Connect with us
Executive Editor Ad
Jim Cutler Demos

BSM Writers

Dave O’Brien Wants You To Fall in Love With Baseball

“I may see something tonight I’ve never seen before, and if I’m still broadcasting – and I think I am with that same sense of joy over those moments – then I’ll keep doing it”

Derek Futterman



Dave O'Brien
Courtesy: Joe Faraoni, ESPN Images

When Dave O’Brien was stationed behind the radio console at WKNE as a high school student, he was responsible for engineering its broadcasts of Boston Red Sox baseball. As one of the outlets within the team’s radio network, O’Brien had to load in commercials, monitor audio levels and ensure everything went over the air smoothly. The opportunity came to him as a student at Marlborough High School, which partnered with nearby Keene High School to allow students to take the air and discover their voices. Through listening to the games, O’Brien became inspired to pursue a career as a play-by-play announcer. It is something he gradually envisioned himself doing as he listened to the dulcet tones of Jon Miller and Ken Coleman call the action.

“At that time, I had no dream of doing the Red Sox – it was too far away, even in my imagination,” O’Brien said. “To call baseball; to call sports, that’s really when that started to formulate. Sitting there at 11:00 on a Wednesday night performing that menial task that they could get anyone to do – that’s why I was doing it.”

The Jimmy Fund was established in 1948 to raise money for cancer research and care, and it remains a critical part of the Red Sox organization’s community outreach. When Coleman was announcing games for the team, he drove around New England to the team’s affiliate radio stations and appeared on the air. The purpose of his visit was to promote the charitable endeavor, and by journeying to each one, he emphasized his commitment to the mission. O’Brien happened to be the radio host on the air who interviewed Coleman, and he told him afterwards how he wanted to be in his position one day. From there, O’Brien received perhaps the most essential advice from a seasoned professional who had cultivated a bonafide sonic resplendence.

“Remember this,” Coleman said to O’Brien in response. “The key to this is to land softly on the ear. People are going to be in their cars listening sometimes for an hour or two at a time. They’re going to have the radios on beach blankets down on the cape; they’re going to be listening while they’re barbecuing in the backyard on the Fourth of July. Learn to land softly on the ear.”

As a budding media professional, O’Brien knew exactly what Coleman meant in that he needed to avoid disseminating a disconcerting sound over the air. Instead, it would be indispensable that he be a pleasant listen and trustworthy presence. Today, O’Brien hopes people hear congeniality and delectation in his voice, and that he is truly grateful and humbled to be the television voice of his favorite baseball team.

Before he reached that point though, O’Brien diligently studied effective play-by-play announcing and served as his own harshest critic. In listening to Marv Albert and Dick Stockton, he came to understand what resonated with the audience. There was no announcer that impacted him more, however, than Bob Costas. He was a staple of NBC Sports’ coverage and a transcendent personality able to ingeniously blend hard-hitting journalism with lighthearted entertainment.

In his senior year of college at Syracuse, O’Brien interviewed with Costas for a behind-the-scenes job on his nationally-syndicated radio show, Costas Coast-to-Coast. While John Frankel wound up landing the role – and proceeded to become an award-winning correspondent on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel – O’Brien believes being passed over allowed him to stay behind a microphone.

“I was just looking for a bright, young person who would just kind of work on the radio show and take care of some stuff and learn by osmosis by being around the production of the radio show,” Costas said. “….It filled a programming void; it was on some 300 stations and we got a lot of very prominent guests because there wasn’t a show like that.”

After graduating and briefly working in Spartansburg, S.C., O’Brien joined WSB in Atlanta and quickly became frustrated at the lack of play-by-play opportunities he was receiving. As an avid baseball fan, O’Brien wanted to join the Atlanta Braves broadcast team, but there was simply no room at the time. During halftime of an Atlanta Falcons game, O’Brien had interviewed with program director Brad Nessler for a job – and he received it prior to the resumption of play in the third quarter. He was originally elated to work in the marketplace, but was starting to have second thoughts.

