Orlando Alzugaray is a longtime Miami sports talk host who was on both WQAM and 790 The Ticket. Due to Audacy gutting a lot of shows and talent, he’s gone the digital route by launching the Big O Radio Show. The show has made quite the impact already with nearly two million downloads a month. Orlando’s success is proof that it’s smart for terrestrial hosts to consider the digital space even before being forced to do so. There are no guarantees in radio. If your car could break down at any moment (terrestrial radio), it makes sense to save some cash just in case (digital space).
The Big O Radio Show airs Monday through Friday from 10am-1pm ET. The show is on YouTube and also offered as a podcast on most platforms. Interviews and rants are sliced into different segments so people can pick and choose what they want to listen to.
Orlando’s story is inspirational. He didn’t just take his ball and go home when he was phased out of terrestrial radio, he launched a behemoth. We discuss how this is the most fulfilling time in Orlando’s career, the biggest hurdle he faces, and big plans of going on the road. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: What led to you launching the Big O Radio Show in the digital space?
Orlando Alzugaray: Well basically I ended up losing my job. It was kind of funny because I knew I was losing my job. I knew there were changes coming and they were going to start cutting back. If you’ve noticed, a lot of companies have cut back on their talent and they’ve gone more national. There’s a void now in South Florida where there’s very little local programming left and there isn’t a focus on the local programming.
Then the politics are also involved because since there’s only one station now, well that one station also is tied to the teams. Then they’ve also got to play the politics. There is no real objective coverage.
I figured all right, the world’s going digital. You go home every day, it’s Amazon, it’s YouTube, it’s Spotify, it’s Stitcher. Whether it’s your music, your talk, your TV, everything is on demand. That’s where the world is at. I figured okay, there’s a need for the South Florida sports fan that not only lives in South Florida, but is all over the world to find out about what’s going on with the Canes, what’s going on with the Heat and the Dolphins, and the Marlins, and the Panthers, and Inter Miami and all of that. So that’s what I did. I put together a daily show that highlights all of those things.
We have a one-hour show every week with Ira Winderman who’s been with the Miami Heat since day one. He’s on our show twice a week also doing Heat and NBA reports. We’ve got Omar Kelly, Cameron Wolfe, Alain Poupart and Joe Schad who all cover the Dolphins. I’ve been covering the Dolphins and all the teams in town for 31 years. We give the local listener something that they can really grab ahold of every day that is theirs no matter where they are. They could be in Albuquerque, they could be in Portugal, they could be in Canada, or they could be right here in South Florida.
BN: What are your numbers like in terms of downloads?
OA: The downloads have gone through the roof. We’re up to over 1.8 million a month. We are pacing for 20 million a year and that’s why I told you the South Florida sports fans are all over the world. They’re catching us on YouTube, they’re finding out about the show, then they’re downloading the show, and they’re doing it from all over the world.
The beauty of technology now, it’s made the world so small that if you happen to be in an air base somewhere else in the world and you’re from South Florida, you can tune in to the show live, or you can listen to the podcast, or watch the recording on YouTube. We’re pacing at an incredible rate. We’re doing numbers that are more national than they are local. There’s nothing local here in South Florida that even comes close to these kinds of numbers right now.
The response is there because people can get it on demand whenever they want. They’re getting a lot of content. They’re getting very little commercials and they aren’t getting repetitive content. The listener doesn’t get robbed like they do on local or corporate radio, where they’re telling them to repeat the same things over and over again, sometimes to repeat the same interview from the beginning of the show to the back end of the show because it’s lazy radio. Plus, the listener has to sit there through 25 minutes of commercials. On our show, they don’t have to do that. On our show they’re going to get three hours of different content every single day and that’s why I think they’re chewing it up like Pac-Man right now.
BN: Were you ever surprised and say man, look at these numbers?
OA: I freak out every day. Every day I’m amazed. Today 75,000 and I’m like are you effing kidding me. This is a blessing is what it is. When you’re averaging a million downloads every three weeks, it’s crazy, dude. I never imagined that it would get to this point. Personally, I thought maybe hey man, if we can get to 15, 20,000, you do that over a whole year, that’s a lot of downloads. That’s a great day for anybody. And you start seeing 75, 80, 90; three weeks ago we had 450 from Monday to Friday, we averaged 90,000 a day. I was like I can’t believe it.
