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Rich Ohrnberger Is Finding The Funny in Everything

“I like to make people laugh. It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing and has come naturally.”

Brian Noe

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Work hard, play hard. That’s the basic approach Rich Ohrnberger brings to sports talk radio. He spent six years in the NFL as an offensive lineman, including two years with the New England Patriots. When you think of head coach Bill Belichick, I doubt you immediately think rockin’ good time and belly laughs. Belichick is detail-oriented, serious and dedicated. That’s part of what Ohrnberger brings as a host. He’s a grinder who’s meticulous when it comes to being prepared and getting better.

The other half of Ohrnberger’s approach is lighthearted storytelling and finding the funny in everything. He’s doing a great job of blending two different worlds — serious yet fun. “It’s time to work,” versus, “It’s happy hour, baby!” When a host can find the balance of being fully dedicated while maintaining the fun factor, that mixture is ideal.

Ohrnberger hosts a weekday morning show for San Diego Sports 760, and also weekend national shows for Fox Sports Radio. This would be his sports radio scouting report: Adaptable — an East Meadow, NY native now living in San Diego. Perceptive — quickly recognizes what appeals to his audience and delivers more of what they want. Most important attribute — funny and entertaining. Areas to improve — could lose a few pounds. (Just kidding, just kidding.)

There are several great viewpoints and stories from Ohrnberger in the conversation below. He shares an awesome story about a conversation he had with Hall of Famer Russ Grimm. He talks about what it was like to entertain the entire Patriots team from time to time. Ohrnberger also talks about not being a sports junkie as a kid and how his perception of the media has changed. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: You’re a seven-day-a-week show host. How’s everything going with your schedule in general?

Rich Ohrnberger: It’s awesome to be perfectly honest with you. I love the idea of immersing yourself in work that you love to do. I remember feeling that way about football because the football season my entire life has been that. It’s always been a seven-day-a-week job. Now in broadcasting, it’s no different. Part of the reason why I wanted to get into sports broadcasting is to stay close to the game of football. Part of that is living the grind a little bit. I’m not nearly as sore on Mondays, I definitely enjoy that aspect of it. But I appreciate feeling purposeful and having something to do every single day of the week. And because we’re not launching rockets, and we’re not doing brain surgery, there’s still plenty of time for family outside of travel for game broadcasts and things like that.

BN: There are a lot of people in sports radio that have been sports junkies their whole life, and that wasn’t the case with you. What were you into during your childhood and how big or little of a part did sports play in your upbringing?

RO: Yeah, I grew up in a household of musicians. My dad is a really talented and proficient guitar player. My younger brother, he ended up picking up the guitar and teaching himself how to play and then eventually became an even better guitarist than my dad. He played in bands. My dad, when he was a kid, played in bands. My sister was an operatic singer. She had an opera trained voice and she went to college as a vocal performance major. My mom even was a clarinetist in high school and ranked in the state. I don’t really know exactly how that works with bands, but she was pretty good at it.

I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was a little bit of the oddball in my family, but I was always a really physical kid with a huge amount of energy. I needed an outlet and sports seemed like the best outlet for all that. But it wasn’t something I was passionate about watching. I didn’t really love sitting down and turning on a football game as entertainment, or watching baseball. I got involved in a sport that isn’t as popular nationally as say, football, baseball or basketball. I got involved in lacrosse.

I loved lacrosse, and I played lacrosse my whole young life. Then I started playing some basketball as well. I would say my earliest memories of even watching sports was just really falling in love with how great Michael Jordan was and thinking like, oh my gosh, he’s doing things that you just don’t think are possible and he’s making it look easy. I would be in my driveway bouncing the basketball and thinking to myself, maybe I could do that one day. I was convinced that one day I would be Michael Jordan. [Laughs] It was just ridiculous, but in my mind, I was like, well, he can do it so clearly it’s possible.

My love for sports really was fostered by playing it. I didn’t enjoy watching it as much as playing it. I fell in love with superlative athletes and I really tried to mimic what they did at first, and that was my education. I didn’t live in a house of huge sports fans. I had to rely on my peers to teach me about sports, sort of fill in the blanks that I was unaware of.

BN: What area do you think you’ve grown the most as a sports radio host?

