Two months after being let go by Beasley Media and Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fanatic due to COVID-19-caused cutbacks, former morning host Tra Thomas launched a YouTube channel and is back to creating content.
In the Trenches with Tra Thomas gives fans a chance to learn from a three-time pro bowl offensive tackle, who played the position at a high level for a decade. Fans are more intelligent now than ever thanks to the wealth of stats and information available at their fingertips. But offensive line play from inside the trenches is rarely detailed.
Most of his 11-year NFL career was spent protecting Donovan McNabb’s blindside. For two seasons, Thomas was also an assistant coach with the Eagles under Andy Reid. Away from the field, his media credits feature TV and radio work including co-hosting Farzetta and Tra in the Morning on 97.5 The Fanatic up until March 31, 2020.
Thomas’ knowledge of the game and his experiences as both an NFL coach and a broadcaster are on full display in the YouTube series. He’s an entertaining personality with a great ability to explain the intricate details of football. If Thomas wants to get back into broadcasting, networks should be knocking on his door, if he’d rather return to coaching, teams should get on the phone.
Thomas spoke about his time with The Fanatic, his desire to coach, Drew Brees and much more in our conversation.
Brandon Contes: In the Trenches, was this a new idea you had, or something someone brought to you?
Tra Thomas: It’s something I’ve been tossing around for a while, to teach people what really happens on the offensive line. When you watch a game, you see the jumble and then the running back gets through. You see a big pass and great catch, but you don’t get a chance to see how the play develops. What happened once the center came up and made the right call, why did the hole open? I’ve always wanted to get into teaching and showing the game from an offensive lineman’s perspective.
BC: Sometimes the game gets dumbed down to reach a larger audience and for offensive lineman, you pretty much only hear their name on a broadcast if they do something wrong. But sports fans have such a hunger for information, do you see a niche for this type of show?
TT: I think so. I don’t want to just show a play and have you say, ‘look at what he did, that’s awesome!’ I want to show you it was a slide protection, so he took this particular stance and shot his hands at this particular time. Like you said, for offensive linemen, if you don’t hear their name, then they’re doing a good job. Offensive lineman get pointed out for messing up.
This might not be for casual viewers. If you want to be somebody that just goes ahead and has a couple drinks and watches the game, then do that. But if you really want to learn the game, I can teach you something.
BC: Do you have a medium preference, radio or TV?
TT: I like radio because you can show more of your personality with less restrictions. But when it comes to football, I also like to show the visual part. For me to just talk about it, you don’t really understand it. Being able to show the film is the aspect I prefer about TV and that’s where In The Trenches aligns.
BC: Would you like to return to broadcasting full-time? Did you enjoy the daily grind of morning radio?
TT: Oh yeah, it was a lot of fun. Radio was cool because I could relax and really enjoy being around and listening to the fans.
I enjoyed the daily process of it. Building the show, building the fan base, bringing energy and different stories. I could also branch out and experience other sports. Even though I don’t know much about hockey, I was able to learn the game, and the fans helped me gain a better appreciation for it.
BC: And the bottom line is, you were a professional athlete, you can relate to other athletes and what they’re thinking no matter what sport they’re playing.
TT: That was always my angle because I can’t sit up there and give you a bunch of stats. My memory is a little jacked up from football, so I won’t know everybody’s name and history. But I can give the perspective of athletes, their mindset and what they should be thinking at the time.
BC: Did you find that radio filled a competitive void as a retired pro athlete? Especially being an underdog in Philly, going up against Angelo Cataldi and WIP.
TT: Of course, you never want to get into something and suck at it. You want to build a show and do your part. I wanted to come in with energy, but I also wanted to get a lot of reps. Just like getting ready for a game, you need reps in radio to get better and I enjoyed getting better with each show and learning something new every day.
BC: Obviously a global pandemic is hard to predict or anticipate and the financial impacts were felt all over sports radio, but were you blindsided by being let go from The Fanatic?
