Josh Innes has been off the radio for nine months. This follows a career featuring stints in Afternoon Drive at WIP in Philadelphia and Morning Drive at Sports Talk 790 in Houston. He’s very active on Twitter and has his own podcast “The Josh Innes Show.” I caught up with him earlier this week to talk about what he’s learned from those experiences and what’s next for him. You can check out his podcast and latest information at: https://joshinnesshow.com/
Matt Fishman: You tweeted around Thanksgiving about how thankful you were this year to no longer be in a toxic work environment and you have added perspective. Can you elaborate on this?
Josh Innes: I was working at iHeart in Houston and I had been from October 2016 until March of this year. There were moments that were good, but ultimately it wasn’t an ideal situation for me. It wasn’t what I thought it was gonna be. There were a lot of times I wondered why that particular station hired me because I didn’t know if they really wanted me to do what I do. There were always a lot of problems it that way. It wasn’t by a lack of effort of trying to see things their way. We just had a philosophical difference.
I like to create waves and bring attention to the medium. I think that’s good for everything. Whereas I think where it was kinda a lay low, don’t bother anybody, don’t upset the broadcast partners. Let me put it this way I would go to work sometimes and my boss would sit my down in his office and tell me, “By the way no one at the radio station likes you.”
It was just a really bad situation mentally. I wasn’t having very much fun. I worked my ass off and spent a lot of my own money trying to make the show successful. It was just a really catty kind of place. I think management, at times, tried to pit people against each other. They enjoyed that in a weird way. It was really just not a good situation.
While it’s unfortunate that I don’t have a job at the moment, I feel fortunate that now that I’ve had time to step back for the past 8-9 months, I can say it’s probably for the best because that wasn’t a good situation for me. It probably wasn’t a good situation for me mentally. There were just so many things about that situation that were toxic so now that I look back on it, I’m glad that time in my life is over.
MF: How does this new perspective change you going into the next conversation you have with a radio station?
JI: I can say this. There are things I’ve learned everywhere I’ve been and you take things you’ve learned at all these stops and you hope that it improves you as a person. While it was a toxic situation there, that station was really sales heavy and you learned how to focus on things that made the station more money.
Same as when I left WIP, sometimes they felt that I was so driven by ratings that I kind of ignored the sales part of it. When I came here (Houston) I focused on making things happen. I was down in sales everyday working on ideas to make the station more money.
How to handle certain intra-office situations. There was a guy there who worked for the Rockets–he was one of their broadcasters. One time I was wearing a t-shirt for another team and he took a picture of me in the shirt and said this is for the Rockets knowing that this would upset the Rockets and I would get a call from my boss about it. I just went out and tried to destroy that guy because I felt that he was completely out of line. By trying to destroy that guy it probably pissed off some of his sales buddies to me and they didn’t sell me as much. Did I need to do that, I didn’t. You learn from that and move forward.
When you are out of it for nine months and your phone doesn’t ring it changes your perspective as well. You get humbled when your phone doesn’t ring and you look back at things that you could’ve handled situations better.
MF: Do you feel like your phone hasn’t been ringing as much because you get let go by WIP and then in Houston and people think “this guy must be toxic” and the phone doesn’t ring?
JI: Recently the phone has started to ring more, but to answer your question, I do think if people don’t know you and if all they know is what they read about you from certain situations they can think that. It’s incumbent upon me to change that. I just have to have the opportunity to do it. Anytime I talk to anyone in management I tell them that my situation is different because you mature a little bit and being out nine months that the opportunities aren’t always going to be there. There were times hey maybe I’ll never have that big job again and I will be known as the guy who blew it. I was the guy who had these big gigs and I pissed it all away.
There is a certain element of being humbled that plays to my benefit because they’ll be getting a different guy in the sense that I think I know how to handle situations better than I used to. Going back to our initial point that when I got fired here or fired there my phone rings, you just assume what you are doing is 100% right because people are always looking to hire you. When it doesn’t happen that way anymore you kinda think, “maybe there’s something that I need to change, something I need to do differently.”
