Well, that didn’t take long, just a matter of firing up the Zoom machine and asking Tom Brady a question. Now that he has established he can obliterate the laws of time and reach a Super Bowl at age 43, might he play beyond 45?
“Definitely,” he said Monday. “I’d definitely consider that.”
Hell, why not 50? Sixty? One hundred, even? Isn’t this the first athlete we’ve ever encountered who makes us wonder, “Hmmm, might he live forever? Will he never have to worry about obesity, memory loss, colonoscopies, diabetes and erectile dysfunction? Will he never slurp soup or need an adult diaper?”
As we chuckle in awe of the man, having left our doubts and insults far behind, Brady immediately was seizing early control of the most monumental quarterbacking matchup in Super Bowl history. Rather than cede ground in the inescapable reality that he is 18 years older than his similarly transcendent counterpart, Patrick Mahomes, Brady doubled down on a once-preposterous notion: that he can play at a high level, alter a franchise culture and compete for a championship at an age when most quarterbacks are retirees who limp around the backyard, attend autograph shows or, like Tony Romo and Drew Brees, settle for the catbird seat of the broadcast booth.
He isn’t viewing Sunday as his final game. He sees it as his seventh stop in the Vince Lombardi Trophy receiving line, with two or three more ahead. At this point, is anyone foolish enough to doubt him?
“The perspective I have on that is, you never know when that moment is. Just because it’s a contact sport,” explained Brady, who had a stylin’ thirtyish pompadour going as he spoke to the national media. “There’s a lot of training that goes into it. And it has to be 100 percent commitment from myself to keep doing it. I think I’ll know when it’s time. I don’t know when that time will come. But I think I’ll know. And I’ll understand that I gave everything I could to give to this game. You put a lot into it. I don’t think I could ever go at this game half-ass. I’ve gotta put everything into it. When I put it all out there and feel like I can’t do it anymore — I don’t feel like I can commit to the team in the way that the team needs me — then I think that’s when it’s probably time to walk away.”
It was his way of saying, politely, that he has checked every box. With those observations, Brady has deftly one-upped Mahomes in a competition he is well-suited to winning as a veteran of 10 such media weeks — the Super Bowl mind game. He has flipped the narrative to where the pressure isn’t on him to win; it’s on Mahomes not to lose. Here we thought St. Patrick was just boarding the legacy speedtrain as he and the Chiefs attempt the NFL’s first repeat since Brady and the Patriots in 2005. At 25, doesn’t he have 15 more years to mesmerize us with eyeball-glazing dazzle, playground-dirt fun, Super Bowls, MVPs, a boyishly humble sensibility and a strong social presence that helped Roger Goodell finally acknowledge that Black Lives Matter? My God, isn’t he just getting started on one of the notable sports careers ever?
Apparently not. If you listen to Romo, who might have downed one too many espressos and read too many Wikipedia chess stories before a CBS media call, Mahomes must win Sunday … or else.
“This is the biggest game Patrick Mahomes will ever play in for the rest of his career,” Romo said. “It’s the only way he can catch Tom Brady. He has to win this game. If he loses this game, he cannot catch Tom Brady, in my opinion, because Tom Brady (is) Bobby Fischer, and you got a chance to play Bobby Fischer for the world championships.
“It’s LeBron versus Jordan. You know how hard it’s going to be for Patrick to play in 10 Super Bowls and win seven? I mean, with a perfect career, Patrick is the rare guy who might. But as long as he lost to Tom when Tom was older, he’d have to go to 12 Super Bowls and win nine. So I think this is the biggest game of Patrick Mahomes’ career. … Brady, I promise you, shuts the door if he wins this game. There’s almost no way you could ever argue if Tom Brady at 43 years old, turning back Father Time, beats Patrick Mahomes, who is the face of the NFL — and rightfully so — and who’s the only guy who could possibly climb the ladder. If Tom Brady closes that in this game, I just don’t see some other human being ever competing in 10 Super Bowls, winning seven and being able to say you’re better than Tom Brady.”