“I remember reaching out to Bob after we had developed this relationship,” O’Brien said. “I wrote him a letter and he answered me back within three of four days, which was incredible. What I was trying to find out was what I should do; what was Bob’s advice? Should I leave Atlanta or pursue a play-by-play job somewhere else?”

Costas replied that it would be in O’Brien’s best interest to stay patient, noting the outlet and its personnel would ease in his pursuits. The sagacious words kept him going, and shortly thereafter, he entered the broadcast booth and called the Braves’ run to the 1991 World Series. The retirement of Ernie Johnson Sr. prompted his promotion, and he suddenly found himself working alongside Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren and Don Sutton from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

“I was 25 when I started broadcasting the Braves – which even by today’s standards is incredibly young,” O’Brien said. “That’s when I began to think, ‘Maybe one day I could wind up calling games in my ballpark, Fenway, but until it happens, it doesn’t happen.’”

When Major League Baseball awarded an expansion franchise to the city of Miami, there was palpable buzz in the area. O’Brien was tabbed to serve as its first radio play-by-play announcer, and he did not perceive a considerable amount of pressure entering the role. Even so, there was a deluge of historic Florida Marlins’ moments, and he became synonymous with the growth of Major League Baseball in South Florida.

“It’s brand new in many ways – you had spring training of course, [and] that was a big focus in Florida, but they never had their own team before,” O’Brien said. “Part of that responsibility is you want them to fall in love with the game, and they fall in love with the game partly by what they hear on television and radio and [through] the people who bring it to them.”

In 1997, the Marlins won their first World Series championship, and O’Brien was on the microphone to deliver the final call. He has called eight World Series, many of them internationally for Major League Baseball, and the key through it all has been controlling his nerves. No moment was more indicative of that than in 2004 when the Red Sox broke an 86-year championship drought. O’Brien’s description of the jubilance was the last play-by-play audio used in the 2010 update of Ken Burns’ award-winning documentary, Baseball, and is a perdurable part of the team’s history.

“That was probably the single most difficult moment of my broadcasting career when that final out was made, and to be there and to hold it together because my emotions were right there on the surface,” O’Brien said. “….Doing it for your hometown team – in my case doing it for the Red Sox, as I did other championships on radio – was a little bit different because I still felt a responsibility to hang in there until the game was over before I lost it and started celebrating.”

Two years earlier, O’Brien had started working with ESPN calling soccer, basketball and baseball. Making the transition to a national network required a change in his technique, eliminating zealous fandom and calling the game without inherent bias. 

“If you’re parachuting in and doing a Yankees and Marlins game on a Wednesday night in July, there’s a lot of the ground you have to cover again for an audience that hasn’t been there step per step in both of those teams’ seasons,” O’Brien said. “I think it is a wholly different approach, and I luckily [worked] with some great people who really did a marvelous job covering national baseball back then.”

Four hundred seventy national contests later, O’Brien does not call many of them these days, but he is usually in the ESPN Radio booth during the postseason. As a television broadcaster, having the ability to seamlessly transition and call a game on the radio by rote demonstrates a level of adept versatility. In fact, remaining prepared and inquisitive allows O’Brien to call basketball games for ACC Network during baseball’s offseason. Developing that quality was a point of emphasis while he was a student at Syracuse University.

“You’re actually a reporter as a play-by-play person,” O’Brien remembers being told in college. “It’s not any different than someone calling you down for a five-alarm fire at 2:00 in the morning, and [having] a camera on you and you’ve got to file a report as a news reporter.”

When fans walk around the concourses of Fenway Park, they feel as if they have been transported a century into the past. Narrow and dark with brick slabs and the proprietary “Fence Green” color adorning the poles, spectators emerge from the incommodious corridor to gaze at the tableau vivant. It is a baseball field with a scalene configuration – the Green Monster in left field; the bleachers in dead center; the triangle in right-center field and Pesky’s Pole straight down the right field line – with an alluring charm and viridescent hue.

