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If You Want People to Like You Don’t be a Jerk

Brian Noe



Alabama crushed Louisville 51-14 on Saturday night. Head coach Nick Saban didn’t crush the postgame interview though. He went all Nick Saban on ESPN reporter Maria Taylor who asked a completely reasonable and necessary question. Taylor wanted to know if Saban got any answers after his two quarterbacks — Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts — split time during the game.

Shorts-in-a-bunch Saban responded in aggressive fashion. “I think both guys can help our team, all right? So why do you continually try to get me to say something that doesn’t respect one of them? I’m not going to. So quit asking.” The drill sergeant response was only missing a final mic drop demand — “Now drop and give me 50, Taylor!”


The unnecessary outburst got me thinking about sports radio, which has been known to have an over-the-top explosion or two along the way. The end result can also be much more damaging in our business as opposed to college football.

I made a few critical comments on the air a few weeks ago about some Philadelphia Eagles fans. One person made a billboard near Gillette Stadium that was gloating about the Eagles win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Another fan flew a plane over Gillette Stadium that said, “41-33 Philly Philly Super Bowl LII,” just before a preseason game between the Eagles and Patriots.

The actions were petty. Yeah, Philly won it all. Great. Have fun, but don’t be classless. Instead, a handful of fans were clearly acting as if they were so brand new to this whole winning-a-championship thing that they didn’t know how to behave. Act like you’ve been there before. You wouldn’t see Patriots fans pulling the same silly stunts because they’ve actually won Super Bowls in the past and don’t resort to flying planes with messages attached.

Mike in Portland called in. He’s an Eagles fan. Mike in Portland didn’t like my comments because Mike in Portland wasn’t listening to my comments very well. He thought I was saying that all Eagles fans were behaving badly. I started out patiently re-explaining my stance. The longer he failed to listen and had his mind made up that I was saying every Eagles fan was a classless lowlife, the more frustrated I got. I didn’t reach Saban-esque levels, but it’s difficult to remain completely calm when a conversation basically plays out like this:

Mike – “It sounds like you’re saying 2 + 2 = 5.”
Brian – “I’m not. No. I’m saying it equals four.”
Mike – “Nope. You’re clearly saying it equals five.”

Nothing drives me crazier in sports radio than listeners who misinterpret my comments because they aren’t listening. It’s the worst. That’s not a good enough reason to get bent out of shape though. Although Mike clearly would be designated for assignment when it comes to paying attention, it bugs me that I wasn’t calmer and more patient with him.

Another situation occurred just the other day that I actually handled well. I’m making strides, BSM community. The lovely Christina had a family reunion every Labor Day weekend in Kentucky. We hopped on a red-eye flight on Friday and had a connection in Dallas. When I exited the bathroom, my wife was talking to a delightful guy named Calvin who worked for the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. 

We struck up a conversation about football after he asked what I did for a living. Calvin told me that he believes the Seahawks won’t trade safety Earl Thomas to Dallas because of something that happened way back in 1977. This, of course, is a terrible opinion. A three-week-old burrito is better, but I didn’t focus on how the regimes of both teams are totally different now compared to over 40 years ago. Neither franchise would let potential bad blood get in the way of a great deal either. I just glossed over it.


It’s interesting why Calvin’s theory didn’t throw me off — it’s because I didn’t lose sight of what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted Calvin to enjoy our conversation. If I picked apart his bad theory, it could have easily been the part that he remembered most. In discussions and debates, the #1 rule is to not forget what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you want your audience to enjoy listening to you, don’t call them idiots or bozos. Don’t aggressively pick apart their weak theories or inaccurate comments. Ask yourself if your words get you closer to achieving your goal or further away? If the comments you make get you further away from the goal, you’re simply venting. You’ve lost the initiative while working against yourself. Don’t let that happen.

Calvin and I were also were speaking to each other in person. It’s very easy to speak to a caller as if they’re just a thing. As sad and ridiculous as it sounds, it’s simple to forget that the person you disagree with on the phone actually has friends and loved ones. He has interests and emotions. It’s much easier to be aware of these facts in person than during a phone call.