TT: I was. I didn’t expect it. I get it, I understand it, I don’t hold any hurt feelings about it. But my name was on that morning show, so I was a little shocked. A lot of people lost their jobs, you just take it in stride and keep moving.
BC: I know you were in mornings and he’s on afternoons, but did you have any interaction with Mike Missanelli? I don’t know if you saw, but he just recently made a lot of headlines with his headphones.
TT: Any time I saw Mike in the studio he was always a cool cat, we never had any issues. At the station’s anniversary I did a few segments with him and it was a great experience. I always enjoyed getting to sit down and talk to him every now and then because he’s been in the game for so long.
BC: I saw your ‘I just got fired painting’ that you posted on Twitter, it was really impressive! How long have you been painting?
TT: [Laughs] I’ve been painting for about three years. I own a business called Pinot’s Palette in Cherry Hill, and earlier this month was our three-year anniversary. But painting is something I like to do. It’s relaxing and takes my mind off whatever is going on.
BC: How is that, being a small business owner right now with everything having been shut down for a few months?
TT: Yea it’s like everything else. Everybody’s feeling the crunch right now. This isn’t ‘woe is me’ because a lot of people can’t open their doors. One thing my wife’s great at is coming up with different ways to bring in business. We do paint kits for people to do at home and we deliver them. We also did a virtual class with Zach Ertz and his wife for the Ertz Foundation. So we’ve been keeping busy, but like anything, if you can’t get people in your door, you’re going to feel it.
BC: Do you wish you still had that bigger radio platform right now with everything going on in the world and especially in our country. The pandemic, the president, the social unrest and social injustices, do you wish your voice was louder and still had a daily platform?
TT: [Deep Sigh] Right now – with the way things are for me – I think it’s best that I’m not out there in front of a microphone. I know how I get about this stuff. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of anger, a lot of frustration. And I’m not one that can voice it well without it being a problem. Everything happens for a reason. Right now, I’m good where I am and then we just take it from there.
BC: Years ago, when Chip Kelly was with the Eagles, you commented on some players feeling a hint of racism and the lack of Black coaches on his staff, which is really an inherent problem throughout the NFL. What did you think of the NFL’s recent idea of incentivizing teams for hiring Black coaches?
TT: Should you have to do that? That’s the sad part about it. You feel like that’s what you have to do to get ownership or other coaches to go and hire Black coaches. I get why you would want to do it, it’s just frustrating knowing that’s what you have to do.
You have so many coaches out there who are extremely good at what they do, but it’s hard to break in. I’m not that familiar with how the NBA does it, but to me, from the outside looking in, it looks like they’re more accepting of giving their own players the opportunity to gain experience and get a job. I understand there’s a process to it, but you see sometimes coaches are what they’re perceived to be, and you wonder why you aren’t getting that opportunity.
I think everything going on right now will open a lot of people’s eyes and hopefully those opportunities will also open up. Personally, I love coaching. I would much rather get back into coaching before doing more broadcasting if presented both opportunities. My wife always said I’m a coach doing radio. I love being in the trenches, I love teaching people and one of the biggest things I really appreciated during my time coaching was watching what you teach actually work. There’s no better feeling to be able to say, ‘I helped mold this, helped create this and look at it work.’ I love the process.
BC: How about similarly, the lack of minorities in broadcasting. It’s a white male dominated industry.
TT: Yea, and it’s important to have different people who can see things from different perspectives. And that goes for anybody in broadcasting, you need to be able to offer different perspectives and make it relatable. Especially as an athlete, you’re going to see the game differently. To be able to explain it to people so fans can understand it, and they walk away from the game having learned, that’s great, that’s something you can carry with you.
BC: Did you experience racism at all as a player and in the locker room? As a 32-year old white fan, I’ve learned that I was naïve to a lot, but I’ve always been made to feel that sports is unifying.
