football and for eight years in the NFL, and now works as a sports commentator in Washington D.C. and as an organizer of the congressional flag football game,” said Andrew Ledbetter, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Communication Studies. “He entertained our students with great stories and inspired them to use their communication degree to network, build relationships and keep growing throughout life.”

Power of Public Speaking

It started with public speaking. As an athlete from a small town in Texas, public speaking did not come naturally, Booty explained.

“In shyness, I was not going to speak … I didn’t want to be in front of people, I just wanted to play [football]. I didn’t want to be a leader. I was comfortable following,” Booty said.

“I chose communication studies (speech communication at the time) as my major because athletes needed to know how to talk to the media. I was shy and afraid of public speaking, but I wanted to learn how to communicate with others.”

But he knew he had to lean into his discomfort and his fears to reach his potential. Communication is vital on a team, and Booty had the skills to lead; he just needed to believe in himself and face his fears. When he was asked to be an NFL sideline correspondent for the first time after his professional football career, he initially shied away, then realized he was giving power to the fear.

“[Being a correspondent] means I have to ask questions. I have to be live on TV. Yeah, I need to conquer that fear.”

Taking that leap led to more opportunities for Booty as a correspondent, a co-host on podcasts and working on the congressional football game. Overcoming his fear led him to create lasting relationships throughout his career.

John Booty talks with students after his keynote.


Build Relationships

Booty explained that communication is the key to networking. Both communication and networking are about observing, listening, and knowing when to speak and when not to speak. The relationships he has had over his career has led him to the success he has had today.

“Build relationships. That’s my motto. That’s what keeps me going,” Booty explained.

“Had I not opened my mouth, had I not introduced myself as a student-athlete, as a businessman, as a media personality – I would not have had the opportunities I have had.”

The relationships with coaches, former players and beyond have helped him grow to where he is now. Using the tools he learned in communication, he has become a creator, a speaker, an expert, a coach and so much more.

“Having the chance to listen to John Booty and his life story was very beneficial. I often find myself wondering how a communication degree is going to translate in the workplace because it doesn’t have a set skill such as a finance or nursing major,” said John Sands ’25, communication studies major.

“Booty challenged that idea by outlining how the communication skills that he learned at TCU helped him network and connect with the right people to get involved in things such as congressional football games and building his health club.”

The Gorvetzian Speaker Series was established in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication through the generosity of TCU parents Lori and Ken Gorvetzian in the spring of 2013. The generous gift allows the department to bring recognized experts to campus so that they might offer communication insight and instruction to students. The inaugural event occurred in the spring of 2014. Learn more about last year’s speaker, Tracy Reneé Williams ’04 (’08 M.S.).