What I don’t understand is the hatred. When you can despise terrorists, tech frauds, virus-spreaders and Woody Allen, why would anyone hate Tim Tebow?
If you think he should move on in life, to a career in Sunday evangelism or a larger analyst’s role on TV, it’s hard to disagree. If you call him a beneficiary of preferential treatment from his college coach and Jacksonville neighbor, Urban Meyer, I’m with you there, too. If you want to call it a hometown publicity stunt, this idea he could make an NFL roster as a tight end at age 33 when he rarely has played the position, we are partners in preaching.
But the new loathing of Tebow is a sickness that reflects the American condition. It smacks of abject racism, all wrapped around his imagery as a wholesome Christian who builds ministries, writes children’s books, crusades against human trafficking, remained a virgin until his wedding night and still praises the Lord routinely when he isn’t tweeting to his followers, “YOU are not made to be average. This life isn’t one for you to just try and get through, or to just get by. God created you to thrive, to love others, to create change and impact. You are talented, but you have to make the choice to run with full speed, not just jog!”
The religion of sports is too splintered to appreciate the religion of Tebow. For many in the Black community, including athletes who’ve been critical on social media, the sight of him wearing No. 85 for the Jaguars — even during a voluntary minicamp workout on a lazy May afternoon — is a glaring example of White privilege. With NFL rabble-rouser Dez Bryant leading the charge, Tebow is being scorched.
“So Tebow haven’t played an NFL game in damn near a decade and it’s that simple … no hate but you got to be kidding me,” tweeted Bryant, still looking for a team to sign him.
“This Tebow deal shows that personal relationships go further at this level than actual ability,” wrote Carolina Panthers defensive tackle DaQuan Jones.
Tweeted Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson: “(Tebow) got more lives than a cat.”
Can we just let him be? Please?
This is not about race, gentlemen. It’s about Meyer, a controversial figure himself, trying to generate interest in his first months as the anointed Jaguars savior by gifting the hometown hero a shot. That’s all. “I have one job and that is to win games with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Tim Tebow or Travis Etienne can help us win, then that’s my job to get them ready to go play,” said Meyer, referring to the rookie running back who’s expected to make instant impact. If anything, for those who know his past, Meyer has given too many opportunities to players of varied races and backgrounds, some of whom have encountered trouble with the law. The disturbing pattern dates to his days at the University of Florida, where 41 players were arrested — remember Aaron Hernandez? — in the period when Tebow was becoming a folk hero and leading the Gators to national title glory.
Is it hokey giving him a last chance when it’s highly unlikely he’ll make the team? Yes. Is Meyer risking an immediate division in the locker room, the same fissures exposed when Tebow was with the Broncos and New York Jets many years ago? Possibly. Will it be a sad day when Meyer must tell Tebow that his life as a professional athlete — which included five trying years in baseball’s minor leagues — is finally over? The tears will flood the St. Johns River.
But anyone who conflates Tebow’s tryout as part of a larger conspiracy — keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL — needs a mental break. If Meyer brought in Tebow to compete for a backup quarterback role behind prized rookie Trevor Lawrence, Camp Kap would have a legitimate complaint. This is nothing more than a coach’s whim, likely inspired by Taysom Hill’s versatile role with the New Orleans Saints, though Hill moves like a Hummer and Tebow like a cement mixer. As I’ve stated repeatedly, Kaepernick has only himself to blame for lost chances. He continued to rebel against the establishment even when the Baltimore Ravens were interested in signing him and commissioner Roger Goodell was arranging for a league-wide tryout, which Kaepernick turned into a goose chase through the back roads of Georgia.
Where criticism will be valid is if the Tebow experiment devolves into a debacle. If it’s obvious from the start that he has no chance of making the team, Meyer had better cut him immediately to avoid in-house criticism — not to mention nationwide harpoons — that he’s another college coach unfit for the NFL. As it is, his own assistant coaches were divided about signing Tebow — if he has little or no chance of sticking on the roster, why waste time when much work is ahead in a rock-bottom franchise? When Tebow asked for a tryout back in February, couldn’t Meyer have had the Come-to-Papa talk then?
Instead, Meyer already is acknowledging possible locker-room problems by refusing to make Tebow available to media. By doing so, players don’t wonder why the coach’s pet and Lawrence are getting all the public attention while everyone else is ignored. All we have is a statement from Tebow, after he officially signed a one-year contract Thursday: “I want to thank the Jaguars for the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to be part of this team. I know it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge I embrace. I am dedicated to taking the direction of our coaching staff and learning from my teammates. I appreciate everyone’s support as I embark on this new journey.”
He will need every last smidgen of support. The knives are out.
“When he walks into that locker room, it’s going to be divided,” said ESPN football analyst Mike Tannenbaum, who speaks from experience as the general manager who brought Tebow to the Jets in 2012. “There are going to be huge supporters of his, and others are going to be like, what is he doing here as a 34-year-old backup tight end?”
Another ESPN analyst, Greg McElroy, was with the Jets then and offers inside information. “We tried switching him to tight end, and he wasn’t good. That’s what people don’t acknowledge,” McElroy said. “Tim is a good dude, and I hope the best for him. But it’s a sideshow, and that’s what it will be come training camp time. And I think it kind of undermines what Urban Meyer is trying to build. Maybe he makes the team, maybe he doesn’t. But it’s going to take away from the task at hand, which is trying to put together the most competitive roster in camp. And I bet you there will be players, as someone who went to training camp with Tim, who are rolling their eyes at the amount of attention the fourth-string, fifth-string tight end gets. And it’s going to piss people off. As a result, it’s going to affect locker room chemistry, just like it did for us with the Jets. Not because anyone had any animosity toward Tim — they just have animosity with the coverage Tim receives.
“So, I think it’s a stupid move.”
Stupid, he said.
See what I mean? If the subject was anyone else, people would use more measured responses such as “ill-advised” or “misguided.” When it’s Tim Tebow, the move is “stupid.” Or racist.
People need to vent in 2021. I get it. But rather than hate a guy with a big heart and bigger dreams who means no harm — really, no harm whatsoever — I suggest people consider the nuclear weaponry of North Korea. Pyongyang is a bit more worthy of America’s time, energy and wrath than Tim Tebow.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.