MF: I saw that you did a couple of shows last week at the ESPN station in Memphis. How did that go? How did it feel?
JI: I loved it. Memphis is one of my favorite places. My dad had worked there in the late 80s. It’s funny, I had just randomly texted the PD at that station, Brad Carson, and I told him how fortunate he is for that being such a great market. It’s a small enough town but not too small where it’s syndicated all day. I have always wanted to be on the air in Memphis at least for a day because my dad was on the radio there. When I was growing up I went to Memphis a lot, I like the Grizzlies and I felt like I kinda knew the town. It was cool. It’s weird not being in the city as I did the shows from Houston. It was fun! I had a really good time doing it. Brad is a really great guy and made it a great experience.
MF: Do you think that’s something you’ll be doing more of, especially with the holiday season right around the corner?
JI: I would hope so. I am available to do whatever. I know a lot of people on your site are program directors. I can be available anytime you need me and I can find the studio to do it from. It’s kinda neat. You never know what market you would do a fill in at. If people will have me on their stations. I think that’s good because I know that people have questions about me.
One thing I get from PDs is “I never question your talent we just question how things will work at this place and this situation.” My guess is that if you’d ask Brad Carson he would tell you that it was a very easy thing. Just to give him a compliment–he’s fantastic to work with. It was a great experience. I hope it leads to other opportunities.
MF: Speaking of other opportunities, the Fanatic in Philadelphia just fired their PD Eric Johnson. What does it mean potentially for you and what does it mean for Philadelphia sports radio?
JI: I don’t know. I can tell you that Eric is a very nice guy. I feel like they could find themselves in a position to get closer to WIP. My guess would be they want to get into a position where they could just be closer. I would certainly answer the phone if The Fanatic called. I certainly think I could add to what they do there. Now people will say “You had that big radio fight with the afternoon guy.” That’s a radio fight. When you’re a competitor you’re in a radio fight. If you’re on the same team you have a common goal to beat the competition–WIP. If the Fanatic were to call me I would say “What do you want me to do? Let’s make something happen and go beat WIP!”
People assume because you talk about this guy, this guy, this guy that you could never work with them. When I was in Houston we went after the (other stations) shows. They didn’t take it as a joke. It really upset them. After I got fired I reached out to them. I was trying to make radio interesting. We’re in Houston there are three sports stations that combine for a four-share.
If the Fanatic were to call me and ask me if I could reconcile with Mike Missanelli. Here’s what I would say. Mike has obviously accomplished a lot in that market. He basically launched that station. He’s the Angelo (Cataldi) of 97.5. If you look at it, the one constant there has been Mike. I can respect that. As a radio guy I can respect that. I beat him for awhile, he came back and beat me for awhile. We had a really good battle there. But if the Fanatic would pick up the phone and ask if I would have an issue working with Mike Missanelli. Hell no!! The guy has been there for a decade. The guy has done great things ratings-wise. He’s basically their bell cow financially and ratings-wise. I just want to go somewhere and be part of a team and kick some ass. I don’t know what they’re going to do at the Fanatic. I haven’t talked to them but I’d be all about it and I’d go in there and say, “Hey Mike give me a hug and let’s go figure this thing out.”
If Joe Bell from the Fanatic were to pick up the phone and call me and say, “Josh Innes come to Philadelphia we want to make something happen, but we need to make it work in the building.” I’d say “Get Missanelli on the phone or get me in person with him and I’ll tell him I admire the stuff he’s done it was just a stupid radio war and let’s go out there and beat the shit out of WIP.”
MF: When you were on the air in Houston was there a lot of pressure to be easy on the teams?
JI: I’m going to give credit to (Sportsradio) 610. I never felt that people at 610 went easy on the Texans, and they were the Texans’ station. Where I worked at 790 was more like romper room. There were times when I’d be critical of the Houston Rockets and I’d get a text from the Market Manager, not the PD, and this is one text I got in the middle of a show that pops into my mind saying “You’ve said enough. Let the callers handle it.” You paid me all this money to send me this text and let the callers “handle it?”
