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Weak People Can’t Hurt Joy Taylor’s Feelings

“I just want whatever I do to have an impact on the next generation of broadcasters and sports broadcasters that come after me. I don’t want to leave the business the same way that I came in.”

Brian Noe

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Sports radio hosts encounter Twitter trolls constantly. It’s common to receive messages like, “You suck, I hate you,” or my personal favorite, “Your an idiot.” Being the target of anger comes with the territory. Many hosts don’t have to deal with feedback that is racist or sexist in nature though.

Sadly this is not a luxury that FS1 superstar Joy Taylor enjoys. The brilliant co-host of The Herd with Colin Cowherd talks about a method she has developed for dealing with these lowlifes. Hopefully her technique will discourage others from lashing out so Joy can be treated with the respect she deserves.

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There is much more wisdom from Joy in the conversation below. The biggest improvement she has made as a broadcaster traces back to her early days in the industry. Joy carries what she developed in Miami to the national radio and TV airwaves. Her views on how the prodominantly white media is handling topics that deal with the current social unrest is a must-read. Joy also says that she doesn’t want to be normal and embraces being a little off. Many people — aka the smart ones — love her just the way she is. Enjoy.

Brian Noe: Which FaceApp picture do you think is better; you as a man or Colin as a woman?

Joy Taylor: [Laughs] Colin actually was more impressive. I obviously spend a lot of time on social media and I have Snapchat. It sounds weird but I’ve seen myself as a man before, at least according to what the apps would say.

I think this was Colin’s first experience with FaceApp. He looked great — high cheekbones, really great hair. It was fun. It was very unexpected. I saw Jason had tweeted that. I look exactly like my nephew, [former Miami Dolphin and Joy’ brother] Jason [Taylor]’s older son Isaiah. He looks like Jason with hair, so it was funny.

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BN: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from Colin?

JT: Colin is a very thorough prepper. I think prepping is the number one thing you have to learn as a broadcaster. How do you prep the right way to let you do a good job? What kind of materials do you need during the show to do a good show? It’s really different for each person.

Every talent has a completely different routine for how they like to do it. With Colin we do a two-hour prep call before every three-hour show. So essentially Colin does a show before the show, which is remarkable. Now he would say it’s not that big of a deal, but it is a big deal. That’s a lot of prep.

I’ve worked with a ton of different talent in the industry, not that there’s any right or wrong way to do it, but that’s a lot of energy to talk through every single topic that thoroughly. He has his own system of notes, which I kind of tease him about because no one else on Earth could possibly understand his note system. I’m very OCD so I like my notes to be super organized, highlighted, this part bold, underlined. I have a completely different formula for how I do it but I have learned a lot about how and what preparation works best for a show of our length — especially being a TV/radio simulcast, which is different from doing just a radio only show. He’s very thorough and likes to be very, very prepared. I’ve been learning a lot from him when it comes to that.

BN: What was your first break in sports radio?

JT: I started interning at 560 QAM in Miami when I was in college at Barry University on the Joe Rose morning show. That was my first entrance of any official kind into the business. I did an internship with him. I believe it was my junior year of college. At that time those stations were owned by Beasley Broadcasting and they also had Power 96 in the building.

After I finished my internship with Joe Rose, I had developed a relationship with DJ Laz and the morning show over at Power 96 so they gave me an opportunity to intern there in a completely different capacity. It’s a music morning show, entertainment, a little bit of sports, and I would do sports updates for him, but also learning a completely different side of the business and implementing a lot of entertainment into the show. I did some internships in college that prepared me. I also worked at the radio station at our university as well. I really tried to get a lot of hands-on experience.

I eventually got my first job at QAM where I had interned a few years later on The Sid Rosenberg Show as a part-time producer. Anyone who knows radio knows that that is not a very high-paying gig, but I was very happy to have it because it’s very hard to get a job in the business. That’s the first step.

Nobody wants to hire you if you don’t have any experience. You can’t get any experience if you don’t get hired. That was really my first break; my first paying job in the business was being a part-time producer at QAM for Sid Rosenberg’s show. I freelanced at a few other places while doing that show but that was the first break.

