Is Ryan Harris a dumb ex-jock? Absolutely not. Is Ryan Harris a busy man that’s balancing a successful career? As Jules in Pulp Fiction once said — correctamundo. Harris has some serious brain power, which helps explain his busy schedule. He is a color analyst for Notre Dame football broadcasts and a midday host in Denver on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5. He does some postgame work for CBS and has been a sideline reporter two Monday Night Football games this year. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that he does speaking engagements, emcees events, and has a best-selling book out as well.
Just a few other minor details to mention — Harris is a Notre Dame graduate, NFL veteran of 10 years, and a Super Bowl 50 champion. I’m on pace to get carpal tunnel listing off all of this stuff.
You might think someone with this much success could be difficult to get along with due to a massive ego. That simply isn’t the case with Harris. He’s a very nice guy that is more interested in improving instead of reminding people how accomplished he already is.
I love how Harris can go from insightful thoughts like surrendering the outcome, and quickly transition to a stance on f-bombs and keeping football fun. It’s so important to be versatile in life to better connect with a vast range of people. Shocker alert — this is another skill that the former offensive tackle possesses. I truly had a good time chatting with him. I’m confident you will have a good time reading this as well. Enjoy. And Go Irish!
Brian Noe: What has been the most valuable thing you’ve applied from playing sports to broadcasting about sports?
Ryan Harris: That’s a great question. I would say the ability to study. Even players in the NFL, it’s so hard to study and to know what to study. For me to be able to continue to study with my experience, that’s something that really has helped me in broadcasting because you never know what you’re going to use and when you’re going to use it. For me it’s fun to continue my pursuit of knowledge through learning the stories of the many players, coaches, and teams that I’ve covered.
BN: Who did you learn the most from in your playing career that you can apply to broadcasting now?
RH: I had some great coaches, man — Gary Kubiak, Mike Tomlin. Gary Kubiak was so thorough and so honest with his players. Same thing with Mike Tomlin. Mike Tomlin starts his meetings every morning with the Pittsburgh Steelers the same way. The first rule of getting better is showing up. Second rule — listening is a skill. It’s your job to learn how you listen and our job as coaches to give you information that matters.
Learning from those two coaches, my preparedness is on me. I can’t be upset in a game with a coach if I see a blitz that we covered on 3rd & 7 and I don’t pick it up. Well, they covered it. That’s something that I have to take pride in beforehand. Learning from Gary Kubiak and Mike Tomlin helped me in that respect. In the career, no question Aaron Taylor has been a huge mentor for me as well as Gerry Matalon and Howard Deneroff. Just listening to people when I actually get the chance to be around them and reading about some of the broadcasters that I think are great. Reading about Collinsworth and how he approaches a broadcast, how he prepares and studies film. Those things have been really helpful.
BN: What was your welcome-to-the-NFL moment where you realized you were on a different stage?
RH: My rookie year I was walking from the locker room in the Broncos facility to the training room. I was walking through and John Lynch — somebody I had looked up to for a long time — said hey, Ryan. He just kind of walked past me. I was like oh my God. That is John Lynch and he knows my name.
Playing against Tamba Hali was the first time I played a chess player. Tamba Hali, DeMarcus Ware, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, all those guys are chess players. They’re going to do their due diligence on you and they’ll know within two to four snaps whether you’ve been studying film on them. If you’re trying something different, those kind of guys will wait the whole game to pull out their best pass-rush move.
Tamba Hali stood up and just clubbed me with an inside club move one time. Right as I was falling to the ground, I was like oh, he was watching film on me and waiting for me to do that. Then I hit the ground. That was like a whoa, these guys are different than in college. You realize as soon as you’re on the ground that it’s not about getting hit to the ground. That’s going to happen to everybody. But the fact is were you there to get knocked over? I’ve been ran over and sat on a couple times. It doesn’t feel good. But the look on your opponent’s face when you get up from getting knocked down is priceless. That’s the moment that I love anytime I got knocked down and anytime I will get knocked down in the future.
BN: What was your welcome-to-broadcasting moment when you realized you were on a stage that you weren’t accustomed to?
RH: (Laughs) Yeah, it was an adjustment to be near football and around football and not be able to swear. Learning how to comment on a play, or an execution, or a tackle, that was hard to not use some of the language that I grew up using in football.
BN: That’s funny, man. Did you do a decent amount of cussing on the football field?
RH: Yeah, it’s just a different culture on the field of play, especially in the NFL. One time I remember my first year playing against Joey Porter. He went after a receiver on our team and said “I’ll skin your tattoos off you in front of your children.” I was like whoa, what’s happening here? It’s just a different environment.
