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Unsportsmanlike: Media Rights Impacted Roger Goodell Extension, Dallas Cowboys Perception

“It’s easier for the owners to find players that can go out there and produce on a football field than it is to find people in this world that can do what Roger Goodell does.”

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Unsportsmanlike ESPN Radio
Courtesy: Instagram

The National Football League has announced that an agreement has been reached to extend Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract for an additional three years, his fourth extension since being elected to the position in 2006. Goodell has negotiated numerous media rights deals with the NFL and helped usher in a new era of digital distribution, highlighted by the record-setting 11-year media rights contract with various entities worth a reported $110 billion.

On the Wednesday morning edition of ESPN Radio’s Unsportsmanlike, co-host Evan Cohen posed the question as to whether or not Goodell is worth more money than a player. The impetus for this query came after Goodell’s previous salary, which is reportedly about $64 million annually, was reported and how his career earnings are approaching $700 million.

“If the owners are willing to pay him to do it, yeah,” co-host Chris Canty responded. “It is what it is. The owners are looking at this and saying, ‘Goodell is the one that orchestrated these record-setting media rights contracts,’ and that’s all the NFL owners care about is the bottom-line [and] how much money they’re going to make.”

Goodell works with several league officials and representatives from television networks to negotiate the media rights deals, and he was critical in key decisions over the years related to flex scheduling and the integration of an over-the-top streaming platform, Amazon Prime Video, into the weekly game rotation. NFL Head of Media Brian Rolapp recently revealed that NFL Sunday Ticket through YouTube and YouTube TV has amassed a record number of sign-ups within its first year on the platform, part of a larger seven-year deal worth a reported $2 billion per year. Canty likened the reasoning behind his analysis towards replacement-value, and conveyed just how nuanced the role of a league commissioner is in today’s day and age.

“It’s easier for the owners to find players that can go out there and produce on a football field than it is to find people in this world that can do what Roger Goodell does,” Canty explained, “and I think that’s where the owners look at it and say, ‘This is why Roger Goodell is worth the contract paying him $60-70 million a year.”

As the commissioner of the league, Goodell is frequently at the center of unpopular decisions and instances with the potential to harm the image of the game. Both Canty and co-host Michelle Smallmon described him as “the personification of the shield,” understanding that he encompasses much of what the NFL is all about. While Smallmon, a former St. Louis, Mo. radio host and producer, has mixed feelings towards the league due to the departure of the Rams and the way it values women, she knows that Goodell takes much of the negativity and renders it sustainable.

“He’s absorbing all of this heat from fans; he’s protecting owners front themselves and the scandals that we hear about ownership, and he’s somehow turning it into piles of cash,” Smallmon said, “so that, if you’re an owner, is way, way, way more valuable than a player.”

Shortly thereafter, Cohen invited listeners to call into the show to discuss the Dallas Cowboys, one of the league’s signature franchises over the years, to respond to the assertion of the team receiving a deluge of criticism. One listener implored the show to stop discussing them, as it benefits owner Jerry Jones, who also makes weekly radio appearances.

He also shared that he and his father do not speak during the football season because of his father’s zeal towards the Cowboys, nicknamed “America’s Team.” In responding to the caller, Canty shared a story of his pre-draft visit in Dallas when he was informed by Jones that the Cowboys are “the Broadway of the NFL” and always a talking point no matter their record.

“There aren’t other owners that have a weekly radio show, so Jerry makes it a spectacle,” Canty said. “Jerry makes it a big deal, and when they underachieve, it creates this dynamic where everybody is polarizing. You either feel strongly about the Cowboys potentially being able to get them next year, or you think it’s going to be the same-old Cowboys, so I think that’s the lens that everybody looks at Dallas through, and that’s why we always talk about them.”

Jones makes weekly radio appearances, and star linebacker Micah Parsons hosts a weekly podcast with Bleacher Report, the most recent episode on which he expressed frustration towards people trashing the Cowboys. Nonetheless, sports media professionals know that there is significant national interest towards the team and oftentimes, there is no shortage of talking points, partially due to the accessibility of the personnel.

“We’ve got to keep reiterating – Jerry Jones talks every week; Micah Parsons talks every week,” Cohen said. “We’re an audio-based medium; we react to audio. They’re giving us a lot of audio.”

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Chris Curtis: It’s Obscene How Announcers Think Someone Else’s Achievement is About Them

“Allow the call to stand for what you are celebrating don’t make the call about you.”

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Screengrab of Chris Curtis of WEEI
Screengrab: WEEI

The city of Boston just went through a championship win with the Boston Celtics taking home the NBA Championship this year. But it was the championship won by the NHL’s Florida Panthers, their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, that had The Greg Hill Show on WEEI talking this morning. Hosts Greg Hill, Jermaine Wiggins, Courtney Cox and producer Chris Curtis had talked about the game earlier, but later got into the final call by the Panthers’ radio announcers and Chris Curtis was not a fan of it at all.

“Can we just get to this unbelievable sound?” Curtis asked. “…I really think we should rip someone that doesn’t work with us.”

Curtis then played the audio of the last ten seconds of the broadcast with Panthers broadcasters Doug Plagens and Bill Lindsay.

“Ten seconds left, 2-1 Panthers,” Plagens said. “A dream 30 years in the making is real. The Florida Panthers have won the Stanley Cup.” This was followed by Lindsay yelling, “Lord Stanley is coming hoooooome.”