TT: Once you get in the locker room and by the time I got to the professional level, I didn’t really experience any of that. That’s not to say we were all sitting around singing Kumbaya, going to each other’s house for sleepovers. But you have a mutual respect for each other, especially everyone I played with. You might have someone who said something slick, but it never created a huge issue in the locker room. I was extremely fortunate as a player that I really didn’t have to go through a situation where I felt like I was being mistreated because of my race.
BC: What does Drew Brees’s comments do to the Saints’ locker room? Will players accept his multiple apologies as genuine or will it have a lasting negative impact this season?
TT: I think they’re going to accept his apology and move forward. Sometimes within a team, an incident like this can even make them a tighter group. You never know how it’s going to be perceived.
Drew just said how he felt, he went out and apologized for it and I think the team will receive that. As time moves on and guys get to the locker room and around each other, it can start to heal a lot of things. Being around each other more and being able to voice whatever is going on, will help the locker room move forward.
BC: What about the league flipping on the anthem, Goodell admitting they were wrong for not encouraging peaceful protests and essentially saying it’s OK to kneel during the anthem.
TT: It was much needed. Especially with everything going on, it’s right there in your face. It was extremely needed, and he made the right call. So now, what’s the next step? Yes, you apologized, you said ‘hey man, I’m sorry we weren’t looking at it that way. Now it’s right here in our face and we see what it’s really all about.’ But what’s the next step? Who’s going to give Kaep an opportunity?
BC: Was Emmanuel Acho on the Eagles while you were coaching?
TT: Yes he was.
BC: Did you have interaction with him? Did he show the entertainment qualities and even the leadership qualities that we’re seeing?
TT: That was my first year of coaching with the offensive line, so I didn’t have that interaction with him to really get to know this side of him. But I could tell he was very well-spoken and it seemed like he was extremely aware of himself.
BC: Was there a player or coach during your career that you looked at as potentially being a good sportscaster?
TT: You know what? John Harbaugh. I would sit in his meetings and he would give the best pre-game speeches with a story or something to get you inspired and motivated. And he explains things well, I think he could get into broadcasting.
BC: Are you surprised the NFL hasn’t been stunted much by the COVID-19 pandemic? Pretty much every other sport was hit hard, but the NFL moved right along with free agency, the draft, it looks like they’ll do the same with training camp and the regular season.
TT: Not at all. Let’s just keep pushing, let’s go. That’s what football players are – you put your head down and go. We don’t really think about it. A lot of people always ask, ‘did you ever question what was going on with a play call?’ And the answer is no.
Whatever play you call, my job is to go out there and try to execute it. If I don’t agree with it, who cares, we don’t have time for that. Call the play, let’s go to work. In football you have guys that are programmed – these are our days to work? OK cool, let’s go. I’m not surprised by that at all.
Tricia Whitaker Will Find The Story That Matters
“My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”
When St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run in his final season in the majors last September, the baseball world erupted in mass jubilation. Although the milestone achievement occurred during a road game, the fans still showered one of the sport’s quintessential athletes with praise as they witnessed the fourth player enter this exclusive pinnacle of power hitters. For fans watching from afar, they were treated with crisp, vivid footage of the moment since the matchup was exclusive to Apple TV+ as a part of its Friday Night Baseball slate of games.
The game broadcast featured field reporter Tricia Whitaker, who had just joined the Apple TV+ presentations to begin the second half of the season. Being there as one of the voices tasked with keeping viewers informed and captivated by the action was a special experience that she will never forget.
“You’re talking about the best cameras in the entire world capturing one of the most iconic players ever,” Whitaker said. “I thought the call was amazing; I thought the quality of the shots was amazing [and] I’l never forget that broadcast, ever, because it was so cool.”
Whitaker grew up in Bloomington, Ind. and would journey to Wrigley Field with her father once per summer to watch the Chicago Cubs. Through those games, she realized that a ballpark was her ideal future workplace.
“We just didn’t have a ton of money, [so] I would sit in the nosebleeds with him once a summer and that was the biggest treat in the world,” Whitaker said. “I just realized that I loved telling stories and I loved sports, so I decided to do that.”
