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Mitch Moss Is Done With Hot Take Sports Radio

“My buddy and I won the Last Man Standing Football contest in 2006. I’m going to wear that title for the rest of my life and I am going to bring it up until I’m 120 years old.”

Vik Chokshi

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Whether you are a gambler or just a fan of the industry, you should be familiar with the name Mitch Moss. Moss, along with Paul Howard, hosts Follow the Money, a three-hour show featuring informative and entertaining sports talk, actionable betting information and humorously legendary stories. 

Mitch Moss Is Done With Hot Take Sports Radio | Barrett Sports Media

True story, but I first came across their show a couple of years ago after I purchased my new car. The vehicle came with a subscription to SiriusXM. I immediately became addicted to VSiN and religiously listened to, you guessed it, Follow the Money.

Moss’ journey into sports media goes all the way back to his Junior year of high school when he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do as a career. At his school’s career day, he discovered the broadcasting school Madison Media Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. That is when a light bulb went off for Moss, who used to do play-by-play on his own while watching sports on mute.

“I said to myself, I can actually come to your school, you can teach me broadcasting and I can turn into a play-by-play guy? I was like ‘absolutely, sign me up for that!’”

His love for Las Vegas and gambling came a little later, when Moss took a trip to the city when he was 21. Like many others who visit Sin City, he fell in love instantly.

“After that trip, I loved Las Vegas so much that I said to myself, ‘even if I can’t find a job in radio, I’m going to do something else here.’ I don’t know, like being a blackjack dealer or a mixologist. Whatever it takes’”.

Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you see it, Moss never had to go that route. Instead, he was able to do what he always dreamed of in high school, sports radio. And, after spending thirteen of fifteen years of his career working for the Lotus Broadcasting radio stations in Las Vegas, Moss made the move to join Brent Musberger’s VSiN.

I spoke with Moss about his journey, the future of VSiN and his foresight to get into the gambling space long before many others.

How did you get into the gambling space in the media?

Many things transpired, but it was me being in Las Vegas that kicked it off. So, I had a Sunday morning pregame show starting in 2003. I’m talking to oddsmakers before a game kicks-off while the numbers are moving and I’m thinking to myself “This is so great. I love this.”

Hot Takes Just Aren't Fun For Mitch Moss Anymore | Barrett Sports Media

Then my Sunday morning show shifted to the WestGate. That show is still there now, but other people do it. But, that is where I got to know guys like Jay Kornegay and the Jimmy Vaccaro’s of the world. Just awesome dudes who had been doing this for a while. Then it just started rolling from there. I loved covering gambling and then I got to know the guys out here in Vegas and the industry better, which did it for me.

How did you eventually get to VSiN?

I have many people to thank. Guys like Jimmy Vacarro, Matt Youmans, Vinny Magliulo. Those three went to bat for me and kept telling VSiN that if they were going to be a full-time network with sports radio and eventually television content, then you need these guys. They kept going to the well and to bat for me and my co-host Pauly Howard. I also had talks with Brian Musberger before VSiN even started. He had listened and liked my Sunday morning show I used to do at the WestGate, so he knew about us. So when the time came, it all worked out. We did weekends at first, and then within a month they asked us to do this full-time at the network and offered us a time slot. Of course we took it, it was too good to pass up.

Tell me your thoughts on the future of VSiN.

I told the guys back then, this is before we were even hired, but I think the ceiling for VSiN is that it could be like ESPN. When you go back to the early 80s for ESPN and they were having the America’s Cup on, yacht racing and boxing, but now we know what ESPN eventually turned into.

I have the same feeling for VSiN because I know that the gambling content is going to be there and the industry is completely exploding. More people gamble on sports than they play the stock market. It’s inevitable and we are starting to slowly see it now.

You and Pauly have terrific chemistry on the show. How did that come about?

Paully and I worked at the same radio station in Las Vegas going all the way back to like 2001…I became the program director and when it happened I needed more help. So we decided to merge our shows together. We morphed Pauly’s show which he had with another host, into mine and then we did a three-man show. So we did that for a long, long time. In April of 2010 or 2011, we have the third highest ratings in the country.

It’s funny because we’re similar. Same age, same part of the country, same likes, same interests, so that chemistry has always been there since Day 1. It’s one of our strengths for sure.

You had the foresight to get into gambling before a lot of people, talk to me about that in a little bit more detail.