Even in college to grow up around great and tough coaching, to then be broadcasting and remembering that this may be a parent, or father, or friends in a car with kids. Being so close to the game and having to kind of censor myself was definitely like I’m in broadcasting now. This is a different thing.
BN: If there was a game or a show that you could cuss on, what’s something you might say?
RH: A lot of “what the f***”, or “what the f*** was that?”. Colorful language — the f-word is prominent in football. One of the things I learned outside of football is that swearing really puts people on edge. It can really affect people whereas in the NFL that’s part of the language, especially on the field.
I learned that lesson and I’m so grateful that I know what it’s like on the field. I know what that sounds like. I know what it’s like to be challenged man to man physically as well as mentally and emotionally. I know how to battle through that and that’s a large part of the reason why I wrote my book to encourage others to choose their mindset and overcome their obstacles.
BN: How would you summarize your book Mindset for Mastery?
RH: Winning the Super Bowl, everything you believe about yourself comes true for other people. I want people to have that moment in their life. The moment we won the Super Bowl and the clock struck zero, I wasn’t complaining about sacrificing Saturday mornings after high school graduation to go train. I wasn’t complaining about the yoga classes and the strength training and learning how to breathe again with MMA fighters to be a part of the hurry-up offense that we ran with Peyton. All your sacrifice is worth it.
When you choose your mindset, you will overcome not only obstacles, but people who may be obstacles in your life, people who may not be encouraging. There are 1,600 players in the NFL this year. Only 53 will call themselves champions and it will be because they’ve committed not only to the craft and the individual details, but to their teammates and to their goal. When you do that, it’s an amazing feeling. There aren’t enough voices to encourage us to go after those dreams in those moments. So many times we fail and we think that’s it, or so many times we want to do something knowing that it’s going to pan out. We don’t get to know those answers, but you do get to choose your mindset each and every day.
BN: What are the biggest hurdles you’ve had to clear in your career?
RH: The first game I started was a Monday night in Oakland. I remember waking up that morning thinking run, give back the money. You’re going to embarrass yourself. You’re going to give up six sacks on Jay Cutler on Monday Night Football. Everyone’s going to know you’re a fraud. So I had to battle tremendous self-doubt. I really had to learn how to perform with my fear. Recognize my fear, recognize that certain thoughts aren’t real, and also learn how to recognize distractions.
BN: Do you think you have to experience some level of success to have true confidence and get rid of self-doubt?
RH: Absolutely not. You do not need any past experience of success to succeed. You do need a willingness to try new things, a willingness to learn, and a willingness to work. There are over 200 diamonds in my Super Bowl 50 ring. None of them were laying on the ground ready to be picked up. You’ve got to dig for your diamonds. Past success or past failure does not matter when you’ve made up your mind that you’re going to accomplish something and you’re willing to do what is necessary to overcome and work through.
BN: Have you ever had experiences with teammates — broadcasting or football — that didn’t have a positive mindset and didn’t accomplish what they were capable of?
RH: Oh, all the time. All the time. That was a big adjustment for me in my early years in the NFL. Sometimes on teams I was on, guys didn’t care about winning. They cared about getting their numbers, getting their contract, and making it look good enough for them to be back next year.
One of the things I learned playing with Peyton is, Peyton Manning prepares and it looks extremely different than anyone else. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what it looks like. He doesn’t care what problems people have with the way he prepares. That was a great lesson for me. Champions look different. We sound different. Because of that, you’re going to be different. Until I was around some champions, I really didn’t notice that.
Even in the NFL, not everybody wants be a champion. You really have got to work hard to believe in yourself and your mission because you’ll be around a lot of people in the NFL with a lot of money that may not want to be successful.
BN: What’s your proudest achievement as a football player?
RH: Oh, man. Going to my teammate Lonie Paxton’s charity event because that’s where I met my wife. (Laughs) Outside of that, the night before the Super Bowl I told myself I am a champion. I can go out tomorrow and play my tail off. I will. I envisioned raising the trophy. For some reason when I sat there, closed my eyes and visualized it, I could only see the trophy from the bottom up. Well, fast forward 24 hours later and here’s Peyton Manning handing me the Lombardi Trophy from the stage. I’m touching the Lombardi Trophy for the first time out of Peyton Manning’s hands from the bottom up. After my moment with it, I got to hand it to DeMarcus Ware. That was a moment that I will remember forever.
BN: What would you say is your proudest moment as a broadcaster?