RO: My awareness of the host I want to be. What I want to be — and what is paramount I think to all broadcasts — is just be entertaining. There were times where I would turn on the microphone and really think like, oh my God, okay, I’m a former player, I need to inform everybody about all the things I know about football from a former player standpoint. Yeah, that’s definitely a part of it. That’s important.

Then there were times where I would turn on the microphone and be like, okay, I need to make sure that I argue against a take that I disagree with and make sure that I can very clearly take down and make counter-arguments to this ridiculous, outlandish take that I just don’t seem to agree with. Yeah, sure, that can be a part of a show too. But the most important thing is to be entertaining.

I like to make people laugh. It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing and has come naturally. I just want to do that. How can I incorporate it? I think what I’ve gotten the best at is finding the funny in everything. Even sometimes when you’re talking about tough stuff or boring stuff. Where’s the angle that’s going to make somebody smile or feel like, oh wow, he said something a little clever there. Those are the things I search for as I’m waiting to speak or listening to somebody and try to catch something that they said that we can move the conversation in an entertaining direction. Those are the shows I like to listen to. That’s the broadcaster I want to be.

BN: I’m a perfectionist. I’ve grown in not letting that be a bad thing. You can’t be a perfectionist and have a good state of mind in sports radio; you’re gonna drive yourself crazy. Just do the best you can, celebrate the wins, work on the losses, but don’t be handicapped by them, because you easily can be.

RO: I’m so glad you shared that because I was very much so a perfectionist for a long time. To the point where there were times where I’d be so ashamed to hand in something that I worked on that sometimes I just wouldn’t even hand it in. Or I’d feel like even if it’s a good grade, it’s a passing grade, I’d be like, well, I think it sucks so what use is that?

I had an offensive line coach named Russ Grimm in Arizona. Just an old, grizzled former player, Hall of Famer, big mustache, chewed tobacco. One time I remember he was critiquing my technique. He gave me a compliment. He paused the tape and he was like, now that’s exactly how it’s done. I’m like yeah, but I kind of stepped behind myself and I probably need to widen my base a little bit if he bull rushes me. He goes, dude, fuck all that. It’s never gonna be perfect. He was like, Rich, sometimes good enough is good enough, and that was good enough.

Then he hit play and the film continued. I was like holy shit. I mean, this is coming from somebody, obviously, who is definitely far more talented than I was when he was playing. And he had this belief that the job just needs to get done, so good enough is good enough sometimes.

BN: Your NFL days obviously help with knowing the X’s and O’s and all of that. But as a sports radio host, it might be even more valuable being surrounded by so many characters. If you’re trying to be an entertaining host, having teammates that say hilarious things in a locker room setting, does that help you more when you’re trying to pick out what’s funny or entertaining about any topic?

RO: Yeah, and also if you speak to enough of your teammates, you get a really good look at what America looks like. When you’re in a locker room with a bunch of different guys from a bunch of different areas of the country, a bunch of different races and cultures, different families and different backgrounds, well you have to find a way to communicate with all of them. That, in sort of a microcosm way, is connecting with an audience the same way it is on a mass level. Can you do that? Can you be appealing broadly?

A locker room environment, especially when you can get a bunch of guys in a locker room laughing, or listening intently, and there have been many times where I’ve been called in front of teams that I played on and I had to perform, not just as a rookie. I remember in New England there were a couple of different times where Bill Belichick would just call me out. He would just call me out because he knew that I would have a story from my life that would make the team laugh a little bit, or just get guys rolling, or add a little levity to a serious-natured work environment.

He would have me go in front of the room and I would just tell the guys a story. It was fun. It was a great experience because you realize the power of your words. If you can carefully choose them, and if you can deliver them with a certain level of enthusiasm, you can make everybody’s day a little bit easier, a little bit better. That has really carried over into what I do today.

BN: When Belichick said something like, ‘Hey, Ohrnberger, tell the team a story,’ what was that experience like for you?

RO: It made me feel like I was a part of the team. A lot of people would probably get real nervous, but I was like, oh yeah, he sees value in me. I felt like, yeah, this is something that I can offer that nobody else in this room can. Tom Brady can’t do this. He can’t get in front of the room and captivate a roomful of players telling a story about his life, not the way that I can.