Here’s what I’d get all the time: my management would tell me all the time that the teams don’t like me. I get it would be nice if they did. Part of sports radio and appealing to a mass audience is saying what fans are thinking. You have to be able to be critical.
Here’s what our rule was: say whatever you want about the Texans but don’t do the same with the Rockets. One time I said the Rockets GM could get fired if they didn’t turn things around. Got a call from the boss who said “How do you know he’s going to get fired?” I said, “I don’t but it’s my opinion if they don’t turn it around after how they finished last year they’re probably in trouble.” The boss said, “Well we don’t want people on the air saying people could get fired because that’s a personal attack.”
By the way, it’s not wise to tell the talent that the teams hate them. How am I going to react to that? Am I going to get on the air and say these guys are great people. I never had this problem at 610/Houston or at WIP/Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, the PD Andy Bloom did such a good job of shielding me from anything the teams were complaining to him about. In Philly it’s expected that you get on the radio and dump on them after you lose to the two-win Dolphins. You can’t say enough bad shit about them when that happens. In Houston that’s not exactly the case.
MF: Given this experience, does this mean you would be more likely to go somewhere that allows you to be critical of the teams?
JI: I get that there are rules in certain cities and with certain teams. I’m not hell bent on being in this market or that market. I just want to be on the air, make a living and have fun doing it. Would I like to be in Chicago or back in Philly again or in Dallas? Sure I would. But if the station happens to be in Memphis, Kansas City or St. Louis and they dig what I do and want to pay me to do it, I’m interested.
MF:How do you like doing your podcast?
JI: I’m weird that I have to change things every month. The sponsors don’t seem to mind and it’s a little looser. Sometimes I’ll do it at night. Sometimes after consuming many beers on a Sunday. We’ll see where it goes. I’ll continue to do it when I get a job. You can do a lot of things in a podcast that if you did it on the radio they might tell you to pump the breaks.
MF: What do you think of the current state of sports radio and its future?
JI: It might not be what it was 7-8 years ago where you lost a lot of classic rock stations that became sports talk on FM. To me, sports talk radio is the best format for someone who wants to talk and entertain. It’s the closest to guy-talk you’re gonna get. It’s the closest to what Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony and Mancow were doing 20 years ago. Depending on the market and the daypart of course.
20 years ago everyone was looking for the next Jim Rome. Now everyone is trying to find the next Colin Cowherd. What I don’t like is when I can listen to a guy and he’s about to go into one of these “Cowherdian” comparisons and I can almost tell you before he says it what the comparison will be. The other issue is a lot of young guys not finding their own voice. The art of creating your own thing is taking a little bit from everyone, learning the market and making sure everyone doesn’t sound the same.
I think you need to have more visionary programmers out there. You’ve got Armen Williams in Houston, Gavin (Spittle) who is one of the best and Mike Thomas, who’s going to Chicago, who is brilliant and Andy Bloom-Brilliant. You’ve got a really good group of guys who came from rock or hot-talk who know entertainment. Those are the type of guys who will keep it going.
Plus you need to put me on the radio. Or it will die.
Matt Fishman is a former columnist for BSM. The current PD of ESPN Cleveland has a lengthy resume in sports radio programming. His career stops include SiriusXM, 670 The Score in Chicago, and 610 Sports in Kansas City. You can follow him on Twitter @FatMishman20 or you can email him at FishmanSolutions@gmail.com.
The Big Ten Didn’t Learn ANYTHING From the NHL’s Mistake
To not have your product ever mentioned again on THE sports network seems like a steep tradeoff to me.
My favorite moments in life involve watching someone/something on the verge of a great moment and after a lot of struggling, get to the moment that makes them happier than you cam imagine. You can feel your scowl shift from tepid observer to interested party and then finally transition to open fandom. I was on the verge of another one of those moments coming into this week until the Big Ten decided that they would make biggest mistake since the Legends and Leaders divisions.
