With a new NFL season just around the corner, Barrett Sports Media decided to take on a big project. We reached out to hosts, PDs, and reporters in every NFL city in the country. The question we wanted answered was simple: Who on your team’s roster has the brightest future in the sports media?
We spent the better part of a month sending emails and texts asking folks to participate. Some gave us an answer right away. Some required a little poking and prodding. Some didn’t respond at all. What are you going to do, right? It’s a busy time of year for all of us in sports radio.
Matt Mosley – The Doomsday Podcast
The Cowboys have recently placed Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray in broadcasting. They join an already crowded field that includes Troy Aikman and Moose Johnston. You could argue that the Cowboys are one of the biggest broadcasting pipelines in all of soorts. You also have players like Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders who’ve been in the studio for years.
The Cowboys are now the youngest team in the NFL. It will be a few years before the next player is ready for broadcasting. Sean Lee might be the next candidate. Like Witten, he studies film like crazy. He is a highly intelligent player, but I’m not sure he’s wired to be that critical of players. Dak Prescott will become the face of the organization. He seems to be an excellent communicator who actually has a sneaky sense of humor. He would certainly be considered for an analyst’s job, if he wants one someday.
DeMarcus Lawrence has become an engaging personality, too. He could be in a studio someday. Most of these players have no clue what it takes to do a three or four-hour radio show, so they will lean toward TV. I worked on the same ESPN radio affiliate with Irvin. He worked at it, but it was too much of a grind. Not many players want that sort of thing. Boomer Esiason is really rare in that respect.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Christian Arcand – 98.5 the Sports Hub
The easy answer here is Brady – he is by far the most recognizable Patriot and probably tied with Lebron for most recognizable athlete in the US – however something tells me his future post football does not involve broadcast booth or a seat at a round table previewing the slate of Sunday games.
Gronk would probably have the brightest future in broadcasting just because of who he is, but if it’s a question of who has the tools to do the job well I would say Harmon is the guy.
Bob Stelton – 710 ESPN Seattle
The answer couldn’t be easier in Seattle: Doug Baldwin! Without question HE would absolutely crush it if he were to pursue broadcasting, post NFL.
He’s incredibly intelligent and insightful. He has a great way of communicating his point and getting you to see why he is saying what he is saying. He also has a very underrated sense of humor.
Brent Dougherty – 104.5 the Zone
The 2018 Tennessee Titans locker room is filled with intelligent, hard working and charismatic men. There are several players on this roster that I believe will make great broadcasters following their careers should they choose that path.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has likability which cannot be learned. Tight end Delanie Walker has a quick wit. Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey is measured with what he says and is polished like a politician. OLB Brian Orakpo and kicker Ryan Succup have amazing radio voices and should host a late-night R&B show called, “The Succup Rak Show.” Or, “The Quiet Storm With Succup and Rak. They have amazing voices and would be gifts to late night radio listeners.
CB Logan Ryan and Safety Kevin Byard have the ability to communicate exceptionally well to the masses no matter how technical the football topic. Punter Brett Kern is very intelligent, has a great sense of humor and a remarkable communicative ability. However, Kern has a .3 handicap and will be playing on the Senior Tour for as many years as he has left.
If I were to guess which 2018 Titans player might have the brightest broadcasting career after his football playing days are over, I would choose offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. Taylor has an enormous personality, is completely honest while offering thoughtful opinion and understands the fact that we are in the entertainment business. He’s smart, has a quick wit and is polished. Taylor commands presence, can communicate well and is very intelligent. Taylor also has a great sense of humor. Taylor Lewan would be my choice to eventually become a great broadcaster among many great Titans options.
Craig Hoffman – 106.7 the Fan
The Redskins have a really good locker room when it comes to talkers. Josh Norman has already started his national media career with appearances on FOX. Trent Williams is as smart and interesting as superstars come. Chris Thompson was our media “Good Guy” award winner last season for the constant insight he provides. Recently departed Titans LB Will Compton thinks the game at an extraordinarily high level, yet can translate it back to the every day viewer with ease. However, the player with the brightest future in sports media still in Washington belongs to backup quarterback Colt McCoy.
McCoy still has star power from his time at Texas, where he led the Longhorns to a national title game appearance. He’s phenomenal talking ball. We often don’t talk to him, simply because he’s been the backup here for the last five years, but I was reminded after the preseason opener just how good he is. After the rest of the media had dissipated, he and I talked about the differences in preseason and regular season football. He gave me concrete examples from the game and how they might have been different if it were a regular season affair. He made me smarter about football, and it’s something that he could do for viewers or listeners as a game analyst, studio analyst or talk show host.
He might have more credibility on the college football scene than as an NFL analyst, but that would change the second he started talking. He’s got the personality. He knows the game. If he wants to post-career, Colt McCoy could be a media star.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.