What do Adnan Virk and Tim Tebow have in common? They’re both considered to be good people that many of their co-workers think well of personally, but they were given career opportunities that their professional backgrounds did not merit.
After just seven shows working as the lead announcer on the promotional flagship show RAW, Adnan Virk and the WWE mutually parted ways this week. Despite being a “rabid fan” of professional wrestling when he was a kid, Virk came under fire from WWE fans during his short run. Adnan pointed to the demanding RAW schedule upon exiting, noting that it would be too much of a strain on his family. This always seemed like an unusual job for Virk whose personality and style never was bombastic and lacked the showmanship and big voice that wrestling fans are used to. We should credit the WWE for being open to trying something different but should also be able to criticize the company for not having the foresight to see that Virk wasn’t the right fit.
Now let’s look at Tim Tebow, whose NFL career before 2021 served as a cautionary tale for NFL teams to not become infatuated with a player’s market appeal over his football talent. Eight years after last playing in the league, Tebow is making a comeback at Tight End with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Predictably, the Tebow Jags Jerseys are a hot item on NFL Shop but that doesn’t mean that Tebow should be getting this opportunity just because of his relationship with Urban Meyer. Don’t forget, Tebow just gave up his “Baseball Dreams” after compiling a .223 Batting Average over three seasons with the New York Mets Minor League Affiliates. The former outfielder never played baseball in college, and he never played Tight End successfully collegiately or professionally, so why is he getting an opportunity over others with more qualifications?
No one denies that Virk and Tebow are quality human beings. They’re likeable guys which takes some of the negativity away from the reality that they weren’t the best choices for the job opportunities they were afforded. Personally, I have trouble reconciling two points of view:
*I have advocated that professionals in all walks of life, even outside of sports, should take advantage of every opportunity they can to maximize their income along with advancing their careers. There’s an old saying “You are worth what someone is willing to pay you”.
*On the flip side, I despise Nepotism and how many people get skipped over for job openings that are given to others who didn’t put in the “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” work hours. Just because they know the “right” people doesn’t mean they are the right person for the job being bestowed to them.
Whether we like it or not, these are some of the realities of the world that most of us live and work in. These contrasting points of view are part the tug-of-war we’ve all dealt with professionally and talked about on and off the air. For me, I get excited when someone I know who worked hard gets a big opportunity to advance their career. When I see an athlete overcome obstacles to be successful, it gives me a similar warm feeling of a classic movie storyline involving underdogs. But when I see someone get an opportunity due to being related to someone who knows the right person or having an agent that pushed them to the front of the line, as Peter Griffin would say “It Grinds My Gears”.
I’ve met many amazing people in sports media over the years and if I knew the right people, I would advocate for them to receive jobs or opportunities. But does that make me a hypocrite, that I would use my position or standing to help someone else? I believe in the concept that “A Rising Tide Raises All Ships” but who I am to say that my group of boats is better or more qualified than someone else’s?
The situation with Tebow is very clearly a “Who You Know” situation where the Jacksonville Jaguars can sell some jerseys and maybe some Preseason Tickets. But who’s 90-man Training Camp Roster spot is being taken by Tebow? It’s obvious that he’s not qualified or merited to be at an NFL Training Camp to tryout for Tight End, just like he wasn’t qualified to occupy a spot in the New York Mets Minor League system. In this case, the public perception is in line with the reality of the situation.
But the situation with Adnan Virk is much more grey because it’s not so cut and dry as some people are trying to paint it. Social Media creates narratives that drive public perception, which becomes hard to differentiate between truth versus bias. I have never heard a bad word said or written by anyone who has worked with Adnan, but Virk told Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina that the WWE RAW job came his way because of WWE President Nick Khan, Virk’s former agent. So just like Tebow, Virk received a prime job at the expense of someone else simply because he had a friend on the inside.
Yes there is difficulty for people to be objective when it comes to people they have long standing relationships with. Urban Meyer and Nick Khan may lack objectivity, having blind spots for those they have good relationships with, but how many of us were strangers to those we currently work with and yet we got opportunities for jobs that now it’s hard to think about where our lives would be without them? Hiring someone because they are a friend or family member is a bad look for any self-respecting professional.
Perception becomes reality in many of these situations, just look at every sports radio and television topic that headlines every show you consume: How the show host and their guests perceive the Green Bay Packers compared to Aaron Rodgers is the the driving catalyst for how the conversation progresses. Even when rational people try to be professionally objective, personal subjectivity infiltrates every conversation.
I would hope these situations with Tebow and Virk can be warnings to all of us, no matter what our standings in our professional lives, to remain objective and not allow predisposed biases to impact our professional decisions. Every decision has consequences, and they all create a domino effect.
Josh Hennig has spent over twelve years in the radio business and is currently the weeknight host of GameNight on 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. He also produces The Sports Bash with Mike Gill and hosts Sports Bash Saturday. He can be found on Twitter @JoshHennig or you can reach him by email at email@example.com.
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.