While the LeBron James-Michael Jordan analogy is apt — I can’t speak to Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen, also name-dropped by Romo — it’s a little loony to declare Mahomes must win or bury his head in the sand of St. Pete Beach. Is it his fault that Brady is nuts and wants to play pro football 20 or 25 years to win six or seven titles? And why would Mahomes share the desire to play into his mid-to-late 40s, having just signed a $500 million deal and maybe preferring more years with his family in midlife? Say Brady and the Buccaneers do win, giving him seven championships to Mahomes’ one. There are no definitives in the vague, subjective handbook of determining the greatest quarterback of all time. In my estimation, Mahomes could win, oh, four Super Bowls and still eclipse Brady as the G.O.A.T. if he: (1) keeps revolutionizing the position as a dual-threat magician who throws from all angles and escapes all predicaments; and (2) remains the all-time regular-season and postseason leader in passer rating, the NFL’s defining QB metric.
Romo’s comments smack of Dana White promoting a UFC event. In truth, a variety of elements are involved. Brady, as a pocket passer, was protected by offensive lines in New England and this season in Tampa Bay and gets rid of the ball quickly, thus reducing wear and tear. Mahomes, as an improvisational whirlwind, is vulnerable to injury, as seen this postseason with a concussion that knocked him out of the Cleveland game and an ongoing turf toe issue. If he continues to be injury-prone, will it diminish his legacy? Absolutely. And he’ll need the help of coach Andy Reid and owner Clark Hunt, late arrivals to the Super Bowl victory circle, to keep the Chiefs championship-competitive for the long term.
But can we please let this doubled-edged drama play out on Sunday, if not into the future, before declaring absolutes? Because if Mahomes and the Chiefs win — as I suspect they will, even as injuries deplete Kansas City’s starting tackles against Shaq Barrett and a fearsome pass rush — the Super Bowl scoreboard suddenly is 6-2. Mahomes would be 2 for 2, Brady 6 for 10. Which brings us to Jordan vs. James. Among the reasons Jordan always will remain the NBA’s G.O.A.T., even if James wins again this year with the Lakers and narrows the race to 6-5, is that he played in six Finals, won six Finals and won six Finals MVPs, for a 1.000 batting average. James has lost six times in the Finals. Such a matchup can happen only on video games, of course. Which is the beauty of Brady vs. Mahomes — a whopping age discrepancy suddenly doesn’t matter, the ultimate rarity in sports. We can compare eras, right there on a field. This is what Romo definitely gets as he blathers on.
“This is going to be one of the great matchups in sports history because it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “This matchup is what you talk about with your friends when you talk about as if. Could you imagine if Michael Jordan got his team to the NBA Finals … when he was older against a young LeBron James, who’s the face of the league? It would be the greatest thing in the history of sports. I think we might actually have that Super Bowl. We might have that game. It just has never happened.
“You want to see this guy in his prime and this guy in his prime. It’s like Jack Nicklaus against Tiger Woods. There’s no comparison I could find in any sport, and I would love it if somebody could. The only thing I can think of is LeBron James chasing Michael Jordan. He’s spent his entire career chasing. Jordan set the bar so high, so LeBron has to be so amazing to get in the discussion — and he is. Somehow he’s put himself in the discussion. The fact that Patrick Mahomes is somehow even remotely in this discussion shows you how amazing this guy is. We all see it. When it’s all said and done, there’s a chance for Patrick Mahomes. If you’re playing in this game, this could be the thing if you get close to climbing that ladder; this game could push you over the top when it’s all said and done. To say you beat Brady in the Super Bowl head to head.”
Fair or far-fetched, the seed has been planted. Mahomes, still a kid who puts ketchup on most food items and demands the “Patrick Price” in State Farm ads, suddenly has to ponder legacy. The challenges are piling up — the Chiefs are the first road team in Super Bowl history, arriving in Tampa on Saturday — and Mahomes is facing crazy questions this week about trying to keep up with Brady’s longevity. Would he play until he’s 43 or older? You know, to try and surpass Brady’s Super Bowl ring total? This is Nicklaus vs. Woods stuff, but unlike the golfing majors count, football is a team sport that also depends on how a quarterback’s defense and front office perform. It’s shallow to equate this as simply Brady vs. Mahomes, like a heavyweight fight in the day. But Mahomes is dealing with history nonetheless.
