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Ken Rosenthal Built a Career on Bowties and Credibility

“A lot of baseball writers, and I guess sports writers joke that really we’re not equipped or trained to do anything else, which is true.”

Derek Futterman



Ken Rosenthal
Courtesy: Getty Images

“The Astros stole signs electronically in 2017 – part of a much broader issue for Major League Baseball.” That headline ended up having an enduring impact on the game of Major League Baseball, encapsulating a detailed account of the infamous scandal penned by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. The team utilized a complex system to discern what pitches the opponent was preparing to throw and communicated them to hitters using a trash can. After the story was published, Major League Baseball conducted an investigation and punished the Astros through forfeiture of draft picks, banning executives from the league and, in turn, leaving an indelible asterisk next to the World Series championship.

The story was worthy of more than simply being the first to tweet the information. The Athletic was new at the time and committed to storytelling in a variety of different ways. This story took time to discover the intricacies and nuance imbued in the reporting. The entire process illustrates Rosenthal’s mission at this stage in his career as a senior baseball writer and reporter: disseminating original, comprehensive content.

“My concern with that story was not that it was going to be perceived as inaccurate,” Rosenthal said. “I knew it was accurate, and we had people on the record; it could not have been better in that regard. If we had gone simply on the sources, it’s easier to challenge.”

Throughout his journalism career, Rosenthal’s internal ambitions have outweighed staunch critics, and it ultimately led him to break new ground in reporting on “America’s Pastime.” During his formative years, Rosenthal was interning at Newsday, not yet donning his signature bowtie, where he covered a variety of different sports on Long Island. He was accompanied by another intern with palpable talent and charisma evident from the very beginning, Tom Verducci, who went on to write for Sports Illustrated.

Rosenthal was aware that he was not as strong of a writer as Verducci, but actively sought out advice to try to improve at the craft. One day during the winter break in his senior year of college, he visited the Newsday offices and met with sports editor Dick Sandler. Rosenthal requested guidance on how to pursue a journalism career since he was nearing graduation, and was met with somewhat of a disheartening reality check.

“He did advise me to go to law school,” Rosenthal recalled. “It did light a fire under me, and my dad was an attorney. I remember he was pretty pissed off when I told him that. I just don’t think you should tell a young person something like that.”

The deadpan statement was a seminal moment in Rosenthal’s development. It encouraged him to apply to over 75 newspapers, most of which decided not to hire or even interview him. Recognizing the importance of networking and having industry connections, Rosenthal asked fellow University of Pennsylvania alumni John Dellapina for assistance in his job search. The request paid off when Rosenthal landed at the York Daily Record, a smaller outlet where Dellapina was working. He began reporting on high school sports, becoming familiar with the nature of the profession. From there, he spent two years with the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, NJ where he covered horse racing and the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers.

“I love the newsroom,” Rosenthal said. “I love the action and really everything about it. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s always been kind of home to me. A lot of baseball writers, and I guess sports writers joke that really we’re not equipped or trained to do anything else, which is true. But to say this is my calling is a little strong.”

Rosenthal relocated to Baltimore and was hired to a full-time role with The Baltimore Evening Sun covering the Orioles, which were led by superstar shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. at the time. The team steadily improved during the time Rosenthal covered them. Rosenthal and Ripken Jr. had their differences over the years, as Rosenthal was a particularly aggressive reporter. His tenacity earned him a promotion to sports columnist in 1991.

The Orioles were facing the California Angels on Sep. 6, 1995. Ripken was suiting up for the 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for the most consecutive games played in Major League Baseball history. The stadium was sold out, even meriting a visit from then-President of the United States, Bill Clinton. National columnists were situated in the press box to cover the singular occasion.

At that time, The Baltimore Evening Sun had published its newspaper for the final time amid declining circulation, and moved to combine with The Baltimore Sun, which was distributed in the mornings. Rosenthal continued to write columns, but felt an inordinate amount of pressure leading up to Ripken Jr.’s record-breaking ordeal. Most local newspapers were just that, meaning out-of-town writers were rarely consumed, but Rosenthal identified because of the event, many people would be reading his work for the first time. He wanted to make a name for himself while also doing justice to the history on the field.

“I said, ‘Hey man, what do you do? What do you think? What should I do here?,’” Rosenthal remembered asking Mike Littwin, who had become a trusted part of his support system. “And he said, ‘You write how important he is to the city [and] to the sport,’ and it sounds silly in a way, but at that point to the country… he was like a true hero. That was kind of the approach I took, and it went fine.”