Whitaker’s journey in the industry genuinely began as an undergraduate student at Indiana University Bloomington where she adopted a mindset to seize any opportunities offered to her. Despite having no knowledge or previous reporting experience, she accepted a role to cover a tennis match and quickly started preparing. After one of her professors saw her nascent media acumen, they recommended she audition for the university’s student television station to hone her skills. Whitaker earned a spot and began covering Indiana Hoosiers basketball and football for the show Hoosier Sports Night. From there, she simply kept on accepting anything in her purview.
“Your best asset is your availability, so I basically just said ‘Yes’ to everything,” Whitaker articulated.
Once it became time to search for a full-time position, her experience and tenacity helped her land a role at WBAY-TV in Green Bay as a sports reporter and anchor. After two football seasons working there, Whitaker relocated closer to home to report for WTTV-TV Channel 4 in Indianapolis. The time was valuable for her to cultivate new relationships with those around the industry while strengthening existing ones, serving as a foundational aspect of her reporting.
“If they don’t trust you to tell their stories, they’re not going to talk to you,” Whitaker said. “You have to be able to have a good relationship with the players; with the coaches and everybody involved.”
At the same time, Whitaker felt compelled to make a lasting contribution to Indiana University through teaching and inspiring the next generation of journalists. She is now an adjunct professor for the IU Media School and wants her students to know how integral it is to make themselves available while being open and willing to try new things to make inroads into the profession.
“There’s always a story to be told, so even if it’s a random event that you don’t think anyone’s paying attention to, there’s people there; there’s human stories and their stories matter,” Whitaker said. “That’s what I always try to tell my students is [to] just find that story that makes people interested in it and find that story that matters.”
Over the years working in these dual roles, Whitaker became more skilled in her position and proceeded to audition to join the Tampa Bay Rays’ broadcast crew on Bally Sports Sun as a field reporter. When she received news that she had landed the coveted job, she remembers starting to cry in her closet while trying to organize her clothes. After all, Whitaker had just learned that she would get to perform the role she idolized when she was young. The access her role gives her to the players and coaches on the field is not taken for granted.
“I’ll interview hitting coaches about a guy’s hands and where they’ve moved and about his stance,” Whitaker said. “….In the next hit, I’ll tell a story about a guy who drinks a smoothie every day before the game and he feels [that] putting spinach in it has really made a difference or something like that. My reporting style is pretty much all of it, but I do like to do the human interest stories more than I like to do anything else because I think that’s unique.”
After each Rays win, Whitaker takes the field and interviews one of the players on the team. Earlier in the season, she remembers speaking with Rays outfielder Jose Siri after he drove in three runs against the Detroit Tigers; however, the broadcast was not on Bally Sports Sun. Instead, she was doing the interview for Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+, a national broadcast property the company pays MLB an estimated $85 million annually to carry. Going into the interview, Whitaker knew that she would need to appeal to more than just Rays fans and appropriately started the conversation by asking about the game.
Yet she also knew that it was “Salsa Night” at Comerica Park in Detroit and thanks to her work with the regional network, was cognizant of the fact that Siri likes to dance in the dugout. As a result, she concluded the interview with a request for Siri to demonstrate his salsa dancing skills, something that made an ordinary conversation stand out.
“I tried to personalize it a little bit to help people get to know Jose Siri a little bit better because I think that’s important,” Whitaker said. “….You make sure you talk about baseball, but then you add a little flair to it; add a little personality to it. Everybody loves salsa, right?”
The Apple broadcasts require Whitaker to prepare as she executes her role with the Rays, keeping her wholly invested and consumed by baseball. There are occasions where she is afforded the luxury of reporting on Rays games for her Friday night assignment, but they are rare. Therefore, she needs to become familiar with two teams by reviewing statistics, reading local reporting and conversing with those involved. She keeps her notes on her cell phone and makes lists of what she is going to do during the day to keep herself organized and focused.