“I want to play as long as they let me,” he said Monday. “In order to do that, I have to take care of my body as much as I take care of everything else on the field. If you want to play this sport for a long time, how physical as it is, you have to invest as much time into your body as you do anything else. I’ve learned more and more in my young career so far about what I can do to keep myself available and healthy and try to be in the best nutritional state I can be in. I feel like I can be better.”
Such are the pressures created by Brady’s unprecedented career. Now that he’s taken down his forerunners and contemporaries — from Joe Montana to Peyton Manning to Aaron Rodgers in the NFC title game — he eyes the new kid. Having attained all the fame, wealth and all-time status he could want, you’d think Brady would stop exacting revenge against career slights. He has won all of those wars, hasn’t he? But he still thinks he’s the 199th pick in the draft. Or the guy accused of deflating balls. Or a lucky beneficiary of the Bill Belichick system. Thus, though he understands his place in the sporting pantheon, he refuses to settle.
“I could never have imagined it would be like this. I don’t think anybody could have,” Brady said. “(I’ve) tried to go play my ass off every week. I’m still trying to do it. This work for me has never been about — I would have thought that success is passing yards or touchdowns or Super Bowls — it was always maximizing my potential, being the best I could be. When I showed up as a freshman in high school, I didn’t know how to put pads in my pants. I was just hoping to play high school football because I wanted to be like Joe Montana and Steve Young. And then when I got a chance in college, I just wanted to play at Michigan. When I got drafted by the Patriots, I just wanted to play, I just wanted to start. It’s just been a series of steps like that of trying to be a little better every year, trying to learn a little more every year, trying to grow and evolve in different areas.
“My life has taken certainly a lot of different directions. I’m obviously older now. I’ve got a family. A lot of incredible blessings in my life. Fast-forward 21 years — sitting in Tampa and trying to win a Super Bowl in our own home stadium would be pretty sweet.”
Though Brady’s career has been marred by clouds, including Deflategate and the suspicious presence of personal trainer Alex Guerrero, the media are bowled over by the implausibility of it all — at 43, playing for the running-joke Buccaneers in a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Rather than starring in the league’s 55th movie, and one of its most captivating, Mahomes is treated like a supporting actor. He was asked, on Zoom, not about his massive achievements so far but about a loss to Brady in the 2018 AFC championship game … and how Brady stopped by the Kansas City locker room to offer encouragement.
“It was important because it showed I was doing things the right way,” Mahomes said. “As a young quarterback in this league, you show up early and you try to put in the time and put in the work. Him saying that he respected what I was doing and how I was playing on the field and the type of person I was, it kind of put a stamp on me that I needed to go in and be even better in order to get to the Super Bowl.
“He’s the same way I am. He’s going to leave everything he has on the field every single time he’s out there. He doesn’t care what it takes. He doesn’t care if he has to throw for 400 yards or if he has to throw for 100 yards. He wants to win. I feel like I have the same mentality. I just want to win no matter what happens or how it happens.”
Of course, the questions inevitably returned to Brady … and what Mahomes needs to borrow from him. At this point, I’d have excused myself, but this was not a UFC match. He had to be polite. “The way he’s able to dissect defenses before the snap is something I truly admire. I’m trying to get to that level,” Mahomes said. “The way he’s able to move within the pocket and be able to reset his feet and be completely calm and still make the throw right on the money no matter who’s around him — it’s something I can continue to work on. As I continue in my career, I’m just going to try to do whatever I can to watch the tape on him because he’s doing it the right way. You can tell by how many Super Bowl championships he has and the rings on his fingers.”
There is only one way, it seems, for Mahomes to flip a script that already is written. As the challenger, he must shock the world and beat the champ.
Except it wouldn’t be a shock. I’m expecting it.
Jay Mariotti, called “the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes a weekly media column for Barrett Sports Media and regular sports columns for Substack while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts in production today. He’s an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and radio talk host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects. Compensation for this column is donated to the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust.
Mike Silver Has An NFL Backstage Pass
“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships.”
It was the 2010 NFL Draft and standout wide receiver Dez Bryant was eligible to be selected by a professional football team. As a journalist, Mike Silver has always looked to enterprise stories and wanted to be with Bryant when the moment he had been waiting for finally arrived.
Through a preexisting relationship with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, he got in touch with Bryant and received permission to attend his draft celebration. Before being selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant revealed to him that then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had asked him during the pre-draft process if his mother was a prostitute.