RH: Just doing the Notre Dame games. I really love doing the Notre Dame football broadcasts. I did sidelines for the Monday night Seattle-Minnesota game. Seeing my coaches who were with me in Denver who are now with the Vikings, just giving them big hugs and laughing and joking and poking fun at them and just being on the field at CenturyLink in Seattle — knowing that I’m on the same broadcast with Kevin Harlan and Kurt Warner — that I got to see old buddies of mine. That was a moment as well.
BN: With your religious background being a devout Muslim, have you encountered any backlash as a player or broadcaster from people that don’t understand or disagree with your beliefs?
RH: Never. That’s the thing that gives me great hope. I never had teammates treat me differently or negatively because I was a Muslim. If anything I had great conversations with teammates. Because I’m Muslim it has taught me that no matter what our religion is or where we come from, when we put our minds together to allow our differences to exist and not divide that we can accomplish some great things.
When we won the Super Bowl we had Christians, Muslims, non-believers, and it really doesn’t matter. But also I recognize that I’m rare. A lot of people don’t leave where they’re from. A lot of people don’t place themselves in uncomfortable situations to become great. But I had a lot of fun with my teammates talking about Islam and learning about their situations. I always told teammates to ask me anything. There are no stupid questions because I’d rather have them ask than not know. I had teammates ask me where do Muslims shop? I’m like “well, have you been to the mall?”. I’ve had people ask what do Muslims laugh at? I’m like “well, have you seen the new Kevin Hart movie?”. You know? 65 percent of Americans do not know a Muslim and I recognize that.
BN: What would you most like to experience or accomplish personally and professionally?
RH: I want to see my children get married. I want to dance with my daughter at her wedding. I want to see my sons get married. I want to vacation, buy a retirement condo or something in Florida with my wife. Professionally, I’d love to call a Notre Dame football National Championship Game. I’d love to call the Super Bowl someday. Professionally, there are a lot of options.
One of the things that has really helped me and brought me great peace, not just as a broadcaster but as a player, is that I surrender the outcome. I really do not have an expectation on the outcome. I will tell you though that everywhere I go I will be the best prepared. I will bring seriousness and professionalism to every job that I go to and I will also bring fun. Fun is what helped us win a championship. Football is fun. As long as I’m broadcasting, I will make sure that the fun gets through the broadcast as well.
BN: That’s really interesting — surrender the outcome. I’ll never forget, Steve Fisher was the coach of the Fab Five at Michigan, and he described their Final Four failures like a feather that was floating through the air. He said Michigan was trying so hard to grab the feather that it caused it to fly away instead of letting it fall into their hand. A mindset where you prepare and battle to do a great job, but don’t worry about the result, how important is that to being successful?
RH: Huge. I wrote a book on that mindset. Because here’s the thing that people don’t tell you, you’re going to need the process that is going to help you succeed after you succeed. You know what nobody talked to us about? How to handle ourselves after you win a Super Bowl. I was talking to a coach of mine and I was like it was awesome. He’s like yeah and a lot of people have one championship. Why not go for two? It was just a moment of like yeah there is this whole other side of it.
When you focus on the process, that’s how when I left football, okay I’m going to become a broadcaster. Well, what’s my process of being great? I study. I prepare. I practice out loud. These are all things I did when I was a player. That process will be key because whatever your goal, you will accomplish it. Brian, you’ve accomplished your first goal. If you didn’t have work ethic instilled in you and a mindset that created that process, you’d be stuck.
If I just wanted to win the Super Bowl, how would I be as a father, as a husband, as a friend, as a broadcaster? I would be unprepared. When you win the Super Bowl, you learn it’s not about winning the Super Bowl. It’s about every week you had laughs on the bus and practices and games. It’s about the whole thing. When you focus on the outcome, you often miss the details that are the most enjoyable.
Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media
“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”
Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.
Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.
During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.
Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.
After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.
“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”
Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.
Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”
Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.
This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.
When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”
Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.
“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”
One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.
In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.
Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.
“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”
In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.
“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”
Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.
Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.
“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”
Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.
“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”
The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.
“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”
By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.
For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.
His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.
By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.
“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”
One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.
“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”
Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.
“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”
Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.
“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”
Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.
All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.
His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.
“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?
The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.
Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk.
In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.
With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality.
The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.
The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.
It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs?
The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?
One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.
What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?
If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?
The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games.
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game.
NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.
The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.
Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?
“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”
Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on!
We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.
“I HAVE A JOB.”
With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon.
“I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”
You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far.
Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service, AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker.
“I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”
Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard.
“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”
In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.
“I HAVE COMPETITION!”
That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.