National outlets began to take heed of what Ken Rosenthal was doing and explored hiring him as a reporter. While in Baltimore, Rosenthal also covered the Baltimore Ravens. He hosted a weekend talk show on WJFK radio and also appeared on WBAL. He had been named Maryland Sportswriter of the Year five times. The first job offer he received from a national outlet was from CBS Sportsline, but Rosenthal decided not to go because he did not want to work intensely as would be expected.

Nonetheless, Rosenthal ended up adopting an arduous work schedule in the end, but eased into the process by joining The Sporting News in 2000. His pitch to the outlet, which was in the midst of transitioning to the internet, was how he had a network of people he knew from the Orioles. The front office experienced consistent periods of turnover, meaning executives and personnel Rosenthal had conversed with were now dispersed across different areas of the league.

“At least I knew those people and I could go forward,” Rosenthal said. “It just took a while, of course, to build to the point where I could really be comfortable in that job. You’re never comfortable, but I felt I could do the job okay.”

The Sporting News had a partnership with FOX Sports where writers would appear on various regional sports networks to discuss teams around the league. As its senior baseball writer, Rosenthal would sit in a television studio for two hours and cycle through different cities, taking questions and interacting with show hosts. He was also permitted to participate on ESPN’s morning debate show Cold Pizza, which later became First Take, working with ESPN reporter Jim Bowden. 

Rosenthal began to realize that expanding his career to that medium could make sense down the road. Those television appearances were accompanied by feature stories, breaking news articles and a weekly column, further diversifying his media portfolio. His wife was the impetus that ended up compelling Rosenthal to find a television job, her entreaty occurring while watching Tim Kurkjian report for ESPN on television.

“My wife said to me, ‘Why can’t you do that?,’” Rosenthal reminisced. “I thought, ‘Okay, maybe it’s time to look into it,’ and I actually did get offers from ESPN and FOX.”

Rosenthal chose to join the team at FOX Sports because the network told him there would be a chance he could report on Game of the Week with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Before he made the decision to leave The Sporting News, Rosenthal had to consider the potential lifestyle change and be certain he wanted to take the chance. Reflecting on his time with the outlet though, Rosenthal was, perhaps somewhat unbeknownst to him, put in positions to build a demo reel for a television role by his boss, John Rawling.

“I give him endless credit for [encouraging] me to do the television,” Rosenthal said of Rawling. “He allowed me to go on Cold Pizza while I was still working for The Sporting News because he wanted me to have the greatest possible opportunity to leave if something went wrong at The Sporting News. There’s not many bosses that would do that, but he was basically setting me up to leave and I’m very grateful for that, always.”

After joining FOX Sports’ Game of the Week, his profile continued to grow. Rosenthal maintained a steadfastness to journalistic principles – hence the reason he was perturbed when FOX Sports chairman David Hill ordered him to wear a bowtie on the air during the 2010 postseason. Hill wanted to distinguish Rosenthal from other reporters.

“Even though I was on television, I always thought [that] what should distinguish me is my work,” Rosenthal said. “A look – I didn’t want any part of that. But he was the boss, and he was a very strong boss and a powerful boss.”

Following the first broadcast, Rosenthal approached FOX Sports executive and current CEO Eric Shanks to ask whether he would need to wear the bowtie again. Shanks said he should, so much to his chagrin, Rosenthal did so until the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. Entering the 2011 season, Rosenthal was prepared to shed the bowtie and let his work set him apart.

Instead, Rosenthal continues to wear bowties to this day thanks to a call from former football linebacker Dhani Jones. He founded the Bow Tie Cause to represent different nonprofit charities and asked Rosenthal if he would be willing to help support its mission.


“I never imagined that it would become, I guess, kind of part of my identity, but it is,” Rosenthal said. “When I don’t wear it now – and even if I’m at the ballpark on a Friday preparing for a Saturday broadcast in my regular clothes – some fan or somebody will say, ‘Hey, where’s the bowtie?,’ and so it is definitely part of it.”

While Rosenthal was with FOX Sports, he inked a contract to join MLB Network in 2009 after being persuaded to do so by senior vice president of production John Entz. Entz had worked at FOX Sports in the past, and he was confident that MLB Network was an ideal landing spot for Rosenthal. After he received assurance from both Tom Verducci and Bob Costas that he could continue being an objective reporter, Rosenthal decided to take them at their word and join the network.