Once that information was published in Silver’s column, Ireland had to publicly apologize and was subsequently put under investigation by the team’s majority owner Stephen Ross.
“People were like, ‘How did you get that?,’ but I was very proud because really the way I got it was because Deion Sanders respected me enough based on things that had happened decades earlier and the way that I conducted myself that I was able to ultimately get to Dez,” Silver expressed. “That to me is a validation. I’ve nurtured relationships for years and years that have led to zero reporting and thought, ‘It’s okay; it’s just part of the process. It is what it is.’”
From the start, Silver was a believer in journalism and the power the profession had in divulging stories in pursuit of the truth. Born in San Francisco, Calif. and raised in Los Angeles, he would read The Los Angeles Times sports section for a half hour per day, observing the proclivities and vernacular of other writers. As a high school student, he co-authored a sports column in the Palisades Charter High School Tideline with current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, gaining practical experience in journalism and cultivating professional relationships.
“I was the only Warriors fan in our school because I was born in San Francisco so he used to clown me for being a Warriors and 49ers fan like everyone else in our school – so I ended up having the last laugh,” Silver said. “By old standards, you’d say, ‘You can’t cover Steve Kerr. That’s your friend.’ I think in 2022 if I have to cover Steve Kerr, I’ll just be like, ‘You know what? Everyone knows we’re friends. I’m just going to be up front about it.’”
Silver attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. The school was not known for profound levels of success within its football and basketball programs, according to Silver; however, the student newspaper was a place to gain repetitions in covering sports and having finished work published, printed and distributed.
Towards the end of his time in college, Silver wrote stories that were published in The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he grew up reading and from which he drew inspiration to become a journalist.
“We would tell the players we covered, ‘Hey, we’re trying to go to the pros too, and we’re not going to get jobs in this industry if we don’t write the truth,’” Silver said. “We were trying to break in as legitimate journalists and we definitely ruffled some feathers along the way.”
Once he graduated from school, Silver began his professional career writing for The Sacramento Union where he covered the San Francisco 49ers. Silver grew up as a football fan and was familiar with the team but always tried to find original, untold angles to differentiate his stories from others. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to join The Santa Clara Press Democrat as a beat writer and used the time to further develop his writing and reporting skills. Five years later, he was in talks to land his dream job as a writer in Sports Illustrated, a prolific sports magazine focused on producing original content.
Sports Illustrated was released on Wednesdays and operated under the belief of trying to omit any stories that may have been reported in the days prior. The goal was to tell stories that were under the radar and would be impactful and memorable for its readers.
During a typical week, Silver would visit both the home and road teams in their own cities with the hopes of connecting with players and team personnel. After a game, he would go to the locker room, yet he would try to avoid doing one-on-one interviews since the content would likely be published elsewhere before the magazine was released.
Then, his writing process commenced and often went through the night, as Sports Illustrated had a 9 a.m. EST deadline the following morning. By taking the approach of enterprising stories, Silver quickly became one of the most venerated and trusted sportswriters in the country, composing over 70 cover stories for the publication.
With the advent of the internet though, journalism and communication was forever changed allowing for the free flow of information and ideas in a timely manner.
“Now I can arrogantly write to whatever length I want and every precious word of mine could be broadcast to the masses, but [back then] you better have it the exact length because it’s going on a page,” Silver said. “You’re maybe reading over a story 15 times or more to get it just right before the seven layers of editing kick in. You’re also leaving theoretically half of your great stuff on the cutting room table never to surface again or seldom.”
Nurturing a relationship built on trust and professionalism is hardly facile in nature, and it required enduring persistence and resolute determination to achieve for Silver. Through these relationships, he has been able to create both distinctive and original types of content. As innovations in technology engendered shifts in consumption patterns though, he decided to do what he originally perceived as being unthinkable and left Sports Illustrated after nearly 13 years.
“When I went there, I felt like we had 30 of the 35 best sportswriters in America and it was murderer’s row,” Silver said of Sports Illustrated. “I had a great, great experience there the whole time so I never thought I’d leave.”