I think it’s because there’s a hunger for it. There’s actually a need for it. People want to hear it. We’re doing two million downloads a month practically. In a world of let’s copy Le Batard because there’s a lot of hey, I want to be the next Le Batard and go clowning around and screwing off, we’re back to kind of hardcore sports and it’s exploded. People do want it. There’s a place for everything. It’s growing, man. There’s more room to grow.
BN: What did you do early on to get the word out that you were starting this project?
OA: The beauty is, you put all of our insiders together and myself — I have 96,000 followers — together we’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000 followers. When you’ve got that kind of power on social media, all of a sudden everybody’s retweeting the show and where to go. I’m going to date myself, but it’s like that old shampoo commercial, and we told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on.
That’s also been the beauty of all of this; it’s kind of been all homegrown. We’re trying to do something that we actually connect with the public. We answer their questions. We take their questions. There’s a connection. We read their social media posts. Instead of the corporate world that’s kind of disconnecting from the listener, we’re actually conducting ourselves with the listener. I think they’re noticing that.
BN: Is this the most fulfilling time for you in your broadcasting career?
OA: Yeah, actually it has been to be honest with you because I’m not tied to any corporate entity. I don’t answer to anybody and the only people I can listen to are the fans. They’re the ones that guide us and sometimes they tell us hey, we want to hear more of this or that, and it drives the downloads. I don’t have to have an agenda. The only agenda I have now is to actually feed the people that are like me.
Something you may not know about me, I’m a freak. I’m a born and raised Floridian. I was born in Belle Glade, Florida, which is in the northwest corner of Palm Beach County, raised in Little Havana in Hialeah. I am born and raised for 55 years in South Florida. I love South Florida sports. Anybody that’s known me for 31 years doing radio locally, you know what I’m all about.
Here’s the other thing, radio shows no longer go on the road. We go on the road. We’re going to go to the Senior Bowl. We’re going to go to the combine. We’re going to go to NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. We’re going to go to the draft there in Vegas. We’re going to do all of those things. We’re going to cover the big MMA events and UFC, the boxing events. We’re going to go travel to places that radio stations don’t ever go to anymore. Why? Because we’re not tied down to a big old antenna.
We don’t need a building. We don’t need vans. We don’t need any of that. We don’t have a lot of overhead. What we do want is the content.
We can take off, just me and the producers, and go cover all of the events. We can actually give people what they want and connect with them at the same time and provide for them something that they’re never going to get ever again on local radio because it’s become corporate and it’s not willing to invest individually in each market.
BN: You’ve done a great job of adapting to the current climate. Does it sadden you at the same time to see some stations scaling back and going the cheap route?
OA: Yeah, and you know what they did, right? They did it on FM. For years now they’ve been cutting down on the live DJs. They’ve got DJs that record for 30, 50, 70 stations. Then they just use those cut-ins all throughout the country. They said all right, let’s go cookie cutter. FOX kind of started that because they wanted to highlight all of their national talent, so they bought all the individual stations in different markets so they can create their network. This is the same thing that Audacy is doing now. They’re trying to think national. That’s what they’re catering to. Instead of connecting with each of the individual markets, they’re creating one platform on a national basis.
The sad part is now that there’s less investment in the broadcast business. When I grew up, I grew up with Hank Goldberg, Neil Rogers, Joe Rose. These are the guys that I learned from. These are the guys that I filled in for. I filled in for Hank Goldberg, Ed Kaplan, Neil Rogers. I filled in for all of these type of guys and I learned from them about the business. The sad part is we’re not reinvesting in all of the different markets to create more radio talent.
Radio and newspapers are two of the mediums that have suffered the most, unfortunately. They’ve fallen by the wayside. It’s just sad because there are a lot of young kids that aren’t going to get the opportunity that I got 30 years ago when I was a young guy and they told me hey yeah, we can hire you. We’ll give you an opportunity to be a reporter, a beat guy, those kind of things. Obviously, my career took off from there and I love everything that I’ve done. But yeah, it is sad that there is no longer any more reinvestment in our local communities.
BN: What was the biggest hurdle in your way to get this project to where it is right now?