During the next debate with a caller, pretend that same person is standing in front of you. Better yet, pretend it’s a friend, family member, or your boss that’s sharing a crazy theory in person. You’d be far less likely to speak aggressively. Your words and tone would also change. Don’t treat strangers on the phone like they’re actual strangers. Talk to them like the other people you value most in life.


I bumped into another person named Adam before a flight out of Portland. Adam said that he and his 10-year-old daughter, Lily, enjoy listening to me. I thought it was awesome. Later I thought that if I ever had a phone conversation with Adam the same way I had with Mike in Portland, Adam would’ve have come up to introduce himself to me. He wouldn’t have felt very positive about the show. He might not have even listened to the show anymore.

It isn’t just the host and the listener having a private conversation. That same conversation plays out in front of hundreds and thousands of people, including the caller’s family and friends. Embarrassing a caller and then expecting that same listener to still support the show is illogical. Listeners are the bread and butter of the industry. Without them, we don’t have jobs. It sort of makes sense to treat those people with respect.

Nick Saban actually called Maria Taylor to apologize for his pointed response. It’s very unlikely that a host will have the same luxury after blasting an anonymous caller. Think about that — our margin for error is actually smaller than a head coach that has won six championships in college football. In sports radio, we really need to get it right the first time because we might not get a second chance.

BSM Writers

Who Handled the Tua Concussion Discussion Best?

Rex Ryan, Rodney Harrison, and Boomer Esiason stood out with their commentary on the Tagovailoa story.

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The major story going into the bulk of Week 4’s NFL action on Sunday was the concussion suffered by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Thursday’s game versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Amazon’s Thursday Night Football telecast, particularly its halftime show, faced heavy criticism for neglecting to mention that Tagovailoa had been tested for a concussion in his previous game just four days earlier. Additionally, the NFL Players Association called for an investigation into whether or not the league’s concussion protocols were followed properly in evaluating Tagovailoa.

In light of that, how would the Sunday NFL pregame shows address the Tagovailoa concussion situation? Would they better inform viewers by covering the full story, including the Week 3 controversy over whether or not proper protocols were followed?

We watched each of the four prominent pregame shows — ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Fox NFL Sunday, CBS’s The NFL Today, and NBC’s Football Night in America — to compare how the Tagovailoa story was covered. With the benefit of two extra days to research and report, did the Sunday shows do a better job of informing and engaging viewers?

Here’s how the pregame studio crews performed with what could be the most important NFL story of the year:

Sunday NFL Countdown – ESPN

ESPN’s pregame show is the first to hit the air each Sunday, broadcasting at 10 a.m. ET. So the Sunday NFL Countdown crew had the opportunity to lead the conversation for the day. With a longer, three-hour show and more resources to utilize in covering a story like this, ESPN took full advantage of its position.

The show did not lead off with the Tagovailoa story, opting to lay out Sunday’s schedule, which included an early game in London between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. But the Countdown crew eventually got to issue on everyone’s minds approximately 28 minutes into the program.

Insider Adam Schefter provided the latest on the NFL and NFLPA’s investigation into the matter, particularly the “gross motor instability” Tagovailoa displayed in stumbling on the field and how the Dolphins initially announced that the quarterback had suffered a head injury, but later changed his condition to a back injury.

Schefter added that the NFL and NFLPA were expected to interview Tagovailoa and pass new guidelines for concussion protocols, including that no player displaying “gross motor instability” will be allowed to play. Those new rules could go into effect as early as Week 5.

“This is an epic fail by the NFL,” said Matt Hasselbeck to begin the commentary. “This is an epic fail by the medical staff, epic fail by everybody! Let’s learn from it!”

Perhaps the strongest remarks came from Rex Ryan, who said coaches sometimes need to protect players from themselves.

“I had a simple philosophy as a coach: I treated every player like my son,” Ryan said. “Would you put your son back in that game after you saw that?

“Forget this ‘back and ankle’ BS that we heard about! This is clearly from head trauma! That’s it. I know what it looks like. We all know what it looks like.”

Where Sunday NFL Countdown‘s coverage may have stood out the most was by bringing injury analyst Stephania Bell into the discussion. Bell took a wider view of the story, explaining that concussions had to be treated in the long-term and short-term. Science needs to advance; a definitive diagnostic tool for brain injury doesn’t currently exist. Until then, a more conservative approach has to be taken, holding players out of action more often.

