New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had plenty of skeptics when he was selected with the sixth overall pick back in April’s NFL Draft. Many fans and media members said it was the worst draft pick they had ever seen. A barrage of negativity on Twitter was directed at Jones and the man responsible for making the pick — Giants general manager Dave Gettleman. Both men — especially the QB who was only 21 years old at the time — elected to take the high road in spite of the cheap shots.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was one of those critics. Mayfield voiced his amazement with the Jones selection in an interview with GQ Magazine that was published in August. “I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones,” Mayfield said. “Blows my mind. Some people overthink it. That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win. Either you have a history of winning and being that guy for your team or you don’t.”
I’d love to know how much better Mayfield would’ve fared at Duke without any NFL talent surrounding him. Mayfield was one of 12 Oklahoma players selected in the NFL Draft over the past two years. Meanwhile, Jones was the only guy selected out of Duke in the past four drafts combined. Yet Mayfield doubted Jones for having a 17-19 record in college? Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes had a 13-15 record as a starter at Texas Tech. I guess he stinks too. Solid take, Baker.
A funny thing happened on Sunday despite the emphatic criticisms of Jones; he played great in his first career NFL start. Jones lit up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by completing 23 of 36 passes for 336 yards with two touchdown passes and two more rushing TDs. Oh, and one of his four touchdowns was a dramatic scamper on 4th and 5 that turned out to be the game-winning score. Not too shabby.
It sure is odd how hard it is to find those same critics of Daniel Jones now. Most of them have gone scurrying under a fridge like a bunch of cockroaches. We shouldn’t trade one overreaction on draft day for another by acting like Jones is destined for the Hall of Fame now. However, we know that he isn’t the complete disaster of a quarterback that many people made him out to be. For as loud as those people were on draft night, it’s mighty weak of them to go into the Witness Hot Take Protection Program.
This is an important lesson for a sports radio host. One of the most valuable tools that hosts can possess is the ability to admit when they are wrong. We love to gloat about being right. Don’t forget to own up to your mistakes and admit when you are wrong too. I understand a host isn’t going to be excited about admitting how wrong their opinion or prediction turned out to be. You might not shout as loudly about being wrong as the times when you’re right, but it needs to be said — even if it’s whispered reluctantly.
Sports radio hosts are competitive. Admitting that they’re wrong is sometimes viewed like an admission of defeat. That’s the wrong way to look at it. There is something disarming about a person who admits they’re wrong. It’s humanizing. The opposite is true when someone refuses to ever admit they got it wrong. It can anger and insight others. There’s a tendency to lose respect for someone who simply avoids admitting they were wrong at all cost.
Baker Mayfield — yet again — is a good example of what not to do. After his criticisms of Jones were published in the GQ article, he didn’t take ownership of his comments. He blamed a number of things other than himself. “Just things taken out of context,” Mayfield said. “That’s the problem with today’s day and age. You don’t read the whole thing. You don’t put two and two together. You just kind of read scripts and then people combined sentences from different conversations.”
Oh, boy. Lots to unpack here. Mayfield blamed today’s day and age, people not reading the whole thing, the ever-popular things being taken out of context, and — my personal favorite — people combining sentences from different conversations. Yeah, as if GQ took “blows my mind” when Baker was talking about Dairy Queen’s Blizzard of the Month, and “they forget you’ve gotta win” when Baker was referring to the latest Price Is Right Showcase Showdown, then connivingly placed these statements around positive things Mayfield said about Jones. That’s what we’re supposed to believe? Does this make you respect Mayfield for pointing the finger at many things except at himself? Me either.
If you’re too proud to admit you were wrong in a relationship, may God have mercy on your poor soul. You’re going to get hit with a frying pan or a 2 x 4 at some point if all you do is point the finger at the other person. The same is true for hundreds of other situations in life — as a manager, host, sibling, husband, wife, friend, athlete, head coach, etc. — you will lose the respect of many people if you never admit when you’re at fault.
Making a mistake sometimes isn’t as bad as avoiding the reality that you made one. The loudmouths that trashed the Daniel Jones draft pick look really bad after he showed his mobility and passing skills while erasing an 18-point deficit against Tampa. It isn’t the end of the world though. The only thing worse than a horrid prediction is avoiding ownership of it. Just admit it, own it, and move on. There are three very important words that can benefit you in life and sports radio. Don’t treat these three words like an enemy. Think of them as your friend. The three words are — I was wrong.
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.