BN: When do you first remember thinking, man, I really want to be on the air as a sports radio host?  

JT: I’ve always loved sports. I grew up in Pittsburgh so that’s not an option whether you’re going to like sports or not when you grew up in Pittsburgh. I played sports growing up and obviously had the opportunity to watch my brother’s career, which taught me a lot about the business and the personal side of sports. I think I just always was meant to be a personality.

I have the same story that every broadcaster has when you’re a kid you did your newscast with your hair brush in front of the mirror. My mom had gotten us this VHS camera that you put the whole actual tape in. We would record these news broadcasts. I really thought this is what I was supposed to do and what I really felt like I could be great at. After I finished college and went through the little journey you go through after you don’t get your first job that you want out of college, and just realized I love sports and I love talking.

I always wanted to be on air and got the opportunity with Sid. Sid is a very big personality. I learned a lot from him as well just being very unapologetic. I quickly realized from being with those talents — Joe Rose, DJ Laz, and then starting with Sid — that if I was going to be successful in this business I want to be a personality. That’s what best suits me.

I had done some reporting stuff. I had done some news stuff in college. There are so many different areas in the business you can get into but you should really do what you’re passionate about the most. I think all the experiences that I had early on in my career and in college really helped me get into the space that I’m in now.

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BN: What is the main improvement you’ve made from when you first started off to where you are now?

JT: I think confidence. That really comes from reps. When you’re a young broadcaster, you feel like you’re getting into a business where you have to be very confident, but you don’t get opportunities, or you’re still a little nervous. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not just turning the microphone on and talking. You’ve got to hit breaks. You’ve got to read lives. You have to make sure that you get all the commercials in. Are you taking callers? How do you introduce them? How do you pull them up? Where’s the cough button? There’s a lot that goes on during a show that’s not just talking.

I think in the beginning knowing what kind of personality you want to be — that can be difficult too because maybe there isn’t someone in the business that exists to look up to. Confidence for me has been the biggest thing. Just understanding that you’re going to make mistakes, which is why I think working for a student radio station and doing internships and taking those Saturday night 8 o’clock to 10pm shifts on the local radio station that probably not a lot of people are listening to, but you can make your mistakes there and learn to not be nervous and be confident. I think that’s the biggest change because you know how you feel, right? You know when you’re watching a game and you’re talking to your friends what your opinions are, but how to put it all together, how to be smart and informed and prepped and be entertaining at the same time just comes from reps. I think the biggest change for me is definitely confidence. 

BN: What do you think about the way your show has handled subjects like George Floyd and NASCAR banning the Confederate flag?

JT: I think we’ve handled it on the show really well. I’ve had the opportunity to have some really open conversations. I think our network does a really good job about empowering talent to have those conversations and supporting us in that.

I’m exhausted and I’m very sad and frustrated that we still have to have these conversations. But I think it’s an important time in history with everything that’s going on with the election year, COVID obviously, and then now the string of deaths, murders, bringing that to light and having these really open conversations that I hope will bring about some real healing and change. I think it’s important to keep shining the light on it because as soon as it goes quiet that’s when we sink back into what we’ve been doing for many years in this country, which is not giving the true racist scar that this country has the attention it needs to heal and move forward together. I won’t speak for everyone but I talk to a lot of people in the business and it’s been a very exhausting time for everyone, but necessary.

I get a lot of…let’s just call it hate on social media, which I’m used to and I can handle, but normally if someone’s doing too much I’ll just block them. It’s not going to change my life whether or not you see my next social media post, but lately I’ve made a conscious effort not to block people and kind of highlight the terrible things that people are saying.

I’ll see people and they’ll talk to me and be like, “Wow, I’ll read some of this stuff on social media and it’s horrible. How do you deal with that every day?” I’m like well I want you to see that. I want people to see that this stuff does happen. It exists. There are lots of people out there that still feel the way they do and they’re still very racist. They’re very sexist.

BN: When you go on social media after a show and someone sends you something that’s racist or sexist, is it hard not to get dragged down by that?  

JT: Yes and no. I feel like I’m fortunately — I don’t know if it’s fortunate or not — but I feel like I’m very callous to it, very used to it.

