Connect with us
blank

BSM Writers

Pablo Torre Wants To Be Delicious & Nutritious

“I want to have not just the conversations that are smart for sports, but smart for any medium, any format, any type or genre of podcasts; whether that’s news in general or politics or culture.”

Chrissy Paradis

Published

on

blank

The future for both Pablo Torre and ESPN Daily is brighter than ever. 

The Harvard grad turned sports writer won viewers over following his on-air debut with ESPN. Championed by none other than the great Tony Reali, Pablo was an instant fan favorite of the Around The Horn rotation. In a press release from ESPN, the network cited that Torre’s regular presence on both Around The Horn and Highly Questionable will continue as he assumes the host position of the ESPN Daily Podcast, which launched in October. 

The multi-platform success combined with the raw talent, ambition and insight that Pablo brings to the table as the new host of ESPN Daily have excited fans and talent in the industry. 

Pablo S. Torre on Twitter: "MY WIFE: How will you guys do your ...

In his eight years with ESPN, the audience and the sports media world are in for a treat as Torre’s arsenal is caked with weapons that highlight the key ingredients necessary for success in the podcast platform: journalism, skilled content selection, calculated research, thoughtful analysis, unbridled ambition and passion. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Pablo about his career and what to expect out of ESPN Daily with him at the helm. 

Chrissy Paradis: So I’m going to start off by congratulating you on the news about ESPN Daily. How excited are you about this opportunity?

Pablo Torre: I’m wildly excited, and I’m in general a pretty picky person when it comes to what I take on in terms of projects, and this was one that as soon as I even vaguely heard a rumor about it, I was already super interested. It just makes a lot of sense for me and my skill set and my passions, and I’m a fan of the show and it’s coming out of a good bit of news for my friend Mina Kimes obviously, so it’s one of those rare sort of media transactions that is kind of celebratory all the way around. It’s actually been a really rewarding couple of days so far.

CP: Absolutely. And I know that you mentioned Mina Kimes and her work on the show thus far. I know there’s been mention of Mina continuing to join you on ESPN Daily from time to time, as well.

PT: Yes, so she’ll be one of our go-to football correspondents, and then she has kindly volunteered when I have to take some vacation to be a fill in host. So, she will still absolutely be part of the family.

This was something that she was obviously with from the ground floor, so I want to make sure that she feels both welcome and an active part of what we’re going to keep on building and developing.

CP: And in terms of the development, are there any changes or additions you plan to to implement as host of ESPN Daily?

PT: Yeah, definitely. I mean one of the obvious things that’s gonna happen for us is that the personality of the host will kind of shape, I think, a lot about the sensibility of it. 

One of the great things about this show and why I was so excited about taking it over is that Mina has a sort of managing editor role when it comes to picking and choosing what she wants to cover and how to cover it. And we have an amazing team of people that ESPN built and gathered and hired that is obviously essential to the doing of the show– but the host’s ability to shape that coverage, is I think the obvious way it’ll change. 

The ESPN Daily podcast -- How to listen, episode guide and more

But beyond that…I love the show as it is, I want to keep growing it. I want to keep increasing the audience that’s sort of implicit in the task at hand but for me, I’m excited about pushing the limits of what they’ve done. So, for instance, we’re a five day a week, daily show and they have done such a great job of curating and elevating voices within the company–journalist’s voices, based on the stories they do. We absolutely want to continue to be the place to get those voices to sports fans everywhere, but for me, I also think it’d be cool to sort of play with the form and format a little bit. So, we can do shows like that, but I’d like to sort of sprinkle in a little bit more newsmaking and even news breaking. I think the podcast format in the daily context that we do it in can actually be a real venue that’s worth investing in, when it comes to breaking some news; so I want to do a little bit more of that. 

I want to continue to establish go-to correspondents, people who I can return to over and over again, that listeners of the podcast can expect to hear from because I think curating a sort of rotation like that would be really cool. And I also want to spotlight new voices.

