Former Jet Bart Scott talking a good game at CBS

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Bart Scott will be on CBS' Bart Scott will be on CBS' "The NFL Today" show for the 2014 NFL season. Photo Credit: CBS

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Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.

During Bart Scott's four years as a Jet, no one would have been shocked to learn that he someday would talk for a living.

The mouthy linebacker was the complete package: passionate, quotable, witty and, like many other jocks-turned-TV-stars, a frequent sparring partner for local print journalists during his playing days.

Still, in one significant way, Scott is an anomaly in his rapidly rising TV career, including his promotion this season to CBS' "NFL Today'' panel.

Scott is a relative no-name in a studio analyst world dominated by current and future Hall of Famers -- including fellow "NFL Today'' rookie Tony Gonzalez -- or at least major stars such as former NFL MVP Boomer Esiason.

Sure, he was a solid player for most of 11 seasons, but he made only one Pro Bowl, in 2006, and needed Ravens teammate Ray Lewis to bow out so he could get in as an alternate.

"That's what surprised me most in getting this opportunity so fast,'' Scott said recently. "We have another new guy, Tony Gonzalez, but he's a first-ballot, second-ballot Hall of Famer.

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"It's like when I was a player. Sometimes you don't know what coaches see in you, but they see something and you want to make their vision a reality. Obviously, CBS sees something in me. I just hope I can give them a return on their investment.''

CBS saw enough last year to use the freshly retired Scott on "That Other Pregame Show'' on CBS Sports Network, and also as a fill-in on the far more high-profile CBS pregame.

When executives decided to retool the show by replacing (Hall of Famers) Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe, they turned to Gonzalez and Scott.

"Based on the job he did on 'TOPS' last year, he exhibited great potential, he grew each and every week,'' CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said. "It's almost an intuition that he was the right guy to move into that chair.''

Said Scott: "I thought they were crazy, but I was excited, to be one year removed [from playing]. I haven't really chosen this as a career path. It kind of chose me. I kind of fell into it and did it last year to see how I would like it.

"I'm very aware this kind of opportunity doesn't come around often at all. These jobs are legacy jobs. These shows are legacy shows that people who have been doing a great job are on for 10, 15 years.

"Look at Tom Jackson. This generation doesn't know ESPN football without Tom Jackson. Hopefully, I can be one of those types of personalities.''

(Like Scott, Jackson is a non-Hall of Fame linebacker. But he did make three Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls.)

Scott, 34, acknowledged that playing -- and talking -- in the New York market for four seasons, two of which ended with the Jets in the AFC Championship Game, greatly enhanced his profile.

The trick has worked for former Giants and Jets for decades, recently and notably including Michael Strahan.

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"Absolutely, because I'm in the backyard of every major television outlet around,'' Scott said. "I knew if you could come here and handle the pressures of what it's like to be an athlete in New York, it'll expand your brand and open up your personality to the masses.

"A lot of execs are Giants and Jets fans, live in this community and they can know more about you because you're covered on a local radio station and you're covered in the local media outlets.''

That coverage was not always positive for Scott, who feuded with media members at times, particularly in 2012. That November, he encouraged teammates not to cooperate with reporters in the postgame locker room.

What does he say about all that now?

"Listen, there's really no such thing as bad news,'' he said. "It's all opportunity to continue your brand. You just have to be who you are and worry about your brand and be that person all the time, and I'm that.''

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Scott does not lack for self-confidence, but getting his feet wet on the "NFL Today'' set in 2013 helped ease the transition to full-time duty.

"I'm always comfortable in my own skin and I'm not afraid to take chances, but it wasn't the most comfortable thing to sit on the stage and not have any experience and kind of wing it on the fly,'' he said.

"I'm always willing to learn from my mistakes. I don't claim or profess to know everything. But I profess you'll get 100 percent out of me at all times.''

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