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Todd Blackledge is Ready to Take in the Flavors of the Big Ten

“No matter how good of a player you are – and I’m sure Tom Brady will find this out; there’s nobody better than him – but doing TV is different than playing.”

Derek Futterman

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Todd Blackledge
Todd Blackledge - Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images | Beaver Stadium - Courtesy: Mikey DeAngelis, Onward State

Prior to the start of the football season, most networks hold a seminar in order to bring their personnel up to speed on new facets of the broadcast, rule changes and to grant them a chance to meet one another. Understanding the importance of establishing affinity with the audience, ESPN executive producer Jed Drake once addressed his staff and implored them not to be afraid to divulge new ideas. Throughout his remarks, he expressed that there is no reason to loathe the prospect of trying, affirming that there is no such thing as a noble failure. The allocution impelled Todd Blackledge to inform his producer, Bo Garrett, about an idea he had had in the back of his mind for several years but never shared.

“I love finding these little hole-in-the-wall places, and I’ve been doing SEC games for a lot of years and I’ve got a whole catalog of places that I like to go,” Blackledge remembered expressing to Drake. “Let’s try to do something and call it ‘Todd’s Taste of the Town.’”

As he peregrinates the country each year to call college football games, Blackledge has always observed the culture surrounding a particular university and its locale. Whether it is Mac’s Drive-In in Clemson, S.C., The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas or Ye Olde College Diner in State College, Pa., the college football analyst became known for his culinary palette and created a bonafide franchise. Approaching each edition of the segment receptive to new ideas, he was able to explore destinations and connect the distinct trademarks of communities with one another.

“After being an analyst for 20-something years, all of a sudden after three or four weeks, I became more known as a food guy,” Blackledge said. “I’d run into people in the airport and the hotel, and the first thing they’d ask me [was], ‘Where are you eating this week? Where are you going for a ‘Taste of the Town’?”

Blackledge released a book complete with reviews of restaurants from around the country and anecdotes from his time on the road and appreciated the feedback he received each week. Now that he is a member of NBC Sports as a color commentator on Big Ten Saturday Night, there was a decision to make about the future of the segment.

“I’m going to let it stay where it was,” Blackledge divulged. “As much as anything in respect for the guys that worked so hard with me on it on a weekly basis, I wouldn’t want to try to replicate that with other people.”

Blackledge has an earnest appreciation for his teammates and understands the value of everybody working together. While he does not work directly with the camera operators during broadcasts, he makes time to speak with them and the production staff about storylines he may follow to help them guide their shots. Moreover, Blackledge makes it a point to interact with them during the media meal instead of remaining affixed with his commentary partners, producer and director.

Growing up as the son of a coach, the gridiron was always transfixed in his psyche in addition to the broadcasts themselves. While playing pickup football games in his backyard, Blackledge vividly remembers announcing the contests by mimicking what he saw on television.

As his NFL career began to reach its end, Blackledge began to consider following his father’s footsteps in coaching. In fact, there were a couple of instances where he nearly joined collegiate coaching staffs, but he has grown to cherish sports media. None of it would have happened without his first boss, Guido D’Elia, taking a chance on him in 1990 while working with Penn State through D’Elia’s media production firm, Mind over Media. The outlet had produced the Emmy Award-winning weekly program, Penn State Football Story, which presented highlights and news about the Nittany Lions.

D’Elia taught Blackledge about writing, voicing over highlights and cameras among other things. During that first year, no network had decided to broadcast one of the team’s football games against Texas, resulting in Blackledge receiving his first chance as a color commentator. After calling an additional matchup, plus hosting the weekly recap show, D’Elia helped him compile a demo reel to send out to broadcast outlets for other opportunities.

“He was always challenging me and pushing me to try to take my game to the next level,” Blackledge said. “I am just forever grateful to him for that. To this day, he remains my primary mentor.”

D’Elia, a marketing consultant who is best known as the creator of the “White Out” at Beaver Stadium, has followed Blackledge throughout his broadcasting career. A couple of times a year, Blackledge contacts him and asks him to watch one of his games. The next day, D’Elia shares notes he jotted down.

“It sounds like it should be in the business of communications that there would be great communication from top to bottom,” Blackledge said. “There isn’t always, but if you find somebody that’ll tell you straight, that’s a valuable thing.”

When Blackledge was hired by the Big East Television Network to call 11 games in its first year though, he was not sure whether he would want his career to continue to grow. 

“Fortunately, I did the Big East for a couple of years and I was able to add a few Bowl games here or there with ESPN and different things,” Blackledge said. “Then finally after three years, I got an opportunity to go to ABC. They only offered me six games, and they only guaranteed me six games, but at that point, I felt I was ready to take a bet on myself.”

Blackledge entered the ABC Sports role with a determination and focus to perform to the best of his ability, working with commentators such as Roger Twibell, Terry Gannon and Mark Jones. In his five years with the network, he was on the call for marquee matchups including the Army-Navy game and the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, while also appearing on studio coverage. As he steadily gained more repetitions, Blackledge ensured he remembered a sagacious piece of advice he received from a television producer in 1990 when he was calling a game between Iowa and Miami (FL).

“He pulled me aside after the first production meeting and said, ‘Look, if you don’t remember anything else, remember this,’” Blackledge recalled. “‘The guy sitting next to you – his job is to tell people what happened – who made the carry; who made the tackle; what the down and distance is. That’s not your job; you don’t need to repeat what he said or what we just saw. Your job is trying to answer the question, ‘Why?’”