I loved it and had a feeling for it. I will tell you a funny story. If you go back six, seven years, I would have lost my life savings if I could have made a bet on the NFL ever having a franchise in Las Vegas. I’m not even joking. We covered 10 or 11 Super Bowls in a row and they hated the city. My friend John Hanson, who had his own show at the time, had the microphone one time to ask Paul Tagliabue a question about turning down Las Vegas dollars for Super Bowl ads and he compared it to prohibition. It was one of the weirdest answers and never made any sense to me ever. I remember when the host on NFL Network refused to say the city’s name and would just say that city in the desert instead and Goodell would laugh about it. 

Another great story is about the Vegas mayor at the time. I was doing my pregame show at the WestGate and Mayor Goodman was on the air talking about parlay tickets. 

But, living out here is so different, it is like the norm here. I was lucky, I guess, because in my 20s I lived in a spot that was within a hundred yards of the Palms. So I would walk there 5 or 6 days a week. I would just go out the side gate, walk to the Palms and would take me two minutes and I’m right there into the Sportsbook. And, the weather out here is so great.

Race/Sports: Cantor Gaming to Operate Race/Sports Book at Palms Casino

Lake Green Valley Ranch is a casino where their big club at the time was called Whiskey Sky, I believe. They were known for 20 foot mattresses outside by the pools and it would be 75 degrees in January and we would make some bets and we would go sit on these mattresses and watch games. I’d be like oh my God, this is life! How is the whole city not out here right now?

It is so perfect and then just being here and living here and seeing it day to day. The more people that you talk to, the more bookmakers and bettors that you talk to, you can see the industry was ready to explode. But it became a part of my routine, like I brush my teeth in the morning and I look at the lines as well. So it was just a combination of me being in Vegas and believing that things were going to get bigger in the future.

What would you do if you were out of this gambling space one day?

Pauly and I joke about that, ‘like what other skills do we have’? I’ve been doing it since I was 19 years old. I know nothing else. Before I thought I’d go back to sports talk radio, but I don’t think I could do it anymore. I love covering gambling and love betting on sports, but I can’t stand hot takes and what the industry has become. I don’t have to say names, but some of the stuff we saw last week regarding Dak Prescott, I don’t want to be a part of that, where you have to be opinionated and get people mad and make them take sides. 50% of the audience is going to love you and the other 50% is going to hate you. So I don’t want to be a part of the hot take community in sports media.

If that ever happens to me, say me and VSiN we go our separate ways after four years for whatever reason, and I had to go back to hot take sports radio. I don’t think I could do it. I don’t enjoy it, it’s not fun to me. The idea of going back to school to learn a new skill is tough. My wife did that actually, she now has two degrees now and she’s amazing. Maybe I’d revisit that whole mixology thing we talked about earlier. Hopefully it never gets there.

COVID-19 affected everyone and everything including sports. How did it affect you from a work standpoint?

After March Madness was cancelled, in April it was obviously very gloom and doom. I’m not joking, we’d spend 90 minutes, if not more, talking about NFL draft props and betting on the NFL draft for 3 weeks leading into the draft. I mean it was to the point like what can you possibly say anymore? Then we did some futures talk. We really didn’t know what was going to happen.

Once we got UFC and Golf back, things got better. I think it was around May 9th with the UFC event coming back then Golf. Then that was enough at that time where we could just do UFC and talk about that 3 days a week, no problem. What else was anyone going to watch or bet on? Then European soccer eventually came back and we have Nigel Seely, who is an incredible soccer guest, so he helped by coming on for us. But, before that, it was the Russian table tennis. I tried to get involved, and I know Doug Kizierian was involved with that and I know others who stayed up to watch that and wouldn’t sleep. They actually changed their lifestyle to watch and bet that. That and the KBO. But, I couldn’t fake it. I couldn’t get involved in the KBO.

I will say though that golf has become one of my favorite sports to bet on. That’s one thing I’m going to take away from this. I always liked betting on golf, but now more so than ever, I like betting golf now almost as much as anything. I would say I like betting golf way more than baseball. But, yes, it was lean there for a long time. We did the best we could.

How do you put together your personal gambling card and picks for the show?

Follow The Money w/ Mitch Moss & Pauly Howard 121919 - YouTube

I mean there is a lot of good stuff that good people I trust put out there. I hope I don’t forget anyone, but VSiN does a great job. Their Point Spread Weekly is great as are their betting guides. There are a couple of good golf guys that I’ve been turned on to by Jeff Sherman. You have Joe Osborne from Oddsshark and sites like Kenpom for college basketball, teamrankings.com and FanGraphs for baseball. For football, one of our guests we have on every Friday is Adam Chernoff. He has a slack channel and I love reading his write ups and listening to his podcast.

