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Broadcaster Review: Monday Night Football

“You aren’t going to make everyone happy, but in prep for a game like this, having something good, bad or indifferent to say about each club will go a long way in keeping interest.”

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I watched Monday Night Football as the Redskins hosted the Bears. I re-watched the first half to go more in depth on the broadcast and how the broadcasters handled things. National broadcasts are tough, but I thought things went pretty well overall.  

Image result for joe tessitore and booger mcfarland

I was watching the game in a local bar and the sound/telecast didn’t come on until just around kickoff. The open to the broadcast wasn’t filled with a lot of information or detail on the game, and since I was getting the call right up against game-time there really wasn’t anything to provide me with some “pregame” or other info. Now I realize ESPN does 15 hours of pregame, but some viewers only tune in for the game and they get shafted. 

Early in the game with the Bears on offense, the focus of the crew was spot on. Focused on the Bears offense or lack thereof. Booger McFarland talked about the struggles of Mitch Trubisky repeating the Trevon Williams quote from the Packers about making Trubisky beat teams by taking away the other weapons.  I think in the Bears first drive they missed an obvious player being used on offense, that was Cordarrelle Patterson. Why are the Bears using him so much early? Does that take pressure off of the QB?  McFarland brought up a terrific point referencing a conversation he had with the Bears QB, about his love of throwing out of the pocket and scrambling. McFarland said “when I asked him that question, his eyes lit up”…that’s good stuff. 

On the Redskins first drive, Joe Tessitore referred to the Case Keenum quote about playing on borrowed time, then paying it off with the mention of the rookie Dwayne Haskins Jr. Then it plays out with the QB firing a pick six to Clinton Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Tessitore comes up big with the fact that the DB spent some time last year with the Redskins and how Eddie Jackson the Bears DB, convinced him to sign with the Bears to relive their days in Alabama together. That’s great prep work to me, because it’s a story for sure. Great insight too, because I’m sure that many fans (including some that I watched the game with) only remember Clinton-Dix from Green Bay. 

The Bears kicking situation has become much more of a talking point than maybe it needs to be at times. But the MNF crew made mention of the injury suffered by rookie place kicker Eddie Piñeiro suffered in the weight room during the week and clarified that was why the punter Patrick O’Donnell was handling the kickoff duties. 

Even though it’s kind of an old story already, the way the Bears defense started the game, it was probably worth a mention of the new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. McFarland made a great point that the new guy typically wants to put his own stamp on things, but Pagano realized what he had and mainly wanted to regain players trust and let them play. The crew gets lucky because on the next play Khalil Mack busted through the line with a sack and a forced fumble. 

Image result for khalil mack sack washington

McFarland pointed out that great players want to continue to be great and don’t think about what they did last season. 

Odd choice to me by the production crew to again make note of the 2017 first round QB’s. Trubisky was #2 overall, Patrick Mahomes #10 and Deshaun Watson #12. I sort of get it since the Bears offense has scuffled, but Trubisky did help lead the Bears to a division title last season. Didn’t he? McFarland made a brilliant observation after the graphic, by saying “this is not all on Trubisky (this year), some of it is on Matt Nagy who admitted that they tried to do too much.” That’s a great follow up note in my opinion. 

It seemed to me like the broadcast focused mainly on the Bears early on, with the struggles on offense, the great things on defense and the kicking situation. Late in the 1st quarter after a near “safety” on Trubisky, the broadcast team mentions that in a 7-0 game, the Redskins defense has done a nice job. The hardest thing to me in a national broadcast like this is to please both sides of the rooting bases. You aren’t going to make everyone happy, but in prep for a game like this, having something good, bad or indifferent to say about each club will go a long way in keeping interest. I know I was always interested as a fan to hear what the national crews felt about my team, something I always looked forward to hearing. More of this is needed so far in this game. 

Along those lines Tessitore, after an Adrian Peterson run, starts to talk about “AP’s” place in the record books and how a touchdown last week put him 5th on the all-time TD list. McFarland is having a strong game, he comes out to talk about how Peterson will be running with some anger, especially after being inactive in the Redskins Week 1 loss. He’d go on to say that Peterson has “renewed energy now”. There was good production support of this conversation too, after a Peterson short gain they put up the Most Rushing TD in NFL history graphic to show Peterson is 3 away from as Tessitore put it “Peterson’s idol, Walter Payton”. Tessitore comes up large continuing that thought saying Peterson told him that getting to Payton “motivates me and would mean the world to me”, those inside stories from candid players are gold. 

Image result for chicago bears vs adrian peterson

There was an underrated but good perspective note by Tessitore to open up the 2nd quarter, by telling the audience that at this point the Bears have as many defensive touchdowns as they do offensive. Wow. 

The Redskins drive hit 3rd down in the red zone and Danny Trevathan sacked Keenum, and McFarland picked something up on the replay showing a nice fake out of an offensive lineman by the Bears linebacker and having a little laugh about it. 

Some of the themes of the broadcast are redundant but covered nicely by some anecdotal material. Of Trubisky’s inaccuracy issue, Tessitore points out that the Bears QB is comfortable with who he is and understands the criticism but feels like he has the talent to make things work. Good supporting material for the discussion. 

Greg Manusky’s defense has come under fire and for the fans watching in DC, it’s a lightning rod issue. Tessitore points out that many wanted the defensive coordinator fired last year, but Jay Gruden kept him on. In a 7-0 game to this point, it’s a valid discussion because it wasn’t like the Bears offense dominated to the midway point of the second quarter. Soon after the discussion though the Bears go up 14-0 putting the defense of the Redskins in the crosshairs again. Tessitore points out that NFL QBs against the Skins defense in the red zone have converted on all 10 trips. 

After the Bears went up 21-0 and Case Keenum threw an interception naturally the discussion turned to Haskins and if things continued to go south would he eventually get into a game this season. Tessitore referenced a conversation with Jay Gruden saying “this is going to be a process, he’s learning how to prepare as a pro right now and that everyone in the organization thinks that right now, sitting him is the best decision.”. McFarland agreed and brought up that Haskins only played one year at Ohio State, so in other words, he has a lot to learn. I’m sure Redskins fans were throwing things at their TV’s as much as Keenum was tossing interceptions. 

Nearing the two-minute warning, more gold. Pointing out that Cole Holcomb, the Skins 5th round pick in 2019 from North Carolina was in an “interesting position, playing inside linebacker tonight.” Why? He was Trubisky’s roommate in college. Love that stuff. 

More good things happen on the video replay review of the Taylor Gabriel no catch in the endzone. The guys smartly defer to their in booth official, John Parry, who said he believed the call should be reversed and it was. He broke down the play, explaining that even though the ball moved a bit, that is allowable under the rule and he felt there was control and two feet down. He’s fresh off the field and was dead on with all his assessments of that particular play and sounded very comfortable delivering the information. Excellent use of the former referee and a great take by him as well. 

Overall, the first half of this game seemed difficult to call. One team was dominating another and there were a ton of flags on the field. I thought McFarland was the star of the show. That’s the way a television broadcast should go, letting the analyst do what he does and inject some good points and offer a little levity. McFarland clearly did his homework and was prepared for every situation on the field. He impressed me with his knowledge of both sides of the football, not just the defense. Tessitore also did a ton of prep and it’s evident throughout the telecast. He is solid and used the information he gathered in the days leading up to the broadcast and interjected information seamlessly throughout that first half. I’d like to hear him be a little less intense. It seems to me like sometimes there isn’t a lot of emotion in his voice, it’s one way to approach things with a personality like McFarland in the booth, but I’d still like to hear more from him. Again he is solid and handling a tough job on a big stage. 

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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