It’s not something I spend my day complaining about, but I also realize I am not just speaking for me. I represent other people. As a black woman in the business and having a platform, I have a responsibility to use that platform properly. Does it hurt my feelings? No. Me? No, because I know if I saw this person on the street they wouldn’t say anything to me. They would not do that. These are weak people. They’re hiding behind fake accounts. These are internet trolls. They’re too scared to even put their name on what they’re saying.

I do realize other people see that and may feel threatened or afraid or sad or brought down by what’s being said to me. Does it hurt? It hurts that it’s still happening, not that that person is doing something that’s going to change my day. I know who I am and what I’m capable of and what I’m going to do, so that person doesn’t hurt me. It’s more of the fact that I want to continue to show other people who are out there denying that any of this is real and this is all a conspiracy or it’s not that bad or whatever, they need to see that. It’s more for them.

BN: Sports radio in general is very white dominated. Does it ever make you uncomfortable if you flip on a show and they’re talking about George Floyd or a social issue?

JT: Yeah, it makes me uncomfortable depending on how the conversation is going. I wish there was more diversity in the business. I wish there was more diversity behind the scenes in the business. I wish they would hire more black producers, more black women in executive positions, more black people behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. I just wish the business was more diverse overall. Some of the conversations definitely make me uncomfortable.

I think the George Floyd conversation is directly related to George Floyd. I think for the most part what I’ve seen and heard has been very straightforward and mostly everyone has hit the tone of what it should be correctly, which is that he was murdered and deserves justice. I do think with the broader conversations there can be a tone of ignorance and more importantly a lack of empathy from non-diverse talent. That’s what’s more hurtful to me.

When I’m hearing some of the conversations that I don’t agree with, it’s not so much that I feel like they don’t know what’s going on, it’s more just a lack of empathy for an entire community that’s been saying this is a problem for a long time. Now it’s become very undeniable because we have camera phones to prove what’s happening.

To answer your question there’s definitely been times where I’ve been extremely uncomfortable, but the broader conversations are more of the ones that start to put me in that space because the George Floyd conversation is very straightforward.

BN: Is having your podcast a good outlet in terms of the conversations you want to have and the topics you want to hit on that might differ from The Herd?

JT: Yeah, absolutely. I started the podcast when I started on Undisputed because I did come from Miami doing a four-hour morning drive radio show. Being a moderator, your space is quite limited. Obviously I was very happy to have the opportunity but I still wanted to be able to get my opinions out there and stay sharp as a talent. That’s why I started the podcast a little over two years ago now.

Maybe I'm Crazy Podcast - YouTube

I definitely still use it in that space. The week that everything started to ramp up with the conversation around George Floyd, I didn’t feel right doing a normal podcast so I just had everyone that’s on the podcast with me just get on a Zoom call. We did that as our podcast instead. We just had a conversation about how all of us were feeling and what this really means. I think it was very therapeutic.

I feel like the podcast is a space that I try to use to focus on things that I really want to talk about. I want the podcast to be a good blend of youth, culture, sports, entertainment, conversations that I have with my friends and things that we talk about pertaining to sports, people that I think will be interesting to talk about sports with. That’s the thing that I’ve tried to keep the podcast in since we launched it.

BN: How did you settle on the name for your podcast? What’s the backstory with Maybe I’m Crazy?

JT: [Laughs] Crazy has a lot of implications. I’ve always been a little off but I embrace it. I don’t want to be normal. That’s sort of where the name came from. I’m saying these off-the-wall things that people get really irritated or excited about. That’s just kind of where it came from. 

BN: You have so much ahead of you in the industry, is there anything in particular that you would like to do along the way?

JT: It’s really important to me to be able to have an impact on the industry outside of just myself. Obviously I have goals and things that I want to accomplish in the business in the near future and further down the road, but I just want whatever I do to have an impact on the next generation of broadcasters and sports broadcasters that come after me. I don’t want to leave the business the same way that I came in. Does that make sense? 

BN: Yeah.