Drew Dinsick does a podcast with Andy Molitor, and they are very good. Drew’s been coming on the show as a guest for a while now. There are so many good people out there and once you start to get to know them, it helps. Paul Stone is great. If I ever have a question with anything about college football, I’ll send him a text and he’ll get back to me. NBA.com has great data, you have to navigate it for a while, but still, and cleaningtheglass.com for the NBA as well. The information out there is endless, so you have to just vet it out.

Has the amount you bet per wager changed now that you’re in the industry?

That’s a great question. It’s remained the same for the most part. But, I will vary my bets, though. For example, I like betting futures bets and in-play a lot. The pregame stuff can be so tricky and so can betting baseball. I do vary my bets depending on how much I like something and what the number might be, but overall, throughout the years and even with me being in the industry, it has remained pretty much the same.

Looking back on your journey, is there a moment that helped you get to where you are today?

My buddy and I won the Last Man Standing Football contest in 2006. I’m going to wear that title for the rest of my life and I am going to bring it up until I’m 120 years old. At the time we split $17,000, people will say peanuts, but today that is worth around $85-100k … That helped me with my confidence moving forward.

Before we head out, what is one piece of advice you’d give to anyone trying to make it in the broadcast or gambling media industry?

Have fun with it for sure and the key is, get to know as many people as you possibly can. It might take some time, but I’ve been here since 2001 and now I know bettors, oddsmakers, etc. I think there’s a huge space for this in the media world.

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Instead of saying ‘I want to be a talk show host’ or ‘I want to do play-by-play’, be more open. My whole dream was do play-by-play, but I would say absolutely concentrate on doing gambling right out of the gates. Read books about it, listen to radio shows, talk to people about gambling, listen to Follow the Money once in a while or listen to other podcasts out there. You are going to learn a lot.

BSM Writers

NBC Must Develop a Real No. 2 NFL Crew for Playoffs

Is the network’s only other option Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett?

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Several years ago, the NFL objected to NBC wanting to employ Mike Tirico as the lead play-by-play voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts. The league preferred Al Michaels because he was NBC’s No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer and wanted the TNF telecasts to carry the same prestige as Sunday Night Football.

Following the network’s heavily-criticized broadcast of Saturday’s Wild Card playoff game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL may want to impose its authority again and insist that a top-tier broadcast team call the action of an important postseason game.

The consensus among fans and media watching Saturday’s broadcast was that Michaels and analyst Tony Dungy were surprisingly low-energy for an NFL playoff game, let alone one that became so exciting with Jacksonville rallying from a 27-0 deficit for a 31-30 victory on a last-second field goal.

Such a lackluster broadcast led to questions of whether or not Michaels was now past his prime after a season of calling subpar TNF games for Amazon and what initially appeared to be another snoozer when the Jaguars fell behind by 27 points. Pairing him with Dungy, who was a studio analyst all season, certainly didn’t help.

Dungy was as basic as a game analyst could be, typically narrating replays viewers could see for themselves while adding little insight. Worst of all, he demonstrated no enthusiasm for the action, leaving Michaels to fill most of the airtime. The veteran broadcaster showed that he can no longer carry a broadcast by himself. He needs the energy and back-and-forth that Cris Collinsworth or Kirk Herbstreit provide.

So how did NBC get here?

Most football fans know that the network’s top broadcast team is Tirico on play-by-play alongside analyst Cris Collinsworth. But they had their own assignment during Super Wild Card Weekend, calling Sunday night’s Ravens-Bengals match-up. With the postseason field expanding from 12 to 14 teams, resulting in six games being played on Wild Card weekend, NBC was awarded one of the additional playoff broadcasts.

Thus, another broadcast team was needed for that second Wild Card game. Fortunately, NBC had a renowned play-by-play man already in place. Michaels finished out his final season as SNF‘s lead voice by calling Super Bowl LVI, part of a powerful one-two combination for NBC Sports coming toward the end of its 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coverage.

Ending his legendary career with a Super Bowl broadcast would’ve been a wonderful final note for Michaels. That appeared to be a natural path when Tirico moved from ESPN to NBC in 2016. Network executives admitted that a succession plan was in mind for Tirico to take over SNF eventually. At the time, Michaels also likely thought he would retire by then.

But when confronted with the possibility of retirement, Michaels realized he wasn’t interested. He was still enjoying broadcasting the NFL. His skills were still sharp. And perhaps most importantly, he was in demand. Amazon wanted Michaels as the lead voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, bringing instant credibility to a streaming venture that drew some skepticism. ESPN considered him as its Monday Night Football play-by-play man.

As it turned out, ESPN made a bold move for MNF, swiping Fox’s No. 1 NFL crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That left Amazon for Michaels, and the streaming giant paid him a commensurate salary with the top broadcasters in the industry as part of his three-year contract.

