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How The 4 Faces Of Inside The NBA Make 1 Great Show

“In an industry where everyone has an opinion about everything and everyone, no one has much bad to say about Inside the NBA.”

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The 2019-2020 NBA season is upon us. How will one of the most interesting and unpredictable offseason’s be paid off? Well, starting tonight the talking is over and we’re on a road to finding out.

Most Americans will turn to TNT this season when they want someone to make sense of the league’s biggest stories or see some of its biggest matchups. This is the 30th anniversary of the network being in the basketball business, and that deserves to be celebrated.

We’re not going to lay out a retrospective of all three decades. Hell, outside of the “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday!” song, there wasn’t much notable about TNT’s NBA coverage until the year 2000. That is when the show that put the network in heavy rotation for NBA fans was launched.

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Today, we are going to take a look at Inside the NBA. This isn’t a history of the show. Four of us here at Barrett Sports Media are going to look at what makes the show great by looking at what makes each of its four stars great.

In an industry where everyone has an opinion about everything and everyone, no one has much bad to say about Inside the NBA. That is a testament to the men and women both in front of and behind the camera, but for today, let’s focus on the men we see before, during, and after every game on TNT.

JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF WIT, SARCASM AND PROFESSIONALISM: ANDY MASUR ON ERNIE JONSON

While many may think it’s, Kenny, Shaq and Charles that make Inside the NBA the show it is, I disagree. It’s all about having a quality, well-seasoned, witty and capable host. It’s all about Ernie Johnson. Let me tell you why. 

As a studio host it’s not easy to just walk onto a set and be tremendous. Johnson has the added task of working with big personalities who have not been trained as broadcasters. That’s what makes this show, hosted by Johnson so special.

He is among the best studio hosts around. Johnson handles the three ringed circus with just the right amount of wit, sarcasm and professionalism to make it all work. I love the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously and allows the “players” to be the stars of the show. Johnson isn’t afraid to laugh at himself either which is a tremendous quality. If he’s not there to act as the traffic cop, the show would run itself out of control.  Inside the NBA wouldn’t work without Johnson.

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When you are working with some “wildcards” that have varying opinions and varying ways of expressing them, as a host you’ve got to be ready for everything. It’s very easy to tell that Johnson comes well prepared for every show. Sometimes he needs to jump in to make sure that facts are presented correctly and Johnson does this in such a way as to not look like he’s correcting one of his teammates. That is an art form and I’m sure appreciated by the guys on the set with him. 

Johnson has been around the game of basketball for quite some time and knows a lot about the NBA. He is smart enough though, to defer to the guys that played it at the highest level, when it comes to breaking down a game. His knowledge allows him to nudge the guys in the right direction, with excellent follow up questions or analogies. It’s fun to watch. 

Johnson is a versatile broadcaster, which allows him to transition from the NBA to the NCAA Tournament pretty seamlessly during the run up to the Final Four. Even when paired with different people on set, he just continues to do what he does and makes the shows flow like he’s worked with them for years. That is not easy to do. 

HE’S NOT CHANGING FOR ANYONE: JASON BARRETT ON CHARLES BARKLEY

Honest, fearless, comedic and spontaneous are the first four words I think of when it comes to Charles Barkley. For nearly twenty years basketball fans have enjoyed his raw and unfiltered approach on Inside The NBA, making the show a must-watch. It hasn’t mattered that the league enjoys a business relationship with TNT or that players have friendships with Charles because if he has an opinion, it’s being delivered with a purpose, and if it ruffles a few feathers in the process so be it.

Though his lack of structure may drive executives nuts at times, it’s Chuck’s off the rails and unpredictable style that helps make Inside The NBA one of the best sports shows on television. Another attraction is the cast’s authenticity and credibility. Their experiences are well documented and their discussions are honest, funny and spirited. That helps the viewer feel like they’re watching four well known respected friends talk about the NBA and providing a mixture of laughs, insights and unscripted ball busting in the process.

If there’s an attribute that sometimes gets undervalued it’s Charles’ ability to be self-deprecating. We love his strong opinions and willingness to venture into odd conversations, but he’s also more than comfortable being the butt of the joke. When laughter ensues on this show, it’s impossible to change the channel. One minute Charles may butcher a foreign player’s name, the next he’s either losing his train of thought during a commentary or taking part in a produced bit that leaves you in stitches. 

