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Ben Verlander & Alex Curry Are Making Baseball Fun Again on Flippin’ Bats

“You have these young superstars coming in and being so good for the game of baseball, and I wanted to be a voice that comes in and talks about that.”

Derek Futterman

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If the surname “Verlander” seems familiar to you, it is because it belongs to one of the most accomplished pitchers in baseball history and a widely regarded first-ballot Hall of Famer: New York Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander. Justin and his brother Ben grew up in Richmond, VA and both had a penchant for baseball from a young age. Throughout his childhood though, Ben was frequently compared to his brother, and he let it bother him for many years. Justin ended up making it to the major leagues in 2005 with the Detroit Tigers and promptly won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Since then, he has amassed three Cy Young awards, two World Series championships – both with the Houston Astros – and was named the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player.

Ben was a two-way player but was advised in his junior year at Old Dominion University to choose a path, and he ultimately decided to focus on hitting. A large part of that decision was not only because he wanted to play every day; he also wanted to forge his own path separate from his brother’s. Although Ben never made it out of the minor leagues, he never lost his passion for the game and is now one of the sport’s most trusted, informative and entertaining voices.

Today, Ben Verlander is the co-host of Flippin’ Bats, which is distributed by FOX Sports as a podcast and live-streamed across its digital platforms. Reaching this point took hard work and persistence, and followed him taking a year away from the game following his retirement in 2017. It took him some time to recognize that pursuing a career in sports media would be the most optimal way for him to remain in the game.

“I got to a place in my life where I realized I can create my own path and I can create my own journey that will be successful even if it doesn’t end in a Hall of Fame career,” Verlander said. “I’m on my journey. Will it lead me to the Baseball Hall of Fame? I doubt it. I don’t think it will, but it’s leading me on a journey that I absolutely love and that I believe I was supposed to be on.”

Through this journey, Verlander has remained close to his brother, Justin, as he has become more eminent in the media space. Ben was the one to break the news of Justin signing a one-year contract to remain with the Houston Astros in 2022, and he provided unparalleled insight into what was behind Justin choosing to ink a two-year deal with the New York Mets this past offseason.

“I have this career in the baseball world where my brother is very much so a prominent figure, but I’m a brother to him first and foremost,” Verlander said. “It doesn’t need to be anything different than that. There might be some things said that I would never say – personal things that I would obviously run [by] him if I were ever to talk about it – but I would say by and large our relationship hasn’t changed.”

Launching Flippin’ Bats in 2021 came following multiple discussions with executives at the network to determine the best way Verlander could express his viewpoints and help grow the game. The podcast is duly named as a way of taking homage to the new era of the sport, which includes more noticeable displays of emotion and invigorating play from budding stars.

“You look at the game of baseball on the field, and it sort of hits you right in the face [of] what’s happening,” Verlander said. “You have these young superstars coming in and being so good for the game of baseball, and I wanted to be a voice that comes in and talks about that.”

One of those younger stars is Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who entered the league in 2018 after playing five years in Japan. From the moment he joined the Angels, Ohtani burst on the scene across the major leagues, and he is now widely regarded as the game’s best player after winning the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player award. 

For Verlander, Ohtani represents someone who has closed the gap between Japan and the United States and dramatically broadened the reach and relevance of the sport on a global scale. Verlander first met Ohtani at the MLB All-Star Game in Denver, and he traveled to Japan to interview him for a special feature titled Searching for Shohei.

“One thing I’ll never forget from talking to Shohei was asking about his goals,” Verlander said. “I’ll never forget; he said, ‘I know right now people in baseball know me, but I hope one day that people that didn’t love the game of baseball know who I am.’ That was interesting to me because it’s a pretty powerful message in terms of what he’s trying to do for the growth of the game.”

Alex Curry joined Verlander on the program last September, and she has co-hosted the program with him ever since. Before joining FOX Sports as a full-time host, she covered the Angels, along with the Los Angeles Kings, for Bally Sports West and developed professional relationships with both Mike Trout and Ohtani. In fact, when Trout won his AL Rookie of the Year award in 2012, Curry was put on a redeye flight to Millville, N.J. to spend the weekend with him and his family. She was present for nearly all of his career milestones, All-Star Game appearances and other memorable moments, and is appreciative of Trout for the way he treated her.