Look, I can’t throw a football like him. I don’t have the brain he has. I certainly did not play as long as he has. My durability pales in comparison, but I could get in front of a room of my peers and just introduce them to a story they’ve never heard before about my life, and just have them eating out of my hand, laughing and sometimes crying laughing. It was the best. It was a great feeling because it felt like I belonged, like there was a reason that I was there outside of just being a football player, that there was value beyond just what I was doing on the field that I brought to the team.

BN: If you could give me the CliffsNotes version of one of the stories you told that had people belly laughing, what’s something that comes to mind?

RO: Oh, my gosh, I would tell them the most personal horrifying stories that have ever occurred to me.

Without going into too great detail, imagine the most embarrassing moments of your life. You may have been walked in on doing something, you may have had an accident of some kind or another, and you felt like a complete fool in the moment, but you know it would make a great story if you were just brave enough to tell it. Well, that’s what I was doing in front of the team and it was killing.

BN: [Laughs] Man, that’s awesome. I think you sidestepped the landmines on that one very nicely.

RO: [Laughs] I was trying not to give too much away. Also, look, that could definitely be something that comes up on a slow day on our show.

BN: Yeah, and that’s the other thing too, that stuff not only kills in a locker room, it kills on whatever show you bring it to. Have you brought similar things to San Diego?

RO: Oh, yeah. Anybody who’s ever listened to a radio show I’m on, I think one of the things I try to do is talk about me. We’re definitely covering sports because it’s sports radio, but I think part of the partnership that the listener has with the host is trust, and how the heck do you develop trust with anybody other than getting to know them?

The first thing you’ll do when you’re starting to get to know somebody is find out about their background. Where are you from? What did your parents do for a living? Are you married? Are your kids? What are their names? How old are they? Those sorts of things are so important to sort of build out a whole character. Otherwise, you’re just this surface-level update guy.

Trust me, that serves a role too because again, you need to have information intertwined into your show, and there’s nothing wrong with that profession if that’s what you want to do, but when you’re hosting a show, in my opinion you gotta go deep. You have to dig in and show people who you are. I think the shows that most entertained me growing up were the shows where I felt a connection with the host who was on the mic.

BN: I never really made the connection, but something that Belichick has done a great job of, I think would be a great approach for any sports radio show. You lived through this, he’ll sit there and quiz his players about their teammates and be like, hey, what’s this guy’s wife’s name? What are his kids’ names? Where’d he go to college? All this stuff. It’s like, know your teammates. It’s not just employee 26917. Like, it’s a guy. He’s got a family. He’s got a story. He’s got loved ones. I think that sports radio misses the mark all the time when it comes to that because it’s just human nature to not dig into the details of getting to know someone. If we did, I think shows would be a lot stronger.

RO: Yeah, I completely agree with everything you said. Another really good comparison back to the days in New England, because I remember that was one of the more nerve-racking experiences was when Bill would go around the squad meeting and would point to guys. You could be quizzed on anything. You could be quizzed on the game. You could be quizzed on your teammates. He kept everybody on their toes.

He really wanted people to have a deep level of appreciation for each other on the team, their story, how they got to where they are, and what they’ve done since they’ve been in the league. In terms of the opponent, almost the same thing. Like, tell me about this player. Don’t just tell me that he plays safety. Tell me the routes that he struggles defending. Tell me if he’s aggressive on play action, and he’s going to have backfield eyes when there’s a good, hard play fake from the quarterback to the running back. Tell me those things. That’s how you know if somebody’s really paying attention. That’s one of the things that Belichick required in those rooms was having everybody paying close attention to the details.

BN: I think Belichick should go into sports betting when his career is over.

RO: [Laughs] He probably would be like one of those 75% hitters, like one of those unicorns out there.

BN: Right? I swear he’d have something for in-game betting, prop bets, he’d be all over it. How has your perception of the media changed since being a player, especially under Belichick?

RO: [Laughs] Boy, my perception has changed immensely. My original thought process was that the media — and that’s such an interesting word because that’s a term that’s couched with so much negativity, like the media. The media, all that means is the various different ways that people can reach information — whether it be audio, radio, podcasting, written media, magazine writers, online writers, newspaper writers, or television — whatever medium that you’re taking in your information, that makes up the media.

