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Pat McAfee & ESPN Stole The Show, But They Weren’t the Only Stars at Disney Upfront

“If you look at TV and streaming combined, we have over 94,000 live and original hours of studio and event programming.”

Derek Futterman



It all started with a bang. Pat McAfee is set to take his popular digital show to ESPN in a deal worth a reported eight figures, and he appeared at The Walt Disney Company Upfront event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Tuesday afternoon to formally announce the blockbuster move, which goes into effect this fall.

This move is the long-awaited conclusion of “Up to Something Season,” and also includes the cast of his program. He had previously worked with “The Worldwide Leader” in a litany of different roles, including on College GameDay and on alternate broadcasts of college football games. Before news of this deal broke, McAfee had confirmed that he will return to College GameDay for the upcoming college football season. ESPN announced that he will continue alternate presentations of college football games throughout the year, which were produced last year with Omaha Productions.

Pat McAfee announces that The Pat McAfee Show will join the ESPN daily programming lineup at The Walt Disney Company's 2023 Upfront presentation.
Courtesy Jennifer Pottheiser Disney General Entertainment

“I feel like we are sitting at a beautiful intersection in the history of media that has never happened before,” McAfee said. “Digital has become an influence; it has the structure; it has the ability to reach millions and millions of people literally on a daily basis…. [ESPN] very much understood that we need to embrace both what tomorrow is and what today is. I have the exact same vision.”

“Pat is a proven talent. He and his team have built The Pat McAfee Show into one of the most engaging programs in sports and all of media,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro in a press release, who was in attendance for Tuesday’s presentation. “It’s a destination for athlete interviews and breaking news, and the centerpiece of a growing community of sports fans. We’re honored to bring Pat and the show to ESPN through a multifaceted, multiplatform approach.”

Before the start of the event, ESPN also revealed a four-game slate of marquee college football matchups set to commence this September. It all begins with the Camping World Kickoff between the LSU Tigers and Florida State Seminoles, which will air on ABC on the Labor Day holiday. Six days later, the Texas Longhorns square off against the Alabama Crimson Tide, a prime time matchup on ESPN between head coaches Steve Sarkisian and Nick Saban.

In the season’s sixth week, the Longhorns make a return to The Walt Disney Company’s family of platforms as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners from the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Showdown. Both teams will join the Southeastern Conference upon their departure from the Big 12 Conference after next college football season. Lastly, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Clemson Tigers will battle on Saturday, Nov. 4 in a matchup televised on ABC. Additional announcements related to the college football season, including Bowl games and special presentations, will be disseminated on Wednesday, May 31.

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams joined Rutledge, Dan Orlovsky and Desmond Howard to talk about his drive entering the upcoming season as ESPN prepares to televise some of the school’s games. He knows his team will be highlighted, especially following his Heisman Trophy win last year, and is looking forward to proving himself.

“I haven’t really done anything,” Williams said. “I haven’t won a national championship yet and [achieved] goals like that. I’ve got a lot of goals that I want to reach and strive for. I won’t get big headed and I want to reach those goals.”

Dan Orlovsky, Laura Rutledge and Desmond Howard are joined by USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams at The Walt Disney Company's 2023 Upfront presentation.
Courtesy Jennifer Pottheiser Disney General Entertainment

Following the conclusion of the upcoming college football season, The Walt Disney Company will embark on the first of a 10-year media rights agreement with the Southeastern Conference (SEC), coinciding with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12. It was a point of emphasis throughout the presentation, and more information will likely be revealed closer to the start of the agreement.

“Fans will catch all of the Southeastern Conference showdowns,” Orlovsky explained, “like the Iron Bowl; the Florida-Georgia game; the Red River Rivalry; LSU vs. Alabama and the SEC Championship Game, which also will be exclusively on ESPN platforms for the next decade.”

ESPN presented content for nearly the first hour of the Upfront event, including from its college football, NFL and NBA broadcast properties. Before any of that began, however, Serena Williams took to the stage in a surprise appearance to make a big announcement.