Grade: A. Countdown covered the story thoroughly. But to be fair, it had the most time.

The NFL Today – CBS

CBS’s pregame show led off with the Tagovailoa story, going right to insider Jonathan Jones to report. He cited the key phrase “gross motor instability” as a significant indication of a concussion.

Jones also clarified that the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who helped evaluate Tagovailoa made “several mistakes” in consulting with the Dolphins’ team doctor, leading to his dismissal by the NFL and NFLPA.

The most pointed remarks came from Boomer Esiason, who said any insinuation that the Dolphins, head coach Mike McDaniel, or the team medical staff put Tagovailoa back in the game in order to win was “off-base.” Phil Simms added that the concussion experts he spoke with indicated that Tagovailoa could miss four to six weeks with this injury.

Grade: B-. The opinions from the analysts were largely bland. Jones’s reporting stood out.

Fox NFL Sunday

The Fox NFL pregame show also led off with the Tagovailoa story, reviewing the questions surrounding how the quarterback was treated in Week 3 before recapping his injury during Week 4’s game.

Jay Glazer reported on the NFL’s investigation, focusing on whether or not Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in Week 3. And if he did, why was he allowed to play in Week 4? Glazer noted that Tagovailoa could seek a second, maybe a third medical opinion on his injury.

Jimmy Johnson provided the most compelling commentary, sharing his perspective from the coaching side of the situation. He pointed out that when an injured player comes off the field, the coach has no contact with him. The medical team provides an update on whether or not the player can return. In Johnson’s view, Mike McDaniel did nothing wrong in his handling of the matter. He has to trust his medical staff.

Grade: B. Each of the analysts shared stronger opinions, particularly in saying a player failing “the eyeball test” with concussion symptoms should be treated seriously.

Football Night in America – NBC

Sunday Night Football was in a different setting than the other pregame shows, with Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, and Rodney Harrison broadcasting on-site from Tampa Bay. With that, the show led off by covering the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, its effects on the Tampa area, and how the Buccaneers dealt with the situation during the week.

But after 20 minutes, the show got into the Tagovailoa story with Mike Florio reporting what his peers told viewers earlier in the day regarding pending changes to the NFL’s concussion protocol and “gross motor instability” being used as a major indicator.

Florio emphasized that the NFLPA would ask how Tagovailoa was examined and treated. Was he actually examined for a back injury in Week 3? And if he indeed suffered a back injury, why was he still allowed to play?

When the conversation went back to the on-site crew, Dungy admitted that playing Thursday night games always concerned him when he was a coach. He disclosed that teams playing a Thursday game needed to have a bye the previous week so they didn’t have to deal with a quick, four-day turnaround. That scheduling needs to be addressed for player safety.

But Harrison had the most engaging reaction to the story, coming from his experience as a player. He admitted telling doctors that he was fine when suffering concussion symptoms because he wanted to get back in the game. Knowing that was wrong, Harrison pleaded with current players to stay on the sidelines when hurt because “CTE takes you to a dark place.”

“It’s not worth it. Please take care of yourself,” said Harrison. “Don’t depend on the NFL. Don’t depend on anybody. If something’s wrong with your head, report it.”

Grade: B+. Dungy and Harrison’s views of the matter from their perspective as a coach and player were very compelling.

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BSM Writers

Jason Barrett Podcast – Terry Dugan & Adam Delevitt, BetRivers

Jason Barrett




Sportsbooks are creating their own media now, and no company is doing that using more guys that have made their names on sports radio than BetRivers. Terry Dugan & Adam Delevitt talk about the strategy behind that decision for today and for the future.






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BSM Writers

Joe Rogan Betting Admission Reveals Gray Area

Rogan’s admission raises a question as to just how ethical it is to place bets with insider information, and whether it should be legal or not.

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Joe Rogan

For nearly a decade, I’ve been fortunate enough to cover the football and basketball programs for the University of Kentucky in some form or fashion. Whether writing for blogs or working with ESPN Louisville as co-host of the post-game show, I’ve gotten to know people around the program I grew up supporting, and other individuals in the media doing the same. I’ve made some terrific friendships and cultivated quite a few relationships that provide me with “inside information” about the teams.