It’s like this boogeyman, right? That’s the way I used to look at it like, oh, the media. But that’s not what it is. What I’ve learned now leaving football and joining the media is we’re just serving as a conduit to the information that people don’t have the time to pay attention to because they have jobs, and they have families, and they have other important things that they need to do.

They’re just trying to grab a little bit of something that they can carry with them into the office to talk to their buddy about by the water cooler, or on the Zoom call, or when he hops on the phone with his dad, like, hey, you see how Geno Smith is playing? Yeah, I was just listening to the radio, this guy is leading the league in blah, blah, blah. You’re just serving as a conduit to the information that people really don’t have the time to go and look up themselves. My opinion of the media has changed greatly. I think it serves as a great asset for people. It’s not this enemy that a lot of coaches build it up to be.

BN: As far as your future goes, what do you want to accomplish and what do you think would make you the happiest?

RO: The things that make me happiest are just advancing, whether that means entertaining a wider audience, doing a better job. That’s really important to me. Every single day committing myself to doing a better job. I’m not afraid to say it; I’m going to be a stronger broadcaster next year because I know I’m going to work at it. I’m going to learn things. I don’t claim to know more than I do. I know there’s plenty that I haven’t unearthed in this career that I can’t wait to. I know I’m going to put in the work to figure out what those things are.

My main goal is to just keep advancing as I learn more about technique and learn more about connecting with an audience and just keep doing more of that. I don’t want to set any goals in terms of career or where or when. I just know that if I get better every single day, if I make that very simple commitment, opportunities always seem to come. That’s really been how I’ve lived my life. That’s how I lived my life as an athlete and that’s how I’m living my life as a broadcaster.

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Sports TV’s Star Era is Over, So What is Stephen A. Smith Worth Now at ESPN?

“The future is about meeting your audience’s needs on demand and putting a focus on what it is audiences will pay a premium to see. I don’t think that describes studio debate shows.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Evan Angelastro, GQ

What is ESPN paying Pat McAfee? The exact figure is disputed, but it’s believed that he signed a contract for $85 million last year. The network writes a $17 million check to Troy Aikman every year and another $10 million check for his Monday Night Football partner Joe Buck.

That is a lot of money already tied up in talent. It seems like ESPN is about to agree to another staggering dollar figure to keep Stephen A. Smith on the payroll. But I have a question.

Why are we doing this? Why is an eight-figure annual salary for any single person a good investment? 

ESPN’s corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, has said over and over again that they are trying to build a media company for the future. It’s why Star Wars is a streaming-only property for the time being and why Hulu is being folded into Disney+. 

The future is about meeting your audience’s needs on demand and putting a focus on what it is audiences will pay a premium to see. I don’t think that describes studio debate shows.

Jimmy Pitaro had an idea when he took over ESPN. He wanted to give more money to fewer people and put the network’s biggest stars everywhere he could fit them. It’s why Smith was on First Take and NBA Countdown and had a show on ESPN+. It’s why Mike Greenberg had Get Up, NBA Countdown and a radio show. When Pitaro was first laying the foundations for his tenure atop ESPN, the idea made a lot of sense. 

Now though, it’s time for the strategy to be re-thought, particularly as Pitaro and his boss Bob Iger lay out the reasons why it makes sense for the network to offer its audience so many different approaches to its digital future.

The star era of sports television is over. Just ask FS1 and Skip Bayless

When the biggest names and most recognizable faces at ESPN were Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, and Stuart Scott, we turned on ESPN to see what they would do and hear what they would say. To hear those talents tell it though, that was a time when ESPN was afraid to lean into its stars and instead tried to hammer home that no SportsCenter anchor was bigger than the show itself. There were a lot of steps that got us from that reality to this one, but each one made the talking heads matter a little less. Now, the only things that move the needle for the audience in a way that matters to the people at the top of Disney are games.

It started with the rapid growth of cable, then came the internet. That gave birth first to blogs, then YouTube and then to podcasting. We didn’t have to wait for Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon at 5:30 anymore. We could get access to whatever opinion we wanted any time we wanted it.

From there, it kicked into overdrive. Streaming TV became common in most homes. Sports betting was legalized in states all over the country. The Covid-19 pandemic shut down the sports world. Streaming viewership grew to the point that it overtook traditional television.

