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Super Bowl LV: Maybe The Weirdest Thing Ever

This is not a sci-fi movie but a slice of life during a pandemic, an attempt to use a diluted American spectacle — and Tom Brady’s superhuman quest — to create an escape for a country about to burst from anxiety.

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I’ve always mocked the concept of an apocalypse, figuring it was cinematic and never real, not realizing a catastrophe was plotting an attack. Naturally, it converges in 2021 at a Super Bowl, in the freaky-deaky state of Florida, where no killer alligators are involved, just an infectious disease not taken seriously by the governor. A long-ago movie, “Black Sunday,” depicted a terrorist group trying to blow up a Goodyear blimp during the NFL’s championship game.

Image result for black sunday goodyear blimp

This won’t be that, I don’t think. But it might be the most bizarre thing we’ve experienced in our lives.

“I don’t know when normal will occur again or if normal will occur again,” said the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, who somehow maneuvered the coronavirus landmines to reach this new and grotesque normal amid — how many now? — 450,000 U.S. deaths.

While a rock-star epidemiologist in his 80s urges people to watch on TV in home isolation, only 25,000 fans will sit distanced in a largely barren stadium with a pirate ship as a 43-year-old quarterbacking mutant, unsatisfied with six title rings, tries to win a seventh. Tom Brady will do so in his adopted home of Tampa, with the long-sketchy Buccaneers, against a generational force young enough to be his son, Patrick Mahomes. All while the weary national media, masked and Zoom-tethered, ask if Brady is replacing Michael Jordan as the G.O.A.T. of all sporting G.O.A.T.s by performing at a higher level at a more advanced age than any athlete ever — when, in truth, Mahomes ultimately might claim the distinction someday, assuming Planet Earth still exists.

“The goal is to win as many Super Bowls as possible and to be playing in this game every single year,” said Mahomes, already perched alongside Brady and LeBron James as The Faces of American Sports. “If you look at guys like Tom, Michael, Kobe, LeBron … all these special guys, I think at the end of the day you see that their work ethic and drive to win is just different than everybody else’s. That’s what makes them special, and hopefully I can try to do whatever I can to have that same work ethic and drive in my career.”

Oh, he has it. And he’ll need it without both of his starting tackles, against Shaq Barrett and a swarm of hungry pass rushers, raising the possibility that Brady actually might pull off the most preposterous football story ever. Yes, bigger than Joe Namath successfully guaranteeing a victory, bigger than Nick Foles and the Philly Special, bigger than David Tyree’s helmet catch — bigger, really, than just about anything in sports because, again, Brady is pushing 44 and looking younger by the hour, a more curious case than Benjamin Button. By now, even suspicions that he’s swallowing age-defying cocktails from his mysterious personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, are softened by the shock and awe of it all: that Brady still is able to look good in a uniform and have the best-functioning brain cells on the field, despite 20-plus years of punishment at the most vulnerable position in team sports.

How is this happening? The answer might be simpler than psychoanalysts and biologists make it out to be. If you haven’t noticed, the athletes thriving amid a pandemic are the greatest in their craft — Brady, Mahomes, James, a redemptive Clayton Kershaw, a spiritual Naomi Osaka, a transcendent Bryson DeChambeau. Already obsessive about winning, they’ve used a global crisis to ratchet up their focus from lasered to maniacal. There is no messing around anymore, even in the slightest, which is why the Lakers won while the Clippers were losing their minds in the NBA Bubble and why I wonder if the presence of a COVID-19-infected barber — while Mahomes and numerous teammates and staffers were there for a cut — might prove regrettable for the Chiefs.

“It’ll all work out when it’s all said and done,” said coach Andy Reid, he of the floral shirts and cheeseburgers.

Image result for andy reid cheeseburger

Brady, known to cut his own hair, never would put himself in such danger so close to another holy grail. Having divorced Bill Belichick, ventured from New England to the Gulf Coast and put away Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field, he is poised to finalize what we’ve never seen before. You think he’s taking no for an answer, as 100 million watch him step effortlessly from one generation to the next, while his merchandise sales break records nationwide — including in his discarded New England? After the Bucs beat the Packers for the NFC title, Brady noticed a teammate crying in the locker room.

“What the f— you crying for? We’re not done yet,” he said, as told on a podcast this week by linebacker Lavonte David.

Blessed with uncommon equilibrium, Brady is forever the 199th pick in the draft and the flabby kid in the combine photo, the collegian who cleaned toilets during a summer construction job, the competition freak who still loses sleep after every loss while still trying to quiet the few critics who remain. He has taken charge of the age-old sports argument: Was Brady or Belichick more responsible for the Patriots dynasty? He has quieted loudmouths like me who said he should have retired on top after winning two years ago. He has turned haters into worshippers, such as his favorite receiver, Mike Evans, who said, “You know, when I was a kid, I grew up not liking Tom Brady because I was a Peyton Manning fan. Now, I’m the biggest Tom Brady fan.” Even Goodell, who hammered Brady with a four-game Deflategate suspension, has nothing but glowing praise more than five years after prosecuting him for doctoring balls.