“Stop it right there,” Curtis said. “First of all, Lord Stanley, if he was cryogenically frozen like Ted Williams, would never return to a place he never visited, which is Sunrise, Florida. There is more hockey in Sudan than there is in Southern Florida. It is obscene how these people all across radio, mostly Syracuse ‘johnnies’ that think someone else’s achievement is about them.

“You are the conduit to the audience to enjoy…Maybe there are a handful of people that grew up watching the Panthers. Yesterday meant a lot to them. Allow the call to stand for what you are celebrating don’t make the call about you.”

Then, Curtis really went in and started with a local announcer who does something similar to what he was describing the Panthers’ announcers did.

“Sean Grande does this all the effing time,” Curtis said. “He writes out soliloquies. Sean, you didn’t do anything, you’re just telling us what they did. It’s not about you, you dullards. Bill Lindsay screaming on Doug Plagens of course Syracuse master’s degree, that’s where you learn to talk like someone who sounds like someone you have never met in your life while they’re trying to be relatable.”

“He went to Newhouse, Curtis,” Hill chimed in.

“If you need to go to Newhouse to get a job, you’re not that good,” Curtis said.

Wiggins disagreed a bit with Curtis’ take saying, “I like a homer broadcaster who feels the emotion of getting into it. The color guy who played for the team who gets emotional when you win.”

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Boomer Esiason: People Watch Stephen A. Smith ‘Because of Him and What He’s Going to Say’

“What other alternative or where else can he go?”

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Graphic for the Boomer & Gio Show and a photo of Stephen A. Smith

With reports coming out that ESPN had made an initial contract offer of 5 years and $90 million dollars to Stephen A. Smith, various sports show hosts have weighed in and given their opinions. Such was the case during Boomer & Gio this morning on WFAN with Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti.

“Have you seen any of this Stephen A. Smith contract stuff that’s going on?” Giannotti asked.

“I have seen it, yes,” Esiason said. “Listen, the guy works his ass off, he is definitely a firestarter for that network and quite frankly he has built himself into a one man show.”

Giannotti replied, “He’s had success. He’s one of the bigger voices in sports if not the biggest voice in sports.”

Esiason added, “What’s different about him compared to Troy [Aikman] or Tony [Romo] or somebody else – people are going to tune in to watch the football game no matter who is doing it. People are watching him because of him and what he’s going to say.”

Giannotti reviewed the report of how much was offered and mentioned the other reports that say Smtih is looking for closer to $25 million per year. He also mentioned Dan Le Batard saying he thought ESPN had lowballed Smith with the offer.

Giannotti said, “This is one of those things that is just hard to calculate. I don’t know how much money they would lose if he wasn’t there. This is something I’d love to know…how many advertising dollars, how many things that they sell because he is there equates to a loss if he leaves?”

Esiason then said, “Here’s what I would ask. What other alternative or where else can he go?” He then later added, “In our medium on a national basis…both he and Pat McAfee have brought eyeballs or attention to ESPN for different reasons, and I think that if they can extract that kind of money out of those companies, good for them. I have no problem with any of it.”

Giannotti continued to ask about the ad dollars, but Esiason explained there were a lot of other factors that come into play.

“I don’t know about the advertising,” he said. “I think it’s more about the subscription services. I think it’s more about the fact that they use him in every single aspect they possibly can…He’s on that morning show…but then he’s all over the NBA playoffs, he’s all over the NFL playoffs. He’s all over everything. I couldn’t even imagine. I know what it was like for me when I was doing NFL Today, Monday Night Football and this radio program. It was exhausting…I know that he has complained about how much he is asked to do over there.”

All of this led to a discussion about a weekly Smith guest on First Take, Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo. “I tell you what, when he is on there, I find him to be extremely entertaining,” Esiason said. “The interaction between the two of them is about as entertaining as it can get on television…If I was ‘Dog’ I would quit [SiriusXM] cuz nobody hears you and go over [to ESPN] and take a full-time spot over there and get paid.”

“I don’t know if they’re offering a full-time spot for him over there, he’s like a novelty,” Giannotti replied.

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ESPN Chicago Announces 2024 Football Fest with Adam Schefter and Field Yates

“Football Fest is the unofficial kickoff of the NFL season, and I am excited about this year’s fest, from the stars we’ll have in the room to the show we have planned.”

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Graphic for ESPN Chicago's Football Fan Fest
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN Chicago on Facebook

ESPN Chicago announced the return of Football Fest, an event they started in 2022. The 2024 edition will take place at the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana on Sunday, August 25. ESPN NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Field Yates are back as guests and will share insights and engage with fans throughout the event.

“Football Fest is the unofficial kickoff of the NFL season, and I am excited about this year’s fest, from the stars we’ll have in the room to the show we have planned,” said Danny Zederman, director of content for ESPN Chicago in a release. “We listened to fan feedback, and we’ve added new ways for fans to interact with their favorite ESPN Chicago and Bears Radio Network personalities, as well as a live onstage version of our fan-favorite, unfiltered podcast Crosstalk Unhinged with Carm, Jurko, Waddle, and Silvy.”

ESPN Chicago and Bears Radio Network personalities will be available for meet & greets with fans taking photos and signing autographs. The Good Karma Brands owned station says the event “will consist of live programming from local and national experts on the upcoming football season, fantasy football, as well as games, vendors, and more.”

$10 tickets for the event are on sale through Ticketmaster.com.

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