Sports commentators are often in the spotlight, even if they want to stay behind the scenes, but when it comes to NFL and college football commentator Kirk Herbstreit, someone else has stolen the attention of adoring fans: Kirk’s dog, Ben Herbstreit. The 10-year-old Golden Retriever has surpassed the eyes of sports fans and has now gone viral on social media.
We’ve never seen a dog attend so many games, let alone a dog that has Rose Bowl credentials. Yes, Ben was the “Chief Happiness Officer” of the Rose Bowl and he definitely lived up to his title. But why does Kirk Herbstreit have a dog with him at all?
Kirk Herbstreit has a dog with him as an emotional support animal.
While Kirk (or Herb, as fans affectionately call him) has been bringing Ben to games since 2018, he has only been consistently going to games in the 2023 season. USA Today Sports reported that Herb’s 20-year-old son, Zak Herbstreit, was hospitalized for a heart condition earlier in the year. Zak was a tight end at Ohio State, and while he has technically returned to the team, he’s still receiving treatment, so he’s not currently playing.
Throughout all of this, Herb has been on the road, commentating on college football and NFL games. It gets lonely, especially when someone you love is going through a difficult time. "You know, I didn't bring him out here for this, but I've really enjoyed watching people," he shared in an ESPN interview. "Like, they could just be watching, all of a sudden they see him and just a smile comes on their face because he's just a happy dog."
Ben Herbstreit, the dog, has gone viral for his happy disposition, which works out well for Kirk.
"I think he has an infectious personality,” Herb continued. “Like, right now, he's standing over here and just saying hi to people. I think that part of him we've appreciated as a family at our house. I have four Goldens, but there’s just something different about him. I’m just happy that people love his happiness and it makes them have a better day.”
Ben really is a happy boy! He was spotted getting cuddles from Aaron Rodgers and even warming up with the Jets during sideline drills before their game against the Browns. He’s also incredibly well-behaved as he chills in the booth while Herb calls the plays. It’s the perfect combination!
“It wasn’t the intent,” Herb revealed of Ben bringing happiness to players, fans, and other staffers. “I just wanted a companion out on the road with me as much as I travel. And he’s my really good buddy, so it’s just been fun for me to see people’s reactions … It’s been a phenomenon. It’s very strange to me. I love it because I hate attention so he gets all the attention, and I’m like his handler, which is really the way I like to get through my day.”
Fans just want to see more of Ben!