The conference was closing in on a brand new set of media rights to go into effect starting with the 2023 football and basketball seasons. The discussions were near a climax when the USC and UCLA called Big Ten commish Kevin Warren. Then, the negotiations relaunched and something special was about to happen. The Big Ten was inches away from declaring themselves the richest and most forward-thinking conference in the entire country and if they could win a few football games, they’d be head ahead of the SEC.
You can argue until you are Gator Blue in the face but the fact is, the Big Ten was about to explode and pass the SEC. The conference was about to have games on FOX, ABC/ESPN, CBS and NBC. All of the networks. ALL OF THEM. They were also developing a package for a streaming service to test the waves of the web. It all sounded so damn smart.
Then, the Big Ten went dumb.
The conference got greedy and asked for too much from what would have been their most profitable partner in cachet, ESPN. Reportedly the conference asked ESPN for $380 million per year for seven years to broadcast the conference’s second-rated games… at best. My jaw hit the floor.
Pure, unapologetic greed got between the Big Ten and smart business. The conference forgot a lesson that the NHL learned the hard way. ESPN dominates sports. ESPN is sports.
I don’t need to go to far back in the archives to remind you that ESPN’s offer to the NHL for media rights wasn’t as lucrative financially as NBC’s was, but the NHL took the short-term money and ignored the far-reaching consequence. ESPN essentially wiped them from the regular discussion. Yes, there were some brief highlights and Barry Melrose did strut ass into the studio on occasion, but by no means was that sport a featured product anymore.
One afternoon I had someone tell me that they were upset ESPN was airing a promo for an upcoming soccer match that ESPN was carrying. He told me, “they’re only promoting it because they have the game.”
That’s kind of how this thing works. ESPN is in business with some sports and not others so it makes a lot of sense to promote those you are in business with, yeah? ESPN doesn’t spend a lot of time promoting Big Brother, Puppy Pals or ping pong either. Why would they? There is no incentive too.
Here’s the sad question. Why would ESPN bother promoting the Big Ten? Why would ESPN spend extra time on the air, on their social platforms, on their digital side, to promote something they don’t have access to? The Big Ten is a big deal, but is it that big of a deal?
I am not suggesting that ESPN will ignore the Big Ten. They will still get discussed on College GameDay. But why would the network’s premiere pregame show for decades go to any Big Ten games and feature the conference?
There will be highlights still shown on SportsCenter, but I’m willing to bet they get shorter.
The Big Ten chose network television and a streaming service over the behemoth that is ESPN. As far as streaming is concerned, consider that over half of all NFL frequent viewers still don’t know that Thursday Night Football games are on Amazon only this year. That’s a month away and that’s people who call themselves frequent NFL viewers and that’s the biggest, baddest league in the land. Good luck telling them Purdue/Rutgers is on Apple or Amazon. Streaming is a major part of the future, but it still isn’t the now.
ESPN may seem like the safe bet, but that’s because it’s the smartest bet. NBC is a fine network that spends a bajillion dollars on America’s Got Talent and The Voice. Fine shows, but tell me where I can watch highlights of the recent Notre Dame/Stanford game.
CBS is a wonderful network that dominated with the SEC package for a long time, but that’s because the very best SEC game each week went to CBS. Will they still dominate if they have the league’s #2 package? Because why wouldn’t FOX, Big Ten Network co-owner FOX, get the best game each week for Big Noon Saturday?
There isn’t a single one of us that has a good damn idea where college football will be in three, five or seven years but I do know that ESPN isn’t going anywhere. I know ESPN has elite talent at every level of production and on-air that’s been in place for a really, really long time. I also know ESPN cares way more about sports than the other networks. CBS would like the Big Ten to do well, but CSI: New Orleans is a priority, too.
The NHL went for quick money and it cost them market share. The sport is still trying to recover after being largely ignored by ESPN for 17 years. It wasn’t out of spite, it was out of business. The NHL once thought it didn’t need ESPN. Where’s the NHL now?
