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Domonique Foxworth Is ESPN’s Most Interesting Talent

“Foxworth has that certain star it quality that can be hard to name. Even if you can’t identify what it is, if you identify someone that has it, you have to do all you can to hold on to them as tight as you can.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Craig Barritt/Getty Images for EPIX

There are a lot of companies in the sports media world where you can say that a podcast is the most entertaining product they offer. It is rare though that a breakthrough podcast can be subdivided by days of the week and one individual day’s offering stands above not just the rest of the podcast, but everything else under the company’s umbrella.

Enter The Right Time with Bomani Jones. The ESPN podcast enjoyed tremendous growth during the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result, the network asked Jones to expand his offerings from two days per week to three. That gave birth to the best thing ESPN does on any platform – Foxworth Fridays.

Courtesy: Gabe Basane

Of course Domonique Foxworth makes The Right Time better. He has had a habit of making everything he touches with the ESPN brand on it better since joining the company in 2016.

Rarely does any network find a talent that has the ability to hang in every conversation and be relatable to everyone on whatever set he is on. Foxworth has that certain star it quality that can be hard to name. Even if you can’t identify what it is, if you identify someone that has it, you have to do all you can to hold on to them as tight as you can.

Domonique Foxworth has a unique background. He was an All-ACC defensive back at Maryland before being taken in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He then spent seven seasons in the NFL, playing in Denver, Atlanta, and Baltimore. He was the youngest player to become vice president of the NFL Players Association Executive Committee, and in 2012 became one of the youngest players to be elected president of the NFL Players Association.

When his playing days were done, Foxworth went to Harvard to get an MBA. Then he became COO of the NBA Players Association.

Everything he says comes from a place of knowledge and conviction. He also has a wicked sense of humor. That means Domonique Foxworth can make ESPN’s talking head shows smarter and he can make its smart shows and prestige platforms more fun.

I always enjoy seeing Domonique show up on Get Up. That show is loaded with ex-NFL players. Foxworth keeps the proceedings from turning into an echo chamber though. He is the only one that is on the show regularly that can speak to what it is like to walk into camp not knowing if or when his name was going to be called to come to the coach’s office and turn in his playbook. He is the only one that can talk with experience and intelligence about collective bargaining agreements and what the realities are when labor disputes happen.

As of this writing, these are the places you will see, hear or read Domonique Foxworth regularly on ESPN: The Undefeated, Get Up, The Right Time with Bomani Jones, SportsCenter, Around the Horn and Highly Questionable. He also shows up on other podcasts when needed.

That is a lot of work. ESPN doesn’t seem to be in the habit of paying talented people more to do more these days. So if the network wants to see Foxworth’s profile continue to grow, what more can they do with him?

My gut instinct is radio. On his Foxworth Friday appearances with Jones, he has proven to have a casual delivery and a quick wit. He is also a great storyteller. I am skeptical though that ESPN and Foxworth could find the right formula to get the dynamite product he delivers for just 40 minutes one day per week when the demand is two-to-three hours per day, five days per week.

Are you putting Bomani back on the radio with Foxworth and giving them the same producers to recreate the environment they already thrive in as much as possible? Even that is no guarantee burnout doesn’t set in. Do you pair him with someone like Mike Golic Jr? I think they would make an interesting duo, but GoJo and Bo are two very different personalities. That could mean you get a very different version of Foxworth.

Maybe we have to consider that as ESPN and other linear TV networks value talking heads less and live play-by-play rights more, Foxworth will have to look elsewhere to fully blossom into a media star. Certainly there are more employment options than ever before for a guy like him.

Domonique Foxworth Signs Multi-Year Extension with The Undefeated - ESPN  Press Room U.S.
Credit: Randy Sager / ESPN Images

I remain hopeful that a guy as talented as Domonique Foxworth finds a way to continue to thrive with a promotion machine like ESPN behind him. People with unique perspectives need to be on the biggest platforms available. It is not just good for their brand, it is good for sports media in general. It keeps the business from becoming a echo chamber of takes.

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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