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Not many personalities on the air today can piss off NBA executives by telling viewers a particular game is bad or an NBA service isn’t worth paying for, but the league is wise enough to recognize this is who Charles Barkley is and he’s not changing for anyone. When you combine his credentials as a hall of fame basketball player and his larger than life unique personality with the team of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith, you have a sports television show that’s first in class and the envy of every other sports network.

HARDLY JUST A GLUE GUY: JACK FERRIS ON KENNY SMITH

“Glue Guy” is a term tossed around in sports to describe a teammate who may not be the biggest star, may not have the best resume and flat out may not be a house hold name.  He is, however, a locker room guy, everyone’s friend.  The proverbial straw that stirs the drink.  While this might be a relatively accurate description – Kenny “the Jet” Smith is hardly just a “Glue Guy.”

If Ernie is the point guard, Chuck the power forward and Shaq the center – Kenny is without question the team’s versatile shooting guard/small forward.  

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Consider your typical halftime show.  Ernie will welcome the audience and distribute to his three analysts as he sees fit.  If a marquee big man is struggling or excelling – he’ll look to Shaq for comment.  If a player or team is disproving an adamant point Chuck made in the pregame, he’ll lob it over to the quote machine.  You might see one, both or neither of these happen in any NBA on TNT halftime show – one thing you can always count on is Kenny’s Big Board.

Kenny’s Big Board, outside of being a tool to show off the comically large set, is arguably the most insightful element the best NBA studio show has to offer.  Whether it’s guards going under screens, big men not rotating fast enough, or just flat out bad shooting – Kenny will show you exactly why the first half of a game played out how it did.  The bells and whistles of the segment are always impressive – but it’s Kenny who shines as he points out small details the casual NBA fan would never notice.  It’s well known that Inside the NBA is built on personality, but it’s these moments that offer the best analysis in what might be the best studio show in sports television.

As for each show’s inevitable off-the-rails banter, Kenny Smith easily holds his own.  When Chuck is making a point, the Jet knows exactly what to say to antagonize the star of the show.  More times than not – it’s merely reminding Barkley of a different point he made the day before that completely discredits his current rant.  He may not have the MVPs or the hall of fame credentials of his counterparts, but Kenny is well armed with the ultimate equalizer in NBA debates – two rings.  And no, it’s not his fault Jordan left the league for two years.

Kenny may not make the controversial statement that runs through the media cycle the next day – but his knowledge of the game and Chuck’s head make him an invaluable member of the squad.

A GIANT GOOFBALL, A KID AT HEART: DEMETRI RAVANOS ON SHAQUILLE O’NEAL

There isn’t a guy alive in my generation that didn’t look at Shaquille O’Neal with absolute wonder and awe when we were kids. We all wanted to be like Mike. We knew no matter what we did, we’d never be like Shaq…at least on the court.

Off the court, Shaq was just like us, and he’s still just like us. How can a physical freak also fill the role of Inside the NBA’s everyman? It’s because Shaq is a giant goofball, a kid at heart that is as shocked by the spoils his profession has brought him as anyone watching is.

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Shaq can explain how the role of the big man has changed. He can point out when someone is dogging it on defense. He can do both by making jokes at the expense of his work ethic or free throw shooting. That isn’t when he is most valuable to this show.

Inside the NBA gets the most out of Shaq when he is dancing with the Jabawokees or when he is eating the world’s hottest chips. He is comfortable in the role of basketball’s clown prince because he operates from a place of emotion. Sometimes that leads to genuine hostility with Charles Barkley or his other co-workers, but Shaq shows up to the studio looking to have a good time and more often than not, he does and so do the people around him.

Pregame and halftime shows across all sports are built on fake laughter. That is what makes Shaq and Inside the NBA a welcome and needed change of pace. His smile and laugh are infectious. Seeing someone that size, that legendary in his sport genuinely having fun is genuinely fun.

BSM Writers

In Defense Of Colin Cowherd

“How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of ‘oh my god, look at this!’?”