So for me, I think there is the interviewing of journalists, there’s the interviewing of newsmakers, and then I think there is also the possibility to do a little fun theater of the mind stuff, sort of play with narrative a bit more. 

Obviously, this is all very abstract but I think with a five day a week show, the ability to be multiple, as an NFL coach might say, in our approach, in our scheme is actually one of the advantages of this format and one that we actually have the staff to do.

CP: That kind of leads into my next question. You worked with Bomani Jones for a number of years. He’s such an innovative, forward thinker who broke the fourth wall in sports television by having conversations directly and honestly. What have you learned from him and what are some of your more memorable High Noon moments?

PT: Yeah, I mean what I enjoyed so much doing High Noon that I will use to inform this podcast is the value of a deep conversation. And having the space to explore digressions having the space to engage as you said with the audience about topics that maybe they don’t hear about all the time on sports talk shows or sports radio shows or podcasts. That’s exactly the sensibility that I want to bring, and the standard I want to uphold when it comes to having discussions on this podcast. I want to have not just the conversations that are smart for sports, but smart for any medium, any format, any type or genre of podcasts; whether that’s news in general or politics or culture.

I think what we’re aspiring to build with ESPN Daily is something that can hang with the best of the best when it comes to conversation. And so that sensibility of having a very wide aperture of interest and curiosity; that’s something that I enjoyed so much with Bo and why High Noon, I felt was a special show. 

CP: I’m curious about the role The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (or as I say, the ‘Le Batardian’) influence has played in expanding the format, but specifically, for you in your experience working with him?

PT: I mean look, I come from Dan’s coaching tree, I’m a Le Batardian piece of fruit that has grown from that tree. What I’ve always enjoyed about Dan is that he’s not only a serious voice on serious matters, but he’s also one of the funniest people at the network. And so for me, it’s that mix of high and low. It’s highbrow and lowbrow. It’s serious and comedic. It’s understanding that the job fundamentally is to entertain.

But the metaphor that I have been thinking about when it comes to how I want to be is both delicious and nutritious. How do I want to make people laugh, as well as think and even cry sometimes? I think about it in terms of: I’m cooking a meal and I want to make sure the ingredients are balanced. I want to make sure that if I’m going to give a kid vegetables. I want to give my daughter broccoli, for instance, she’s not old enough yet to eat food but soon she will be. I like broccoli and cheese, let’s melt some cheese on top of this. Let’s make sure that the person that is listening doesn’t feel like they’re being force fed something that they don’t enjoy.

Dan, and how he does his show, has always been a Northstar for me, in that, he’s aware that if the listener isn’t laughing and if the listener isn’t learning, then we’re falling short of the goal we’re setting out to achieve. 

CP: Given the challenges of 2020, what have you learned or taken away from the sports-free shows you’ve worked on? You definitely have been quick to adapt with Highly Quarantined. Do you feel that in exploring alternative content, when there aren’t any live sports to cover, you learned more about what resonated with the audience?

PT: Absolutely. strangely, even though a sports media job without sports seems like a nightmare, in some ways it’s actually been able to showcase some of our strengths, and some of my most creative, kind of weird, ambitions. I love being offbeat. I love giving people something they’re not getting anywhere else, and so in a world without browser games because there are no games, the question of “well, what would a viewer of video or what would a listener of audio find interesting” is a question that I think can expose who actually can create content most creatively. And so for me, I find that the ability to have that out of the box sensibility is kind of perfectly suited for this time. 

Image

Growing up and coming up through journalism, I came up through magazines, so I wasn’t the daily beat guy. I always read those guys and I always paid attention because I was, and remain, a sports fan to my bones. But, I came up at Sports Illustrated and then ESPN The Magazine, so my sensibility has always been to be more open minded and curious and enterprise driven, as opposed to ‘here’s the number one story of the day, let’s make sure that we hit it in the way that people may have already expected to have seen this be hit.’

That magazine sensibility of ‘we’re gonna sprinkle in a long form story about someone that you may not know, but we think it’s worth your time’ I think that plays into a podcast like the one we’re building and developing. That’s something that I think ESPN Daily is particularly uniquely suited to pursue.

