Ahead of the highly-anticipated, inter-conference matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers, a critical piece of news has broken with the report that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has tested positive for COVID-19. The unforeseen and most shocking aspect of this news is the fact that Rodgers, after previously telling members of the media he was “immunized” against COVID-19, is reportedly unvaccinated, meaning that he will need to be isolated from the team for a period of at least 10 days.
The NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement at the end of August to implement new protocols to protect its players and personnel against COVID-19, but came short against requiring those on the field to take the vaccine. In an article on the NFLPA website, the Players Association says that even though it believes “the vaccine is both safe and effective, players have the choice whether to take it or not.”
Rodgers reportedly received a homeopathic treatment from his personal doctor in an effort to increase his antibody levels in seeking to prevent COVID-19. He then petitioned the NFL to recognize him as vaccinated, which was denied by the league. Despite being considered unvaccinated, Rodgers has defied many of the league protocols, which includes going to events outside of the team facility, and neglecting to wear a mask while indoors. The league is currently investigating Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for violations of the protocols, which have the potential to result in fines and/or a suspension for the 37-year-old quarterback.
Since the news of Rodgers’ genuine vaccination status broke, members of the media have been voicing their opinions on the precarious situation, and whether Rodgers should even be allowed to suit up again in the National Football League. On Thursday afternoon, Dan Dakich, on his eponymous program, The Dan Dakich Show, said Rodgers need not be truthful with the media, as he owes them nothing in his press conferences or interviews.
“Aaron Rodgers doesn’t owe these ridiculous media folks a damn thing,” said Dakich, the primary show host broadcast on 93.5 and 107.5 The Fan in Indianapolis, Ind. “Does he owe his teammates? Maybe. But he doesn’t owe any of these idiots in the media anything. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean nada.”
Rodgers has been in the headlines on more than just the websites and social media pages of sports outlets, such as ESPN, Fox Sports and the NFL. His perceived deceitfulness in vaccination status was mentioned on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on CBS, Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC and Today on NBC.
Dan Dakich says that he has never been a fan of the 9x Pro Bowler and 2011 Super Bowl Champion, but that he does not need to elucidate on his reasons for turning down the vaccine. Instead, Dakich asserts that members of the media need to be focused on having more integrity in their overall reporting.
“I’ve been involved in 11 national things,” said Dakich, “[and] the media has never been right… I was a part, not for me, but for Indiana Elite, of one of these ‘breaking news allegations investigations [sic].’ I read it, and it couldn’t have been more wrong by ESPN.”
The afternoon drive host and former college basketball analyst for ESPN expanded his discussion on the matter to athletes when they are dealing with the media in general. In his view, it is up to the player to divulge what they wish to tell members of the media, and likewise, up to the player to determine whether the information they divulge will be truthful. Ultimately, he argues it is the responsibility of the media to recognize the lie, if one exists, and concurrently probe and inquire to obtain the facts.
“A media guy asks you a question — you don’t owe them one second of the truth, in my opinion,” said Dan Dakich. “[If] a guy wants to come on here and start lying through his teeth on my show, it’s up to me to catch that lie. [Rodgers] said [he] was immunized or whatever. Well, in his mind, he might have been. [He doesn’t] owe nothing to nobody.”
The Green Bay Packers face the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST in “America’s Game of the Week” on Fox, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman set to be on the call. Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi will provide reports from the sidelines of GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., where the news surrounding the Packers’ star-player will most definitely be discussed. The game will also be aired across the radio networks for both the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, and will also be available to listen to on Sirius Satellite Radio and Compass Media Networks coverage of the NFL.
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
ESPN 97.5 in Houston Announces New Lineup
“The station had to make some very tough & unfortunate economic decisions last week.”
ESPN 97.5 in Houston announced they will have a new lineup starting Monday Feb. 26. The drive time slots will continue to feature John Granato and Lance Zierlein in mornings and The Killer B’s, Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank, in the afternoon.
In between the two shows will now have The Del Olaleye Show airing from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by Gallant and George with Paul Gallant, who had been hosting the early midday slot previously and Joe George, the station’s Assistant Program Director.
Earlier this week, Josh Beard and Michael Connor confirmed they had been let go from the station after being in the midday slot for just six months. George posted on X at the time, “So here’s the deal. The station had to make some very tough & unfortunate economic decisions last week. It has nothing to do with the quality of their show and work they did. Programming on the station will be weird this week, then back to fully local from 7 am – 6 pm on 2/26.”