There were no issues initially with Rosenthal appearing as a contributor and reporter across programs such as Hot Stove, MLB Tonight and MLB Now, but he says the environment ostensibly changed under Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. Rosenthal was critical of Manfred in columns he had written for The Athletic regarding the forthcoming MLB lockout, and MLB Network was concurrently in the midst of reevaluating its programming lineup. Rosenthal was one of many personalities let go by the network as it added a variety of new names, including Cameron Maybin, Hunter Pence and A.J. Andrews, and launched a new show geared towards younger fans titled Off Base.

“I was upset that, honestly, a resolution was not reached sooner because there were a few years there that just were very uncomfortable for me,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t know that I want to go into great detail, but a lot of things I did were challenged and questioned. It just wasn’t a pleasant environment, [and] it was almost a relief when it came to an end.”

“As MLB Network continues to look at fresh ways to bring baseball to our viewers, there is a natural turnover in our talent roster that takes place each year,” a league spokesperson said in a statement issued to the New York Post at the time. “Ken played a significant part at MLB Network… We thank him for his work across MLB Network’s studio, game and event programming, and wish him the very best going forward.”

When FOX Sports converted a preponderance of its digital content to video, Rosenthal was released from the portion of his contract stating he would write for the outlet’s website. Paul Fichtenbaum, the editor of The Athletic, recruited Rosenthal to join the fledgling outlet with no guarantee of success. It was a precarious decision with potentially calamitous aftershocks, and one he made after being persuaded by his son and convincing his broadcast agent that it was the right move. If it did end up falling through, Rosenthal had two television jobs to fall back on and would be able to continue to support his family.

“Being at The Athletic has been the most gratifying thing because it proved – and I was thinking along these lines – that print wasn’t dead,” Rosenthal said. “It proved there was a real value, and I think it also proved that great sports journalism could still be done – not that it’s not done in other places; of course it is – but on a level like we’re pursuing it right now.”

In his roles with The Athletic and FOX Sports, Rosenthal has only enhanced his reputation as one of the industry’s predominant newsbreakers. He frequently reports transactions before they are officially announced by teams, and many baseball fans turn on his Twitter notifications during the hours leading up to the trade deadline. Rosenthal, however, has put less of an emphasis on utilizing social media.

“On Twitter, it just seems to me to be a hamster wheel,” Rosenthal said. “I’m active on it – I’m still trying – but the real win, especially for our company, is when you can break a story that can’t be confirmed in 10 seconds and have everybody just forget who even broke it in the first place.”

There have been various stories in which Rosenthal knows there is the threat of sacrificing a relationship and/or facing immeasurable criticism. While he acknowledges that people have the right to have opinions, he tries to avoid becoming invested in comments or partaking in debates with readers. All he asks, as has been consistent throughout his career, is that people read things before making assertions – which led to a recent Twitter exchange with Amazon Prime Video and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit.

“Social media has only amplified people’s opinions, and I just have to kind of grin and bear it at times, and that’s fine,” Rosenthal said. “I think most people see you for what you are, but there are always going to be people that will feel otherwise, and that’s just all part of it.”

Aside from writing and appearing on television, Rosenthal interacts with baseball fans through his Fair Territory podcast. The media venture debuted in early April, and Rosenthal has been hosting weekly episodes since then and contributing to FT Live featuring Scott Braun, AJ Pierzynski, Todd Frazier and various former major league players. Rosenthal had previous experience hosting radio programs and also answered listener questions on a podcast with The Athletic, but this project is different in that he sets the agenda. It is available to listen on most audio platforms and can also be watched on YouTube.

“I just kind of go for whatever how long it is – 30 minutes or whatever,” Rosenthal said. “And that part of it is different [in] that I have to carry it like that, but I’ve done television for so long. It’s not uncomfortable or anything like that – it’s natural.”

As the media industry continues to gradually consolidate operations amid an extensive demand for niche content, Rosenthal values the versatility he cultivated from the start of his career. The specifics of his job description change on a yearly basis, and he advises aspiring professionals to keep an open mindset about their own futures. He aims to continue showcasing his adept skill set while staying true to the bedrock principles of journalism and reporting.

“I don’t ever see myself as the most talented person,” Rosenthal expressed. “I can name five people off the top of my head – 10, 15 – that write better than me, but I do work hard. I think that is what has carried me. So what I’m trying to say is I think hard work can overcome deficiencies in talent – not totally, of course – but that to me is the core of everything.”

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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 finding 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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