“Tom Brady has shown that he’s probably the greatest player to ever play this game,” Goodell said Thursday. “His leadership, his ability to rise to the big occasion and make everybody rise around him. That’s what’s absolutely incredible to me, everyone just plays better when they’re with him. I’ve known him for probably 15 years and he’s an extraordinary guy. He’s real, he cares about this game deeply, he cares about people involved with the game. So, for me I wish him well. I think he’s gonna continue to be a great performer. I’m glad to hear he’s going to play a few more years.”

So, what’s left for Brady to conquer?

Himself.

At some point, Brady will have to pack away his boundless ambitions and realize that his wife, the supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and their children would like him to stop playing football. Maybe he wins Sunday night and finally gets it — the perfect ending, the glorious act of retiring on top, something Jordan didn’t do and an ailing Tiger Woods cannot do. Was Brady hinting at that as a possibility in an expansive answer this week?

“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.”

Image result for tom brady maga

So sweet, in fact, that he should follow the Florida sun into his professional dusk if he wins. Even then, it wouldn’t be an easy decision for Brady, not when he uses persistent noise as motivation. Abandoning journalism for what seems strained activism, USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour asserted that “white privilege” has given Brady an “undeserved pass” for keeping a MAGA cap in his locker years ago. I can’t remember the last time Brady spoke about Donald Trump, with whom he once was friendly. That didn’t stop Armour from ripping Brady for “moral cowardice.” Also weighing in against Brady was FS1 host Shannon Sharpe, who said a Black athlete never would have evaded criticism in such a political circumstance.

Asked about Sharpe’s remarks, Brady said, “I’m not sure how to respond to hypothetical questions. I hope everyone can — we’re in this position, like I am, to try to be the best I can be everyday as an athlete, as a player, as a person in my community for my team and so forth. So … yeah. Not sure what else.”

His reflex, of course, is to not let anyone tell him what to do or how to live his life. So he keeps playing. That’s his revenge.

And I’m sure, the nanosecond the game finishes, there will be betting lines on whether Brady returns or retires, even though he says he’ll consider playing beyond age 45. With the shells removed from the gambling bombs and legal betting now the national rage, this will be the most insane and gross day of wagering in our country’s history. The absence of spectators in stadiums and arenas has been replaced by the grimy thrill of money action, with states realizing they can reap staggering revenues even during a pandemic. If — when — all 50 states allow sports gambling, collective annual revenues exceeding $19 billion will be commonplace, reports the New York Times. So consider Super Bowl LV to be the inaugural showcase for the new explosion.

Which makes it easy for tens of millions at home to pick up a phone and bet. That is much safer than jamming into casinos and sports bars, which many COVID-iots will do anyway. “You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” urges Dr. Anthony Fauci, still alive and quite visible as Trump fades away. “You just don’t know if they’re infected, so, as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it.”

With America ready to burst from pandemic anxiety and vaccine lagging, I can’t say what’s going to happen Sunday or next week or the rest of our time on Earth. “I think America needs this Super Bowl,” said CBS Sports boss Sean McManus, who is required to say such things when his network is carrying the game. “I think it’s an opportunity for the country to come together. I think it’s going to be uplifting. I think it’s going to be unifying. And I think it’s coming at the right time.”

There never can be a right time for any of this. But I do know that the roman numerals are teasing us with symbolism.

 LV — as in LIVE, while you still can.

BSM Writers

Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call

“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”

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I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.

The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.

OKC Radio Host Sam Mayes Fired After Racist Audio is Leaked

Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.

Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.

We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.

I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.

You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.

People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.

How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.

All About the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Concho
Courtesy: TripAdvisor/Adam Knapp

Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.

If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.

In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.

Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.

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What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.

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BSM Writers

Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!

“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”

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Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?

Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.

To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:

#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?

#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?

#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?

If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!

Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.

Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:

#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.

#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.

#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.

#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.

#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.

Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!

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BSM Writers

Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas

“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”

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Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?

Chevy Chase, aka Clark Griswold, to light up stage in Berks | Berks  Regional News | wfmz.com
Courtesy: Warner Bros./National Lampoon

Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!

One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.

Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.

There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.

Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.

I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.

Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.

It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?

25 Best Christmas Inflatables - Top Inflatable Christmas Decorations

Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.

If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.

Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.

A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.

“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.

We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.

Kevin Anderson on Twitter: "Just noticed that I've been blocked by the  international civil aviation authority @icao Have others working on  aviation emissions also been blocked? Appears to be that their commitment

As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.

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