The money the Big Ten will generate is amazing, I will not deny that. It seems like a boondoggle of a lifetime to grab this cash. However, to not have your product ever mentioned outside of Saturdays ever again on the network that literally everyone associates with sports seems like a steep tradeoff to me. The Big Ten is going to get paid a lot now but in the long term, they will pay the most.
Arky Shea serves as BSM’s evening editor, a daily news writer, and a weekly media columnist. He has previously worked for Outkick, 97.7 The Zone, 740 Sports Radio, and 730 The Ump where he held roles as the station’s program director, afternoon host, and producer. To connect, find Arky on Twitter @ArkyShea.
Producers Podcast – Nuno Teixeira, ESPN Radio
How do you go from Jerry Springer to ESPN Radio? It is the journey Nuno Teixeira made. Mike Greenberg’s radio right hand shares what he learned working in two very different environments.
Brady Farkas is a sports radio professional with 5+ years of experience as a Program Director, On-Air Personality, Assistant Program Director and Producer in Burlington, VT and Albany, NY. He’s well versed in content creation, developing ideas to generate ratings and revenue, working in a team environment, and improving and growing digital content thru the use of social media, audio/video, and station websites. His primary goal is to host a daily sports talk program for a company/station that is dedicated to serving sports fans. You can find him on Twitter @WDEVRadioBrady and reach him by email at email@example.com.
Lance Zierlein Isn’t Taking Shortcuts
“That really hammered it home for me; man, you just can’t take shortcuts.”
Jack of all trades, master of none. The only thing I dislike about that saying is, to me, it implies that a person isn’t special in any one particular area. That isn’t the case with Lance Zierlein. The guy has been crushing morning drive in Houston for 25 years and knocking out NFL draft evaluations for eight years now at NFL.com. It isn’t possible for anybody to master draft analysis, but Zierlein’s talent evaluations stand out so much that NFL coaching staffs and front offices pay attention to his views.
In addition to his on-air duties and draft analysis, Zierlein used to provide gambling advice for bettors through his own handicapping business. This dude gets around. Zierlein has proven to be valuable in many different areas. It’s no wonder that new opportunities have become available to him over the years. In our conversation, Zierlein talks about not taking shortcuts. He also mentions how he tries to avoid taking himself too seriously on the air, and reveals the most gratifying experience of his career. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: How did you initially break in to the radio business?
Lance Zierlein: Radio started for me 25 years ago. Actually it started before then; I started my own handicapping business 28 years ago when I was really young. Then I hustled my way on radio as a football analyst, an expert in my early 20s. I sent stuff out to a bunch of stations, got on, gave out my phone number for my pick line, which I answered myself and gave out picks. That was my living.
From there, 610AM became an all-sports station in the fall of ‘94. By ‘95 the general manager of the station liked me on the radio and so I was doing a weekend sports show for a couple of hours on Sunday. By ‘97 I was doing morning drive. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I quit a job making $400 a week working 60 hours a week. It was just ridiculous. It was like some horrific management position in a field I had no idea what I was doing. I just quit and bet on myself and started my own business and three years later I’ve got a morning sports talk show. It’s been that way ever since.
BN: What has been your career path when it comes to writing?
LZ: I’ve been writing for a while. I started my own football newsletter in 1998. It was a sports newsletter, then in 2001 it became a football only newsletter. I did that for a while. I was a fantasy football writer for the Houston Chronicle. I had a blog in the Chronicle that was fairly heavily trafficked. I covered everything but really started to focus in on the NFL draft and some fantasy football stuff and the Houston Texans.
Some people over at the NFL noticed me. I planted some seeds over there and introduced myself to people at NFL Media. In October of 2014, they reached out to me about being their new NFL draft analyst. Shortly thereafter I was hired. I’ve worked there since the fall of 2014. So eight NFL drafts and 25 straight years of drive-time radio as well.
BN: When you think about all of those different avenues whether it’s handicapping, sports radio, or being a draft analyst — which is like scouting — which do you think you’ve had to learn the most about to know what you were talking about really well?