After meeting with Yahoo Sports Executive Editor Dave Morgan and being given an offer with flexibility in the job and a promise of a lucrative salary, Silver knew it was simply too good to pass up. He opted to still write a column on Sundays to counterprogram Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who authored his own weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.
Additionally, Silver agreed to write two additional branded columns per week in a quest to adapt to the digital age of media.
“I was trying to stay current and connect to an internet generation and keep up with the way that people were consuming their content at that time,” Silver said. “….We just had a spirit at Yahoo that we weren’t owned by anyone, we didn’t have a deal with the league and we were going to report the news in a very unfiltered way.”
An advent of the digital age in media has been the practice of writers appearing on television to present their information en masse, requiring changes in their delivery. Unlike in a written piece, reporting on television requires efficiently making key points and speaking in shorter phrases to allow the viewer to easily follow the discussion. Moreover, writers are sometimes presented with questions that may provoke deeper thought or analysis, and occasionally challenge their lines of reporting.
Silver never thought he would work in television, but as a part of his contract with NFL Media, he was writing columns and serving as an analyst on select NFL Network programming. In working on television on a league-owned entity, it forced him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue mastery of a new skill set.
“I never wanted to do TV voice and be cheesy and look like someone who was trained for the medium so my strategy was more to try to be myself on camera and see how that translated,” Silver articulated. “It seemed to work to some degree – and then obviously I picked up a lot of tricks of the trade and techniques and got better reps. Essentially, I think reporting is reporting [and] information is information.”
Moving into television, a medium with sports coverage that is, at its core, nonlinear due to the potential for breaking news and unexpected occurrences, changed the manner in which the information was presented and/or prioritized on the air. In a column, Silver’s goal was to find original angles and obtain anecdotes and quotes to implement into the storytelling. Now on television, sources were still used largely on the condition of deep background, meaning no individual or group could be attributed to the information in any way.
“With TV, there was an element of, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to sound smart when I talk about you guys,’ which is code for, ‘I don’t have to use your name when I say this stuff, but when I’m weighing on why you just traded for Trent Richardson, help me understand what’s really going on with the Indianapolis Colts at this moment,’” Silver explained. “That’s just a random example. I liked [television] more than I thought I would.”
Silver’s contract was not renewed at NFL Network in 2021, providing a stark change in his lifestyle and leaving him looking for a job in the midst of trying economic times. Through a relationship he had with sports radio host Colin Cowherd, he was given the opportunity to join his upstart podcast platform The Volume as a host. Cowherd eagerly recruited Silver to the platform following a lunch in which the topic came up naturally in conversation about future endeavors.
“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships and I have a lot of them from players, coaches, owners and GMs to media people and friends in other industries, etc.,” he explained. “Colin Cowherd is someone I’ll never, ever, ever forget or stop being grateful to…. We were kind of talking some stuff out and he was like, ‘Why don’t we do a show on my network?,’ and we started talking about what that would be. We left lunch… and about 10 minutes later he called me and said, ‘Okay, here’s what I think,’ and kind of continued it.”
Today, Silver is hosting an interview-based program called Open Mike featuring guests from the world of professional football. Recent guests on the program have included Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones. Prior to joining The Volume, Silver had hosted a podcast with his daughter called Pass It Down, which ultimately ran for over 50 episodes and gave him experience working within the medium.
“I’m sitting there spending an hour with [Las Vegas] Raiders GM Dave Ziegler or [Buffalo Bills] linebacker Von Miller or whoever we have on,” Silver said. “You’re not only getting to know that person; you’re watching the way I connect with that person and usually have a body of work with that person, and there’s a comfort level there too.”
John Marvel was Silver’s direct boss at NFL Media and a friend he kept in touch with for many years. Through various correspondences and the dynamic media landscape, they decided to start their own media venture called Backstage Media. The company has a first-look deal with Meadowlark Media – a company co-founded by John Skipper, who also serves as its chief executive officer. Skipper was formerly the president of ESPN and someone Silver wished he had worked for earlier in his career.
“I did not know John Skipper before I left NFL Network,” he said. “I didn’t particularly have a dream to [ever] work at ESPN. We’ve had conversations over the years – ESPN and I – and it never seemed like the perfect fit for me. Now that I know John Skipper, it’s like ‘I would have worked for that guy any time.’ He’s fantastic, [and] I’m just so pumped to be in business with him.”