A new ESPN multipart series titled – In the Arena: Serena Williams – follows the success of a similar series with Tom Brady. It will present the highlights of her tennis career and give an inside look to her personal life and the trials and tribulations associated with starting a family. It will be directed by Gotham Chopra and involve Williams’ and Caroline Currier’s production company, Nine Two Six Productions. Tom Brady’s production company – 199 Productions – will also contribute along with ESPN and Religion of Sports.

“It’s going to span key matches of my tennis career tracking my ups and downs both professionally and personally,” Williams said. “[It] gives an honest, unflinching account and those 23 Grand Slam victories.”

ESPN sports anchor Elle Duncan took to the stage to discuss the importance of live sports in today’s content ecosystem. She spotlighted the company’s multiplatform, multi-network sports coverage set for Christmas Day next year, which will include a variety of NBA games and close with an NFL matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

“Over 30% of all sports were watched on Disney, and if you look at just the last few weeks alone because of the NHL Draft, NBA, XFL playoffs, Sunday Night Baseball, we had half of all sports watched,” Duncan said. “That’s an incredible number. You can definitely cheer for that.”

ESPN revealed that Get Up! and First Take experienced five and seven percent growth last month year over year, respectively. As it prepares to add The Pat McAfee Show to its weekday lineup, it does so with a continued appeal towards Gen Z and those between ages 13 and 24.

“If you look at TV and streaming combined, [ESPN has] over 94,000 live and original hours of studio and event programming,” Duncan said. “Think about that – 94,000 hours – and Stephen A. Smith has an opinion on all of them.”

Elle Duncan appears at The Walt Disney Company's 2023 Upfront presentation.
Courtesy Jennifer Pottheiser Disney General Entertainment

ESPN’s digital platforms attract 180 million monthly unique viewers, while its social channels have amassed 7.5 billion engagements. On YouTube, ESPN accumulated more than 20 billion views, and the network continues to grow thanks to exclusive media rights deals with professional sports leagues.

“Why do we watch sports?,” ESPN anchor and host Hannah Storm questioned. “We watch sports because they are some of the greatest stories ever told.”

Storm welcomed Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, New York Liberty power forward Breanna Stewart and LSU Tigers forward Angel Reese to the stage to talk about the excitement surrounding the NBA and WNBA, respectively. They acknowledged the continued growth and evolution of media coverage with both entities, and spoke about the ongoing NBA Playoffs and impending start of the WNBA season. 

In fact, ESPN/ABC is averaging 5.2 million viewers throughout the NBA Playoffs thus far, the highest figure ever on Disney platforms. Game 7 between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics had a total of 8.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched conference finals game on ABC in the last 12 years.

The NFL schedule was released last week, and ESPN had its Monday Night Football announcing tandem of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on hand to preview the action coming in the year ahead. Their appearance highlighted an expanded relationship with the NFL as ESPN embarks in the first year of a new media rights agreement, and will bring a new look to kick off next season. Details regarding the changes have not been revealed, but will presumably be debuted during its Opening Week matchup between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Monday Night Football will introduce a new producer-director tandem with Steve Ackels and Derek Mobley, respectively.

“This is an exciting time for The Walt Disney Company,” Aikman said. “We’re coming off a tremendous NFL Draft. Those three days in Kansas City were amazing, [and] I can’t wait to see the moment next year when we bring out the obviously very talented Caleb Williams.”

After divulging that The Walt Disney Company will have 35% more games across ABC, ESPN and ESPN+ in 2023, including flex scheduling ability after Week 12, the duo introduced Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. He received a standing ovation, and spoke about his traumatic experience that took place on Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals last year after going into cardiac arrest.

“I’m feeling amazing,” Hamlin said. “It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions just trying to get back into the game; get back into the flow, the routine and things like that. At this point, I think I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years covering the NFL, and I’ve never been in the booth with a headset on my head struggling to find the right words,” Buck said. “That night, you get ready for a game. You go into the booth; you do your typical stuff; you’re covering play after play and then all of a sudden, life happens, and it was a scary scene. Little did we know as we stood up in the booth what actually was going on.”

Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Damar Hamlin appear at The Walt Disney Company's 2023 Upfront presentation.
Courtesy Jennifer Pottheiser Disney General Entertainment

To conclude ESPN’s presentation at The Walt Disney Company’s Upfront, Peyton Manning appeared on stage and talked about the third season of Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, colloquially known as the ManningCast. While the schedule of games for the alternate-style presentation has not been revealed, it figures to follow a similar format centered around the interaction and intellect proffered by Peyton and his brother, Eli. On an unrelated note, he also revealed that he will return to host the 2023 Country Music Awards with American Idol judge and country musician Luke Bryan.

“On our show, I try to imagine what it would be like if I was still on the field while Eli sits around and tries to come up with different ways to make fun of the size of my head,” Manning said. “….The only thing that has brought back the energy of a game for me is the energy of doing live television. Now listen, it’s not as scary as a 250-pound linebacker coming from the blind side, and it’s not as distracting as trying to tell your teammates the play in the huddle with thousands of opposing fans drowning you out. But live events are still a thrill, and live events bring the whole family together.”

Just a few months after returning to The Walt Disney Company as its chief executive officer, Bob Iger reorganized the company into three distinct, core units – Disney Entertainment; Disney Parks, Experiences and Products; and ESPN – all with a goal to “return creativity to the center of the company.” Each unit of the media entity has its own leadership team, with ESPN being led by its chairman Jimmy Pitaro. Through the changes, Disney is in the process of laying off 7,000 employees and slashing costs by $5.5 billion with an intent to enable the company to engage in a sustained period of growth and success.

“In this era of great change, creativity and innovation continue to be the cornerstone of all we do at Disney,” The Walt Disney Company’s President of Advertising Sales and Partnerships Rita Ferro said. “We know our success is predicated on two things. The first – capturing the hearts and minds of consumers with award-winning content. And the second – a sophisticated data and tech stack.”

Courtesy Disney General Entertainment

Continuing movements into the streaming business is a point of emphasis for The Walt Disney Company, evinced throughout the course of the Upfront event. It hopes to accentuate and promulgate Disney+ to reach a level similar to Hulu, which is responsible for 1.9% of ad supported viewership according to Nielsen Media Research. A preponderance of the company’s programming is available across these platforms and a large portion of its talent was on stage to reveal new slates of converged programming and news content.

Although the program did not contain the annual appearance by late night host Jimmy Kimmel – who sat out this year’s event in a show of solidarity with the Writers Guild of America strike – there was still plenty of additional star power on hand. From Kim Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian of Hulu’s The Kardashians; George Stephanopoulous and Michael Strahan of ABC’s Good Morning America; Jesse Palmer of ABC’s The Bachelor to Ryan Seacrest of ABC’s American Idol, the company put on a magical show for advertisers and fans alike.

Yet the focus of the event, while it was The Walt Disney Company at its core, was indeed ESPN, and the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” is ready to embark on an immense year ahead. It aims to continue serving the sports fan anytime, anywhere and to innovate with the dynamic, somewhat mercurial landscape of the sports media industry.

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Tricia Whitaker Will Find The Story That Matters

“My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”

Derek Futterman



Tricia Whitaker FNB
Courtesy: Apple

When St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run in his final season in the majors last September, the baseball world erupted in mass jubilation. Although the milestone achievement occurred during a road game, the fans still showered one of the sport’s quintessential athletes with praise as they witnessed the fourth player enter this exclusive pinnacle of power hitters. For fans watching from afar, they were treated with crisp, vivid footage of the moment since the matchup was exclusive to Apple TV+ as a part of its Friday Night Baseball slate of games.

The game broadcast featured field reporter Tricia Whitaker, who had just joined the Apple TV+ presentations to begin the second half of the season. Being there as one of the voices tasked with keeping viewers informed and captivated by the action was a special experience that she will never forget. 