LZ: Oh man, well for me radio was never formulaic. I didn’t learn in college, I was just a natural talker and thinker and entertainer. I’m not necessarily predictable.
I think the most that I had to learn was the NFL draft. Handicapping is something that you learn as well. I learned in the pool halls of New Orleans when I was going to school at Tulane. I had a mentor who was a former vice president of finance for a company there. He just taught me about handicapping as being an analytical process where you try to find the right side of the puzzle. There’s a puzzle between two teams, various players, here’s the point spread and you try to work the puzzle out and find the right side. That took time too.
When it came to the draft you’re talking about having to really learn all of the specific factors for every position. From long snapper to punter to kicker to every position on the offensive side and defensive side. Even if you think you know what you’re doing and even if you have a scouting manual like I had to work off of, until you actually watch a ton of tape and make mistakes in evaluations, which you don’t know until two and three years down the road in many cases, and learn from those mistakes and alter your process and dial in your process to match the changing tides of NFL and college football, you really can’t get there.
I think the most learning I had to do believe it or not, and my dad was an NFL and college football coach my whole life, I think it’s interesting; the most learning I had to do really was the scouting and the evaluating process before the NFL draft. I think that was the most work I had to do from start to finish. And I still think that I’m learning in that as well.
BN: Doing draft evaluations is difficult. Handicapping games is difficult. Between the two, which do you think you were thrown into the deep end more? Most when it comes to that?
LZ: Handicapping I was trying to pick winners for people and I didn’t really feel like I had anything to lose. I was doing something I loved to do. I had left a job I hated that I should have never even been in. To me I was master of my own domain. I had my own company. But there’s a pressure that comes with that because although I didn’t need much money to survive and I was married to my first wife at the time, there is a pressure with knowing that you have to win so that people will sign up for the next month and you can pay bills.
When it comes to being thrown into the fire, listen I’ve got to write 500 players a year and every one of them is going to live on the internet forever. There’s receipts on 500 players. When I got thrown in I’m having to call defensive back coaches I know to ask questions about certain things having to do with cornerbacks, safeties. I’m talking to pass rush specialists. I’m talking to coaches primarily and really getting an education. I was lucky enough to talk to some guys who really gave me some help along the way.
But if you just watch a tape, the tape will speak to you. I had Jerry Angelo who was the GM of the Bears who one time told me just say what you see. Just say what you see. I really lived off that for the first couple of years. Then beyond that I started to really learn to be more technical with some of the things I was looking at at every position. Having 500 players that you’re writing up, from what I recall from a former editor there, he got 15 million hits internationally on my scouting reports over a relatively short period of time during the draft.
That really hammered it home for me; man, you just can’t take shortcuts. You have to really understand these guys, know these guys. If you project them wrong that’s fine, but don’t miss because you took shortcuts. It’s going to be there for everyone to read and see. I would say thrown to the wolves much more in the evaluation.
BN: Which of the three would you say is the most gratifying for you between sports radio, handicapping back in the day, and the writing/analyst work that you do?
LZ: God, that’s such a hard question because they’re three very different times of my life. The handicapping stuff was me just getting a shot to springboard into sports and into radio. I always knew handicapping was going to be a way for me to get into radio. I planned it as a side door into radio and my plan worked. I was pretty good at what I did.
Radio was just incredible because it introduced me to my wife. She was a listener so it introduced me to her. We had such a great following. Athletes liked the show. That’s gratifying on a level in my 20s and in to my 30s, I don’t think anything can match that when people around the city know who you are. You’re having fun every single day. You’re coming into the radio station and it’s just a lot of fun. You’re just kind of on a wild ride. You don’t really recognize it until after it’s over.
Football was special in a different way because my dad was a lifelong coach. He’s been a coach since I was one or two years old. He’s won a Super Bowl ring. He’s coached for a variety of college and pro teams. The first time he was reading my scouting reports when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, he came across them. One of the other coaches showed him.
