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A Look Back at the Tessitore-Tessitore Call

By BJ Bennett
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How it all unfolded was unique. How it all was told was special.

Just to have that one single moment against the number one team in the country shared on national TV between father and son, we are very grateful to have had that.
~Joe Tessitore

One of the very special moments of the 2020 college football season came on a play that technically wasn't even a snap from scrimmage. After all, it was almost too good to be true.

On a 4th-and-2 late in the second quarter of Boston College's game with top-ranked Clemson, the Eagles quickly shifted from a traditional field goal formation into an under center position, with holder John Tessitore suddenly moving right up to quarterback. Amidst the chaos, with a specialist having now turned signal caller, Tessitore promptly drew the Tigers offisdes for an important first down conversation. Boston College scored a touchdown on the very next play.

How it all unfolded was unique. How it all was told was special.

Though Tessitore's hard count came with a first down, his words weren't the ones most profoundly heard. As the son came through on the field, it was the dad who shared the sequence of events with the millions watching on ABC. John Tessitore's deke was chronicled, in a heart-warming call that was both personal and professional, by his father Joe, the game's lead commentator. Described by the elder Tessitore as "sincere" and "authentic", the intimate instance was also a resonating one.

People everywhere saw it, heard it and felt it.   

"It was a lot of fun. I simply appreciate that a lot of people enjoyed the moment shared with a father and son," Tessitore reflected. "That is what really warmed my heart and is that so many thousands of thousands of people took to it on ESPN and social media, saying 'wow, when are we ever going to see that?'."

Every memory is shaped by the circumstances around it. The background for this football fake was family. With the father detailing the son's play in a nationally-televised broadcast featuring the number one team in the nation, it seemed more dream than duty. It was a magical scene, one where Joe was tasked with explaining John's every move. Dad wasn't just calling his son's game, he was calling his name. This time, unlike the countless times prior, millions were watching. Joe and John were both simply doing what they do best.

It was really was surreal; after all, no time ticked off the clock.

"Coach Jeff Hafley nearly sent me out of the broadcast booth with shock," Tessitore reflected. 

A lifetime of work, for both father and son, led to that play, that moment and that call on Halloween of last season. Joe had obviously climbed to the top of his profession and John, competing in the ACC, absolutely had, too. The younger Tessitore made 14 extra points for Boston College as a freshman in 2018 and has worked as a kicker, punter and holder for the Eagles throughout his career. His fake against Clemson helped Boston College take a 28-10 lead over the top-ranked team in all of college football.

This wasn't just a crossing of schedules, it was an aligning of the stars. One, literally and figuratively, years in the making.  

"I don't care what level of college athlete you are, what sport you take part it or how little you play. If you are playing at that level, you have dedicated endless hours of your life since you were a child just to get to that point," Tessitore nodded.

The entire series was one that should have come with a script. It was a movie, this film happening in real time. To say the Tessitore call of the Tessitore play was a made-for-TV-moment undervalues what it took for both men to get to where they were. Even though it was a point in time shared, specifically, between one father and son, parents and people everywhere were struck by the occasion. And rightfully so.

It was a sequence that transcended sports. 

"To be there on ABC, to be playing the number one team in the country and to be driving the ball, up eleven points, in the midst of this stunning, brewing upset and for my son to shockingly pull off that fake field goal and draw them offsides and then they score a touchdown on the next play...I don't know that I'll ever forget that, I'm sure I'll never experience any..." Tessitore stopped mid-sentence. "...although he does have another year of eligibility next year so he will be on the field again next year."

Father and son had long worked together on John's craft, which made all that eventually happened that Saturday in the Upstate even more meaningful. Joe actually helped teach John in high school, with the two focusing on fine-tuning his very specific set of skills. Before Joe ever called John's game, he helped him get better at it. In the spotlight of a featured broadcast, the Clemson game, for the Tessitores, was a full-circle experience. 

The two also made the most of the unprecedented adjustments that were implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic. While John was back home away from Boston College, Joe helped him continue to practice and improve. 

"In a strange and fitting way, I coached special teams for four years when he played prep ball and we had so many endless hours in the spring of 2020 while he was home on quarantine of freezing our butts off out on a field because he couldn't practice with anyone else of underhand snapping to him punt after punt after punt," Tessitore shared. "Watching him go through all of his mechanics and techniques."

When father saw son on the field, then specifically called his name as the pre-snap movement took place, the college football community smiled. In sport where relationships mean so much, this was an incredible example.

For Joe, calling the game alongside Greg McElroy, who gave his partner a proverbial pat on the back, the roster prep was done, with great detail, over the span of a generation: "...he has played every position growing up, from quarterback to receiver and he did it here. He split out the tight end, went under center, played quarterback and drew Clemson offsides."

Though it was a brief collection of events, the impact was felt all around the sport.

"Just to have that one single moment against the number one team in the country shared on national TV between father and son, we are very grateful to have had that," Tessitore concluded.

Son made the play. Father called it. Countless more were inspired by it.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports