Sports host by day. Lawyer by night. I’m not sure if this is written on Amber Wilson’s business cards, but I’m kind of thinking it should be. Being able to see every side of an issue is just one of the valuable skills Amber brings from the courtroom to her radio show. There aren’t many attorneys that also host a sports talk show in a major market. It’s one thing to practice law and do a little hosting in Sheboygan. It’s another thing to be a lawyer while also hosting a weekday show in Miami.
When Joy Taylor joined FS1 in 2016, Amber took over at 790 The Ticket. Amber now hosts middays with Jonathan Zaslow from 10am-2pm. In our conversation below Amber discusses a recent hot take from Jason Whitlock, her biggest sports radio influence, and what it was like to battle cancer.
Yeah, that happened too. I’m starting to wonder if Amber is partially an alien due to her excellent resume. This girl is flat-out impressive.
Although it was tempting to only ask Amber questions about my beloved Miami Dolphins, I behaved. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: What is your sports radio resume that led to your current position at 790?
Amber Wilson: I started in television years ago. I majored in telecommunication journalism in college. My goal was always to be a sports broadcaster. That was my dream growing up. I was doing on-camera work for years. My first real full-time job was with CBSSports.com. It was CBS Sports Interactive at the time. I was their first web host so to speak at Florida. It was all on-camera work and we did a bunch of online streaming shows. That’s what brought me to South Florida. I was doing a show with Sid Rosenberg who used to host on 790 The Ticket. I used to go on his show once a week with him. That’s where I got my first taste of sports radio and I just loved it.
I always wanted to do radio but I always got pushed earlier in my career towards on-camera stuff. I think that there’s a bit of a bias with women, particularly with young women.
I was in my twenties at the time. I think everyone assumes you want to be on camera. Those were the jobs that came calling. I had a really hard time breaking into radio. I’m not sure people took me seriously that I really wanted to do radio even though it’s not as glamorous as TV. I just always felt like it would be really fitting for my personality. You can be super opinionated. The roles that I was getting on camera in my television career were very hosty. I just knew over the years that I didn’t enjoy that role quite as much. I started finding it a little intellectually understimulating, a little boring.
In my late twenties I decided to go to law school. I got my law degree. I became a lawyer. I was hosting a television show on our local CBS station in Miami that whole time alongside Stugotz from the Le Batard show. Just over the years there were multiple times I had done things on 790. Stugotz briefly hosted mornings on 790 with Marc Hochman. I had done a couple of shows there and I did a few shows in middays with Danny Kanell. Just over about a decade span I made appearances on 790 and I knew a lot of people at 790 from all those years of just being around media and working with so many people that had connections to 790.
When Joy Taylor decided to leave the morning show at 790 The Ticket, they asked me if I’d be interested in trying out. At the time my television show with Stugotz had ended because he had gone national with ESPN and they wouldn’t let him do it anymore. I was only practicing law full-time. My plan was to totally get out of the sports broadcasting business because of these hosty roles that I was getting. I had fun in my career but I just knew for me it left something to be desired. I was enjoying practicing law and I was enjoying the challenge.
I got the call that Joy Taylor left 790 to go to FS1 and I thought all right, you know what, I’ll try out. It’s the morning show. I can still practice law after the show. I loved it. They offered me the job and the rest is history. I started out on the morning show and now I’m in middays. They shuffled everything around about a year ago. I’ve been there overall for about five years.
BN: Does being a lawyer help you be a better sports radio host?
AW: 100 percent. When I was 12 years old I was watching the Jill Arringtons and the Melissa Starks of the world on the sidelines and that’s where I wanted to be when I grew up. Then I grew up and I realized that’s not at all the job that’s right for me personality wise. I knew I didn’t want to do sidelines. I knew I didn’t want to host. I’m really opinionated. I wanted to be the one giving the opinions. I wanted to be the one giving the analysis. I didn’t want to be asking other people for it.
Sports radio comes along and what’s amazing is I think if I had that sports radio opportunity on a full-time basis before I went and got my law degree, I don’t think I would have been as good at it. Since it came after I was a lawyer and after I got my law degree, it was the perfect timing because I like to think that I have a unique talent. I can argue any side of anything. I can see every side of every issue. I think that I have a unique ability to play devil’s advocate and move the conversation along and challenge people at times.
I still get to be me and I can still have fun. I can still joke around. It’s definitely not all serious. It doesn’t need to all be argument radio either. I get to kind of marry all of my skills. I think I’ve really refined those skills becoming a lawyer even more so. I think it’s a huge benefit.
BN: As a cancer survivor, what was that fight like for you?