OA: I think the biggest hurdle is the motivation every day when you have to explain it to people. Some people don’t understand it. Here’s the trick; in my 30-year career, one of the things I also did was I understood the business side of radio. I didn’t just go in to play radio and go cover a team and go break a story. I did all of those things, but I made sure I knew my sponsors. I understood what deals were being cut, what the salespeople were doing, what the station was getting out of it, all of those things. I understood all of that. You’ve got to understand the business side of it too. That’s the important part of all of this. You’ve got to bring both together.
I’ll bring it back full-circle, guys like Joe Rose, Neil Rogers, Hank Goldberg, the people that I learned from, they not only did radio, they did the business of radio. I think that that’s the problem. Everybody wants to play radio. A lot of us can play radio, a lot of us have an opinion, but do you understand the business? The business is what runs you over.
On the digital side, you’ve got to understand the business and then you’ve got to explain it to people. It’s not just a regular commercial, it’s an image. We put borders for our sponsors and we explain that those borders are running for five minutes straight. Then they’re on YouTube for a lifetime because it doesn’t go anywhere. As people are watching it, it’s a perpetual commercial. Those kinds of things. Podcasts have audio commercials inside of it so you’re doing media in a different way. That’s the way it is in digital. You’ve got to go explaining it to the sponsor how your message is getting out because it’s completely different than what they’re used to paying for and used to seeing.
BN: What’s the process been like for you to handle the sales side of your product?
OA: It’s tedious. As I’m getting all of this off the ground, it’s tedious, but it’s important. The same way I told you that it’s important that we connect with our listeners, in the same way it’s important we connect with our sponsors. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been in studios where there’s a host sitting there and in comes the sales guy that says hey, I sold this account for you. It’s this, this and this. Here’s the script.
The host never met the sponsor, never checked out the product, really doesn’t know the product if it’s any good or not, but is willing to put their name on it. Then just reads the same script word by word every single day. I don’t do that.
I get to know the sponsor. If I like the product, then I do the product. If I don’t like the product, I don’t do the product. I don’t do commercial spots. I do bullet points and I tell you a story. I tell you why I use the product and I do it differently every single day. That’s the difference between someone that actually gives a crap, or the corporate world that doesn’t care and does everything in a cookie-cutter sense. That’s what we’re eliminating. That’s what I’ve never done on my show.
By the way, that did not help me in my business. I’ve had that. The salesperson comes in and says hey, I sold you this. I go you sold me what? Did I go on the sales call? Did I meet the person? Did I test the product out? No, well then I’m not representing it. Then I have to deal with the general sales manager because all they care about is the commission. That’s the difference, man. I’m kind of tired of all of that and I’m so glad I’m away from that.
I’d rather just be myself where I can connect with human beings. That’s kind of been my success for 30 years whether I’m talking to a scout, a general manager, a fan or a sponsor, that’s always been me. While I’m modern enough to adjust to the digital world and social media and crypto and everything else, I’m still old school that I’d rather connect with people face-to-face.
BN: What is it about your show that gives you the biggest rush?
OA: Think about this, man, two years ago on the first day I got 500 downloads. It was 117,000 on Tuesday. Two years later, with the six months in between that I did not do one podcast show — we didn’t do anything from January 1 of 2021 until June 13 — from June 14 until today, we have eight million downloads. That’s what gets me going.
Then when I tell them on YouTube, tell me where you’re checking us out from, and they’re in New Zealand, and in Portugal, and in Canada, and Mexico, and California, and New York, and Atlanta. They’re all over the world. It is amazing when they’re checking in from Malaysia and everywhere else. It is the coolest thing that we can make the world this small on the internet and YouTube and all of that. The coolest thing is how many people we’ve reached already.
BN: What do you want the future to be for the show?
OA: I’d like to grow it as much as possible where we can provide all the coverage for South Florida sports. If the Marlins start spending, then not only do we cover the Marlins, but we’ll go to the owners’ meetings. I want to be the full service local sports talk show for South Florida. We’ve already got the best insiders in town. People already know to come and listen to all these guys and myself for the last 30 years. Now we just want to finish everything off since we started this monster and add all the elements.
Whether it’s the NBA draft, the NBA Summer League, or covering the Heat in the playoffs; if they get to the Finals, we want to be the show that’s going back and forth from the Finals cities, home and away, and giving the local fans the coverage they don’t get anymore from anybody else. What I grew up with, I want the same thing except maybe taking it to just a little bit higher level than what we’ve had in the past. That’s what I want to get back.
