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Steak Shapiro: Troy Aikman Is ‘Top of the Food Chain’ of Superstar Player and Great Broadcaster

“Famous line by Bob Costas, ‘I would have been happy to pay my dues, but nobody asked me to.'”

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Photos of Steak Shapiro and Troy Aikman

During his Steak Tips segment while on The Morning Shift on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Steak Shapiro brought up the passing of Bill Walton and the media career of Tom Brady getting started soon. This brought up the topic of who the best athletes are that became great broadcasters. Troy Aikman was the consensus choice.

“The greatest combination of superstar player and great broadcaster, who comes to mind?” Shapiro asked Tiffany Blackmon, Mike Johnson and Beau Morgan. “There are those who have excelled absolutely at the highest level on both levels and there are those where you are like, ‘great player, but don’t give them a microphone.’ Joe Montana was an example, Dan Marino really had a very short stint, didn’t really come together…It’s a combination of great in the booth and great on the field. I’m talking about a guy sitting there calling games.”

When someone suggested Aikman, Shapiro responded, “I think he is probably at the top of the food chain. Three Super Bowls and now the No. 1 color guy for how many years now? Is he going on 20 years?”

Another name that was brought up and hits close to home in Atlanta is former Braves pitcher John Smoltz. “John Smoltz is a great one,” Shapiro said. “Hall of Famer, and by the way, nobody ascended to the No. 1 team faster than John Smoltz. Famous line by Bob Costas, ‘I would have been happy to pay my dues, but nobody asked me to.'”

When it came to Brady and talking about the start of his media career, Shapiro noted how rare it is for someone considered to be in the very upper echelon of their sport to move to the broadcasting booth.

“Brady is in a weird spot,” he said. “Greg Olsen just won the Emmy for best broadcaster in the booth and he gets sent to the second team. Brady can’t be better than Greg Olsen because Olsen was just given the Emmy as the best.”

Other names brought into the conversation included Kirk Herbstreit, Pat Summerall and Rich Gannon, but all agreed none of them excelled in sports to the level of a Walton or Aikman. Phil Simms, who spent time in the No. 1 booth for both NBC and CBS and was the Super Bowl XXI MVP was mentioned. Shapiro also threw out Reggie Miller’s name and said he has been excellent calling NBA playoff games this year.

“It’s a hard combination,” Shapiro said. “And then the question is, ‘why do the absolute top, top guys who have hundreds of millions of dollars decide they need to stay in the game?’ I’ve been around enough ex-athletes, a lot of times it’s good for your brain, it’s good for not having to get away from the game too much.”

Matt Ryan was then brought up as someone who there are high expectations for as a broadcaster. CBS is bringing Ryan in as a replacement for Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms on The NFL Today. “Listen, Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms did a great job, but it’s not a lifetime job all the time. Get a guy that was literally under center two years ago, he played against 90% of the guys he’s going to be [talking about].”

Shapiro added, “I said it about Dick Clark and Regis. Just because you’ve been doing it a long time doesn’t mean you get to do it forever. Other than me, I can do this forever.”

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Dan Patrick: ESPN Was an ‘Echo Chamber’

“When I was at ESPN, you’re told what you’re supposed to talk about, you’re told you have to have ESPN analysts on.”

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Screengrab from OutLick.com's Don't @ Me with Dan Dakich and guest Dan Patrick
Screengrab: Don't @ Me/OutKick.com

Dan Patrick was a guest of Dan Dakich on his OutKick.com show Don’t @ Me and the two talked about several topics including Patrick’s plan to retire at the end of 2027. Patrick shared a story with Dakich about the day he first realized he didn’t want to continue at ESPN.

“There was one day when I was doing the 6 o’clock SportsCenter and I remember I threw it out to Sal Paolantonio with the Eagles. He’s doing his report and I’m not listening to anything he is saying because in my mind I am thinking, ‘I am going through the motions here, I am not getting any better.’ I remember coming home that night and I said to my wife, ‘ I don’t think I want to stay at ESPN…I don’t know, I think I might want to leave after this contract’s up, because I wasn’t getting any better.

“And that’s why I went on my own, because I needed to get my ass kicked. And we did the show for three years in my attic at my house, it wasn’t anything glamorous that I was leaving for, but I needed to jump start that again. And I accomplished it. I’m the first person to get out of Alcatraz and swim safely to the shore and live to tell about it and I’m good. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and it’s time for somebody else to come in and do this, somebody younger.”

Dakich replied, “You’re great man, you’re not good, you’re great. And what you did was be a trailblazer…People don’t leave ESPN unless they ask you to leave. You know why I left? Other than the fact that I maybe was too controversial. I got bored. I get bored easy, and I got tired of ‘Don’t do this’ and ‘Don’t do that’ …so I go to OutKick where they let me say whatever the hell I want, and I don’t get in trouble.”