AW: I was diagnosed with cancer eight months after I started at The Ticket in 2016. I was cancer free seven months later after a double mastectomy and numerous other surgeries to clear my margins. It came out of nowhere. I was 32 and I didn’t have any history of breast cancer I knew of in my family. I just happened to catch a lump one day and bam I have cancer.
I got diagnosed in November and I got told that I needed to have a double mastectomy and start the surgical treatment process in February. I had a few months where they were doing all of this testing. It takes a little while sometimes to come up with a treatment plan. I didn’t tell the public during that time that I had it.
I was the morning show co-host on The Ticket. At the time we were a three-person show. I did tell my co-hosts so that they were aware of what I was going through. I was obviously missing a lot of time. I shared it publicly about a week before I went to have my first surgery, which was the double mastectomy because I knew that was going to put me out for a month and a half. I wasn’t going to be able to do radio after that and so I had to explain. I was able to sit with it myself and adjust to my new reality for a few months privately. Then I was able to share my story. In doing so I hope that I helped some people and raised some awareness.
I tried to be really transparent about my journey once I was at a place where I was willing to share it with everybody just because I was so young and it was so unexpected and I was so healthy. I wanted people to know that it can happen to anybody and that you have to be aware and try to catch it early and do what you need to do to save your life. 790 was wonderful to me throughout that whole journey and just very understanding. I was very appreciative to everybody I worked with.
BN: I’m not challenging you, but what was behind you initially not wanting to reveal that you had cancer?
AW: Sometimes cancer is so aggressive or it’s so advanced that you start treatment the day you get diagnosed. But for most people if you catch it earlier then there’s a process of a bunch of testing and them figuring out what the best path is for you and what steps you’re going to need to take in terms of surgeries, chemo, radiation. You’re meeting with all of these different doctors. I was young so I was also doing fertility preservation. I hadn’t had kids yet at the time.
I didn’t really know what direction things were really going to go and how long I was going to be out of the show or if I was going to have to quit the show. I was getting treatment in Tampa that’s the best cancer hospital in this state even though obviously I was living in South Florida for the show. There was a lot of traveling and all of that. I just wanted to wait until I knew the game plan before I shared that journey publicly. I wanted to have answers because I knew there might be a lot of questions.
I had a conversation with my co-hosts and they didn’t want the show to become about that. None of us did. Through cancer I learned the importance of sports being an escape for people. I know it’s a cliché thing to say and that’s not to say that we never deal with serious issues in sports because of course those permeate into sports as well. But I do understand how people use sports as an escape because I certainly did during that time.
My life was all cancer outside of the show but I would go to work every day and I’d talk some sports. It wasn’t life or death and that was wonderful. I honestly just wanted to talk about the Heat or the Dolphins or some stuff that doesn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of life. That was important to me.
When I did share the news I shared it the week before I was gone for a while. The show then doesn’t take a very dark turn. It’s not like we have to sit on it for months and everyone’s always wondering what’s happening with me because I shared the news and then I started treatment. I was very open about what was happening with me on social media and allowed people to follow along that way. If they turned on the radio, we weren’t talking cancer all the time. That’s what I wanted to make sure we weren’t doing.
BN: Jason Whitlock recently shared an opinion that Maria Taylor and Katie Nolan are privileged because they’re good looking. When you hear someone express a point of view like that, what’s your response to it?
AW: There are a million — especially out here in South Florida — there are millions of beautiful women in the world and they can’t all do what Katie Nolan does and they can’t all do what Maria Taylor does. If they could, they’d be there. There’s one Katie Nolan. There’s one Maria Taylor. Every single person wants to be as successful as them.
There are quite literally hundreds of thousands of us who have spent our lives hoping to be as successful as they are and very few of us ever make it there. If all it took was looks then there’d be a whole lot of people there. Clearly it takes much, much more than that.
We never do this to men. We never look at a Kirk Herbstreit or any of these handsome men who are also on television and also incredibly successful. We never look at those men and say they’re just there because of their looks. You never hear that spoken about a man no matter how attractive the man is. We only do it to women. If the woman is attractive then she must not have anything else to offer. Generally, attractive people do better on television. That’s not exclusive to women. That is absolutely true with men as well. It’s only women that we minimize to their looks. That we assume there’s nothing else there.
Earlier in my career that used to bother me much more when I also struggled to get people to realize I had much more to offer. I do think becoming a lawyer changed that dramatically for me, but I shouldn’t have had to become a lawyer to be able to show that in sports broadcasting, which shouldn’t have anything to do with whether I have a law degree, or how many states I’m barred in, or what kind of fancy education I even have. That shouldn’t be necessary to show people that in sports broadcasting, I have intelligence, I have a lot to offer, and I know sports.