Yet Michaels wasn’t done with NBC either. After his agreement with Amazon became official, NBC announced that its relationship with Michaels would continue in an “emeritus” role allowing him to broadcast the network’s Olympics coverage and that additional Wild Card playoff telecast.

NBC can’t have been happy that most of the social media chatter afterward focused on the broadcast, rather than the game result. Especially when the discussion centered on how poorly Michaels and Dungy performed in what turned out to be a thrilling playoff game. That’s a pairing that the NFL probably doesn’t want to see again.

Michaels will likely call at least one more Wild Card playoff game for NBC since he intends to work on the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. He’s also under contract with Amazon for another two seasons unless he decides to retire before that deal expires. So perhaps the simple solution is keeping Dungy out of the broadcast booth and giving Michaels a better partner.

But can NBC drop in another analyst who hasn’t worked with Michaels all season? Anyone would arguably be an improvement over Dungy. Is it at all possible for Herbstreit to be hired on for a one-off playoff broadcast, thus ensuring that the broadcast team will have some on-air familiarity and chemistry?

Otherwise, NBC’s only other option may be its Notre Dame broadcast team of Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett. (The network tried that last season with Tirico and Drew Brees, only for Brees to wilt under the harsher NFL playoff spotlight.)

The pair also called USFL broadcasts for the network, so at least there would be familiarity rather than trying to figure each other out during a telecast. Yet Collinsworth and Garrett aren’t terribly popular with viewers. And as with Brees, that crew will face intense scrutiny with a larger playoff audience.

Unfortunately, NBC appears to be stuck here. Unless the new Big Ten broadcast team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge gets a shot. That might be the best option! Other than Notre Dame or USFL games, where are the other opportunities for NBC to develop a No. 2 NFL broadcast team? No one wants to put Al Michaels through Chris Simms in the broadcast booth, right?

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BSM Writers

Al Michaels Has Options But He Has To Make a Choice

“It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.”

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I don’t ask much out of game announcers; get excited when appropriate, get the simple information correct, don’t get so caught up in your shtick you put yourself above the game. Al Michaels has been doing all those things well for the better part of half a century and few would argue that he’s not one of the best to ever do it. That doesn’t mean he can’t lose his fastball.

Before you read any longer, I am not here to say Al Michaels has lost his fastball. What I am here to say is Michaels has all too often this season seemed upset with and disinterested in the game he is calling. That isn’t entirely surprising when you consider some of the Thursday night action he called on Amazon Prime where the average margin of victory was almost nine points per game.

On top of that, the Amazon schedule had a dreadful two week stretch with Colts 12-9 win over the Broncos in Week Five and the Commanders 12-7 win over the Bears the next Thursday. It was in that Broncos-Colts game Michaels asked Herbstreit if a game “can be so bad it is good?” Herbstreit’s answer was “No”, by the way. It was the full 15 game schedule that Michaels told The Athletic’s media critic Richard Deitsch was like trying to sell a used car.

All of that is fine, the inaugural Amazon Prime season was not a smashing success. The streaming giant missed audience projections and will lose advertising revenue because of it. The lackluster schedule did not help that. But Michaels was given a second life; he was the NBC play-by-play announcer for the Saturday Night Wildcard Playoff game between the Chargers and Jaguars. It initially looked like Michaels might be the problem as five first half Jags turnovers had them in a 27-0 hole. But the home team staged a nearly unprecedented comeback for the win.

It was the performance by Michaels and, to a lesser degree, his analyst Tony Dungy that has led to criticism. Criticism might be too soft of a word, Michaels was roundly dragged for his lack of enthusiasm during the comeback and specifically on his call of the Jacksonville game winning field goal. The enthusiasm of the call of the game winner had a mid-3rd quarter of week four feel to it.

Me telling Al Michaels how to do play-by-play of an NFL game would be the equivalent of me telling a physicist how to split an atom. So, this isn’t just a Michaels criticism, few things bother me more than hearing a game announcer complain about the length or quality of a game as if he’d rather be anywhere else. It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.

How many NFL viewers would sit in the seat Michaels, or any NFL announcer occupies, for free? They’d feel like they won the lottery if they also were getting the money those announcers are getting paid to be there. The guy that works a 12-hour Thursday construction shift just to get home and crack a beer for the NFL game probably doesn’t want to hear how tough that game is to announce.

On top of all of that, Michaels was given the gift of one of the wildest NFL Playoff comebacks you’ll ever see and, at times, sounded as if he was completely disinterested in being there. Pro tip: the best NFL announcer in those moments is Kevin Harlan (see: Miami at Baltimore from earlier this season. That has nothing to do with my lifelong Dolphins fandom). Michaels’ lack of enthusiasm was compounded by the exact opposite from Mike Tirico on the very same network for the Bengals-Ravens Wildcard game Sunday night. 