Look, I don’t have the power or the money. I have the wherewithal, I can figure it out. I can put a whole station together, but I don’t have the money to do that. I would love to put an entire station together and give South Florida fans the real coverage 24/7, but I can’t do that. So for now, let’s create the show that can really kick ass and cover all of the top stories going on in South Florida sports and give the South Florida fan the coverage they want.
NBC Must Develop a Real No. 2 NFL Crew for Playoffs
Is the network’s only other option Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett?
Several years ago, the NFL objected to NBC wanting to employ Mike Tirico as the lead play-by-play voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts. The league preferred Al Michaels because he was NBC’s No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer and wanted the TNF telecasts to carry the same prestige as Sunday Night Football.
Following the network’s heavily-criticized broadcast of Saturday’s Wild Card playoff game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL may want to impose its authority again and insist that a top-tier broadcast team call the action of an important postseason game.
The consensus among fans and media watching Saturday’s broadcast was that Michaels and analyst Tony Dungy were surprisingly low-energy for an NFL playoff game, let alone one that became so exciting with Jacksonville rallying from a 27-0 deficit for a 31-30 victory on a last-second field goal.
Such a lackluster broadcast led to questions of whether or not Michaels was now past his prime after a season of calling subpar TNF games for Amazon and what initially appeared to be another snoozer when the Jaguars fell behind by 27 points. Pairing him with Dungy, who was a studio analyst all season, certainly didn’t help.
Dungy was as basic as a game analyst could be, typically narrating replays viewers could see for themselves while adding little insight. Worst of all, he demonstrated no enthusiasm for the action, leaving Michaels to fill most of the airtime. The veteran broadcaster showed that he can no longer carry a broadcast by himself. He needs the energy and back-and-forth that Cris Collinsworth or Kirk Herbstreit provide.
So how did NBC get here?
Most football fans know that the network’s top broadcast team is Tirico on play-by-play alongside analyst Cris Collinsworth. But they had their own assignment during Super Wild Card Weekend, calling Sunday night’s Ravens-Bengals match-up. With the postseason field expanding from 12 to 14 teams, resulting in six games being played on Wild Card weekend, NBC was awarded one of the additional playoff broadcasts.
Thus, another broadcast team was needed for that second Wild Card game. Fortunately, NBC had a renowned play-by-play man already in place. Michaels finished out his final season as SNF‘s lead voice by calling Super Bowl LVI, part of a powerful one-two combination for NBC Sports coming toward the end of its 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coverage.
Ending his legendary career with a Super Bowl broadcast would’ve been a wonderful final note for Michaels. That appeared to be a natural path when Tirico moved from ESPN to NBC in 2016. Network executives admitted that a succession plan was in mind for Tirico to take over SNF eventually. At the time, Michaels also likely thought he would retire by then.
But when confronted with the possibility of retirement, Michaels realized he wasn’t interested. He was still enjoying broadcasting the NFL. His skills were still sharp. And perhaps most importantly, he was in demand. Amazon wanted Michaels as the lead voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, bringing instant credibility to a streaming venture that drew some skepticism. ESPN considered him as its Monday Night Football play-by-play man.
As it turned out, ESPN made a bold move for MNF, swiping Fox’s No. 1 NFL crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That left Amazon for Michaels, and the streaming giant paid him a commensurate salary with the top broadcasters in the industry as part of his three-year contract.
Yet Michaels wasn’t done with NBC either. After his agreement with Amazon became official, NBC announced that its relationship with Michaels would continue in an “emeritus” role allowing him to broadcast the network’s Olympics coverage and that additional Wild Card playoff telecast.
NBC can’t have been happy that most of the social media chatter afterward focused on the broadcast, rather than the game result. Especially when the discussion centered on how poorly Michaels and Dungy performed in what turned out to be a thrilling playoff game. That’s a pairing that the NFL probably doesn’t want to see again.
Michaels will likely call at least one more Wild Card playoff game for NBC since he intends to work on the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. He’s also under contract with Amazon for another two seasons unless he decides to retire before that deal expires. So perhaps the simple solution is keeping Dungy out of the broadcast booth and giving Michaels a better partner.