Demetri Ravanos

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I don’t understand what it is about Colin Cowherd that gets under some people’s skin to the point that they feel everything the guy says is worth being mocked. I don’t always agree with a lot of his opinions myself, but rarely do I hear one of his takes and think I need to build content around how stupid the guy is.

Cowherd has certainly had his share of misses. There were some highlights to his constant harping on Baker Mayfield but personally, I thought the bit got boring quickly and that the host was only shooting about 25% on those segments.

Cowherd has said some objectionable things. I thought Danny O’Neil was dead on in pointing out that the FOX Sports Radio host sounded like LIV Golf’s PR department last month. It doesn’t matter if he claims he used the wrong words or if his language was clunky, he deserved all of the criticism he got in 2015 when he said that baseball couldn’t be that hard of a sport to understand because a third of the league is from the Dominican Republic.

Those missteps and eyebrow-raising moments have never been the majority of his content though. How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of “oh my god, look at this!”?

A few years ago, Dan Le Batard said something to the effect of the best thing he can say about Colin Cowherd is that he is never boring and if you are not in this business, you do not get what a compliment that is.

That’s the truth, man. It is so hard to talk into the ether for three hours and keep people engaged, but Cowherd finds a way to do it with consistency.

The creativity that requires is what has created a really strange environment where you have sites trying to pass off pointing and laughing at Cowherd as content. This jumped out to me with a piece that Awful Announcing published on Thursday about Cowherd’s take that Aaron Rodgers needs a wife.

Look, I don’t think every single one of Cowherd’s analogies or societal observations is dead on, but to point this one out as absurd is, frankly, absurd!

This isn’t Cowherd saying that John Wall coming out and doing the Dougie is proof that he is a loser. This isn’t him saying that adults in backward hats look like doofuses (although, to be fair to Colin, where is the lie in that one?).

“Behind every successful man is a strong woman” is a take as old as success itself. It may not be a particularly original observation, but it hardly deserves the scrutiny of a 450-word think piece.

On top of that, he is right about Aaron Rodgers. The guy has zero personality and is merely trying on quirks to hold our attention. Saying that the league MVP would benefit from someone in his life holding a mirror up to him and pointing that out is hardly controversial.

Colin Cowherd is brash. He has strong opinions. He will acknowledge when there is a scoreboard or a record to show that he got a game or record pick wrong, but he will rarely say his opinion about a person or situation is wrong. That can piss people off. I get it.

You know that Twitter account Funhouse? The handle is @BackAftaThis?

It was created to spotlight the truly insane moments Mike Francesa delivered on air. There was a time when the standard was ‘The Sports Pop’e giving the proverbial finger to a recently deceased Stan Lee, falling asleep on air, or vehemently denying that a microphone captured his fart.

Now the feed is turning to “Hey Colin Cowherd doesn’t take phone calls!”. Whatever the motivation is for turning on Cowherd like that, it really shows a dip in the ability to entertain. How is it even content to point out that Colin Cowherd doesn’t indulge in the single most boring part of sports radio?

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world’s biggest fan of The Herd. Solo hosts will almost never be my thing. No matter their energy level, a single person talking for a 10-12 minute stretch feels more like a lecture than entertainment to me. I got scolded enough as a kid by parents and teachers.

School is a good analogy here because that is sort of what this feels like. The self-appointed cool kids identified their target long ago and are going to mock him for anything he does. It doesn’t matter if they carry lunch boxes too, Colin looks like a baby because he has a lunch box.

Colin Cowherd doesn’t need me to defend him. He can point to his FOX paycheck, his followers, or the backing for The Volume as evidence that he is doing something right. I am merely doing what these sites think they are doing when Colin is in their crosshairs – pointing out a lame excuse for content that has no real value.

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BSM Writers

Even After Radio Hall of Fame Honor, Suzyn Waldman Looks Forward

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

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Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman was at Citi Field on July 26th getting ready to broadcast a Subway Series game between the Yankees and Mets. A day earlier, Waldman was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame and sometimes that type of attention can, admittedly, make her feel a bit uncomfortable.

“At first, I was really embarrassed because I’m not good at this,” said Waldman. “I don’t take compliments well and I don’t take awards well. I just don’t. The first time it got to me…that I actually thought it was pretty cool, there were two little boys at Citi Field…

Those two little boys, with photos of Waldman in hand, saw her on the field and asked her a question.

