Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson Talk Family, Fertility — and Football — Ahead of Super Bowl LVII
Charissa Thompson will never forget what it was like meeting Erin Andrews in person for the first time 10 years ago when they both worked at ESPN.
"She flies out the door and she was like, 'Welcome, I'm here for you,'" Thompson, 40, tells PEOPLE exclusively at FOX's Los Angeles studios. "'Whatever you need, I've got your back.' We weren't friends or anything at this point."
"I felt like I had fangirled over you and was excited you were coming to be a part of the network," adds Andrews, 44.
Now both at FOX, they've developed a real-life best friendship, often supporting each other both in and out of the work place.
"It's been amazing to have our journeys sort of intersect and be intertwined and still, we came here to do a job that we really, truly love," Thompson says. "To be able to, as girlfriends, best friends, talk about the job and understand what one another needs."
Andrews even admits the two reach out to each other to handle certain interviews and give pointers when one of them needs assistance.
"I'll be like, 'Talk to him about this if you don't know him,' " Andrews shares. "Or same thing with her, if I haven't really sat with a guy and she had just been there for Amazon and so forth. It's really cool. It's very refreshing in an industry that is so competitive and really cutthroat, especially with women, that she gets it. She's one of my best friends."
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The Calm Down with Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson podcast hosts also help each other out by shopping in each other's closets.
"We borrow clothes," Thompson says with a smile.
"This is another great thing about having a girlfriend in the industry. There's a myriad of different reasons, but sharing each other's clothes. The only thing we can't share is shoes. But we do text each other when each other is on TV and say, 'That's a great coat. I'm going to wear it. I can't wait to borrow that.' "
The two say they like to do the same things anyone else likes to do in their free time: enjoying "cocktails, vacation and dinners."
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And just like any other friendship, they're there for each other through the good times and the bad.
"I've had a lot of fertility issues," Andrews shares. "I just couldn't get out of this funk and I was walking the dog and she was talking to me and I had my phone in my hand, my dog's poop bag in the other, full. My nose is running and I'm just balling on the phone because I don't want to cry in front of my husband and she is just making me laugh and you can get it out and I'm like, 'I got a handful of dog poo and my nose is running!' and she's just like, 'I'm going to get you through this poop, alright? Let's go.' "
"It's like being married," Thompson adds. "I've been on a fetal position on the ground, not able to get up because of a whole bunch of stuff. It's really nice to have the friendship."
Despite the tough times, Thompson wants the world to know about her best pal's soft exterior.
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"I think that life sometimes has forced you to put on a tough exterior, but underneath, once that exterior is removed, she is one of the kindest and most gentle people that I know. Wherever I'm at in my life, it could be 3 o'clock in the morning stranded beside the road and she's done this in a different situation, she's like, 'OK, I'm doing this, I got this for you.' She goes into full reactionary mode of fixing the problem. Erin is the motherly love. She's very motherly."
This Sunday, the two will live out their dreams when Thompson hosts FOX's NFL pre-game coverage as Andrews handles lead reporting duties for the FOX NFL broadcast crew during Super Bowl LVII.
And while they've never worked a game together, they hope to one day. "It's a lot when we're together," Thompson says.
For now, they're excited to cheer one another on.
"I get to see her first hit and stuff like that," Thompson says of watching Andrews. "Super Bowl's always a big one because that's the Mecca. Every time I see her on TV I'm like, 'Ooh Erin's on. Be quiet!' I want to hear what she's saying and doing. I'm at my proudest professionally watching you when I know you're yourself."
"Mine's when she's manning her desk and the big responsibility she took this year for Thursday Night [Football]," Andrews says. "That was a big one for me. Even on planes I had to be watching. The game was fine, but to just watch because I knew what a big moment it was for her and what a big challenge. It's a new endeavor for her. I was so excited."
Coverage of Super Bowl LVII begins Sunday, Feb. 12 on FOX.