But can NBC drop in another analyst who hasn’t worked with Michaels all season? Anyone would arguably be an improvement over Dungy. Is it at all possible for Herbstreit to be hired on for a one-off playoff broadcast, thus ensuring that the broadcast team will have some on-air familiarity and chemistry?
Otherwise, NBC’s only other option may be its Notre Dame broadcast team of Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett. (The network tried that last season with Tirico and Drew Brees, only for Brees to wilt under the harsher NFL playoff spotlight.)
The pair also called USFL broadcasts for the network, so at least there would be familiarity rather than trying to figure each other out during a telecast. Yet Collinsworth and Garrett aren’t terribly popular with viewers. And as with Brees, that crew will face intense scrutiny with a larger playoff audience.
Unfortunately, NBC appears to be stuck here. Unless the new Big Ten broadcast team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge gets a shot. That might be the best option! Other than Notre Dame or USFL games, where are the other opportunities for NBC to develop a No. 2 NFL broadcast team? No one wants to put Al Michaels through Chris Simms in the broadcast booth, right?
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al Michaels Has Options But He Has To Make a Choice
“It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.”
I don’t ask much out of game announcers; get excited when appropriate, get the simple information correct, don’t get so caught up in your shtick you put yourself above the game. Al Michaels has been doing all those things well for the better part of half a century and few would argue that he’s not one of the best to ever do it. That doesn’t mean he can’t lose his fastball.
Before you read any longer, I am not here to say Al Michaels has lost his fastball. What I am here to say is Michaels has all too often this season seemed upset with and disinterested in the game he is calling. That isn’t entirely surprising when you consider some of the Thursday night action he called on Amazon Prime where the average margin of victory was almost nine points per game.
On top of that, the Amazon schedule had a dreadful two week stretch with Colts 12-9 win over the Broncos in Week Five and the Commanders 12-7 win over the Bears the next Thursday. It was in that Broncos-Colts game Michaels asked Herbstreit if a game “can be so bad it is good?” Herbstreit’s answer was “No”, by the way. It was the full 15 game schedule that Michaels told The Athletic’s media critic Richard Deitsch was like trying to sell a used car.
All of that is fine, the inaugural Amazon Prime season was not a smashing success. The streaming giant missed audience projections and will lose advertising revenue because of it. The lackluster schedule did not help that. But Michaels was given a second life; he was the NBC play-by-play announcer for the Saturday Night Wildcard Playoff game between the Chargers and Jaguars. It initially looked like Michaels might be the problem as five first half Jags turnovers had them in a 27-0 hole. But the home team staged a nearly unprecedented comeback for the win.
It was the performance by Michaels and, to a lesser degree, his analyst Tony Dungy that has led to criticism. Criticism might be too soft of a word, Michaels was roundly dragged for his lack of enthusiasm during the comeback and specifically on his call of the Jacksonville game winning field goal. The enthusiasm of the call of the game winner had a mid-3rd quarter of week four feel to it.
Me telling Al Michaels how to do play-by-play of an NFL game would be the equivalent of me telling a physicist how to split an atom. So, this isn’t just a Michaels criticism, few things bother me more than hearing a game announcer complain about the length or quality of a game as if he’d rather be anywhere else. It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.
How many NFL viewers would sit in the seat Michaels, or any NFL announcer occupies, for free? They’d feel like they won the lottery if they also were getting the money those announcers are getting paid to be there. The guy that works a 12-hour Thursday construction shift just to get home and crack a beer for the NFL game probably doesn’t want to hear how tough that game is to announce.
On top of all of that, Michaels was given the gift of one of the wildest NFL Playoff comebacks you’ll ever see and, at times, sounded as if he was completely disinterested in being there. Pro tip: the best NFL announcer in those moments is Kevin Harlan (see: Miami at Baltimore from earlier this season. That has nothing to do with my lifelong Dolphins fandom). Michaels’ lack of enthusiasm was compounded by the exact opposite from Mike Tirico on the very same network for the Bengals-Ravens Wildcard game Sunday night.
Tirico, like Michaels, has a sterling resume of play-by-play accomplishments. The difference is Tirico sounded like he was having the time of his life on Sunday night.
To be fair, their two styles are different. Michaels has a very old school, Pat Summerall approach. Summerall, Vin Scully and Dick Enberg came along at a time when announcers were far more likely to let the pictures tell the story. More new school guys like Harlan and Tirico approach it differently.