The company, which focuses on producing documentaries and other unscripted programming through the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, has various projects in development. The idea was derived out of both of their penchants for storytelling and an attempt to utilize new platforms built for engagement within the modern-day media marketplace.
“We’re hoping that documentaries, docuseries [and] episodic podcasts – mostly unscripted – …will be kind of our wheelhouse,” Silver said. “….There’s about four big things that are [hopefully] close to being announced. One’s football; one’s boxing; one is basketball; and one is kind of a blend of some things. I feel like we have a pretty diverse set of interests.”
Joining The San Francisco Chronicle as a football reporter has been indicative of a full-circle moment for Silver, as he is once again around the San Francisco 49ers and writing columns about the team and other sports around the Bay Area at large. Today, he is working with Scott Ostler and Ann Kllion, and directly with Eric Branch on the outlet’s 49ers coverage. Through it all, he seeks to continue gaining access to places that the ordinary person would only be able to dream about in order to tell compelling and informative stories, no matter how they may be delivered or on what platform(s) to which it may be distributed.
“I’m old school in a lot of my mentality in terms of journalism and storytelling and all of that,” Silver said. “I think those things don’t go away. I think it’s journalism first; relationship first; access first; storytelling first; and you figure out the rest.”
As for the future of the profession which has ostensibly become less defined because of the evolution of social media and communication, relationships and storytelling have truly become the differentiators. Silver aims to continue practicing what has allowed him to gain exclusive scoops in the industry and tell stories that would otherwise, perhaps, fly under the radar, but do so in a way that does not jeopardize his sources.
“I’m going to try to develop relationships and cultivate relationships where people trust me and give me a sense of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into places that you, as the consumer, couldn’t otherwise go and take you there, and I’m going to err on the side of the relationship as opposed to finding out one thing that could cause a splash that day on Twitter.”
Some athletes are hosting podcasts or writing columns to directly communicate with their fans, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green on The Volume, intensifying the quest for engagement and attraction. Yet Silver advises journalists looking to break into the industry not to get distracted in meeting certain metrics, instead adhering to best practices and reporting truthful information without ambiguity.
“Just don’t get undone by the noise,” Silver said. “Put your head down; hyperfocus; grind; tell good stories; do journalism and hopefully over the course of time, that will stand out. I’d still like to believe that.”
Covering professional sports, specifically football, generates a large amount of potential storylines on which journalists can report – and today, digital platforms give them the ability to cover them in different ways. While some scoops may requit a large article, others may be able to be told in 280 characters or less, such as a trade rumor or injury. The amount of information Silver and his colleagues uncovered working for a print publication and then had to omit because of space limitations underscores a key journalistic principle of efficient and truthful storytelling. In today’s media landscape, he hopes to be able to do that regardless of its means of dissemination.
“If you went back and just looked at our normal… feature or story off a game [and] the level we reported on a Wednesday and translated that to a Twitter generation, people would lose their minds about how much we found out and how much we reported with on-the-record quotes usually, and they’d be like, ‘He said what!?,” Silver said. “That’s all we knew and that’s [how] we did it…. I don’t think people understand how much the threshold has changed. It’s all good. The most important things hopefully haven’t changed.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Video Simulcasts Are Now A Must Have For Sports Radio
All of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way.
Video simulcasts of sports talk radio and podcasts have gone up extraordinarily in quality as of late. The craft started as a novelty that very few participated in. ESPN and YES Network dominated the genre with their simulcasts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog respectively. Slowly but surely other sports networks and RSN’s picked up the genre over time and it has now become a major component within sports coverage in the streaming world.
The most popular and prominent shows in the medium right now include The Dan Patrick Show, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, The Pat McAfee Show, and The Rich Eisen Show. These four shows in particular have done an excellent job of independently producing and building out their video content to look visually appealing while also engage with the audience through graphics, pictures, stats on screen. In McAfee’s case, his company even entered into a rights agreement with the NFL for highlights.
Finding their shows can be difficult at times. Eisen’s show has moved from television to Peacock and to Roku Channel all within the span of a couple years. When LeBatard’s shipping container first began their live video voyage they didn’t have a consistent schedule. Patrick’s show has also leapt between RSNs, national networks, YouTube and its current home on Peacock. But all of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way.
