Former WFAN host Mike Francesa said he has immense respect for Howard Cosell and what he did as a broadcaster, but it was interesting to him that Howard initially wasn’t a big fan.
Asked by a listener of his BetRivers podcast The Mike Francesa Podcast via email if he ever knew Cosell, Francesa said he and Howard were never close. He recalled Cosell not liking how a younger Francesa’s broadcast approach at the time.
“He did not like my early presentation,” Francesa said. “He went after me a couple times where he thought I had too strong of opinions, and it’s funny because he made his whole life on opinions. And I was just getting started, but he came after me a couple times and that was fine. Getting recognized from Howard Cosell, it didn’t matter if it was good or bad.”
Francesa talked about how Cosell had a certain level of arrogance about him. He didn’t find fault in that, especially considering how successful Cosell was. But Francesa felt like Cosell’s bread and butter was in calling football games and being a commentator.
“What Cosell thought was that he was bigger than life. And he was a big personality, nobody’s saying he is not. But it worked for him inside the role where sports was the vehicle,” Francesa said. “The vehicle wasn’t Howard. The vehicle was Howard as a sports commentator. That worked. Howard as the entertainer or Howard as the personality it didn’t work. Not to the nation they couldn’t stand him, and his TV show bombed.”
Mike went on to say that reading highlights on Monday nights on ABC for Monday Night Football was classic Cosell. There was nothing that even came comparably close to what Howard was able to do in that space.
“Cosell would give you unscripted 60 seconds of the most dramatic sports commentary,” he said. “And it would have a setup. It would have a beginning, it would have a middle and it would have an end, and it would be perfectly crafted inside. And he’d go, ‘Back in 30 seconds’ and it was so good. So good. As good as anything I’ve ever heard. That was Howard Cosell.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Charlotte Wilder: Men Gatekeep Sports Media to ‘Make It Seem More Complicated’
“The thing about sports media that drives me absolutely insane is there are a lot of men in this space who like to think that it is rocket science and who like to use big words and make it seem much more complicated than it is…”
Over the last two weeks, Taylor Swift has appeared plenty of times at Kansas City Chiefs games garnering the large attention of the national audience. It has caused some people to get Swift-Travis Kelce fatigue and question whether or not that conversation should be had. Charlotte Wilder was on the Gojo and Golic show on Wednesday and she brought up her thought that some in the sports media space think the game is rocket science and that Taylor Swift and the NFL shouldn’t coexist with each other.
“To me, the thing about sports media that drives me absolutely insane is there are a lot of men in this space who like to think that it is rocket science and who like to use big words and make it seem much more complicated than it is to keep out people who were not traditionally socialized to need to know this stuff,” said Wilder. “Triple coverage just means it’s one guy guarded by three other guys. That’s not rocket science.”
“I think there is a gatekeeping aspect of sports media that when guys are saying this stuff, it’s really saying here is my construct of the world in which Taylor Swift and the NFL do not go hand-in-hand,” she continued. “It’s threatening to think that maybe her fans who weren’t traditionally football fans are going to figure out that what we’ve been doing this whole time isn’t exactly some secret club. It’s actually something that is very open to everybody else if you are willing to talk about it in a way that invites people in.
“It is not about Taylor Swift, it is about men wanting to keep people out of this space and that drives me absolutely insane.”
Wilder brought up that when men do talk about sports with their peers, they do end up talking about it in a way that correlates to how others would talk about Swift and other celebrity gossip.
“Sports is celebrity gossip. We are gossiping about celebrities who play a game. Sports I think for a lot of men is an emotional safe space to feel things and to gossip about stuff and feel connected to people by talking about people and that’s the same thing as Taylor Swift. You don’t have to prove anything by saying you don’t like it.”
While Wilder does understand that people can get tired of hearing about the same thing or seeing the same person over and over, she says that it isn’t Swift’s fault for going to games.
“It’s men on sports shows being we get it, welcome new Swifties, but we’ve had enough. We don’t need to keep talking about her. I understand the feeling of ubiquity, of feeling like if you see so much of someone, you will get tired of it. But, that’s not Taylor’s fault. She’s going to football games.”
“I saw a few different clips of people being new Swifties, we are happy to have you, but we have to chill out on all of this. That’s not about Taylor Swift. To me, that is about ‘Stay in your lane’. It’s very coded to women.”