“They asked me to sign “Suzyn Waldman Radio Hall of Fame 2022” and I did,” said Waldman.  “I just smiled and then more little boys asked me to do that.”  

Waldman, along with “Broadway” Bill Lee, Carol Miller, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Ellen K, Jeff Smulyan, Lon Helton, Marv Dyson, and Walt “Baby” Love, make up the Class of 2022 for the Radio Hall of Fame and will be inducted at a ceremony on November 1st at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

Waldman, born in the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, was the first voice heard on WFAN in New York when the station launched on July 1st, 1987. She started as an update anchor before becoming a beat reporter for the Yankees and Knicks and the co-host of WFAN’s
mid-day talk show. In the mid 1990s, Waldman did some television play-by-play for Yankees games on WPIX and in 2002 she became the clubhouse reporter for Yankees telecasts when the YES Network launched.

This is Waldman’s 36th season covering the Yankees and her 18th in the radio booth, a run that started in 2005 when she became the first female full-time Major League Baseball broadcaster.

She decided to take a look at the names that are currently in the Hall of Fame, specifically individuals that she will forever be listed next to.

“Some of the W’s are Orson Wells and Walter Winchell…people that changed the industry,” said Waldman. “I get a little embarrassed…I’m not good at this but I’m really happy.”

Waldman has also changed the industry.

She may have smiled when those two little boys asked her to sign those photos, but Waldman can also take a lot of pride in the fact that she has been a trailblazer in the broadcasting business and an inspiration to a lot of young girls who aspire, not only to be sportscasters but those who want to have a career in broadcasting.

Like the young woman who just started working at a New York television station who approached Waldman at the Subway Series and just wanted to meet her.

“She stopped me and was shaking,” said Waldman. “The greatest thing is that all of these young women that are out there.”

Waldman pointed out that there are seven women that she can think of off the top of her head that are currently doing minor league baseball play-by-play and that there have been young female sports writers that have come up to her to share their stories about how she inspired them.

For many years, young boys were inspired to be sportscasters by watching and listening to the likes of Marv Albert, Al Michaels, Vin Scully, Bob Costas, and Joe Buck but now there are female sportscasters, like Waldman, who have broken down barriers and are giving young girls a good reason to follow their dreams.

“When I’ve met them, they’ve said to me I was in my car with my Mom and Dad when I was a very little girl and they were listening to Yankee games and there you were,” said Waldman. “These young women never knew this was something that they couldn’t do because I was there and we’re in the third generation of that now. It’s taken longer than I thought.”

There have certainly been some challenges along the way in terms of women getting opportunities in sports broadcasting.

Waldman thinks back to 1994 when she became the first woman to do a national television baseball broadcast when she did a game for The Baseball Network. With that milestone came a ton of interviews that she had to do with media outlets around the country including Philadelphia.

It was during an interview with a former Philadelphia Eagle on a radio talk show when Waldman received a unique backhanded compliment that she will always remember.

“I’ve listened to you a lot and I don’t like you,” Waldman recalls the former Eagle said. “I don’t like women in sports…I don’t like to listen to you but I was watching the game with my 8-year-old daughter and she was watching and I looked at her and thought this is something she’s never going to know that she cannot do because there you are.”

Throughout her career, Waldman has experienced the highest of highs in broadcasting but has also been on the receiving end of insults and cruel intentions from people who then tend to have a short memory.

And many of these people were co-workers.

“First people laugh at you, then they make your life miserable and then they go ‘oh yeah that’s the way it is’ like it’s always been like that but it’s not always been like this,” said Waldman. 

It hasn’t always been easy for women in broadcasting and as Waldman — along with many others — can attest to nothing is perfect today. But it’s mind-boggling to think about what Waldman had to endure when WFAN went on the air in 1987.

She remembers how badly she was treated by some of her colleagues.

“I think about those first terrible days at ‘FAN,” said Waldman. “I had been in theatre all my life and it was either you get the part or you don’t. They either like you or they don’t.  You don’t have people at your own station backstabbing you and people at your own station changing your tapes to make you look like an idiot.”

There was also this feeling that some players were not all that comfortable with Waldman being in the clubhouse and locker room. That was nothing compared to some of the other nonsense that Waldman had to endure.