The video simulcasts have become so lucrative for these shows that they’ve found sponsors to advertise against what they’re offering and they ensure that they pay attention to the look of the show. Commercials that feel like television play during Patrick and Eisen’s shows. Logos are displayed during LeBatard’s broadcast and NFL Films vignettes that you would find on NFL Network air in the middle of McAfee’s broadcast.
McAfee’s show recently moved into a new studio in Indianapolis specifically built for them by FanDuel and just yesterday LeBatard announced they would be moving into their own state of the art studio in Miami that will help expand their creativity. Patrick’s show doesn’t even have guests call into their show anymore – most join via Zoom. Eisen’s guests are more often than not in studio. All of these shows also upload highlights relatively quickly to YouTube. They’re still audio-first but video is no longer secondary. It is 1A in terms of importance.
As much as these simulcasts feel close to real TV, there are still some hijinks that fans have to get used to that aren’t the same as a regular TV broadcast. During LeBatard’s broadcast, a rolling loop of their own self produced album plays during breaks. While the songs are hilarious in nature, if you’re a weekly viewer of their simulcast it might get tiresome to hear every time there is a break.
A loop of some of the show’s greatest moments and some of the side projects Meadowlark Media produces might be more engaging and help reduce drop off rate. McAfee’s show also struggles with white balancing their cameras almost every telecast. At times in the middle of a conversation during the show, discoloration occurs before changing back to normal skin tones.
Patrick’s show has used the same set of graphics since it began simulcasting on NBC’s linear sports network years ago which could be a turnoff for younger viewers of the internet era who always want change in order to grab their attention. Eisen’s show has awkward interruptions happen in the middle of conversations because commercial breaks are different in length on terrestrial radio vs. streaming.
At the end of the day though, these shows are the epitome of what it means to have grit and guts to achieve your American dream. Although their productions are subsidized and/or licensed by big media platforms and sports books, their social media presence and the actual production of these shows was built on their own. During the first couple of weeks after LeBatard’s show left ESPN, the former columnist could often be heard teasing listeners that they were working on building a video enterprise and how difficult it was.
It’s hard to stand on your own in sports talk media without the backing of superpowers like ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner who have been producing live broadcasts for decades. But these shows have found a way to do so in a new world that is tailored towards doing everything on your own.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Ideas For December Sales Success
How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea?
Now is the time to put your foot on the gas for a great start to 2023-not waiting til January. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on weekends, you can’t count on who will be at work the Friday or Monday around those holidays in December.
So, looking forward from here, you only have 15 or so days that you can count on your clients and prospects to be at work before the end of 2022. And, if they are at work, consider their motivation or lack of it before approaching them. But here are five ways to attack December.
Cutting a year-end deal
Make sure you go back from the potential start date of the schedule and allow for production, proposal, and acceptance. That usually means you need a week from when you present a year-end idea to when the schedule starts. So, aim to have all appointments booked by 12/9, so you can sell 2-week packages that begin Monday, 12/19. That will give you a sense of urgency and gives you five solid business days to sell your ass off starting Monday.
Make all your pricing and payment terms expire by Friday, 12/9. You can always extend if need be once they give a partial commitment. You want anybody involved in the decision to sign off and let you cut this deal! The idea here is to create urgency and work ahead.
Beat the bushes
Do you want to wake up on 1/2/23 with an empty pipeline? How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea? Don’t try to qualify these prospects over the phone. Do it in January when both of you are fresh but get that commitment NOW. Look for your new client avatar.
From now til the end of the year is also an excellent time to meet with your sales assistant, traffic manager, production person, or anybody who helps you at the station. Sit down with them face to face and see what you can do better to make their job easier. Give them some ideas on how they can help you as well. Mend some fences or make new friends; the reason tis the season. Surprise them with a Cheetos popcorn tin for less than $10. Please do it. You will be surprised by what you hear because this is a popular time of year for layoffs, transfers, and people taking new jobs.
Practice a new pitch
December is also a great time to record yourself doing a webinar and start planning to let your content do the talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if your 10-minute talk on how to make live reads work, how to buy radio, or why your audience buys the most widgets produced some warm leads? Practice and get going!
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.