CP: You’ve been with ESPN for years, and with Sports Illustrated, as well in different capacities. In your time working with ESPN, short of taking the reigns at ESPN Daily, what has been your favorite moment in your time with the company. 

PT: And that’s a great question because I’ve done a lot of absurd things I never would have dreamed. Yeah, I mean obviously launching High Noon with Bomani was a culmination of a career. It was something that I am still so proud of doing because it was different. It sounded and looked like nothing else, and I’m proud of what we did. 

But beyond that, I would say, I’ve been so grateful to work on shows with people that I admire. So, on PTI, getting to know Tony Kornheiser to the point where he attended my wedding…and if you know anything about Tony Kornheiser, the guy doesn’t like going to or doing anything not directly inside of his comfort zone. But that’s a guy that I look up to, not only as one of the legends of sports broadcasting but as a writer. 

We just talked about Dan. Doing Highly Questionable, still today, with Dan is one of the most fun things I do in my life. It’s just hanging out with a guy, who again, I look up to, but has since become my friend. 

I mean, I married Dan Le Batard. I was the guy who married him and his wife in Miami, when they got married two months ago.

CP: So, you’re still ordained?

PT: Yes, I am an ordained minister of The Universal Life Church, so ESPN Daily can also do weddings.

I’ve basically got to work with people that I’ve legitimately gotten to love and know, as real close friends. that’s the best part about this job; my heroes in this business are now people that I continue to work with, talk about and talk to. And that’s a dream.

CP: Speaking of working alongside great talent, if you could choose any sports figure (coach, player past, present) to be your co-host, who would you choose and why?

PT: Well, the easy answer, for me, is Bill Walton, okay. And there are other voices out there that I respect and love and I know there are bigger names even, but I just find Bill Walton to be the most entertaining and disruptive and subversive voice, maybe in all of sports broadcasting. I just love his whole sensibility. So for me, I say that immediately just because that was the guest we wanted on High Noon that never got to happen. I just want to hang out with Bill Walton inside of his teepee, and I don’t want to hurt the feelings of my friends I love working with like Mina Kimes, I work with her. I love working with her, but unless Mina gets a teepee, it’s going to be really hard for her to compete.

ESPN brought us inside Bill Walton's backyard tepee - SBNation.com

CP: To wrap things up, I just wanted to do some word association– first thing that comes to your mind. 

PT: Okay.

CP: Bomani Jones?

PT: Brilliant.

CP: Dan Le Batard?

PT: Generous.

CP: Tony Reali?

PT: Vital. I would like to credit Tony as he was key to me being on Around The Horn. Like Kornheiser, Tony Reali attended my wedding.  

CP: Mina Kimes?

PT: Unstoppable.

CP: Izzy Guiterrez?

PT: Let’s go with shirtless.

CP: That is fantastic.

PT: You’ve got to look up the photos of Izzy on a train track, I mean he is the most beautiful person at ESPN, and possibly, in sports media. He’s intimidatingly shirtless.

CP: Last but not least, how about Mike Golic Jr?

PT: Ooh, thick, with several C’s. T-H-I-C-C-C-C.

CP: Who got to fulfill his lifelong dream of hosting The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest this weekend..

PT: First off, Gojo is the perfect person to be doing that. 

And I have so much respect for that whole enterprise because weirdly, and randomly the first story I ever did for Sports Illustrated was covering The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. It’s always been one of my favorite events for that reason. And one of my friends is now involved in the broadcast. 

Jon Weiner 🤥 on Twitter: "I had a meeting with @PabloTorre and ...

CP: How full circle is that? I am so, so excited about the show. I know the transition is fast approaching. 

PT: I’m going to be actually substituting in throughout July. I’ll be doing an episode Thursday, July 9th. I’ll be doing some episodes later on when Mina goes on vacation. And then August 1st is the official change over date.