“The stuff with players is very overblown,” said Waldman. “It’s much worse when you know that somebody out there is trying to kill you because you have a Boston accent and you’re trying to talk about the New York Yankees. That’s worse and it’s also worse when the people
that you work with don’t talk to you and think that you’re a joke and the people at your own station put you down for years and years and years.”

While all of this was happening, Waldman had one very important person in her corner: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away in 2010.

The two had a special relationship and he certainly would have relished the moment when Suzyn was elected to the Hall of Fame.

“I think about George Steinbrenner a lot,” said Waldman. “This is something that when I heard that…I remember thinking George would be so proud because he wanted this since ’88.  I just wish he were here.” 

Waldman certainly endeared herself to “The Boss” with her reporting but she also was the driving force behind the reconciliation of Steinbrenner and Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. George had fired Yogi as Yankees manager 16 games into the 1985 season and the news was delivered to Berra, not by George, but by Steinbrenner advisor Clyde King.

Yogi vowed never to step foot into Yankee Stadium again, but a grudge that lasted almost 14 years ended in 1999 when Waldman facilitated a reunion between the two at the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping that my thank you to him was the George and Yogi thing because I know he wanted that very badly,” said Waldman.

“Whatever I did to prove to him that I was serious about this…this is in ’87 and ’88…In 1988, I remember him saying to me ‘Waldman, one of these days I’m going to make a statement about women in sports.  You’re it and I hope you can take it’ (the criticism). He knew what was coming.  I didn’t know. But there was always George who said ‘if you can take it, you’re going to make it’.”

And made it she did.

And she has outlasted every single person on the original WFAN roster.

“I’m keenly aware that I was the first person they tried to fire and I’m the only one left which I think is hysterical actually that I outlived everybody,” said Waldman.

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

“I don’t think about it at all because once you start looking back, you’re not going forward,” said Waldman. 

Waldman does think about covering the 1989 World Series between the A’s and Giants and her reporting on the earthquake that was a defining moment in her career. She has always been a great reporter and a storyteller, but that’s not how her WFAN career began. She started as an update anchor and she knew that if she was going to have an impact on how WFAN was going to evolve, it was not going to be reading the news…it was going to be going out in the field and reporting the news.

“I was doing updates which I despised and wasn’t very good at,” said Waldman.

She went to the program director at the time and talked about how WFAN had newspaper writers covering the local teams for the station and that it would be a better idea for her to go out and cover games and press conferences.

“Give me a tape recorder and let me go,” is what Waldman told the program director. “I was the first electronic beat writer.  That’s how that started and they said ‘oh, this works’. The writers knew all of a sudden ‘uh oh she can put something on the air at 2 o’clock in the morning and I can’t’.”  

And the rest is history. Radio Hall of Fame history.

But along the way, there was never that moment where she felt that everything was going to be okay.

Because it can all disappear in a New York minute.

“I’ve never had that moment,” said Waldman. “I see things going backward in a lot of ways for women.  I’m very driven and I’m very aware that it can all be taken away in two seconds if some guy says that’s enough.” 

During her storied career, Waldman has covered five Yankees World Series championships and there’s certainly the hope that they can contend for another title this year. She loves her job and the impact that she continues to make on young girls who now have that dream to be the next Suzyn Waldman.

But, is there something in the business that she still hopes to accomplish?

“This is a big world,” said Waldman. “There’s always something to do. Right now I like this a lot and there’s still more to do. There are more little girls…somewhere there’s a little girl out there who is talking into a tape recorder or whatever they use now and her father is telling her or someone is telling her you can’t do that you’re a little girl. That hasn’t stopped. Somewhere out there there’s somebody that needs to hear a female voice on Yankees radio.”

To steal the spirit of a line from Yankees play-by-play voice John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman’s longtime friend, and broadcast partner…“that’s a Radio Hall of Fame career, Suzyn!”

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BSM Writers

No Winners in Pittsburgh vs Cleveland Radio War of Words

“As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity. “

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For nearly 18 months, we’ve known the NFL would eventually have to confront the Deshaun Watson saga in an on-the-field manner, and that day came Monday. After his March trade to the Browns, we also could more than likely deduce another item: Cleveland radio hosts would feel one way, and Pittsburgh hosts would feel another.