Patrick agreed with Dakich about the way ESPN dictates most of the topics and decides who can or cannot come on for analysis. “When I was at ESPN, you’re told what you’re supposed to talk about, you’re told you have to have ESPN analysts on,” he said. “It’s an echo chamber. And I just kept thinking that we needed to have people from outside instead of just our analysts on and that was not met well. It just felt like when Disney took over, the walls kind of got tighter, things shrunk, it wasn’t as much fun there…I felt like I didn’t graduate, I didn’t progress, I didn’t get any better.

“Berman left, Bob Ley left, Olbermann left, Kilborn left, Tirico left, Chris Myers left, Rich Eisen left. They all left, and I was just there going, ‘ Oh my god, I don’t want to be laughed at, I want to be laughed with. I gotta get out.’

Patrick said he turned down a five-year contract extension and that his boss “couldn’t believe it.”

Patrick said he believed he had been selfish long enough and that it was time to be able to spend more time with his family.

“You have to be selfish to be good at just about anything it feels like, and I thought I had been selfish to get to this point and I didn’t want to continue to be selfish to my family,” he said.

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Merrill Reese, Voice of the Eagles Since 1977, to Receive 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award

“For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

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Logo for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a photo of Merrill Reese
Photo Courtesy: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced that longtime Philadelphia Eagles radio play-by-play voice Merrill Reese has been chosen to receive the 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Reese is currently the longest-serving play-by-play announcer in the league, having called Eagles games since 1977.

“Each year, the Hall of Fame recognizes an individual who has dedicated their career to improving radio and television in professional football, and this year’s recipient, Merrill Reese, represents exactly what we look for when we talk about who’s made a big impact in broadcasting,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

In a release announcing the award, the Hall of Fame said when they called Reese to tell him the news his response was, “Oh, my god. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

This year will be Reese’s 48th consecutive season as a team announcer. His first year he served as the color analyst before team play-by-play announcer Charlie Swift passed away and Reese moved over to call the action.

Reese has won numerous awards including Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year and the Lindsey Nelson Award for Excellence in Sportscasting. He has also been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Temple University Communications Hall of Fame and the Overbrook High School Hall of Fame.

Reese will be honored during the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week in Canton, Ohio coming up in early August.

Past Winners of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award:

2023 – Fred Gaudelli 
2022 – Howard Katz 
2021 – John Facenda
2020 – Joe Buck 
2019 – Dick Ebersol 
2018 – Andrea Kremer
2017 – David Hill 
2016 – James Brown
2015 – Tom Jackson
2014 – Bob Trumpy 
2013 – Al Michaels
2012 – Len Dawson 
2011 – Jim Nantz 
2010 – Chris Berman 
2009 – Irv Cross 
2008 – Dan Dierdorf 
2007 – Don Meredith 
2006 – Lesley Visser
2005 – Myron Cope 
2004 – Van Miller 
2003 – Don Criqui 
2002 – John Madden
2001 – Roone Arledge 
2000 – Ray Scott
1999 – Dick Enberg
1998 – Val Pinchbeck
1997 – Charlie Jones
1996 – Jack Buck
1995 – Frank Gifford
1994 – Pat Summerall
1993 – Curt Gowdy
1992 – Chris Schenkel
1991 – Ed Sabol
1990 – Lindsey Nelson
1989 – Bill McPhail

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Matt Chazanow Named Radio Play-by-Play Voice of NC State Wolfpack

“The passion and power of the Pack is renowned in college athletics and to be entrusted to take the baton from Gary Hahn and tell the stories of NC State is truly humbling.

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Graphic announcing Matt Chazanow as the new voice of the NC State Wolfpack
Graphic Courtesy: NC State Athletics

NC State and Learfield’s Wolfpack Sports Properties have announced Matt Chazanow as the new Director of Broadcasting and play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball. According to a release from the school, Chazanow was one of more than 150 applicants for the position.

Chazanow, who had been in a similar role at Washington State since 2015, will take over for Gary Hahn who called Wolfpack games for 34 years. Chazanow is from New Jersey but worked in Winston-Salem, NC and his wife is a North Carolina native.

“I’m so excited to welcome Matt Chazanow as our new ‘Voice of the Wolfpack,'” said NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan in a release. “Chaz understands that this role isn’t only about calling games, but about bringing special moments and memories to Wolfpack fans of all ages. While he is a very talented radio announcer, he will also be a great representative of our university, our brand, and our culture.

“I also want to thank Gary Hahn for his period of service to NC State. There are generations of NC State fans that have memories of Gary calling their favorite Wolfpack plays, and he will always be a part of Wolfpack Nation.”

“I am so thrilled for this incredible opportunity,” said Chazanow.  “The passion and power of the Pack is renowned in college athletics and to be entrusted to take the baton from Gary Hahn and tell the stories of NC State is truly humbling. I can’t wait to get started.”

“An established voice in the broadcasting world, Chaz will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Wolfpack Sports Network,” said Kyle Winchester, General Manager of Wolfpack Sports Properties. “We’re delighted for him to join our world-class team and lead our coverage of the Wolfpack starting this season.”

A graduate of Syracuse, Chazanow has been with Learfield since 2008 and has also done national play-by-play for Westwood One.

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