Former Toronto Blue Jays Announcer Ben Wagner Named to Baltimore Orioles Broadcast Team
A release from the Blue Jays says Wagner will appear on radio and select television broadcasts throughout the year.
The Baltimore Orioles announced the club’s broadcast talent lineup for the 2024 season, which includes former Toronto Blue Jays announcer Ben Wagner. Wagner had served as the radio voice of the Blue Jays for the last six seasons before Sportsnet announced it decided not to renew his contract. Prior to joining the Blue Jays broadcast team, Wagner spent 11 seasons with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. A release from the Orioles says Wagner will appear on radio and select television broadcasts throughout the year.
The Orioles will continue to use guest analysts throughout the season, including Orioles Hall of Famers Mike Devereaux and Brian Roberts, as well as former Orioles Brad Brach and Dave Johnson.
Geoff Arnold will return for his fifth season with the Orioles broadcast team and will be the primary play-by-play announcer. Kevin Brown will be in his third season as the primary television play-by-play announcer for MASN.
Other team members for the 2024 season include Scott Garceau, Brett Hollander, Rob Long, Ben McDonald, Melanie Newman and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who will be in his 32nd season as an analyst and 61st year as a member of the Orioles organization.
Fred Toucher: ‘I Would Feel Weird’ if Rich Shertenlieb Reached Out to Me
“Even if it was nice, I wouldn’t like it, so if he’s listening, don’t reach out to me.”
Fred Toucher is in the midst of co-hosting a new morning program on 98.5 The Sports Hub with Rob “Hardy” Poole. The Toucher & Hardy show made its premiere in January following the end of a 17-year run in which he worked alongside Rich Shertenlieb. Last November, Shertenlieb parted ways with the outlet that elicited questions and nostalgia from listeners, some of which continue to persist on the new program.
On Friday’s edition of the program, a caller asked Toucher about the last time he spoke to Shertenlieb and if there was still communication between them. The duo started hosting their radio program together at rock radio station WBCN-FM before making the move to the sports talk format with 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) for its launch in the summer of 2009. The caller wanted to specifically hear a “juicy story” and apologized if his broaching the topic was “a forbidden path.”
“I have not talked to Rich,” Toucher said. “I told you I got the text message the Saturday after they didn’t put him on the air anymore, and I haven’t talked to him.”
Toucher wondered who among former members of the Toucher & Rich program had heard from Shertenlieb, leading him to go around the studio and ask. Update anchor Jon Wallach revealed that Shertenlieb texted him on Thanksgiving Day to discuss how the music group Bell Biv DeVoe was performing, but he has not heard from him since. None of the others in the studio had heard from Shertenlieb in a considerable amount of time either.
“None of us were really friends with him so I don’t know what to tell you,” Toucher replied to the caller. “I wasn’t friends with him; I didn’t talk to him, so it’s not odd that I don’t talk to him.”
Toucher then began to hypothesize what would happen if Shertenlieb were to reach out to him. As he thought over such a potential occurrence, he realized that he would have a feeling in his stomach and get anxiety. He did concede, however, that if someone paid him a large sum of money to appear somewhere with Shertenlieb, he would do the 10 seconds.
“I would feel weird; I wouldn’t enjoy the process,” Toucher said. “Even if it was nice, I wouldn’t like it, so if he’s listening, don’t reach out to me. You’d make me incredibly uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.”
In thinking about the potential nostalgia from Toucher & Rich, the program briefly mentioned Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and his relationship with former co-host Mike Francesa. Toucher believes that Russo is doing fine without Francesa, a sentiment Wallach concurred. Wallach also shared that he feels Russo is doing better after Mike and the Mad Dog than Francesa.
Russo hosts a SiriusXM program on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel named after him, in addition to High Heat on MLB Network and a weekly appearance on ESPN’s First Take. The split between both shows elicited interest from the listening public, something Toucher completely understands because of the unique facets of radio.
“People consume you 20 hours a week or they conceivably could, so when there’s any change, your immediate reaction to it, even though it hasn’t been bad, a lot of people if you listen to an old thing all the time it’s going to be strange to you, a new thing, or when a component of it is missing,” Toucher explained, “even if it’s better than it was, which I contend Toucher & Hardy over the last three weeks is better than Toucher & Rich was in 2023 and 2022 certainly.”
The segment concluded with Toucher proclaiming that he had answered the question and now will not have to entertain it again. “I have no idea what he’s doing and no one I know does, and no one I know has seen him,” Toucher said. “I haven’t even had a listener email me and go, ‘I saw him.’”