JT: It’s important to me to see a more diverse culture when it comes to sports media and sports entertainment on camera and behind the scenes. Anytime I have an opportunity to make decisions as a talent, which isn’t always obviously, we all have bosses and work for networks, but when I do have those opportunities I want to take advantage of them as far as making sure that I have a diverse staff on any project that I work on and just encouraging young people to think in that same way and hopefully use whatever influence that I gain in the business to keep pushing that forward because I think it’s very important.

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Being able to see yourself on television or see people that look like you or come from where you come from in those positions, it’s really seeing is believing. Representation really matters. I just want to continue to be a mentor and help push that forward however I can. Whatever I do in the business — which we’ll see, we’ve got to get sports back [laughs] — I have a lot of aspirations and different things I want to do in the business for sure short-term and long-term, but that’s just the most important thing to me.

BSM Writers

790 The Ticket Was Something Special And Stugotz Knows It

“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen, that they’ve ever heard.”

Demetri Ravanos

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When I was making the transition from the rock world to talk radio, there was one show I looked at as a guide. I got laid off from 96 Rock in Raleigh, NC in the summer of 2011. That was the beginning of my flirtations with streaming and podcasts, which is how I stumbled onto The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket out of Miami.

Coming from a format that I felt out of place in at times, I instantly latched onto a show that reveled in pointing out how out of place it was in its own format. It became a daily listen for me, which opened me up to hearing other voices on the station like Jonathan Zaslow, Joy Taylor, Brian London, Brendan Tobin, Brett Romberg and others.

There were unique thinkers and passionate sports fans in every day part on 790 The Ticket. What set the station apart though is that I never heard anyone that sounded uncomfortable when the conversation turned to something that wasn’t a Dolphins’ loss or LeBron’s stat line. They talked sports the way normal human beings talk about sports. It was part of their lives, not the only thing they paid attention to.

Look at the outpouring of love for the station on Thursday. Hosts, producers and programmers from across the country took to social media to eulogize the station when the news broke that it would cease to exist the following week.

I can’t say for sure that all of those people felt the same way I did about the station and I cannot say whether or not it was for the same reasons. What I can say is 790 The Ticket had an influence that stretched far beyond South Florida.

Jon Weiner, better known as “Stugotz” to fans of the The Dan Le Batard Show, helped start the station in 2004. He told me that it didn’t take long for him to learn just how much The Ticket’s approach was making an impression on everyone in sports radio.

“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen or heard,” he said in a phone call on Sunday. “I had people from out of market who had secure jobs at places that weren’t startups sending resumes and tapes because they wanted to be part of it. So yeah, we were aware and it is what we were going for. We got there pretty quickly and we were aware of the impact, not just in South Florida, but throughout the country.”

Last week, Brian “The Beast” London said his internal alarm bells first went off when he heard the Miami Heat were giving up their relationship with 790 the Ticket. The station and the team had been partners since 2008. He said in a YouTube video that it was hard to imagine the team’s games being heard anywhere else.

I asked Stugotz if he had the same feeling when he heard that news. He said in hindsight, he realized it was the beginning of the end, but he didn’t really get a sense something was up until Jonathan Zaslow was let go.

“[Zaslow] had been there since basically day one with us. And so I just kind of figured, yeah, between the Heat and then that I felt, okay, you don’t make a move like that unless there’s going to be some sort of seismic change. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to let him go. That was the moment I was like ‘okay, 790 is likely going away.'”

His feelings are no secret. He took to social media immediately on Thursday and said that the news that 790 The Ticket would soon be going away filled him with both sadness and pride. What Stugotz told me in our phone call was that he realizes that the station lasted about 15 years longer than it should have.

When the station was sold to Lincoln Financial Media, he was not expecting that company to want to keep a sports station. Senior Vice President Dennis Collins surprised him.

“The company saw so much potential in what we had built, both from a lineup and a sales perspective that they kept it going and that’s why it lasted all the way to 2022. We got it up and going and were responsible for the first three or four years, but Dennis saw the growth potential with the lineup we put together. That made me feel great because I had a pit in my stomach like ‘Oh, man, this thing we started is going to go away. It’s going to be three, four years and gone.’ And he said, ‘No, we love it. We want to keep it going’. So that was a huge compliment to everyone.”