Advertisers have been paying attention to all of it and what it all means. Look at FOX News, which has been dominant in primetime on cable. The median age of the audience for those shows is 69. That means half of the people watching are 70 or over. It’s why commercials for catheters and reverse mortgages fill so much of the network’s ad time. That’s not just true for FOX News. It’s a problem for just about every traditional TV network. 

ESPN’s median viewer age is 48 and according to one study, nearly 40% of its audience is over 55. That’s still a valuable audience to advertisers, but remember that linear TV viewership isn’t popular with young people at all. Those people are not going to turn 48 and suddenly get a craving for a cable cord or satellite box. Many of them won’t even look into streaming tv packages like YouTubeTV, HuluTV, or Fubo. 

The one exception is live games. ESPN’s median age isn’t significantly lower than FOX News’s because of Smith or McAfee. It’s because of Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. The future value of ESPN is being able to offer all those leagues and games to viewers without forcing them to pay a cable or satellite bill.

First Take is well-constructed. Stephen A. Smith’s comments and antics on the show get spoofed by Saturday Night Live and draw a reaction from Jon Stewart. He has made the show a cultural touchstone. PTI and Around the Horn have both stood the test of time, in their 23rd and 22nd years on the network respectively. Those shows have performed at or above expectations for multiple decades, but I don’t think that guarantees they will be around forever.

What if ESPN wanted to take those games from smaller college conferences and international leagues that currently air on ESPN+ and put them on the main network instead? As we move to full availability of ESPN without a cable or satellite contract, the network could take advantage of America’s desire to bet by airing games throughout the majority of the day’s 24 hours. Integrate ESPNBet capabilities into the presentation, and you certainly have a more profitable product.

I could see myself watching a game in a league I am unfamiliar with and maybe even putting a little money on it if ESPN utilized the Pat McAfee Show crew. I’m not a huge fan of their college football broadcasts, because that’s my favorite sport and I want to watch the game, but if you’re telling me we’re all watching a soccer game from France’s Serie B and they are telling me what in-game bets they like, I just may participate. Degenerates can convince other degenerates to bet on anything if the vibe is right! The problem is that I don’t know how much of that McAfee can do and I don’t know many other ESPN talents that have that kind of equity with their audience.

Don’t judge Smith solely on recent weeks. It’s a short period when he has come off as really unlikable, but it’s part of a much larger career that has shown you over and over again that he knows how to attract and connect with an audience. Having him is a win for any network. But is it a win that’s worth an annual salary of 15 or 20 million dollars? I don’t think it is.

Stephen A. Smith has goals he wants to accomplish. There are new realities in the media business and ESPN needs to be ready to adapt. If the age of the star pundit on television is over, I’m not sure a long and expensive contract makes sense for either side.

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Seller to Seller: John Goforth, Magellan AI

“I love hiring people to do job A so they are ready to do job B in six months and that’s always been a really successful tactic for me as well.”

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Graphic for a seller to seller feature with John Goforth of Magellan AI

John Goforth is in his fifth year as Chief Revenue Officer at Magellan AI, a podcast advertising analytics platform. In his ‘previous life,’ Goforth spent more than a dozen years selling and managing in radio, with a heavy emphasis in sports.

After stops at KMOX, KFNS and 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Goforth was recruited to ESPN Chicago and later took over as Local Sales Manager for 670 The Score and 93XRT. When he looks back at his time with those stations and companies, he thinks about how much he enjoyed the creativity involved in the business. His success, he believes, came from his work ethic and building great relationships with clients who he would work tirelessly for to create engaging advertising campaigns he knew would drive results.

But Goforth also saw the declining revenue of traditional media and saw the opportunity in the podcast space. So, since 2016, Goforth’s sales life has revolved around podcasting.

Magellan AI has software which continuously monitors 40,000 advertisers across 50,000 podcasts. They work with publishers, ad agencies and brands and some have referred to the company as “the Google of podcasting.”

Goforth had previously worked with Magellan AI as Senior Vice President of Sales at HowStuffWorks, he was their first subscriber. “It’s so much easier to sell an advertiser who is already engaged in the podcast ecosystem than someone who isn’t,” Goforth told BSM in 2022. “I always wanted it to be someone else’s job to convince them that podcasts were the right channel. I just want to find the people that have already embraced the channel and convince them my content was good content to try.