“You’re talking about the best cameras in the entire world capturing one of the most iconic players ever,” Whitaker said. “I thought the call was amazing; I thought the quality of the shots was amazing [and] I’l never forget that broadcast, ever, because it was so cool.”

Whitaker grew up in Bloomington, Ind. and would journey to Wrigley Field with her father once per summer to watch the Chicago Cubs. Through those games, she realized that a ballpark was her ideal future workplace.

“We just didn’t have a ton of money, [so] I would sit in the nosebleeds with him once a summer and that was the biggest treat in the world,” Whitaker said. “I just realized that I loved telling stories and I loved sports, so I decided to do that.”

Whitaker’s journey in the industry genuinely began as an undergraduate student at Indiana University Bloomington where she adopted a mindset to seize any opportunities offered to her. Despite having no knowledge or previous reporting experience, she accepted a role to cover a tennis match and quickly started preparing. After one of her professors saw her nascent media acumen, they recommended she audition for the university’s student television station to hone her skills. Whitaker earned a spot and began covering Indiana Hoosiers basketball and football for the show Hoosier Sports Night. From there, she simply kept on accepting anything in her purview.

“Your best asset is your availability, so I basically just said ‘Yes’ to everything,” Whitaker articulated.

Once it became time to search for a full-time position, her experience and tenacity helped her land a role at WBAY-TV in Green Bay as a sports reporter and anchor. After two football seasons working there, Whitaker relocated closer to home to report for WTTV-TV Channel 4 in Indianapolis. The time was valuable for her to cultivate new relationships with those around the industry while strengthening existing ones, serving as a foundational aspect of her reporting. 

“If they don’t trust you to tell their stories, they’re not going to talk to you,” Whitaker said. “You have to be able to have a good relationship with the players; with the coaches and everybody involved.”

At the same time, Whitaker felt compelled to make a lasting contribution to Indiana University through teaching and inspiring the next generation of journalists. She is now an adjunct professor for the IU Media School and wants her students to know how integral it is to make themselves available while being open and willing to try new things to make inroads into the profession. 

“There’s always a story to be told, so even if it’s a random event that you don’t think anyone’s paying attention to, there’s people there; there’s human stories and their stories matter,” Whitaker said. “That’s what I always try to tell my students is [to] just find that story that makes people interested in it and find that story that matters.”

Over the years working in these dual roles, Whitaker became more skilled in her position and proceeded to audition to join the Tampa Bay Rays’ broadcast crew on Bally Sports Sun as a field reporter. When she received news that she had landed the coveted job, she remembers starting to cry in her closet while trying to organize her clothes. After all, Whitaker had just learned that she would get to perform the role she idolized when she was young. The access her role gives her to the players and coaches on the field is not taken for granted.

“I’ll interview hitting coaches about a guy’s hands and where they’ve moved and about his stance,” Whitaker said. “….In the next hit, I’ll tell a story about a guy who drinks a smoothie every day before the game and he feels [that] putting spinach in it has really made a difference or something like that. My reporting style is pretty much all of it, but I do like to do the human interest stories more than I like to do anything else because I think that’s unique.”

After each Rays win, Whitaker takes the field and interviews one of the players on the team. Earlier in the season, she remembers speaking with Rays outfielder Jose Siri after he drove in three runs against the Detroit Tigers; however, the broadcast was not on Bally Sports Sun. Instead, she was doing the interview for Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+, a national broadcast property the company pays MLB an estimated $85 million annually to carry. Going into the interview, Whitaker knew that she would need to appeal to more than just Rays fans and appropriately started the conversation by asking about the game.

Yet she also knew that it was “Salsa Night” at Comerica Park in Detroit and thanks to her work with the regional network, was cognizant of the fact that Siri likes to dance in the dugout. As a result, she concluded the interview with a request for Siri to demonstrate his salsa dancing skills, something that made an ordinary conversation stand out.

“I tried to personalize it a little bit to help people get to know Jose Siri a little bit better because I think that’s important,” Whitaker said. “….You make sure you talk about baseball, but then you add a little flair to it; add a little personality to it. Everybody loves salsa, right?”