Stugotz described the original owner of 790 The Ticket as a “young, good looking real estate mogul driving around in Lamborghinis.” That certainly helped the image of the station when it launched, but it is also a phenomenon that was very of the moment. It’s not 2004 anymore. Lamborghini-owning real estate moguls aren’t chomping at the bit to pour money into radio stations.

The conditions may be similar to what Stugotz and his partners saw in 2004. You could look at the radio landscape in Miami and see a way that a new challenger could fit in the sports radio scene. But what are the chances it actually happens?

It’s a great question,” Stugotz said. “So just to go back to that time, two sports radio stations were popping up in every market. I’m not certain if that’s still the case anymore just because of podcasting and the way the way younger people are consuming media through Tik Tok, Snapchat, and other things that aren’t AM radio.”

He is quick to commend Audacy, the current owners of the 790 AM frequency. Dan Le Batard and Jorge Sedano were part of his early lineups at 790 The Ticket because Stugotz recognized the Cuban-American community in Miami was not being served in the sports space in 2004, just like it isn’t being properly served in the news/talk space right now. That’s why there’s room for the conservative-leaning brand Radio Libre in Miami and other markets are likely paying attention.

“It seems like a good plan, and I know it’s something that the Spanish population should have and deserves to have and probably was not being catered to correctly. So, yeah, I could see there’s a warning sign to some other sports radio stations or news stations in other markets where the Hispanic population is great. Absolutely!”

It is a shame that 790 The Ticket is no more and it is concerning that a station with its legacy and influence can simply disappear. But if we are being real, it isn’t the first station of its kind to suffer that fate and it won’t be the last.

As the media business changes and leaves sports stations vulnerable to something cheaper and with broader appeal, 790 The Ticket and stations like it should be touted as examples of how to rise above the noise and make an impact. Stugotz and his partners looked around in 2004 and said “we can be different and we can do this better” and that’s exactly what they did.

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BSM Writers

Chris Simms And His Self-Professed ‘Big Mouth’ Enjoying Life At NBC

“One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”

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To be a good football analyst, one certainly has to know and love the sport but you also can’t be afraid to use the most important tool that you have to do the job. Chris Simms has all of those attributes and NBC lets him use them to the best of his abilities.

“I love football and I love X’s and O’s and I got a big mouth so it’s a great combination,” said Simms. “Between my podcast, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Sunday Night Football, I get plenty of time to talk and get my studies out there.”

There’s no doubt that Chris inherited that self-professed big mouth from his father, former NFL quarterback and longtime NFL on CBS analyst, Phil Simms.

So, the question had to be asked…does Chris have a bigger mouth than his father?

“Yeah, I probably do,” admitted the younger Simms. “That’s a big mouth to overcome, but I think I probably got him beat in that department.”

Chris Simms set out to follow in his father’s footsteps on the field and played quarterback for Ramapo High School in New Jersey where he earned a pair of All-State honors. After graduating high school in 1999, Simms moved on to play quarterback at the University of Texas where he posted a 26-6 career record as a starter and was the team MVP during his senior season in 2002.

Simms was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and he would guide the Bucs to a playoff berth in 2005.  He would also go on to play for the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos completing a seven-year NFL playing career. He spent one season as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots before taking his talents to the world of broadcasting.

He started with FOX Sports as a college football announcer in 2013 and then joined Bleacher Report in 2014 while also serving as a color commentator for the NFL on CBS.

And then in 2017, Simms joined NBC Sports where he has certainly found a home.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Simms. “It’s a great company to work for. Just good people all around. They’ve given me the platform to be me. One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”

Simms wears many different suits at NBC Sports, most notably his role as a studio analyst on Football Night in America leading into Sunday Night Football. He’s also a part of the SNF post-game show Sunday Night Football Final on Peacock, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned, a streaming/digital show that is also a podcast multiple days a week.

But the most eyeballs are on him during Football Night in America, the most watched studio show in sports.

“I grew up wanting to play in these games more than be the guy in the studio but this is like the second-best thing,” said Simms. “I was kind of that kid at 4 or 5 (years old) who could tell you every player in the NFL, their number and all that type of stuff. It’s the NFL on the biggest stage. It’s such a well-done show. I get to be there with Maria Taylor along with Tony Dungy, and Jason Garrett, and Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. We got a great team and it makes Sunday fun.”

