A rift has developed between NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, and his former team the Los Angeles Rams. According to Dickerson, the incident stems from Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher telling him during a recent conversation that members of the team haven’t appreciated some of his commentary and as a result, his presence on the sidelines during games could make some people uncomfortable.
That led to Dickerson publicly revealing the conversation on his radio show on AM 570 in Los Angeles. His comments placed a ton of heat on the Rams, and the team has quickly responded by trying to put out the flames.
Rams COO Kevin Demoff said he tried to call Dickerson on Monday, but was unsuccessful in reaching him. Demoff did offer a public response on Twitter, adding: “Everything we’ve done since we returned, Eric has been part of the organization, and that’s what we want to make sure doesn’t change. He’s been part of our efforts to connect to the community. That’s what’s disappointing about any type of miscommunication, no matter how big or small. He’s somebody we want around. He’s somebody who sets a great example for our players, and I think anybody who’s in this business has to have a thick skin to understand that when you lose there’s going to be criticism.”
When told about Dickerson’s comments, Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher claimed he was unsure where the miscommunication was coming from. He acknowledged that the two men had a ‘really good conversation’ a few weeks earlier, and said that the former Rams star was always welcome in the building, and he’d love to have him come in and attend practice and the team’s meetings.
Upon hearing Fisher and Demoff’s comments, Dickerson became even more upset. He felt the team’s upper management was providing a response to the public which was different from what they had told him privately. He made appearances on Fox Sports Radio, FS1 and ESPN, and gave interviews to the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News.
Dickerson said the Rams Head Coach told him “Players feel uncomfortable with you coming on the sidelines. Some of the stuff you said about the team, coaches and the players, as long as I’m head coach, we’re not going to have that. You’re not going to be saying stuff. You’re not going to be coming to the sidelines as long as I’m head coach here.”
After letting Fisher finish, Dickerson says he told him, “I’m a grown-ass man. I’m not a little kid, or the kids you’re coaching. You think I’ve been anxiously waiting on the sidelines for the Rams to come back to town? You have the wrong guy. I’m not here with my hand out. Do you feel like I owe y’all something? Send me a bill.”
He continued, “You can go anyplace else. You can go back to Tennessee, you can go to Cleveland, you can go to SC. Still, I’m going to be Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams. That’s why I wear that gold jacket. I have the right to say what I say. I’m not trying to hurt the players. I’m a frustrated player and a frustrated fan. I watch this every week. I love the players. I’m always a player first.”
And he wasn’t done there. Dickerson told media outlets that as as long as Fisher’s coaching the Rams, he won’t be present at the Coliseum.
With the Rams struggling on the field, and failing to attract local viewers to watch their games in the nation’s second largest media market, getting into a public spat with the franchise’s most popular former player isn’t going to help matters. It also doesn’t help Jeff Fisher’s job security.
Demoff says he understands the frustration but is also aware that winning over fans in the team’s new home city will take time and patience.
“When you lose football games, people are going to be outspoken. I think we all understand that. Everybody believes that Eric’s entitled to his opinion, as a former player, as a Hall of Famer and somebody who’s been part of our family. Certainly, you’re going to listen to what he has to say. But I think we’re all frustrated and disappointed, and I just think Eric’s viewpoints on his show is that. And he has every right to express himself. I don’t think we would ever attempt to silence him or warn him to feel as if he doesn’t have that platform.”
“This is a city that expects its teams to be champions, and to be in the playoffs, and to win consistently. That needs to be our standard, and if we fall short of that, we have to own up to it and go fix it. This was not going to be a ‘snap your fingers and have a change overnight. There’s a lot of work to be done to grow this fan base.”
Only time will tell if the Rams are up to that task on the field. But for now, they can help themselves by repairing the damage that’s been done with one of the team’s all-time greats.
SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, All Sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in its latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.