Look, Al Michaels helped us believe in miracles. His place in the Sports Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame has long since been cemented. Being a hall of fame inductee doesn’t mean your style will forever be accepted by the masses. That leaves you with a few options; you can continue your style and accept or ignore the criticism or you can ride off into the sunset and enjoy the fruits of your decades of labor.
Al Michaels has what we all want; great options. He can choose any of them and be a winner in the game of life. It doesn’t matter if he enthusiastically embraces them, or not.
Ryan Brown is a columnist for Barrett Sports Media, and a co-host of the popular sports audio/video show ‘The Next Round’ formerly known as JOX Roundtable, which previously aired on WJOX in Birmingham. You can find him on Twitter @RyanBrownLive and follow his show @NextRoundLive.
Bernie Kosar Was the Victim of a Policy That Doesn’t Work Anymore
“The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.”
One week ago, Bernie Kosar lost his job on the Browns Radio Network for placing the first legal sports bet in the state of Ohio. Kosar, just like Jets coach Miles Austin weeks earlier and Calvin Ridley last year, violated a league policy that forbids team employees from placing a bet on any NFL game.
The integrity of the games still matters. The belief that what we are all seeing is being fairly contested is what gives those of us that like to have a little vested interest in the outcome the desire to lay our money down in the first place. I get the league’s discomfort with a coach on the staff of a team in the middle of the playoff hunt making bets. I get its fear of the message it sends to have players making bets.
Roger Goodell and the 32 team owners are well within their rights to object to men that can potentially control the outcome of a game or postseason seeding doing anything that even appears to jeopardize its fairness. Even perceived impropriety can compromise the league’s tremendous value.
But Bernie Kosar doesn’t have that kind of influence on the outcome of a game. He is just a broadcaster and not even a game analyst. He is part of studio coverage.
I am far from the first to point this out, but in 2023, the NFL has three official sports betting partners. Just last week, it approved the first ever in-stadium sportsbook, which Fanatics is set to open inside of FedEx Field. If the NFL is comfortable enough with the reality that its fans like to bet to make those things a reality, then Kosar losing his gig is absurd. It is the result of nothing other than “well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking.
Maybe Kosar was terrible on the radio and the team was looking for a reason to move on. I don’t live in Cleveland and I am not a Browns fan, so I have no idea.
How many times have we heard that NFL owners hired Goodell to “protect the shield”? I’m not even really sure what it means or when it applies anymore. If I had a vested interest in the public perception of the league, I know that I would want someone to do the PR math on this situation.
Bernie Kosar isn’t an addict that can’t watch a game without the high of winning or the emotional distress of losing everything at stake, at least not as far as we know. This was a bet made through an advertising partner, to benefit charity. He even said on his podcast this week that the purpose of making the bet was to generate some money for former players in need of help.
This is like Disney threatening daycare centers with lawsuits for painting Mickey Mouse on a classroom wall. The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.
Surely you have seen Garrett Bush’s impassioned rant on the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show about the obstacles facing Damar Hamlin because of how many hoops the NFL makes former players jump through in order to get some kind of pension.
On January 2, we were all united in our concern for a guy that hadn’t even completed his second full NFL season. We didn’t know if he was going to live, but if he did, we all knew that the NFL had done everything it needed to in order to protect itself from ever having to pay a dime for his medical care. Less than a week later, Bernie Kosar was fired for what amounted to a charity stunt that was meant to raise money and attention to very similar issues.
At both the league level and the team level, there was incompetence that lead to a man unnecessarily losing a gig and to the Browns and the NFL looking horribly out of touch with reality.
Are we acknowledging that people gamble or not? Are we acknowledging there are responsible ways to bet on football and are interested in generating revenue off of it or not? Because it doesn’t seem to me that the same league that just gave the thumbs up to open a sportsbook inside of a stadium is really that concerned with people that cannot affect the outcome of games betting on those games.
Has the NFL come out and said that it is going to cover every medical bill for everyone that has ever played the game? We know that this is a brutal game that leaves a physical and physiological impact on the men that played it. Why would we make it harder for someone that knows that pain to help others do something about it?
I feel awful for Bernie Kosar. Whether he needs the money or not, it is embarassing to be at the center of a controversy like this, particularly because in the NFL in 2023, there is no reason for a controversy like this to exist.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.