From the “it takes one to know one” category, Simms has also made a name for himself with his ranking of NFL quarterbacks. He’s very diligent when it comes to watching the live action and also in his film study and his top-40 rankings have become a hot topic within the business and around the office coolers.

Simms is well aware that his rankings have become a lightning rod of discussion.

“It all kind of started organically just because I would make statements,” said Simms. “People were like ‘Why don’t you start making a list?’ It’s a really hard thing to do. It offends a lot of people and I hate that. I root for all of these guys and I say on my podcast all the time I hope this guy proves me wrong. I hope he shits on me and shows me that I was wrong. It’s certainly not personal. One of the things I pride myself on is studying and immersing myself in the game all of the time.”

Simms became a full-time employee of NBC Sports in 2019, but his first role with the network came in 2017 when he became a studio analyst for Notre Dame Football.

Here’s a kid that grew up in North Jersey where there’s a ton of Notre Dame alumni and he’s standing on the sidelines at South Bend as part of Fighting Irish telecasts.

“Another special entity,” said Simms. “I used to get chills being out on the field every Saturday there. It gave me great experience in a different way with the halftime show and the pre-game show. One of the years I was kind of the third man in the booth but I was on the sideline. It gave me some reps on in-game stuff as well. I think most importantly what that did for me more than anything is that it opened up more eyes at NBC about me.”

And now Simms’ work has him in the discussion for a new potential opportunity down the road. 

NBC, alongside FOX and CBS, has secured a seven-year media rights deal with the Big Ten Conference that will commence next season. NBC will air Big Ten Saturday Night, the first time that Big Ten Football will have a dedicated primetime broadcast on a national broadcast network. Peacock will stream an additional eight Big Ten games each season and NBC/Peacock will air the 2026 Big Ten Championship Game.

There have been rumblings that Simms could be involved in the coverage. Is he interested?

“I’m intrigued by it,” admitted Simms. “I’m very all NFL right now but broadcasting game is fun. It’s definitely something on my radar for sure. I do have some producers here in the building that are like ‘I’m going to tell the boss I want you to do some of the Big 10 games this year and what do you think about announcing?’ I’ve already had some people in my ear talking about it. It’s awesome for the company regardless. It just expands our football world. As far as me being involved, we’ll see.” 

In a relatively short amount of time, Chris Simms has built up quite the broadcasting portfolio. From FOX to Bleacher Report and CBS to his current expanded role with NBC, Simms has established himself as one of the premier NFL analysts in the business and his podcast has given him the freedom to do something that he loves to do. Including putting his money where his mouth is. 

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BSM Writers

The Pat McAfee Alternate Broadcast Presents Unique Challenges

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Alternate broadcasts are all the rage these days, and ESPN, in conjunction with Omaha Productions, debuted a new one this weekend as The Pat McAfee Show aired an alternate broadcast of the Clemson and North Carolina State game Saturday evening.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Manningcast copy-cats were destined for failure. And while I don’t believe McAfee’s debut was a failure by any stretch of the imagination, I couldn’t help but notice it brings its own set of challenges.

First and foremost, College Football Primetime with The Pat McAfee Show — the world’s most convoluted way to say “The McAfeecast” — doesn’t really resemble the Manningcast. And rightfully so. I’m not sure there are two more polar opposite sports media brands than the Mannings and McAfee. The Mannings are funny, but not too funny and never “blue”, while often concerned about how finely quaffed their hair looks and whether the button-down shirt color matches with the Nordstrom quarter-zip they’ve donned. Meanwhile, McAfee wears his black tank-top, like usual, and put his best Pittsburgh-ese foot forward.

Even though the Mannings and McAfee are opposites doesn’t mean they can’t work together, however. The alternate broadcast was a win for Manning, a win for McAfee, a win for ESPN, and a win for viewers.

People love Pat McAfee. Plain and simple. For a multitude of reasons that we can get into in a later story, but let’s focus on that for a moment. It was a big portion of my column a few weeks ago. The Manningcast works because people like Peyton and Eli. The KayRodcast doesn’t work because people hate Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. It’s honestly, truly, that simple.