As an avid sports bettor, that information has sometimes put me into some difficult personal situations. There have been times when I’ve been alerted to player news that wasn’t public, such as a player dealing with an injury or suspension. It’s often been told to me off-the-record, and I’ve never put that information out publicly or given it to others.

I wish I could also say I’ve never placed a wager based on that information, but that would be a lie. While it’s been a long time since I’ve done so, I’ve ventured into that ethical gray area of betting on a team that I’m covering. I’ve long felt uncomfortable doing so, and I’d say it’s been a few years since I last did it.

At least I know I’m not alone. On his latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan told guest Bert Kreischer that earlier in his UFC broadcasting career he regularly bet on fights. He claims to have won nearly 85% of the time (which I highly doubt but that’s another discussion for another time), either via bets he made or ones he gave to a business partner to place on his behalf.

From his comments, Rogan doesn’t seem to have been using sensitive information to gain an edge with the books, but he also didn’t state that he didn’t. He indicates that much of his success stemmed from knowing quite a bit more about fighters coming from overseas, and he said he “knew who they were and I would gamble on them.”

But Rogan undoubtedly has long been in a position where he knows which fighters might be dealing with a slight injury, or who are struggling in camp with a specific fighting style. It’s unavoidable for someone whose job puts him into contact with individuals who tell him things off-the-record and divulge details without perhaps even realizing it.

But let’s say Rogan did get that information, and did use it, and was still doing so today. The fact is…there’s nothing illegal about it, not in the United States at least. While it’s against the rules of some entities — the NFL, for example, has stated they could suspend or ban for life individuals who use inside information or provide it to others — it’s not against any established legal doctrine. Unlike playing the stock market, insider betting is not regulated by any central body or by the government.

However, Rogan’s admission raises a question as to just how ethical it is to place bets with insider information, and whether it should be legal or not. Many of the after-the-fact actions that have been taken in the realm of legalized sports betting in this country, or those being discussed currently (such as advertising limitations), fall in line with changes made in Great Britain following their legalization.

One of their big changes was making it illegal to utilize insider information, with very specific definitions about the “misuse of information” and what steps the Gambling Commission may take. It lays out what information can be used, the punishments that may be levied, and at what point it might venture into criminality.

Sportsbooks do have recourse in some instances to recoup money on insider betting, but not many. If they can prove that a wage was influenced, they can cancel the bet or sue for the money. The most well-known instance is the individual who bet $50,000 at +750 odds that someone would streak on the field during Super Bowl LV –which he did– and then was denied the payout when he bragged about his exploits. But unless someone foolishly tells the books that they’ve taken them with information that the public wasn’t privy to, they have little to no chance of doing anything about it.

There are ramifications to insider betting that raise truly ethical dilemmas. Just like stock trading, information can be immeasurably valuable to those with stakes large enough to change prices. If I’m placing a $20 prop bet with the knowledge that a team’s starting running back might be out for a game, or dealing with an ankle injury, I’m not going to harm anybody else playing that line. But if I give that information to a shark, who places a $20,000 wager on that same line, I’ve now enabled someone to move a line and impact other bettors.

Online sports betting in this country continues to grow, and every day we are reminded that there are still aspects of the space that can feel like the wild west. As individuals in the media, we have to decide personally what our ethical stances are in situations like this. We also have to keep in mind the impact that betting can have on our biases–especially if we’ve bet using inside information. A prime example is Kirk Herbstreit, who won’t even make a pick on College Gameday for games he is going to be doing color commentary for lest he possibly appears biased on the call.

At one end of the spectrum, you have someone like Herbstreit, and on the other end, you have folks like Rogan who, while he no longer does so, was more than happy to not only wager on fights himself but gave the information to others. And in the middle, you have hundreds of people in similar situations, who might lean one way or another or who, like me, may have found themselves on either side of that ethical line.

There is no black or white answer here, nor am I saying there’s necessarily a right or wrong stance for anybody in the sports media industry to take. I would say that each person has to take stock of what they’re comfortable doing, and how they feel about insider information being used. Rogan didn’t break any rules or laws by gambling on the UFC, but his admission to doing so might be the catalyst towards it no longer being accepted.

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