BSM Writers

790 The Ticket Was Something Special And Stugotz Knows It

“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen, that they’ve ever heard.”

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

blank

When I was making the transition from the rock world to talk radio, there was one show I looked at as a guide. I got laid off from 96 Rock in Raleigh, NC in the summer of 2011. That was the beginning of my flirtations with streaming and podcasts, which is how I stumbled onto The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket out of Miami.

Coming from a format that I felt out of place in at times, I instantly latched onto a show that reveled in pointing out how out of place it was in its own format. It became a daily listen for me, which opened me up to hearing other voices on the station like Jonathan Zaslow, Joy Taylor, Brian London, Brendan Tobin, Brett Romberg and others.

There were unique thinkers and passionate sports fans in every day part on 790 The Ticket. What set the station apart though is that I never heard anyone that sounded uncomfortable when the conversation turned to something that wasn’t a Dolphins’ loss or LeBron’s stat line. They talked sports the way normal human beings talk about sports. It was part of their lives, not the only thing they paid attention to.

Look at the outpouring of love for the station on Thursday. Hosts, producers and programmers from across the country took to social media to eulogize the station when the news broke that it would cease to exist the following week.

I can’t say for sure that all of those people felt the same way I did about the station and I cannot say whether or not it was for the same reasons. What I can say is 790 The Ticket had an influence that stretched far beyond South Florida.

Jon Weiner, better known as “Stugotz” to fans of the The Dan Le Batard Show, helped start the station in 2004. He told me that it didn’t take long for him to learn just how much The Ticket’s approach was making an impression on everyone in sports radio.

“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen or heard,” he said in a phone call on Sunday. “I had people from out of market who had secure jobs at places that weren’t startups sending resumes and tapes because they wanted to be part of it. So yeah, we were aware and it is what we were going for. We got there pretty quickly and we were aware of the impact, not just in South Florida, but throughout the country.”

Last week, Brian “The Beast” London said his internal alarm bells first went off when he heard the Miami Heat were giving up their relationship with 790 the Ticket. The station and the team had been partners since 2008. He said in a YouTube video that it was hard to imagine the team’s games being heard anywhere else.

I asked Stugotz if he had the same feeling when he heard that news. He said in hindsight, he realized it was the beginning of the end, but he didn’t really get a sense something was up until Jonathan Zaslow was let go.

“[Zaslow] had been there since basically day one with us. And so I just kind of figured, yeah, between the Heat and then that I felt, okay, you don’t make a move like that unless there’s going to be some sort of seismic change. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to let him go. That was the moment I was like ‘okay, 790 is likely going away.'”

His feelings are no secret. He took to social media immediately on Thursday and said that the news that 790 The Ticket would soon be going away filled him with both sadness and pride. What Stugotz told me in our phone call was that he realizes that the station lasted about 15 years longer than it should have.

When the station was sold to Lincoln Financial Media, he was not expecting that company to want to keep a sports station. Senior Vice President Dennis Collins surprised him.

“The company saw so much potential in what we had built, both from a lineup and a sales perspective that they kept it going and that’s why it lasted all the way to 2022. We got it up and going and were responsible for the first three or four years, but Dennis saw the growth potential with the lineup we put together. That made me feel great because I had a pit in my stomach like ‘Oh, man, this thing we started is going to go away. It’s going to be three, four years and gone.’ And he said, ‘No, we love it. We want to keep it going’. So that was a huge compliment to everyone.”

Stugotz described the original owner of 790 The Ticket as a “young, good looking real estate mogul driving around in Lamborghinis.” That certainly helped the image of the station when it launched, but it is also a phenomenon that was very of the moment. It’s not 2004 anymore. Lamborghini-owning real estate moguls aren’t chomping at the bit to pour money into radio stations.

The conditions may be similar to what Stugotz and his partners saw in 2004. You could look at the radio landscape in Miami and see a way that a new challenger could fit in the sports radio scene. But what are the chances it actually happens?