When he really realized wow, he knew I did radio, he knew I did some of the scouting stuff on my own in a newsletter, I don’t think he really took it all that seriously. When he realized in reading my scouting reports for offensive lineman that I was really pretty good at it, and that he agreed with much of it, and he’s now calling me every other day to talk about prospects and get my thoughts on guys, you just can’t imagine the amount of happiness that gave me as a son to know that my dad had that level of respect for my work.
It’s really a second job. Radio is what I had done and this is a dramatically different job. If you’re doing NFL draft analysis for NFL.com, I’m following a scouting protocol. This is not radio. It’s a totally different discipline and job. Knowing that he really had a great deal of respect and that other Arizona Cardinals coaches started calling me and asking my opinions on certain players, it’s hard to really put into words how gratifying that is.
Then through the process knowing that there are people in the league who really respect my work and guys I’ve become friends with who are general managers now who respect what I do. There’s just an immense feeling of satisfaction in doing that and knowing I’ve got number one radio shows at four different stations in Houston.
Then to be able to do this with professionals that are in my dad’s trade. I grew up watching my dad as a coach, I know how tough that profession is for front office personnel, for coaches, and to know that people have a respect for the work that I do, that’s a level of gratification that’s completely different. That’s like a cherry on top. If I never did anything again tomorrow, I would be happy with what I’ve accomplished in my time in sports.
BN: Football fans turn into mini GMs when the draft rolls around. A lot of their evaluations are way off. [Laughs] Do you see a common thread between some of the evaluations that are just not accurate?
LZ: That’s a tough question. I think some people are way too opinionated and firm in opinions and they have not spent nearly enough time actually watching the players. I think it’s really more they’re aggregating opinions from other people and then turning it into their own, which is kind of an incomplete analysis. I think that’s a mistake that some people make.
I think there’s a belief that who you are now is who you’re going to be in the future. That’s the most basic mistake that everyone makes. You have to learn you’re not giving grades for who a player is right now, you’re giving grades for who a player is going to be in three to five years. Learning to do that does not happen overnight. It’s hard. It forces you to think differently. It forces you to really focus on traits and the habits of successful people.
Whether it’s certain successful traits, there are traits that can lead to success, explosiveness, speed, length, toughness, and you’ve got to look for those, and then you worry about NFL coaches coaching up the rest of it. Don’t get too hyper-focused. I think a lot of people get too hyper-focused on who a player is right now and not who a player is going to be later. Then also on the flip side, they get too enamored with stats and names as opposed to understanding what typically works in the NFL.
BN: How about your future? Say five years from now, what you’re doing, where you’re doing it at, what would be ideal for you?
LZ: I really don’t know. I think honestly if the right opportunity came with an NFL team and somebody I respected as a general manager, that would be something I would have to consider. I’m not sure that that right opportunity and all the things would fall in place. I don’t know that that would ever be the case. I’m not sure I see myself doing that in five years.
I think honestly, I feel like I have an eye for talent outside of football. I think I have an eye for talent in radio. I’ve brought five to seven people in who have become radio people and good hosts. I think at some point that might be something that I want to do is become more of a program director. If not a program director a talent scout to bring in the next generation of radio professionals.
I could see myself doing that because I do think I have an eye for people who have it. I didn’t learn the traditional way and so I understand that you don’t have to go through the traditional methods to be someone who can be captivating or entertaining or someone with upside. I think I recognize when people have that kind of upside. I think I’d love to be involved in that side of radio at some point in the future.
I’ve got a football business along with the former director of analytics for the Tampa Bay Bucs. It’s kind of a scouting tool and a recruiting tool for colleges. We’re already working with college teams and with high school teams. I think the handicapping stuff is out for me moving forward. [Laughs] That was an avenue and a vehicle and I still love trying to solve the puzzle, but I don’t put the same time into it anymore. There are different directions I can go in, but I’m happy where I am right now both in radio and the draft stuff. I’m just going to keep letting things play out and we’ll see what happens.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide each weekend on FOX Sports Radio. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.