The Apple broadcasts require Whitaker to prepare as she executes her role with the Rays, keeping her wholly invested and consumed by baseball. There are occasions where she is afforded the luxury of reporting on Rays games for her Friday night assignment, but they are rare. Therefore, she needs to become familiar with two teams by reviewing statistics, reading local reporting and conversing with those involved. She keeps her notes on her cell phone and makes lists of what she is going to do during the day to keep herself organized and focused.

Throughout the week, Whitaker actively prepares for the Friday night matchup and meets with her producer to contribute her ideas and learn about the macro vision of the broadcast. The Apple broadcast, aside from using high-caliber technology, also regularly equips microphones to place on players that allow viewers to hear what is transpiring on the field. Whitaker, along with play-by-play announcer Alex Faust and color commentator Ryan Spilborghs, coordinate with the production team throughout the game to present an insightful and compelling final product.

There was criticism of the Apple TV+ live game baseball broadcasts during its inaugural season, but the noise continues to diminish in its sophomore campaign. Whitaker views her role as accruing a confluence of stories about the game and more insightful looks at the personalities on the field. Before each contest, she interviews a player in the dugout and asks questions that put the season in context, granting a comprehensive understanding about a subset of their journey.

“We try to get their thoughts on the season so far at the plate, but also try to get to know them on a personal level,” Whitaker said. “My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”

It is considerably more facile to execute such a task before the game than it is during gameplay because of the introduction of the pitch clock. While it has undoubtedly sped up the game and made the product more appealing for fans of all ages, its actualization threatened the viability of unique aspects of baseball broadcasts. The Apple TV+ crew may work together once per week, but over a 162-game season spanning parts of seven months, there is a perdurable bond and unyielding chemistry evident therein.

“Everybody on that crew – and I seriously mean this – is so supportive no matter who you are as long as you do your job well,” Whitaker said. “They don’t even think about the fact that I’m a female in sports [and] they just support me. They help me take constructive criticism because they care and because they truly see me as an equal.”

Whitaker has had the chance to report from Wrigley Field with Apple TV+ and vividly remembers her experience of stepping inside as a media member for the first time. It was a surreal full-circle moment that has been the result of years of determination and persistence to make it to the major leagues.

“I walked into Wrigley and I started to tear up because I remember when my dad and I used to go there and I was 12 years old,” Whitaker stated. “If you would have told me at 12 years old [that] I would be doing a national game at Wrigley, I would have told you [that] you were lying because I just wouldn’t have thought that was a possibility.”

Although Whitaker is receptive to potentially hosting regular sports programming in the future, she has found the joy in her roles with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Apple TV+. Being able to experience historic moments, including Pujols’ milestone home run, and then diving deeper into the situation makes the countless flights, hotel stays and lack of a genuine respite worthwhile. She hopes to continue seamlessly fulfilling her responsibility this Friday night when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:30 p.m. EST/3:30 p.m. PST, exclusively on Apple TV+.

“There’s always a story to be told, and if you’re good at your job, you’re going to find that story even on a day where you’re like, ‘Oh gosh, there’s nothing going on,’” Whitaker said. “I take that pretty seriously.”

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Radio Advertising Can be the Secret Weapon For In-House Digital Marketers

“The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU.”

Jeff Caves



Courtesy: ETSY

Remember when in-house marketers were primarily focused on traditional media and needed help navigating the digital and social media landscape? Well, the tables are turning! 

The rise of digital-savvy in-house marketers is opening up exciting opportunities for radio ad salespeople. As local businesses increasingly invest in digital marketing, some are fiding they need your expertise in radio advertising.

Borrell Associates has released their latest Business Barometer, and included in the findings was a slight but noticeable shift favoring traditional forms of broadcast media. Let’s dive into how sports and news radio ad salespeople can leverage this shift to target businesses with proficient digital marketing people on board who may need to know more about the potential of radio advertising.