It’s a great question,” Stugotz said. “So just to go back to that time, two sports radio stations were popping up in every market. I’m not certain if that’s still the case anymore just because of podcasting and the way the way younger people are consuming media through Tik Tok, Snapchat, and other things that aren’t AM radio.”

He is quick to commend Audacy, the current owners of the 790 AM frequency. Dan Le Batard and Jorge Sedano were part of his early lineups at 790 The Ticket because Stugotz recognized the Cuban-American community in Miami was not being served in the sports space in 2004, just like it isn’t being properly served in the news/talk space right now. That’s why there’s room for the conservative-leaning brand Radio Libre in Miami and other markets are likely paying attention.

“It seems like a good plan, and I know it’s something that the Spanish population should have and deserves to have and probably was not being catered to correctly. So, yeah, I could see there’s a warning sign to some other sports radio stations or news stations in other markets where the Hispanic population is great. Absolutely!”

It is a shame that 790 The Ticket is no more and it is concerning that a station with its legacy and influence can simply disappear. But if we are being real, it isn’t the first station of its kind to suffer that fate and it won’t be the last.

As the media business changes and leaves sports stations vulnerable to something cheaper and with broader appeal, 790 The Ticket and stations like it should be touted as examples of how to rise above the noise and make an impact. Stugotz and his partners looked around in 2004 and said “we can be different and we can do this better” and that’s exactly what they did.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Chris Simms And His Self-Professed ‘Big Mouth’ Enjoying Life At NBC

“One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

To be a good football analyst, one certainly has to know and love the sport but you also can’t be afraid to use the most important tool that you have to do the job. Chris Simms has all of those attributes and NBC lets him use them to the best of his abilities.

“I love football and I love X’s and O’s and I got a big mouth so it’s a great combination,” said Simms. “Between my podcast, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Sunday Night Football, I get plenty of time to talk and get my studies out there.”

There’s no doubt that Chris inherited that self-professed big mouth from his father, former NFL quarterback and longtime NFL on CBS analyst, Phil Simms.

So, the question had to be asked…does Chris have a bigger mouth than his father?

“Yeah, I probably do,” admitted the younger Simms. “That’s a big mouth to overcome, but I think I probably got him beat in that department.”

Chris Simms set out to follow in his father’s footsteps on the field and played quarterback for Ramapo High School in New Jersey where he earned a pair of All-State honors. After graduating high school in 1999, Simms moved on to play quarterback at the University of Texas where he posted a 26-6 career record as a starter and was the team MVP during his senior season in 2002.

Simms was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and he would guide the Bucs to a playoff berth in 2005.  He would also go on to play for the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos completing a seven-year NFL playing career. He spent one season as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots before taking his talents to the world of broadcasting.

He started with FOX Sports as a college football announcer in 2013 and then joined Bleacher Report in 2014 while also serving as a color commentator for the NFL on CBS.

And then in 2017, Simms joined NBC Sports where he has certainly found a home.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Simms. “It’s a great company to work for. Just good people all around. They’ve given me the platform to be me. One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”

Simms wears many different suits at NBC Sports, most notably his role as a studio analyst on Football Night in America leading into Sunday Night Football. He’s also a part of the SNF post-game show Sunday Night Football Final on Peacock, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned, a streaming/digital show that is also a podcast multiple days a week.

But the most eyeballs are on him during Football Night in America, the most watched studio show in sports.

“I grew up wanting to play in these games more than be the guy in the studio but this is like the second-best thing,” said Simms. “I was kind of that kid at 4 or 5 (years old) who could tell you every player in the NFL, their number and all that type of stuff. It’s the NFL on the biggest stage. It’s such a well-done show. I get to be there with Maria Taylor along with Tony Dungy, and Jason Garrett, and Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. We got a great team and it makes Sunday fun.”

From the “it takes one to know one” category, Simms has also made a name for himself with his ranking of NFL quarterbacks. He’s very diligent when it comes to watching the live action and also in his film study and his top-40 rankings have become a hot topic within the business and around the office coolers.