“He’d always make sure to look at me first and I would get the first question,” Curry said of Trout. “Even now – I hadn’t seen him for a year-and-a-half after leaving the Angels and we just saw him at the World Baseball Classic, [along with] Shohei Ohtani. It was just such a magical experience to be there for such big parts of their careers.”

Curry grew up as a softball and soccer player, the latter of which she played at San Diego State University. In addition to being an athlete, Curry also grew up a theater kid. It honed her oration and performance skills. It was while she was in a creative writing class at college when she realized that she could amalgamate her two passions by becoming a sports reporter and television host.

The difficult part was getting discovered, and she tirelessly cultivated a versatile skill set in various areas of multimedia production. While other students went home to relax during school breaks, Curry found jobs that immersed her in media, one of which was stage managing a championship gaming series for DIRECTV. On the day before the event was set to take place, Curry was asked by the producer if she wanted to be the hostess for a Mountain Dew gaming series to which she emphatically agreed.

There was not a preponderance of women in sports media when Curry was building her career, and she has now made it her mission to try to change that paradigm. Her first genuine mentor was Selema Massekela, who hosted the X Games on ESPN at the time. He let her ask any and all questions she had about the business. 

Once she began filling in on Fox Sports 1 on shows such as Undisputed and The Herd, Curry developed a friendship with Speak co-host Joy Taylor, a person with whom she could closely relate.

“Joy really became a mentor, and then now, a dear friend of mine,” Curry said. “I always wanted to be myself; I wanted to be something different; I never really wanted to be someone else. It was like, ‘How can I come and bring my take, my personality, my positive outlook and just enjoyment of sports [and] change the norm?’”

Curry moved to host FOX Bet Live but vocalized her desire to move over to baseball content immediately. Once she was given the chance to co-host Flippin’ Bats, she could tell she and Verlander immediately had on-air chemistry. Verlander gave Curry the ability to stay true to herself, something that was difficult in her previous roles outside of select interviews.

“When you’re reporting or you’re hosting a show, you’re either asking a question or basically reporting a quote or something that you saw or heard from a player or coach,” Curry said. “This was really the first time I was able to give my opinions and my outlook on the game.”

Verlander has assisted Curry in articulating her sentiments on the program, and she has served as a resource for Verlander when he is interviewing players. After all, her background in sports media was largely predicated on covering baseball games, and until that point, Verlander conversed with players as if he was with them in the clubhouse. In his quest to be the best at what he does, he is especially appreciative of how Curry has enabled him to translate his energy and self-professed quirkiness onto the field.

“Seeing the way her brain works in terms of follow-up questions or what to ask players in the moment when a game just wrapped up, I think, [has] been awesome,” Verlander explained. “It’s been really good for me to have her in that aspect, and just how on the show every day, just how fun and bubbly her personality is. It fits so well with the show, and that’s kind of the ethos of the show.”

Whether it is breaking down why his brother flipped off Phillies fans before Game 3 of the 2022 World Series, trying to catch batting practice home runs from the train at Minute Maid Park; or simply having a conversation in the studio, the interactive aspect of the show has empowered it to penetrate beyond one specific consumption platform. Fans who listen to the podcast or watch clips on social media all become engrossed in a moment and connect with the baseball vernacular of Verlander and Curry.

Yet everything on the show is done with the intent of it being seen. The FOX Sports digital team regularly creates graphics and implements different elements into the show. 

“I will often point to a graphic and say, ‘If you’re just listening on the podcast, here’s what’s happening right now,’” Verlander articulated. “I would say, yeah, it’s made to be seen and made to be listened to. I try and do the best job of bringing those two close together so you don’t feel like you’re missing out if you’re watching and not just listening, or if you’re listening and not watching.”

Getting discovered in professional baseball is hardly a rudimentary task, and it is something Kasumba Dennis has worked his whole life for growing up in Uganda. His dedication to the sport is evinced through social media posts of him exercising through the elements using everyday materials such as milk jugs, tires and bricks. Dennis grew up as an orphan, and he became employed at a slaughterhouse at the age of 14 in order to ensure he would be able to put food on the table. His baseball coach Paul Wafula recognized his commitment, assiduousness and indefatigable work ethic, leading him to offer Dennis food and a paid education if he wholeheartedly pursued baseball.