It may seem simple from the onset, but everything Blackledge does in the booth is geared towards being able to effectively parse moments of each game and convey his expertise. At the same time, he is able to infuse his personality into the conversation and be seen as more than just an unadorned courier.

CBS Sports recognized the strides Blackledge had made and tabbed him as its lead analyst for its coverage of college football in 1999 – including the Southeastern Conference and Army-Navy game among other events. The network is the place where Blackledge first paired with Sean McDonough, who he would later work with again at ESPN. The broadcast booth, which later included Verne Lundquist, traveled around the country to call games, with both commentators further developing as bonafide professionals.

Once Blackledge signed with ESPN in 2006, he started working with Mike Patrick on College Football Saturday Primetime and had the chance to call many captivating showdowns – including the National Championship Game on ESPN Radio. Over the years, he integrated his “Taste of the Town” segment.

Skilled at establishing rapport with his broadcast partners, Blackledge seamlessly transitioned when he was assigned new on-air partners such as Brad Nessler and Joe Tessitore. The key was in determining the broadcast styles of the commentators and blending in to maintain a steady sound on a week-by-week basis.

“For me, I never had any issues working with anybody because they were all great and all of them wanted to be successful and wanted our team to be successful,” Blackledge said. “It didn’t take long to adapt.”

Leading up to a game, Blackledge consumes an inordinate amount of information. He tries to watch the last three games of each team, along with any recent previous matchups between them. On Thursdays, he is usually traveling to the site of his Saturday game and attempts to arrive in time to watch afternoon practice.

Friday is usually when the broadcast team gets to meet with the head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator from the home team. If there was no conference call ahead of time with the visitors, they will meet in person with them as well, usually at the team hotel. By the time gameday comes around, he is ready to inform and educate viewers about all things college football.

“I like to get to the stadium early, [the] same way that I used to do when I played,” Blackledge said. “When you play in the NFL, they used to have the first bus earlier than the second bus, and I was a first bus guy. Sometimes, I was even [in] a cab before the first bus. I just liked to be there [and] get there early, and I like to do the same thing with broadcasting.”

When NBC Sports closed a seven-year deal with the Big Ten to acquire a share of its media rights, the network officially secured a prominent conference to pair with its exclusive broadcasts of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Blackledge did not foresee himself joining NBC Sports and was content with his role at ESPN, but ultimately received an offer to join the prime-time game that he could simply not refuse. What NBC brought to the table was intriguing to him in being part of launching a new era of Big Ten football. The conference now has a dedicated weekly prime-time slot on a national broadcast network for the first time, along with nine exclusive games on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

“I just think that game under the lights at that time of day has just got a great look and feels big and looks big and sounds big, so I’ve always enjoyed doing prime-time games,” Blackledge said. “With NBC doing the prime-time games and Big Ten and again just the way they made me feel, they wanted me to kind of be in the center of this new thing that they’re doing.”

Blackledge will work with 26-year-old rising star Noah Eagle, who was most recently the radio play-by-play voice of the LA Clippers. Blackledge has had the chance to interact with Eagle on several occasions and is already convinced that he is going to be a star in the business. Both broadcasters met to call a closed-circuit practice game together ahead of their debut on Saturday night when Penn State hosts West Virginia.

“I grew up the son of a coach and there’s real value in that,” Blackledge said, “and he grew up the son of a great broadcaster and in that kind of family, and I think there’s great value in that for him as well.”

Eagle and Blackledge will implement sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen, who is joining the property after primarily hosting different events for NBC Sports over the years. The broadcast trio, along with director Charlie Dammeyer and producer Matt Marvin, is filled with vast, award-winning experience. 

“No matter how good of a player you are – and I’m sure Tom Brady will find this out; there’s nobody better than him – but doing TV is different than playing,” Blackledge said. “It takes work; it takes preparation [and] it takes understanding [that] you’ve got to speak in small windows [and] you’ve got to know the cadence and rhythm of the guy that you’re working with.”

B1G Ten Saturday NBC Sports
Courtesy Marc Lebryk

Blackledge has been working in sports media for over three decades and has no signs of slowing down any time soon. Joining B1G Ten Saturday on NBC has reinvigorated him and given him a new challenge to conquer as part of his illustrious playing and commentating career. The job has a surfeit of travel that starts around Labor Day and ends just before Christmas, but the destinations are somewhat unfamiliar for Blackledge this time around. While he has called games in many of the venues, it has been several years since that point, and he is looking forward to “taking in all the flavors” of each location.

“I haven’t been to a game at Illinois in many years, and I haven’t been to a game in Madison for several years,” Blackledge shared. “I’ve only done one game ever in my career at Iowa, [so] there are venues that are great places for college football that I’m looking forward to getting back to and kind of visiting.”

Blackledge wants to be able to look back on the first few weeks of the program and see sustained progress to help elevate the show to the best football broadcast on television, including going up against those of the NFL. As high of an expectation as it may be, he trusts that it is attainable and something everybody should want. He will never be satisfied and knows there is always room to redefine what doing your best encapsulates.

“I’ll be calling Guido a couple of times this year and still taking input on how to improve, but it’s exciting to try to do it now with a whole new group of friends and a whole new group of people,” Blackledge said. “I think it’s going to be really, really exciting.”

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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

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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

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SECRET WEAPON
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

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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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