Simms is well aware that his rankings have become a lightning rod of discussion.

“It all kind of started organically just because I would make statements,” said Simms. “People were like ‘Why don’t you start making a list?’ It’s a really hard thing to do. It offends a lot of people and I hate that. I root for all of these guys and I say on my podcast all the time I hope this guy proves me wrong. I hope he shits on me and shows me that I was wrong. It’s certainly not personal. One of the things I pride myself on is studying and immersing myself in the game all of the time.”

Simms became a full-time employee of NBC Sports in 2019, but his first role with the network came in 2017 when he became a studio analyst for Notre Dame Football.

Here’s a kid that grew up in North Jersey where there’s a ton of Notre Dame alumni and he’s standing on the sidelines at South Bend as part of Fighting Irish telecasts.

“Another special entity,” said Simms. “I used to get chills being out on the field every Saturday there. It gave me great experience in a different way with the halftime show and the pre-game show. One of the years I was kind of the third man in the booth but I was on the sideline. It gave me some reps on in-game stuff as well. I think most importantly what that did for me more than anything is that it opened up more eyes at NBC about me.”

And now Simms’ work has him in the discussion for a new potential opportunity down the road. 

NBC, alongside FOX and CBS, has secured a seven-year media rights deal with the Big Ten Conference that will commence next season. NBC will air Big Ten Saturday Night, the first time that Big Ten Football will have a dedicated primetime broadcast on a national broadcast network. Peacock will stream an additional eight Big Ten games each season and NBC/Peacock will air the 2026 Big Ten Championship Game.

There have been rumblings that Simms could be involved in the coverage. Is he interested?

“I’m intrigued by it,” admitted Simms. “I’m very all NFL right now but broadcasting game is fun. It’s definitely something on my radar for sure. I do have some producers here in the building that are like ‘I’m going to tell the boss I want you to do some of the Big 10 games this year and what do you think about announcing?’ I’ve already had some people in my ear talking about it. It’s awesome for the company regardless. It just expands our football world. As far as me being involved, we’ll see.” 

In a relatively short amount of time, Chris Simms has built up quite the broadcasting portfolio. From FOX to Bleacher Report and CBS to his current expanded role with NBC, Simms has established himself as one of the premier NFL analysts in the business and his podcast has given him the freedom to do something that he loves to do. Including putting his money where his mouth is. 

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

The Pat McAfee Alternate Broadcast Presents Unique Challenges

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

Alternate broadcasts are all the rage these days, and ESPN, in conjunction with Omaha Productions, debuted a new one this weekend as The Pat McAfee Show aired an alternate broadcast of the Clemson and North Carolina State game Saturday evening.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Manningcast copy-cats were destined for failure. And while I don’t believe McAfee’s debut was a failure by any stretch of the imagination, I couldn’t help but notice it brings its own set of challenges.

First and foremost, College Football Primetime with The Pat McAfee Show — the world’s most convoluted way to say “The McAfeecast” — doesn’t really resemble the Manningcast. And rightfully so. I’m not sure there are two more polar opposite sports media brands than the Mannings and McAfee. The Mannings are funny, but not too funny and never “blue”, while often concerned about how finely quaffed their hair looks and whether the button-down shirt color matches with the Nordstrom quarter-zip they’ve donned. Meanwhile, McAfee wears his black tank-top, like usual, and put his best Pittsburgh-ese foot forward.

Even though the Mannings and McAfee are opposites doesn’t mean they can’t work together, however. The alternate broadcast was a win for Manning, a win for McAfee, a win for ESPN, and a win for viewers.

People love Pat McAfee. Plain and simple. For a multitude of reasons that we can get into in a later story, but let’s focus on that for a moment. It was a big portion of my column a few weeks ago. The Manningcast works because people like Peyton and Eli. The KayRodcast doesn’t work because people hate Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. It’s honestly, truly, that simple.