“Sellers use us to understand the marketplace – who’s spending, what genres are they accelerating in, where are they pulling back, how much money are they spending and what their competitive field and industries look like.”

For example, Magellan AI data can tell you that in the month of April, Better Help spent nearly $7.7 million in podcast advertising, Amazon spent nearly $5.5 million. It can also tell you that Toyota was the top spending auto dealer in podcasting for the month and that 7 of the top 15 spenders in the month of April spent the most in sports.

When asked about the current state of the podcast industry and the knowledge people have of the industry, Goforth said, “The industry is evolving…the big learning curve for everyone is getting past the idea that Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is bad, that DAI is equal to programmatic. DAI is the way in which an ad is served, it has nothing to do with the ad style. Programmatic is a way in which to buy ads.

“So, we’re past downloads and impressions and what is a pre-roll a mid-roll and a post-roll and now it’s on to what type of inventory are we selling and who’s selling it.”

Goforth said if 2020 and 2021 were the years of the content acquisition wars, right now is the era of inventory acquisition wars for podcasting. “I don’t think companies care so much about being able to say ‘we are the exclusive provider of this podcast, and we are the only ones with access to this inventory.’ That still exists…but as more brand awareness gets involved, it’s really important to be able to offer scale.”

Sports has been a big part of Goforth’s career from his days selling St. Louis Cardinals Radio on KMOX to being part of a brand-new FM sports station in St. Louis at 101 ESPN, to managing sports sales in one of the top markets in the country. He said for podcasting, there are a couple reasons why sports content does so well.

“Sports is a great gateway drug,” he said. “A lot of brands that are newer to podcasts are comfortable with sports and sports content. If they have to go explain something to their bosses, they’re never going to get in trouble for saying they bought sports…By and large, sports feels safe to traditional marketers. The other thing that goes along with that is the proliferation of sports gambling. Sports gambling is, in some ways, funding sports media.”

One area that is no different for Goforth in the software business from the media business is having to recruit and train salespeople if you are going to be successful. He said he has used different strategies in the past but has come back to one of the simpler strategies when it comes to hiring sellers.

“It’s one of the most challenging pieces of running a monetization business, finding the people that can actually go do it. I’ve evolved over the years, I’ve had lots of different philosophies and theories…and ultimately, I’ve circled around to the philosophy of Malcolm Gladwell…the concept is, recruiting is hard enough and no matter what you do, you are going to get it wrong 50% of the time. So, don’t overthink it, follow your gut. Thats been the most successful path for me. Do I like this person? Would I want to have a beer with this person? Do they seem intelligent?

“I don’t subscribe to the ‘check the box’ theory…If I am hiring a podcast seller, it’s less interesting to me if you have sold podcasts. If everything else is great, I can teach you that part. Are you smart? Do you have that motor, that drive? Thats the one thing that is non-negotiable, the internal motor. I want to hire adults to be adults. I don’t want to have to check in on them and micromanage. I just want them to tell me when they need something and be supportive of them. I want to hire smart, competent people to do their job and if they need training, I give it to them. Thats been the most successful thing for me.”

Much like Brian Schneekloth from Beasley Media Group Boston talked about in this space previously, Goforth is a big believer in growing your sales bench internally. “I love hiring people to do job A, so they are ready to do job B in six months and that’s always been a really successful tactic for me as well.”

Whether it has been driving revenue selling sports media or driving revenue selling software to help others build podcast revenue, John Goforth is finding success and staying at the top of his game.

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Gary Myers Continues His Storied Career Covering the NFL

“If I knew I was going to be this happy writing books and working as a consultant on other projects, I would have gotten out of the newspaper business a long time before then.”

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Screengrab of author Gary Myers
Screengrab: Big Blue View

In the world of sports media, things are certainly a lot different today than they were five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago and thirty years ago.  For Gary Myers, a veteran of 8 years covering the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and 29 years as an NFL columnist for the New York Daily News, staying involved with covering football these days meant transitioning into something different.

Myers has been working on various projects including writing books and consulting on a documentary about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

“It was a pretty long newspaper career,” said Myers who left the Daily News in 2018.  “It was a really good time to get out of there because unfortunately the Daily News is just not what it used to be.”