1. Digital-Marketing Trending UP!

Borrell Associates’ recent findings indicate that businesses are increasingly proficient in digital marketing. They are adeptly managing their websites and social media channels, driving results through online campaigns. However, this digital surge doesn’t necessarily translate to expertise in traditional media, such as radio. Hey, do you know a business like that? And make sure you know of an outsourced digital agency you can refer who can handle your clients’ digital and social media for very few dollars. You can help manage the rest of the budget! 

2. Target In-House Buyers

Make a list of businesses you know that have in-house people who are digital-oriented or younger owners who handle mostly digital advertising independently. Or, how about the in-house marketing person who only takes on marketing initiatives like events or sales promotion and knows nothing about advertising? Get ’em! 

3. We create demand

One of the unique selling points of radio is its ability to generate demand and send more customers to Google or your client’s website. Digital marketing can often direct buyers seeking a specific purchase but can’t create lasting impressions and build demand and loyalty like your station. Use this advantage to demonstrate how radio can reinforce the brand story and enhance the effectiveness of digital campaigns.

4. Surround the listener

Recognize that businesses with digital marketing expertise may want holistic solutions. Sell packages that combine digital and radio advertising. Include your streaming endorsements with social media and geo-fencing. They get it and will be impressed with reaching their target audience across multiple touchpoints.

5. Be the Teacher

Your prospects may be experts in digital marketing, but they might not fully understand the potential of radio advertising. Take on the role of an educator. Provide resources, case studies, and success stories that showcase how your station and radio have boosted digital-savvy businesses’ results.

6. 1+1=3 for Creativity

Collaboration is key when working with clients with a digital marketing team. Involve them in the creative process of writing and producing radio ads. Creativity could be their strength, and they will bring fresh perspectives to your production.

The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU. Maybe your client is struggling with their digital strategy. Imagine that now they may be seeking you out to help them understand what they have already read about buying radio advertising. It’s time to adapt your approach and position radio as a complementary and powerful tool in the digital marketing person toolkit.

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Bill Parcells Shaped The Media By Giving Them Hell

“Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter.”

John Molori



Bill Parcells
Courtesy: AP Photo

Two of the most talked about media stories of the past couple of weeks intersect in the form of one legendary NFL head coach – Bill Parcells. 

In the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ potentially season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1 of the NFL season, many media pundits harkened back to 1999 when then-Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde suffered a similar injury in the first game of the season. Like Rodgers, Testaverde was a veteran signal-caller looking to bring the long-suffering Jets to a Super Bowl. 

One week after Rodgers’ injury, Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley was in the media mechanism for an exchange with a reporter after his club fell to 0-2. Staley took issue with a query about whether the team’s monumental playoff collapse last season versus Jacksonville has carried over to their slow start this season. 

ESPN’s First Take included video of Staley’s comment on their September 19 show building it up as some rash, heated interaction between coach and press. It was not. In fact, Staley merely directly answered the question asserting this season has nothing to do with last season. 

Both of these headlines find common ground in the person of Bill Parcells. Parcells was the head coach of the Jets in 1999 when Testaverde’s season ended in that fateful game vs. New England. In addition, he was notorious for some truly vitriolic run-ins with post-game reporters. 

Forget about Staley or even the infamous press conference rants of Jim Mora (“Playoffs!?”), Herm Edwards (“You play to win the game!”), and Dennis Green (“Crown ‘em!”). To the media, Parcells was Armageddon, Three Mile Island, and Hurricane Katrina rolled into one. Never has there been a football character so inexplicably loved and despised. 

In New England, Parcells’s arrival as head coach of the Patriots in 1993 signaled the turnaround of the franchise, but fans refuse to vote him into the team’s Hall of Fame because of his unceremonious jump from to the Jets after the 1996 season. 

When that happened, Parcells again grasped the media spotlight stating, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” He was referring to new owner Bob Kraft taking final say personnel decisions away from Parcells.

Like him or not, Parcells, known as The Tuna, rejuvenated five NFL franchises. The New York Giants were a mishmash of Joe Pisarciks and Earnest Grays before Parcells turned them into two-time champions.

