It’s pretty safe to assume that you’ve heard plenty about Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Bulter getting as many defensive plays in Super Bowl LII as me. Butler played 97.8 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season. He played 0 percent of the defensive snaps in the Super Bowl as the Patriots gave up 613 total yards and 41 points to an Eagles squad led by backup quarterback Nick Foles. All of these ingredients are straight from the second-guessing heavens.
Malcolm Butler was a hero after intercepting Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX. Butler is clearly better than the player who took his place, Eric Rowe. Pro Football Focus ranked Butler 48th among all NFL cornerbacks. Rowe was 188th out of 209. Plus, both players found out about the switch just before kickoff. On top of that, team captains were aware of the change beforehand, yet Butler and Rowe found out at the last minute. The whole thing is oozing with goofiness.
Bill Belichick is notorious for giving players a heavy workload one game and then doing the opposite the following week. Even with that in mind, this situation with Malcolm Butler qualifies as strangely uncommon. Belichick also confirmed after the game that it wasn’t a decision based on disciplinary reasons.
Former Patriots’ cornerback Brandon Browner provided some thoughts about Butler by writing, “A locker room was divided pregame, most yards ever given up in a SB game, and your best defender over the past three seasons doesn’t get a snap. You were hurt/burnt where he was needed tonight. #foolishpride.” Browner’s Instagram post was liked by current Patriots’ linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and former Patriot players Jamie Collins and Alfonzo Dennard.
When my nephews were very young, I’ll never forget my sister telling me, “Little eyes are watching you.” Those tiny munchkins were studying my every move, and often times, I didn’t even realize it. When it comes to how you simply treat people in life, little eyes are watching you. Big eyes are watching you. All eyes are watching you. Current Patriot players are keenly aware of how Butler was treated, partly because they wonder if they’ll be next.
This concept applies to all aspects of life, especially sports radio. If you treat someone improperly, others will wonder if you will eventually mistreat them the same way. It’s even more powerful in sports talk because words are heard by thousands of people. I wouldn’t like someone going to a busy street corner with a megaphone saying, “Brian Noe is a bum. No, seriously, this guy is a hack.” Sports radio is like a megaphone on steroids.
It’s such an easy concept to understand and to also forget — the way you treat one person is basically the way you’re addressing all people. If I say something negative on the air about a former co-host, many others will wonder if I’ll bash them in some way also. It works similarly to steroids in baseball. Follow me on this one.
We can’t separate the clean and dirty years of a player’s career with 100 percent certainty — the non-steroid years from the roided seasons. It all blends together. It’s the same idea with how we treat people. I might know in my head that I’m not going to make negative statements about anybody else beyond one former co-host, but no one else knows that for sure. They can’t anticipate all of my positive and negative views. The good and bad blend together. The only thing others know for sure is that if I bash one person, I might do the same exact thing to them as well.
It’s important not to go too far when being critical of a player, but there is more wiggle room. I’ve referred to Nick Foles as Nick Fools during the playoffs. As great as he performed during the playoffs, I think he’s fooling many people into thinking he’s a franchise quarterback when he’s actually just a really good backup that got hot at the right time. Some bristled at the nickname. Big deal. It wasn’t malicious or mean-spirited. It’s just an attention getter and a way for people to remember my stance.
There is much less leeway to mistreat individuals you actually know. I once was talking to my operations manager in his office a few years ago. Alex, a sales guy, was dropping by to tell me something when he saw us having a brief conversation. He paused in the doorway. Just then the OM shooed him away saying, “Get outta here.” I thought it was wrong and a gigantic red flag. Sure enough the OM turned out to treat other people in the building poorly, not just Alex.
I would never behave the same way, but I’m far from perfect. On Saturday my producer, Gavin Kinsel, was in my ear during the show. “Break. Time to go to break. Let’s break.” Instead of going to break and then telling him that he sounded like my next door neighbor’s crazy dog barking relentlessly at 2:30 in the morning, I said something about it on the air. I basically said, “Yes, I know. It’s time to break. We’re going to break.” Although it wasn’t egregious, I should’ve handled it much better.
It’s never good for someone to feel like they were called out by you. It’s even worse for other people to wonder what you might do to them based on how you treated someone else. I take those things seriously. I always want the people around me to know that I have their back. I want them to be comfortable instead of having reasons to doubt me.
We might not want to jump in the hot tub time machine to the exact date we were initially told, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It’s absolutely superb advice though. The reason it’s so important to avoid critical comments is because it impacts many others than just the one individual you happen to be bashing. Before speaking, instead of picturing one person you aren’t fond of, picture 100 people being suspicious of you based on your tirade. You’ll choose your words much differently.
No one always gets it right. If you screw up, own it. Don’t let your foolish pride get in the way of a needed apology. Something tells me that most people aren’t anticipating a Belichick apology to be heading Malcolm Butler’s way anytime soon though. That’s a major part of the problem. Most of the people who aren’t holding their breath for Belichick to be contrite, happen to be current Patriot players.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.