Stationed high above the grandstand, the facade of the ballpark’s press box displays the team’s pennants and World Series championships – and behind the window directly in its center, O’Brien narrates the action to millions of fans regionally and worldwide. Upon learning that he had landed the radio play-by-play job in 2007 and would be working with Joe Castiglione, O’Brien was simultaneously incredulous and euphoric.

“This was completely different because I kept looking down into the stands thinking, ‘I should be down there with my dad; I don’t belong up here,’” O’Brien recalled. “It was really surreal in a wonderful way.”

O’Brien only knew about the job opening by listening to WEEI on his way to the airport in Boston. It was announced that Jerry Trupiano would not be returning for the 2007 season. Almost immediately, he called Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee, whom someone he knew was friendly with, and ultimately was able to set up an interview. He got the job, but there was still a challenge ahead. He was stepping into an organization that had employed renowned commentators, including Curt Gowdy, Bob Murphy and Jim Britt.

“Real quality; real professionalism is timeless,” Costas said. “Boston is a traditional baseball market – it’s very parochial. Every market favors their own team, and they want someone to project that they’re on board with that, but Boston is more parochial than most.”

One of the defining moments of O’Brien’s broadcasting career came in 2013 when Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit a grand slam to tie Game 2 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series that year, and Ortiz’s swing of destiny is viewed as an evident turning point in the team’s postseason run.

“I do remember in 2013 the moment before the Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park thinking to myself, ‘The theme of this season has been Boston Strong,’ given everything that happened with the [Boston] Marathon bombing and the recovery,” O’Brien said. “…I wanted to find a way to use ‘Boston Strong’ in the final moments in the final call. That was as close as I got to scripting anything.”

The moment contrasts with San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds hitting his record-breaking 756th home run in 2007, a controversial achievement O’Brien punctuated on ESPN. In his broadcasting career, O’Brien has called eight no-hitters, countless walk-off wins and many jaw-dropping feats, and most of the calls are wholly organic; that is, all except for one.

When the San Diego Padres hired Don Orsilllo to succeed Dick Enberg and call games for the team, the Red Sox television play-by-play position was suddenly open. Prior to the 2016 season, NESN announced that O’Brien would step into the position, meaning he would get to pair with Jerry Remy. The former Red Sox infielder for seven seasons, Remy was from New England and considered by many to be one of the best analysts in the sport. He was a beloved Bostonian and a fixture in the NESN Red Sox booth for 33 years. Remy passed away in October 2021 after a battle with lung cancer, a devastating blow for baseball fans and the Boston community.

“Jerry was special because he was one of us,” O’Brien said. “He played for the Red Sox and he wore the uniform, but he sounded like he was from here because he was. He lived and breathed the Red Sox… [and] could be your neighbor. [Jerry] could be the guy down the street, and he felt like a friend every night.”

Throughout the 2023 season, O’Brien has worked with a rotating carousel of analysts, including Dennis Eckersley, Will Middlebrooks and Kevin Youkilis. Each color commentator brings a unique skill set and knowledge base to the broadcast, and it is O’Brien’s job to extrapolate it onto the air.

O’Brien strived for any opportunity he could to get on the air early in his broadcast career, and through endurance and tenacity, he now gets to call “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” his workplace. From the days he was attending games with his father to now, there was and remains a love for the sport and innate alacrity to deliberately strive towards achieving his goals. 

“Many students graduate today with broadcast degrees who’ve spent almost no time on the air,” O’Brien said. “How do you know if you’re any good at it? How do you know what you sound like with a microphone unless you do it? That’s my primary advice to every single one of them – find a way to get on the air; find a way to understand if this is really for you or not – and the only way to do that is to be on the air somewhere.”

Whether it is as a spectator or media member, O’Brien has seen a lot – but he still sees something brand new two to three times per month. Aside from his infatuation with sports, it is that enigmatic aura within the history-laden catacombs of the ballpark that keeps him coming back.

“I may see something tonight I’ve never seen before, and if I’m still broadcasting – and I think I am with that same sense of joy over those moments – then I’ll keep doing it,” O’Brien elucidated. “If that ever leaves me, then it’s time to go, and I’ll be the first one to know it.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

BSM Writers

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.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

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.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

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.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.