Tirico, like Michaels, has a sterling resume of play-by-play accomplishments. The difference is Tirico sounded like he was having the time of his life on Sunday night. 

To be fair, their two styles are different. Michaels has a very old school, Pat Summerall approach. Summerall, Vin Scully and Dick Enberg came along at a time when announcers were far more likely to let the pictures tell the story. More new school guys like Harlan and Tirico approach it differently.

Look, Al Michaels helped us believe in miracles. His place in the Sports Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame has long since been cemented. Being a hall of fame inductee doesn’t mean your style will forever be accepted by the masses. That leaves you with a few options; you can continue your style and accept or ignore the criticism or you can ride off into the sunset and enjoy the fruits of your decades of labor.

Al Michaels has what we all want; great options. He can choose any of them and be a winner in the game of life. It doesn’t matter if he enthusiastically embraces them, or not. 

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BSM Writers

Bernie Kosar Was the Victim of a Policy That Doesn’t Work Anymore

“The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.”

Demetri Ravanos

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One week ago, Bernie Kosar lost his job on the Browns Radio Network for placing the first legal sports bet in the state of Ohio. Kosar, just like Jets coach Miles Austin weeks earlier and Calvin Ridley last year, violated a league policy that forbids team employees from placing a bet on any NFL game.

The integrity of the games still matters. The belief that what we are all seeing is being fairly contested is what gives those of us that like to have a little vested interest in the outcome the desire to lay our money down in the first place. I get the league’s discomfort with a coach on the staff of a team in the middle of the playoff hunt making bets. I get its fear of the message it sends to have players making bets.

Roger Goodell and the 32 team owners are well within their rights to object to men that can potentially control the outcome of a game or postseason seeding doing anything that even appears to jeopardize its fairness. Even perceived impropriety can compromise the league’s tremendous value.

But Bernie Kosar doesn’t have that kind of influence on the outcome of a game. He is just a broadcaster and not even a game analyst. He is part of studio coverage.

I am far from the first to point this out, but in 2023, the NFL has three official sports betting partners. Just last week, it approved the first ever in-stadium sportsbook, which Fanatics is set to open inside of FedEx Field. If the NFL is comfortable enough with the reality that its fans like to bet to make those things a reality, then Kosar losing his gig is absurd. It is the result of nothing other than “well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking.

Maybe Kosar was terrible on the radio and the team was looking for a reason to move on. I don’t live in Cleveland and I am not a Browns fan, so I have no idea.

How many times have we heard that NFL owners hired Goodell to “protect the shield”? I’m not even really sure what it means or when it applies anymore. If I had a vested interest in the public perception of the league, I know that I would want someone to do the PR math on this situation.

Bernie Kosar isn’t an addict that can’t watch a game without the high of winning or the emotional distress of losing everything at stake, at least not as far as we know. This was a bet made through an advertising partner, to benefit charity. He even said on his podcast this week that the purpose of making the bet was to generate some money for former players in need of help.

This is like Disney threatening daycare centers with lawsuits for painting Mickey Mouse on a classroom wall. The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.

Surely you have seen Garrett Bush’s impassioned rant on the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show about the obstacles facing Damar Hamlin because of how many hoops the NFL makes former players jump through in order to get some kind of pension.

On January 2, we were all united in our concern for a guy that hadn’t even completed his second full NFL season. We didn’t know if he was going to live, but if he did, we all knew that the NFL had done everything it needed to in order to protect itself from ever having to pay a dime for his medical care. Less than a week later, Bernie Kosar was fired for what amounted to a charity stunt that was meant to raise money and attention to very similar issues.

At both the league level and the team level, there was incompetence that lead to a man unnecessarily losing a gig and to the Browns and the NFL looking horribly out of touch with reality.

Are we acknowledging that people gamble or not? Are we acknowledging there are responsible ways to bet on football and are interested in generating revenue off of it or not? Because it doesn’t seem to me that the same league that just gave the thumbs up to open a sportsbook inside of a stadium is really that concerned with people that cannot affect the outcome of games betting on those games.

Has the NFL come out and said that it is going to cover every medical bill for everyone that has ever played the game? We know that this is a brutal game that leaves a physical and physiological impact on the men that played it. Why would we make it harder for someone that knows that pain to help others do something about it?

I feel awful for Bernie Kosar. Whether he needs the money or not, it is embarassing to be at the center of a controversy like this, particularly because in the NFL in 2023, there is no reason for a controversy like this to exist.

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