Throughout the week, Whitaker actively prepares for the Friday night matchup and meets with her producer to contribute her ideas and learn about the macro vision of the broadcast. The Apple broadcast, aside from using high-caliber technology, also regularly equips microphones to place on players that allow viewers to hear what is transpiring on the field. Whitaker, along with play-by-play announcer Alex Faust and color commentator Ryan Spilborghs, coordinate with the production team throughout the game to present an insightful and compelling final product.
There was criticism of the Apple TV+ live game baseball broadcasts during its inaugural season, but the noise continues to diminish in its sophomore campaign. Whitaker views her role as accruing a confluence of stories about the game and more insightful looks at the personalities on the field. Before each contest, she interviews a player in the dugout and asks questions that put the season in context, granting a comprehensive understanding about a subset of their journey.
“We try to get their thoughts on the season so far at the plate, but also try to get to know them on a personal level,” Whitaker said. “My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”
It is considerably more facile to execute such a task before the game than it is during gameplay because of the introduction of the pitch clock. While it has undoubtedly sped up the game and made the product more appealing for fans of all ages, its actualization threatened the viability of unique aspects of baseball broadcasts. The Apple TV+ crew may work together once per week, but over a 162-game season spanning parts of seven months, there is a perdurable bond and unyielding chemistry evident therein.
“Everybody on that crew – and I seriously mean this – is so supportive no matter who you are as long as you do your job well,” Whitaker said. “They don’t even think about the fact that I’m a female in sports [and] they just support me. They help me take constructive criticism because they care and because they truly see me as an equal.”
Whitaker has had the chance to report from Wrigley Field with Apple TV+ and vividly remembers her experience of stepping inside as a media member for the first time. It was a surreal full-circle moment that has been the result of years of determination and persistence to make it to the major leagues.
“I walked into Wrigley and I started to tear up because I remember when my dad and I used to go there and I was 12 years old,” Whitaker stated. “If you would have told me at 12 years old [that] I would be doing a national game at Wrigley, I would have told you [that] you were lying because I just wouldn’t have thought that was a possibility.”
Although Whitaker is receptive to potentially hosting regular sports programming in the future, she has found the joy in her roles with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Apple TV+. Being able to experience historic moments, including Pujols’ milestone home run, and then diving deeper into the situation makes the countless flights, hotel stays and lack of a genuine respite worthwhile. She hopes to continue seamlessly fulfilling her responsibility this Friday night when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:30 p.m. EST/3:30 p.m. PST, exclusively on Apple TV+.
“There’s always a story to be told, and if you’re good at your job, you’re going to find that story even on a day where you’re like, ‘Oh gosh, there’s nothing going on,’” Whitaker said. “I take that pretty seriously.”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Radio Advertising Can be the Secret Weapon For In-House Digital Marketers
“The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU.”
Remember when in-house marketers were primarily focused on traditional media and needed help navigating the digital and social media landscape? Well, the tables are turning!
The rise of digital-savvy in-house marketers is opening up exciting opportunities for radio ad salespeople. As local businesses increasingly invest in digital marketing, some are fiding they need your expertise in radio advertising.
Borrell Associates has released their latest Business Barometer, and included in the findings was a slight but noticeable shift favoring traditional forms of broadcast media. Let’s dive into how sports and news radio ad salespeople can leverage this shift to target businesses with proficient digital marketing people on board who may need to know more about the potential of radio advertising.
1. Digital-Marketing Trending UP!
Borrell Associates’ recent findings indicate that businesses are increasingly proficient in digital marketing. They are adeptly managing their websites and social media channels, driving results through online campaigns. However, this digital surge doesn’t necessarily translate to expertise in traditional media, such as radio. Hey, do you know a business like that? And make sure you know of an outsourced digital agency you can refer who can handle your clients’ digital and social media for very few dollars. You can help manage the rest of the budget!