I think it benefitted the McAfeecast to debut with a smaller game, which seems counterintuitive because it was a matchup of top ten teams in primetime. But let’s be realistic, a number five versus number ten ACC game doesn’t hold the same weight as a number five versus number ten Big Ten or SEC game. And it helped McAfee and crew, because there are obvious kinks to work out.

Firstly, there are entirely too many people on the screen. I’m going to have nice words to say about BostonConnr than the eight-and-a-half-year-old that went viral earlier this summer, but god love ya, your time to shine likely isn’t on primetime on ESPN. In my opinion, for the McAfeecast to really work in the future, a similar setup to the Manningcast with McAfee and A.J. Hawk being the prominent figures on screen is the best solution to the problem. I know McAfee believes in his boys. It’s one of his more endearing qualities, and is frankly part of the reason his show is so successful. But you’re reaching a different audience on ESPN2 on Saturday nights, and the reason the either tuned in or will stay is because of McAfee’s presence.

I didn’t get a great feel for McAfee’s thoughts or reactions on the game simply because you didn’t get a closeup of his face. The best moments of the Manningcast, outside of Eli flipping the double birds or Peyton saying “I can’t hear shit”, have been when the pair have been absolutely disgusted by a decision made by a coach or player and their face shows it without any words following up their reactions. And McAfee definitely holds that ability, and I wish I would have gotten a better sense of his facial reactions on-screen.

Also, and I know this is something McAfee can’t actually control, he had to be a bit more reserved on cable television. Part of the allure of The Pat McAfee Show is the — let’s call it extreme candor — with which he speaks. I believe that’s the scholarly way to write “he says f*** frequently”. And believe me, I subscribe to the theory that the FCC should allow hosts the ability to say obscenities 15 times per week, so I’m down for McAfee’s swearing. But you’re just simply never going to get that on ESPN2. You’re likely never going to get that if the broadcast aired on ESPN+, either. For a “family friendly” company Disney, those cards are just flat out never going to be on the table for McAfee.

One of the things McAfee is known for is his boundless energy, which felt lacking at times on Saturday, but it’s understandable. The man was on College GameDay earlier in the day, flew back to the studio to do the alternate broadcast after travelling the day before to get to Clemson to be on GameDay. I’m sure that takes a toll. On top of that, you’re doing something new for the first time, while trying to, essentially, heard cats on the screen, and you can be a little wiped out by the end of the night.

However, the goodwill McAfee has bought with fans over his extreme generosity was on display as the alternate broadcast donated more than $100,000 to Dabo Swinney’s charity, The Jimmy V Foundation, and the American Red Cross. It was a brilliant move for a debut broadcast, because it acts as a slight shield for criticism. How can you complain about something that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity?

The alternate broadcast, for the most part, avoided the biggest problem I have with the Manningcast. The interviews. I’ve never been watching Monday Night Football, or the Manningcast for that matter, and thought “Man, I wish they were talking to Tracy Morgan right now!” McAfee brought on Peyton Manning, for obvious reasons, and former NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers. That’s it. They didn’t rely on guests to carry them through down periods. The eight folks on screen did most of the heavy lifting, and for that, I thank them.

The McAfeecast was certainly different than any other alternate broadcast I’ve consumed. The crew shooting hoops for extra donations to charity during stoppages of play definitely kept things light and interesting. I couldn’t help but be invested in whether or not someone would bury three out of five threes during an injury timeout for more money for charity.

Speaking of injury timeouts, McAfee planned a giveaway and told fans to use a certain hashtag and when to screenshot or take a picture of their TV. Immediately following him saying “now!”, an injured player appeared on the screen, and he instantly shouted “No! Not now! No! We don’t want that, and we hope he’s ok”. It was a light-hearted, nearly hilarious moment that brought levity to the situation.

The highlight of the cast, however, was — in true McAfee style — picking up on things other broadcasters wouldn’t, like an angry fan. The entire crew shouting at the same time in this specific moment was spectacular television.

Overall, I thought the McAfeecast got off on the right foot. There is undeniably a market for an alternate broadcast based around the former NFL punter’s personality, and I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.