Ben Verlander took notice of the story after seeing some of his videos on Twitter. Then, Verlander used the power of Flippin’ Bats to make sure others took notice. Through Verlander’s magnanimity and the platform he has gradually built, Dennis began to draw attention and concurrent interest from scouts and coaches from across the United States. Now he is set to participate in the MLB Draft League starting on June 1, a monumental chance to prove himself and, perhaps, earn a spot in a major league organization.

“To be able to help and be a voice just to amplify what he’s doing; I think that’s what makes me so happy,” Verlander said. “He’s doing all of the work; he’s the one who caught my attention and caught my eye.”

Hall of Fame starting pitcher John Smoltz is the lead color commentator for FOX Sports’ presentation of Major League Baseball games and, since last September, is a recurring guest on Flippin’ Bats. Smoltz proffers his thoughts and opinions on the game of baseball at large in the midst of his preparation for calling primetime games alongside Joe Davis.

“Part of what I get to do on a weekly basis is have some fun and answer some questions,” Smoltz said. “[With] technology now and the way that we can do things, it’s so different than when I was playing. Obviously, through this tough time with the pandemic, there were some things figured out that could be done also to enhance the [viewing experience]… There’s some pretty big die-hard sports fans that can’t get enough, whether it’s watching a game or getting information, and this is one way to do it.”

Verlander grew up as a fan of the Atlanta Braves since the organization’s Triple-A team was located 15 minutes away from his house. He grew up attending their games. His three favorite players were Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Smoltz. Being able to ask Smoltz questions about the business has been a dream come true.

“I’m not quite sure he knows how much that means to me,” Verlander said. “I think he enjoys coming on and talking baseball, but I can’t really express to him how much it means. Growing up a huge fan of his and now being in the baseball media space and seeing his career; he’s unbelievably talented at what he does.”

This season, Major League Baseball introduced a variety of rule changes to expedite the pace of play, augment offensive output and attract a younger viewing demographic. From instituting a pitch clock to placing limits on defensive shifts, the changes have been successful with a boost in stadium attendance and viewership. The average duration of a Major League Baseball game this season has been two hours and 38 minutes, nearly a half-hour shorter than last year encompassing the modern flow of information and dwindling human attention span.

“Change is scary, but it’s important to evolve with the game and the time,” Curry said. “I think this was the most perfect and beautiful call they could have made. I am a huge fan of the pitch clock, and it keeps the audience engaged. You have to be paying attention [for] the entire time.”

Baseball traditionalists have criticized some of the rule changes, voicing their displeasure in the hastened rhythm and pleading for the league to make adjustments next season. Smoltz does not understand how this faction of people refuse to accept that these changes were extremely necessary to ensure the health and longevity of the sport, adding action and subtracting game time. Just like the players, Smoltz and Davis have had to adapt in the booth, but it is a change he is completely willing to make.

“It’s funny because when you’d speak about data and facts, I don’t know why people think you then dislike the direction the game was going when really this is coming out of the base of information fans are giving back to the sport based on the questions asked,” Smoltz said, referencing a survey distributed by Major League Baseball. “One of the top two answers were, ‘The game’s taking too long, and there’s too much stagnant time in the game where there isn’t much action.’”

Through regular segments such as “This Week in Shohei Ohtani News,” “Honesty Hour,” and “MLB Power Rankings,” Flippin’ Bats has found its niche of consumers and continues to grow its audience. Verlander, Curry and Smoltz know that baseball is often a game of failure, and they hope to be able to shine a light on all of the melodrama, storylines and triumphs over the course of the 162-game regular season and subsequent postseason. One thing you can know for sure is that none of them will conceal their fandom to the audience, instead utilizing it to bring an ebullient ardor and unrivaled allegiance to baseball – encapsulating all of its players and personalities.

“The sky is the limit,” Curry said. “It’s a daily hour show now; maybe it expands even bigger? Maybe it expands to all platforms from podcast; digital to linear to being able to go on the road. It’s just such a fun opportunity.”

“I really believe this new age, if you will, of media is almost being a fan,” Verlander concluded. “It feels like forever – being in the media, you weren’t allowed to be a fan. You covered the sport; you covered what needed to be covered; and that was it. I’m a fan of the game, first and foremost. That’s what I want to do, and I’m going to cover the sport as if I am a fan.”

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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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