BN: Do you think that Miami has been able to enjoy its great sports year during the pandemic?
AW: Oh yeah. We are living through a really difficult time. If you’re a sports fan and you happen to be in a city like Miami or Los Angeles, if you’re in a city where your teams are making a great postseason run, it gives you that little boost.
Sports are not life or death by any means — I discussed it earlier of course when we were talking about cancer — but sports can help people. They’re not life or death, but they give you something to root for. They give you happiness and they give you hope. We have been fortunate enough to benefit from that down here during a difficult time.
I really think that has helped people. You forget when you’re watching these Heat games that we’re living in a pandemic. Even if you’re watching it without fans and even if it’s happening in Orlando and even if none of us can be there during the NBA finals. All of that’s odd but at the end of the day once the ball is tipped it’s basketball and we’re all fans no matter what virus is spreading around. I think that’s been really great for people. It doesn’t look the same as it would in a regular year, but frankly it doesn’t feel that different.
BN: Who did you learn the most from in sports radio?
AW: I am a sports radio nut. That’s also very much helped me with my job. I was a sports radio nut before I ever myself went into it. I would consume sports radio every chance I got. I’m not a person who’s listening to music often in her car. Even when I had briefly gotten out of the business and I was practicing law full-time, which I was probably out of the business for about a year, I was still listening to sports radio all the time.
All that consumption certainly helped me. The people I most listened to were local. I would say that being down here and consuming so much sports radio that I have been most influenced in my style by the Le Batard show. That to me is the best show on sports radio.
I didn’t grow up listening to WFAN. I discovered sports radio when I moved to South Florida. Really for me I discovered sports radio at 790 even though I wasn’t yet working at 790. I would say overall probably that show in terms of style has been a big influence on me. That being said I’m not sure that there’s any particular person in the industry that I would say I modeled my style after.
I hear from guys in my business like my co-host grew up listening to Chris Russo, so you’ll hear that influence sometimes when he talks. I know there are a lot of people in the industry like that that grew up listening to those guys or Mike Francesa. They have a little bit of that style in them. I don’t know that there’s anybody who’s influenced me to that depth who I ever hear in the industry where I necessarily think is like me. But I think as a show, probably the Le Batard show overall.
BN: Your partner Zaslow loves Pearl Jam. Has that made you hate Pearl Jam?
AW: Yes. [Laughs] No, he loves Pearl Jam to an unreasonable degree and I don’t find it reasonable for anybody to like any music as much as he likes Pearl Jam as an adult. I’m very judgmental of his affinity for Pearl Jam.
I liked Pearl Jam like everybody did in the ‘90s when I was in middle school listening to the album with “Black”. That was about it because I’m pretty sure that was the last time Pearl Jam was really good.
I always make fun of Zaslow. I always tell him on air he found all the music he likes around 1995 and then that was it. No more music forever. There are no artists after the mid-‘90s that Zaslow likes, knows about, cares about, cares for. He’s like ‘you know I like what I like’. It’s like he found all the music and he was like “Alright, I’m good. I’ve got my bands. For the rest of my life I’m good. I never need to adopt any more music into my world.”
BN: Is there anything in particular that you would like to accomplish going forward?
AW: I think just for me I’m a person who likes to add to my repertoire so to speak. I like to diversify. Obviously I have the lawyer thing and the sports radio thing. I recently started doing things for a site called Sports Card Investor because sports cards are really, really hot right now. I’m getting into that medium a little bit just because I think it’s an interesting industry that’s on the rise. That hobby is having a resurgence.
I have re-signed with ESPN Radio for another year. I had a regular show here on the weekends with ESPN Radio, but with the pandemic, the landscape there changed. But I’m hoping that at some point we’re able to resume the regular weekend show there as well.
For me I think in the future it’s just about being multi-faceted and seeing what opportunities come my way that interest me. It’s probably staying in radio because ultimately I really, really do love the medium. If I was ever on television again, the dream would be to be on television in a radio type of capacity, like these shows that are simulcasted. I would hope not to have to give up that format. I really enjoy having to speak unscripted for four hours. It’s a challenge and I enjoy challenges.
NBC Must Develop a Real No. 2 NFL Crew for Playoffs
Is the network’s only other option Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett?
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?
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
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.
Ryan Brown is a columnist for Barrett Sports Media, and a co-host of the popular sports audio/video show ‘The Next Round’ formerly known as JOX Roundtable, which previously aired on WJOX in Birmingham. You can find him on Twitter @RyanBrownLive and follow his show @NextRoundLive.
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.”
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.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.