For the third straight week, the Chiefs will have a nationally televised game as they will be in Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Sunday at 4:25 PM ET on CBS with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo on the call.
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].
Sports Media Reacts to Passing of Jim Caple
“We all love Jim Caple so much and he loved you.”
Longtime ESPN baseball writer Jim Caple passed away on Sunday, his wife announced in a statement on social media. The 17-year ESPN veteran covered 20 World Series for the network, in addition to other sports media endeavors with the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
He most recently wrote for The Athletic on topics including baseball, tennis, and the WNBA. Caple had been fighting both ALS and dementia and passed away at the age of 61, surprising and devastating those across the sports media world.
“My person, best friend, and husband died on Sunday afternoon,” his wife wrote on Facebook. “We all love Jim Caple so much and he loved you. Many great times, laughs, and adventures with all of us with Jim. Go in peace, my love.”
Kevin Jackson, a former vice president at ESPN and Caple’s editor, issued a statement on the passing of his venerated colleague. The duo worked closely on many stories for ESPN platforms, including on Page 2 where he was able to transform a story into a book deriding the New York Yankees titled, “The Devil Wears Pinstripes.”
“Jim was an amazing and prolific writer who always found the joy in sports,” Jackson said. “Whether he was writing about baseball, the Olympics, the NCAA Tournament or his beloved Tour de France, Jim cared deeply about the games we play, but he never took them too seriously.”
Those within the sports media industry reacted to the unfortunate news, sharing their memories of Caple and expressing their condolences.
Former CNN Exec Jeff Zucker Purchases Stake in Front Office Sports
“The team at Front Office Sports has built an impressive platform for sports business journalism, and I’m excited to help it grow in the years ahead.”
Upon his departure from CNN one year ago, former network president Jeff Zucker launched RedBird IMI, a venture looking to invest in properties throughout the media and finance industries. The entity is composed of private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and International Media Investments, and it has approximately $1 billion in capital backing from key figures within both entities. Zucker is now set to make his first acquisition and third investment with the reported purchase of a minority stake in Front Office Sports, a multiplatform media brand covering all aspects of sports business.
The company was launched by Chief Executive Officer Adam White and President Russell Wilde while they were in college, and the property rapidly flourished over the last several years. While most of the content from the publisher is free, it did begin selling paid subscriptions in 2021 and was able to raise $5 million from Crain Communications last year at an overall valuation of $25 million. According to Axios, which first reported news of negotiations and, ultimately, the closed deal, Front Office Sports will be part of EverWonder Studio – a new, non-fiction content outlet – being led by former Time, Inc. president Ian Orefice.
Orefice was recently involved in a deal between the studio and Meadowlark Media pertaining to a feature documentary about a feature documentary between tennis stars Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. With Zucker’s purchase, the company now has a valuation of $40 million, and it also installs him as co-chairman of the board alongside Jason Stein, an investor within SC Holdings.
“The team at Front Office Sports has built an impressive platform for sports business journalism, and I’m excited to help it grow in the years ahead,” Zucker said in a statement. “Audiences are more interested than ever in the business of sports, and this investment will allow Front Office Sports to create even more compelling news content that draws people in.”
The minority investment encompasses the 20% previously owned by Crain Communications, and also includes additional shares from SC Holdings. Both RedBird IMI and SC Holdings will have equal minority stakes, while the rest are owned by employees.
“The business of sports has become ubiquitous in recent years, permeating across all corners of culture. It now commands mainstream attention and is part of even the most casual fan’s daily content consumption,” White said in a statement. “The foundation of our company was built on a deep understanding and connection to this shift, and has long informed our editorial strategy and product development. As we enter this next stage of expansion, we are incredibly excited to partner with Jeff Zucker, one of the media industry’s greatest minds.”
“Front Office Sports has become a clear leader and important voice in the growing sports media landscape,” Stein added in a statement. “We were an early believer in their approach to covering sports in a way that would influence business leaders and inform fans. This credibility with highly coveted audiences will continue to separate them as they expand the business.”
Front Office Sports has a twice-daily newsletter with more than 800,000 subscribers and reports on news targeted towards both mainstream consumers and industry professionals. In recent news, the outlet was one of the first to report on Taylor Swift being in attendance for the Sunday Night Football matchup between the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. The company currently employs more than 40 reporters to contribute to its content, ensuring that it remains a timely and credible source of information.