Week 6 of the NFL season provided a fascinating look at how teams have strategized differently to answer the biggest question in football — who’s going to play quarterback? Some teams have benefitted by making bold moves to address their greatest need. Other teams have paid the price for taking a safer approach. I’ll prove how this disparity actually applies to your own career as well. First though, BALL.
The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They traded the pick along with 2017 first- and third-round picks in order to select QB Patrick Mahomes. If you watched Kansas City’s shootout against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football — and the season in general — it’s easy to see why the Chiefs made such a bold move to grab the dynamic Mahomes. Being bold has worked for KC.
The Rams beat the Broncos 23-20 on Sunday. The Greatest Show on Turf 2.0 is the only unbeaten team remaining in the NFL. That’s partly because the Rams made a very bold move in the 2016 Draft by trading 2 first-round, 2 second-round, and 2 third-round picks to grab quarterback Jared Goff. He’s among the league leaders in passer rating this season. Meanwhile, the Broncos settled for quarterback Case Keenum in free agency. Keenum is ranked 28th in passer rating, which is actually below Blake Bortles. Sidenote: “below Bortles” actually equates to “you done messed up.”
After opting for Keenum, the Broncos used their fifth-overall pick this year on NC State outside linebacker Bradley Chubb. He played great against the Rams while notching three sacks, but Chubb doesn’t throw the football for a living. The Broncos could’ve gone bold by taking UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen instead — who I refer to as Cleated Jesus — and be much better off in the long run. Time will tell, but the safe approach has left the Broncos without a long-term answer at QB in the same division Mahomes plays in. Not good.
I also have to mention the Eagles 34-13 demolition of the Giants on Thursday night. Eagles QB Carson Wentz is a stud. Philly traded (2) first-round picks, as well as second-, third-, and fourth-round selections to the Browns to draft Wentz in 2016. It’s paid off. On the other hand, the Giants are still trotting out a washed up Eli Manning behind a bad offensive line. Running back Saquon Barkley is a stud, but again, he doesn’t throw the football for a living. Passing up Jets QB Sam Darnold could haunt the Giants. The reality is that the G-Men don’t have anywhere near a long-term solution at QB while getting a steady diet of Wentzylvania in the NFC East. Again, that’s a really bad combination.
What I’m getting at with all of this football mumbo jumbo is that big risks can produce big results. Safe moves can also lead to lesser successes. There are a ton of scenarios in sports radio where taking risks can pay off, while playing it close to the vest can restrain triumphs.
If you reflect back on your own business path, I’m betting that your greater successes have occurred by making bold choices instead of conservative selections. Maybe you left a job without having a new one lined up. Maybe you moved to a new place without knowing anybody for a new gig. Maybe you started your own company and trust someone named Brian Noe to write columns on your website. Maybe you’re a manager who’s hired a risky candidate that has a lot of upside, or you’re a host that has shared interesting views on tough topics that were sure to cause an emotional reaction. In this business, bold is often beautiful.
Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor was at the Cowboys game on Sunday. He made headlines by throwing a football in pregame warmups that would’ve caused Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to say, “Dude, your delivery is jacked.” Much more meaningful than McGregor’s ugly pass was the way the Dallas players mimicked McGregor’s strut. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott strutted like McGregor after scoring touchdowns while Jeff Heath did his impression after making an interception.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 14, 2018
McGregor got destroyed by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 just eight days prior to Sunday’s game, yet the Cowboys were paying tribute to him. Why? Because McGregor is bold. There isn’t anything about him that’s passive or safe. He’s the loud, trash-talking, strutting presence that can’t be ignored or forgotten. We can’t disregard people who are bold and often flock toward them. Nurmagomedov remains undefeated at 27-0, but he isn’t the bigger star. Bold makes the bigger impression.
Sure, not every bold move pans out. The Washington Redskins swung and missed badly by trading (3) first-round picks and a second-rounder to the St. Louis Rams to draft Robert Griffin III. The Broncos blew it by moving up to grab quarterback Paxton Lynch who is now a free agent and possibly unloading trucks in Transylvania.
This is where our old friend Texas Hold ‘Em swoops in to settle the score. The saying that leads to success in poker, also leads to success in life — well-timed aggression. Get a plaque of that wise phrase or have it embroidered on your underwear immediately. In Hold ‘Em, you can’t be aggressive on every single hand. Another card player will eventually call your bluff and you’ll end up broke. If you stay conservative the entire time, that won’t lead to great success either. It’s all about well-timed aggression. That’s how you get ahead. Pick your spots to be bold when the timing is right.
Do you think the Chiefs, Rams, and Eagles would reverse the bold trades they made for Mahomes, Goff, and Wentz? No chance. Do you think they would if the players they selected were the caliber of RGIII, Paxton Lynch, or Johnny Manziel? Absolutely. If you don’t have the ability to be bold, you have no chance at achieving great success. It just requires the right timing for things to completely pan out.
There is a new trailer out for the upcoming Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody. My favorite part in the entire preview is an actor delivering the line, “Fortune favors the bold.” Amen to that. Look at your life and ask yourself which areas you can be bolder in. Not taking a risk can turn out to be the biggest risk of them all. I encourage you to be bold. Just pick the right time to do so.
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.