I think it benefitted the McAfeecast to debut with a smaller game, which seems counterintuitive because it was a matchup of top ten teams in primetime. But let’s be realistic, a number five versus number ten ACC game doesn’t hold the same weight as a number five versus number ten Big Ten or SEC game. And it helped McAfee and crew, because there are obvious kinks to work out.

Firstly, there are entirely too many people on the screen. I’m going to have nice words to say about BostonConnr than the eight-and-a-half-year-old that went viral earlier this summer, but god love ya, your time to shine likely isn’t on primetime on ESPN. In my opinion, for the McAfeecast to really work in the future, a similar setup to the Manningcast with McAfee and A.J. Hawk being the prominent figures on screen is the best solution to the problem. I know McAfee believes in his boys. It’s one of his more endearing qualities, and is frankly part of the reason his show is so successful. But you’re reaching a different audience on ESPN2 on Saturday nights, and the reason the either tuned in or will stay is because of McAfee’s presence.

I didn’t get a great feel for McAfee’s thoughts or reactions on the game simply because you didn’t get a closeup of his face. The best moments of the Manningcast, outside of Eli flipping the double birds or Peyton saying “I can’t hear shit”, have been when the pair have been absolutely disgusted by a decision made by a coach or player and their face shows it without any words following up their reactions. And McAfee definitely holds that ability, and I wish I would have gotten a better sense of his facial reactions on-screen.

Also, and I know this is something McAfee can’t actually control, he had to be a bit more reserved on cable television. Part of the allure of The Pat McAfee Show is the — let’s call it extreme candor — with which he speaks. I believe that’s the scholarly way to write “he says f*** frequently”. And believe me, I subscribe to the theory that the FCC should allow hosts the ability to say obscenities 15 times per week, so I’m down for McAfee’s swearing. But you’re just simply never going to get that on ESPN2. You’re likely never going to get that if the broadcast aired on ESPN+, either. For a “family friendly” company Disney, those cards are just flat out never going to be on the table for McAfee.

One of the things McAfee is known for is his boundless energy, which felt lacking at times on Saturday, but it’s understandable. The man was on College GameDay earlier in the day, flew back to the studio to do the alternate broadcast after travelling the day before to get to Clemson to be on GameDay. I’m sure that takes a toll. On top of that, you’re doing something new for the first time, while trying to, essentially, heard cats on the screen, and you can be a little wiped out by the end of the night.

However, the goodwill McAfee has bought with fans over his extreme generosity was on display as the alternate broadcast donated more than $100,000 to Dabo Swinney’s charity, The Jimmy V Foundation, and the American Red Cross. It was a brilliant move for a debut broadcast, because it acts as a slight shield for criticism. How can you complain about something that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity?

The alternate broadcast, for the most part, avoided the biggest problem I have with the Manningcast. The interviews. I’ve never been watching Monday Night Football, or the Manningcast for that matter, and thought “Man, I wish they were talking to Tracy Morgan right now!” McAfee brought on Peyton Manning, for obvious reasons, and former NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers. That’s it. They didn’t rely on guests to carry them through down periods. The eight folks on screen did most of the heavy lifting, and for that, I thank them.

The McAfeecast was certainly different than any other alternate broadcast I’ve consumed. The crew shooting hoops for extra donations to charity during stoppages of play definitely kept things light and interesting. I couldn’t help but be invested in whether or not someone would bury three out of five threes during an injury timeout for more money for charity.

Speaking of injury timeouts, McAfee planned a giveaway and told fans to use a certain hashtag and when to screenshot or take a picture of their TV. Immediately following him saying “now!”, an injured player appeared on the screen, and he instantly shouted “No! Not now! No! We don’t want that, and we hope he’s ok”. It was a light-hearted, nearly hilarious moment that brought levity to the situation.

The highlight of the cast, however, was — in true McAfee style — picking up on things other broadcasters wouldn’t, like an angry fan. The entire crew shouting at the same time in this specific moment was spectacular television.

Overall, I thought the McAfeecast got off on the right foot. There is undeniably a market for an alternate broadcast based around the former NFL punter’s personality, and I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

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