If you’re not in tune to the “rivalry” between the two cities, that’s understandable. Both are former industrial cities looking for an identity in a post-industrial Midwest. Each thinks the other is a horrible place to live, with no real reasoning other than “at least we’re not them”. Of course, the folks in Pittsburgh point to six Super Bowl victories as reason for superiority.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when news started to leak that a Watson decision would come down Monday. I was sure, however, that anyone who decided to focus on what the NFL’s decision would mean for Watson and the Browns on the field was in a no-win situation. As a former host on a Cleveland Browns radio affiliate, I always found the situation difficult to talk about. Balancing the very serious allegations with what it means for Watson, the Browns, and the NFL always felt like a tight-rope walk destined for failure.

So I felt for 92.3 The Fan’s Ken Carman and Anthony Lima Monday morning, knowing they were in a delicate spot. They seemed to allude to similar feelings. “You’re putting me in an awkward situation here,” Carman told a caller after that caller chanted “Super Bowl! Super Browns!” moments after the suspension length was announced.

Naturally, 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi happened to turn on the radio just as that call happened. A nearly week-long war of words ensued between the two Audacy-owned stations.

Fillipponi used the opportunity to slam Cleveland callers and used it as justification to say the NFL was clearly in the wrong. Carman and Lima pointed out Fillipponi had tweeted three days earlier about how much love the city of Pittsburgh had for Ben Roethlisberger, a player with past sexual assault allegations in his own right.

Later in the week, the Cleveland duo defended fans from criticism they viewed as unfair from the national media. In response, Dorin Dickerson and Adam Crowley of the Pittsburgh morning show criticized Carman and Lima for taking that stance.

Keeping up?

As an impartial observer, there’s one main takeaway I couldn’t shake. Both sides are wrong. Both sides are right. No one left the week looking good.

Let’s pretend the Pittsburgh Steelers had traded for Deshaun Watson on March 19th, and not the Browns. Can you envision a scenario where Cleveland radio hosts would defend the NFL for the “fairness” of the investigation and disciplinary process if he was only suspended for six games? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous. At the same time, would Fillipponi, Dickerson, and other Pittsburgh hosts be criticizing their fans for wanting Watson’s autograph? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous.

When you’re discussing “my team versus your team” or “my coach versus your coach” etc…, it’s ok to throw ration and logic to the side for the sake of entertaining radio. But when you’re dealing with an incredibly serious matter, in this case, an investigation into whether an NFL quarterback is a serial sexual predator, I don’t believe there’s room to throw ration and logic to the wind. The criticism of Carman and Lima from the Pittsburgh station is fair and frankly warranted. They tried their best, in my opinion, to be sensitive to a topic that warranted it, but fell short.

On the flip side, Carman and Lima are correct. Ben Roethlisberger was credibly accused of sexual assault. Twice. And their criticism of Fillipponi and Steelers fans is valid and frankly warranted.

You will often hear me say “it can be both” because so often today people try to make every situation black and white. In reality, there’s an awful lot of gray in our world. But, in this case, it can’t be both. It can’t be Deshaun Watson, and Browns fans by proxy, are horrible, awful, no good, downright rotten people, and Ben Roethlisberger is a beloved figure.

Pot, meet kettle.

I don’t know what Andrew Fillipponi said about Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault allegations in 2010. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’m guessing he sounded much more like Carman and Lima did this week, rather than the person criticizing hosts in another market for their lack of moral fiber. Judging by the tweet Carman and Lima used to point out Fillipponi’s hypocrisy, I have a hard time believing the Pittsburgh host had strong outrage about the Steelers bringing back the franchise QB.

Real courage comes from saying things your listeners might find unpopular. It’s also where real connections with your listeners are built. At the current time in our hyper-polarized climate, having the ability to say something someone might disagree with is a lost art. But it’s also the key to keeping credibility and building a reputation that you’ll say whatever you truly believe that endears you to your audience.

And in this case, on a day the NFL announced they now employ a player who — in the league’s view — is a serial sexual assaulter, to hear hosts describe a six-game suspension as “reasonable” felt unreasonable. As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity.

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