2. Target In-House Buyers
Make a list of businesses you know that have in-house people who are digital-oriented or younger owners who handle mostly digital advertising independently. Or, how about the in-house marketing person who only takes on marketing initiatives like events or sales promotion and knows nothing about advertising? Get ’em!
3. We create demand
One of the unique selling points of radio is its ability to generate demand and send more customers to Google or your client’s website. Digital marketing can often direct buyers seeking a specific purchase but can’t create lasting impressions and build demand and loyalty like your station. Use this advantage to demonstrate how radio can reinforce the brand story and enhance the effectiveness of digital campaigns.
4. Surround the listener
Recognize that businesses with digital marketing expertise may want holistic solutions. Sell packages that combine digital and radio advertising. Include your streaming endorsements with social media and geo-fencing. They get it and will be impressed with reaching their target audience across multiple touchpoints.
5. Be the Teacher
Your prospects may be experts in digital marketing, but they might not fully understand the potential of radio advertising. Take on the role of an educator. Provide resources, case studies, and success stories that showcase how your station and radio have boosted digital-savvy businesses’ results.
6. 1+1=3 for Creativity
Collaboration is key when working with clients with a digital marketing team. Involve them in the creative process of writing and producing radio ads. Creativity could be their strength, and they will bring fresh perspectives to your production.
The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU. Maybe your client is struggling with their digital strategy. Imagine that now they may be seeking you out to help them understand what they have already read about buying radio advertising. It’s time to adapt your approach and position radio as a complementary and powerful tool in the digital marketing person toolkit.
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 protected] or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
Bill Parcells Shaped The Media By Giving Them Hell
“Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter.”
Two of the most talked about media stories of the past couple of weeks intersect in the form of one legendary NFL head coach – Bill Parcells.
In the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ potentially season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1 of the NFL season, many media pundits harkened back to 1999 when then-Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde suffered a similar injury in the first game of the season. Like Rodgers, Testaverde was a veteran signal-caller looking to bring the long-suffering Jets to a Super Bowl.
One week after Rodgers’ injury, Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley was in the media mechanism for an exchange with a reporter after his club fell to 0-2. Staley took issue with a query about whether the team’s monumental playoff collapse last season versus Jacksonville has carried over to their slow start this season.
ESPN’s First Take included video of Staley’s comment on their September 19 show building it up as some rash, heated interaction between coach and press. It was not. In fact, Staley merely directly answered the question asserting this season has nothing to do with last season.
Both of these headlines find common ground in the person of Bill Parcells. Parcells was the head coach of the Jets in 1999 when Testaverde’s season ended in that fateful game vs. New England. In addition, he was notorious for some truly vitriolic run-ins with post-game reporters.
Forget about Staley or even the infamous press conference rants of Jim Mora (“Playoffs!?”), Herm Edwards (“You play to win the game!”), and Dennis Green (“Crown ‘em!”). To the media, Parcells was Armageddon, Three Mile Island, and Hurricane Katrina rolled into one. Never has there been a football character so inexplicably loved and despised.
In New England, Parcells’s arrival as head coach of the Patriots in 1993 signaled the turnaround of the franchise, but fans refuse to vote him into the team’s Hall of Fame because of his unceremonious jump from to the Jets after the 1996 season.
When that happened, Parcells again grasped the media spotlight stating, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” He was referring to new owner Bob Kraft taking final say personnel decisions away from Parcells.
Like him or not, Parcells, known as The Tuna, rejuvenated five NFL franchises. The New York Giants were a mishmash of Joe Pisarciks and Earnest Grays before Parcells turned them into two-time champions.
Patriot fans actually cheered for the likes of Hugh Millen and Eugene Chung until Parcells came to town and brought in players like Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, and Tedy Bruschi, laying the foundation for a dynasty.
And the Jets? They were living off the fumes of Joe Namath’s Brut 33 until Bill Parcells constructed a team that went from 1-15 in 1996 under Rich Kotite to 9-7 and 12-4 in 1997 and 1998 respectively with Parcells.