Patriot fans actually cheered for the likes of Hugh Millen and Eugene Chung until Parcells came to town and brought in players like Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, and Tedy Bruschi, laying the foundation for a dynasty.

And the Jets? They were living off the fumes of Joe Namath’s Brut 33 until Bill Parcells constructed a team that went from 1-15 in 1996 under Rich Kotite to 9-7 and 12-4 in 1997 and 1998 respectively with Parcells. 

The Cowboys were 5-11 under Dave Campo in 2002. The next year, they went 10-6 with Parcells. Miami was 1-15 in 2007. The next year, with Parcells as executive VP of Football ops, they won the AFC East with an 11-5 record.

The Catholic church has its Apostle’s Creed. Those who follow the gospel of The Tuna have A Parcells Creed, and it goes as follows: I believe if a reporter asks Parcells if he outcoached a colleague, that reporter will be called a “dumb ass.” I believe that the media are “commies” and “subversive from within” as Parcells once labeled them.

I believe in using the media to denigrate young players to keep their egos in check. After Jets QB Glenn Foley had a solid preseason performance a few years back, the New York media surrounded the redheaded QB as if he had won the Super Bowl. 

Parcells walked right in front of Foley and sarcastically asked, “Do you mind if I get past Sonny Jurgensen over here,” referring to the similarly redheaded Redskin quarterbacking legend.

In 1995, when all of New England was agog over a rookie running back named Curtis Martin, Parcells slyly commented to the press, “Well, we’re not carving his bust for Canton just yet.” And of course, there was the late Terry Glenn. When asked how the former Patriot wideout was recovering from an injury, the Tuna spouted, “She’s doing just fine.”

Parcells’ stints as a studio analyst on ESPN, although insightful, seemed out of place. He would sit there, dressed in a dark blue suit talking strategy with fellow ESPN gabber Steve Young. Honestly, he looked like a rotund funeral director searching for someone to embalm.

Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter. 

I interviewed Boston media personality Steve DeOssie about Parcells. DeOssie was the defensive signal caller for the New York Giants (1989-93) when Parcells was the team’s head coach. He again played for Parcells in New England in 1994.

He told me, “Parcells realizes that the media is the enemy. Let’s face it, the media cannot do anything positive for a team, but they can put stuff out there that could lose a game. The bottom line with Parcells is whether it helps his team win.”

“He loves the camera and the camera loves him. He enjoys that part of the business. The media can spin it any way they want. Parcells does not suffer fools gladly and a lot of media types don’t like being called out in press conferences.”

Another Boston media legend also gave me his reflections of Parcells. Bob Lobel is the most revered sports anchor of all-time in New England. He stated, “I did a one-on-one interview with Parcells awhile back. He is so down to earth yet has this aura. It’s easy to be in awe of him.”

The national perspective is similar. When Troy Aikman was an analyst for FOX Sports, the current Monday Night Football color commentator credited Parcells with restacking the Cowboys’ roster and bringing winning back to Dallas.

When asked about playing for Parcells with the Jets, FS1’s Keyshawn Johnson offered, “He taught me how to do things, how to pay attention.” 

Even people whom Parcells fired maintain a respect for him. Sirius NFL Radio’s Pat Kirwan was the director of player administration for the Jets when Parcells arrived in 1997. 

Kirwan told me, “Parcells rebuilds a franchise from top to bottom. He evaluates everyone from the trainers to the doctors to the equipment guys. In 1997 when Bill came to the Jets, I knew I was qualified, but I also knew that Bill would let me go.”

In a September 12, 2023 story, New York Post reporter Brian Costello interviewed Parcells about the Rodgers injury. 

This master of media mind games famous for the quote, “You don’t get any medal for trying,” revealed his visceral core telling Costello, “You are charged with winning games under any circumstances … They’re not canceling the games. They’re not canceling them. You’re coaching them. It’s your job to get your team ready to play to the best of their ability.”

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