Myers’ most recent book is titled “Once a Giant” and chronicles the 1986 Super Bowl champion New York Giants.  He is also working on a book that examines the same subject as the documentary that he is working on…who was the bigger reason for the New England Patriots’ dynasty?

Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

“I think people’s opinions have gotten skewed by the fact that Tom went to Tampa and won a Super Bowl in his first year there and Belichick made the playoffs once in four years without Tom,” said Myers.   “I would say my end evaluation is 60-40 Brady but it’s not 80-20 and some people think it’s 90-10.  Somebody had to draft the kid.” 

Speaking of Tom Brady, the future Hall of Fame quarterback is set to take his talents to the Fox NFL broadcast booth this season teaming with Kevin Burkhardt on the network’s top team.  While some are questioning just how committed Brady is to the job and how good he will be on television, Myers is convinced that Brady will be a star on TV.

Myers wrote a book about Brady and Peyton Manning back in 2015 and was able to spend a lot of time with Brady.

“Tom was very cooperative and gracious with me,” said Myers.  “He’s a genuinely good guy who I think is really bright.  He’s very well-spoken and eloquent.  I think he’s going to be great on TV.  People are going to be looking for him to fail and I think they’re going to be disappointed because I think he’s going to be very good at this.” 

In addition to being an NFL writer and columnist during his career, Myers was also the NFL insider for HBO’s “Inside The NFL” from 1989 to 2001.  Today, writers who have been NFL insiders on TV include the likes of Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport.  Back in the day, it was Myers who followed in the footsteps of the legendary Will McDonough.

Even though he has transitioned away from his legendary newspaper career, Myers has been able to stay connected to covering football.  With the way that the newspaper business has changed, the writing was on the wall that it was time to step away and find another way to cover the NFL.

Myers was not ready to call it a career.

“I still have way too much energy to retire,” said Myers.  “I’m taking advantage of what I call my institutional knowledge and put it to another way of using it.  If I knew I was going to be this happy writing books and working as a consultant on other projects, I would have gotten out of the newspaper business a long time before then.”

When Myers was writing books while also working full-time for the Daily News, he had to find a way and the time to juggle both responsibilities.  In the case of “Once A Giant”, he spent two years just working on the book and on a subject that meant a lot to him.

And he was able to put a lot of TLC into it without having to divide any time with a newspaper life.

“It is the best book I’ve ever written,” said Myers.  “I was incredibly passionate about the subject.  It’s all I was working on for two years.  I didn’t take on any other projects.”

While Myers has transitioned into books and other projects, the newspaper scene in New York City, as well as many other markets around the country, continues to descend.  When Myers was with the Daily News, he felt that his employer had the gold standard when it came to covering sports in the Big Apple.

Today, Myers laments what the Daily News now is and gives credit to his once bitter rival, the New York Post, for continuing to do things the right way. 

“They (the New York Post) are the only newspaper, in this area at least, that are still approaching it like it’s 1985 in terms of the resources that they put into covering sports,” said Myers.  “They still send five people to the Super Bowl.  The Daily News is a shell of what it used to be. That’s sad to me.”

The role of NFL beat writers and columnists continue to evolve because the access has changed significantly.  When Myers covered the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News, there was always a plethora of players available for him to talk to and that left him with a good problem to have when he went back to the press room to work.

“The hardest decision I had to make when I left the locker room was which story do I want to write because I had about ten in my notebook,” said Myers. 

Fast forward to today and things have changed for reporters.

Many times, there are only a handful of players in the locker room during media access periods and that restricts the ability of the writers to create relationships with the players and get exclusive stories.

What you have now are the same reporters going up to the same players at the same time.

“I am convinced that if the NFL had its way and the teams had their way, the only people that would be covering the teams now would be the teams’ website, the teams’ video department and they would grant access to the network partners to come in before the games,” said Myers.  “They don’t need newspapers anymore and they don’t need local radio stations.  It’s just different.  The day-to-day media is no longer a priority to the teams.”

And that is a big reason why Gary Myers is enjoying the new chapter of his storied career covering the NFL.  He doesn’t have to worry about the day-to-day grind of covering a team because he’s made the very successful transition to writing books and finding other ways to tell stories about the National Football League.

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