The Cowboys were 5-11 under Dave Campo in 2002. The next year, they went 10-6 with Parcells. Miami was 1-15 in 2007. The next year, with Parcells as executive VP of Football ops, they won the AFC East with an 11-5 record.
The Catholic church has its Apostle’s Creed. Those who follow the gospel of The Tuna have A Parcells Creed, and it goes as follows: I believe if a reporter asks Parcells if he outcoached a colleague, that reporter will be called a “dumb ass.” I believe that the media are “commies” and “subversive from within” as Parcells once labeled them.
I believe in using the media to denigrate young players to keep their egos in check. After Jets QB Glenn Foley had a solid preseason performance a few years back, the New York media surrounded the redheaded QB as if he had won the Super Bowl.
Parcells walked right in front of Foley and sarcastically asked, “Do you mind if I get past Sonny Jurgensen over here,” referring to the similarly redheaded Redskin quarterbacking legend.
In 1995, when all of New England was agog over a rookie running back named Curtis Martin, Parcells slyly commented to the press, “Well, we’re not carving his bust for Canton just yet.” And of course, there was the late Terry Glenn. When asked how the former Patriot wideout was recovering from an injury, the Tuna spouted, “She’s doing just fine.”
Parcells’ stints as a studio analyst on ESPN, although insightful, seemed out of place. He would sit there, dressed in a dark blue suit talking strategy with fellow ESPN gabber Steve Young. Honestly, he looked like a rotund funeral director searching for someone to embalm.
Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter.
I interviewed Boston media personality Steve DeOssie about Parcells. DeOssie was the defensive signal caller for the New York Giants (1989-93) when Parcells was the team’s head coach. He again played for Parcells in New England in 1994.
He told me, “Parcells realizes that the media is the enemy. Let’s face it, the media cannot do anything positive for a team, but they can put stuff out there that could lose a game. The bottom line with Parcells is whether it helps his team win.”
“He loves the camera and the camera loves him. He enjoys that part of the business. The media can spin it any way they want. Parcells does not suffer fools gladly and a lot of media types don’t like being called out in press conferences.”
Another Boston media legend also gave me his reflections of Parcells. Bob Lobel is the most revered sports anchor of all-time in New England. He stated, “I did a one-on-one interview with Parcells awhile back. He is so down to earth yet has this aura. It’s easy to be in awe of him.”
The national perspective is similar. When Troy Aikman was an analyst for FOX Sports, the current Monday Night Football color commentator credited Parcells with restacking the Cowboys’ roster and bringing winning back to Dallas.
When asked about playing for Parcells with the Jets, FS1’s Keyshawn Johnson offered, “He taught me how to do things, how to pay attention.”
Even people whom Parcells fired maintain a respect for him. Sirius NFL Radio’s Pat Kirwan was the director of player administration for the Jets when Parcells arrived in 1997.
Kirwan told me, “Parcells rebuilds a franchise from top to bottom. He evaluates everyone from the trainers to the doctors to the equipment guys. In 1997 when Bill came to the Jets, I knew I was qualified, but I also knew that Bill would let me go.”
In a September 12, 2023 story, New York Post reporter Brian Costello interviewed Parcells about the Rodgers injury.
This master of media mind games famous for the quote, “You don’t get any medal for trying,” revealed his visceral core telling Costello, “You are charged with winning games under any circumstances … They’re not canceling the games. They’re not canceling them. You’re coaching them. It’s your job to get your team ready to play to the best of their ability.”
John Molori is a weekly columnist for Barrett Sports Media. He has previously contributed to ESPNW, Patriots Football Weekly, Golf Content Network, Methuen Life Magazine, and wrote a syndicated Media Blitz column in the New England region, which was published by numerous outlets including The Boston Metro, Providence Journal, Lowell Sun, and the Eagle-Tribune. His career also includes fourteen years in television as a News and Sports Reporter, Host, Producer working for Continental Cablevision, MediaOne, and AT&T. He can be reached on Twitter @MoloriMedia.
Barrett Media Writers
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