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The Rock Is All The XFL Has And Just Maybe All It Needs

“If there is a name who has the cache, and who has the national approval and backing, it’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.”

John Michaels

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Finally The Rock has come back …..to the XFL. 

FINALLY the Rock has come back.... — MyFitnessPal.com

Not quite the same ring that The Rock’s catchphrase used to have when he would hit the ring in the WWE, yet here we are, again, with the announcement that Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock has purchased the XFL. 

The same question always comes up when someone tries to have a spring football league – Can the league actually work? We have seen twice in the past two years the AAF and the XFL have very short runs, but the XFL had a pandemic that cut the season short. The AAF had grand ideas of how the league would work, and early TV returns showed that Americans would watch football in the spring, but money issues shut the league down.

The XFL debuted back in 2001 and was a mix of attitude and football. Vince McMahon came up with some innovative ideas including skycam, in-game player interviews, and a much more risque entertainment with cheerleaders. Early on the XFL drew very good TV ratings, which was more out of curiosity than anything, but the lack of quality players and the reliance on gimmicky play led many viewers to turn away. After one season the XFL took their losses and folded up shop.

Fast forward 18 years and the AAF came around with grandiose ideas, and a strong backing of Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. The league started just a few days after the NFL season ended, but only lasted a few weeks before play was suspended, and ultimately the league filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

The AAF was a colossal disaster on many more levels than just the play on the field and league operations. Many broadcasters were never paid for their role calling games for the ill-fated league, and with Chapter-7 bankruptcy protection, those professionals just have to eat the losses of games that were called for free. Radio stations who committed to carry the games and be the “flagship” spent many months selling spots for live pro football, only to lose that income when the league pulled the plug. Less than a year later, the XFL also pulled the plug midseason causing programmers and advertisers to scramble to fill that content, scheduled for live game action.

XFL releases statement over AAF closure

In steps Dwayne Johnson, who gives the XFL a 15 million dollar resuscitation, with hope that the spring league can this time last more than one year. The Rock provides a huge name, one who has been successful in every step of his career, and someone who will be 100% behind this project with his business partner Dany Garcia. Vince McMahon was always about WWE 1st, and the XFL was a side project. The Rock has proven throughout his life that everything he touches turns to gold, but more importantly he fully invests his time and resources into every project. Why would the XFL be any different? If there is a name who has the cache, and who has the national approval and backing, it’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. 

How will this league be received, and how much will networks and stations buy in after being burnt so many different times?

Tread lightly would be my advice. 

Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me, and after multiple failed spring football leagues this will be a tough sell across the board. The USFL was the last successful spring league, and their shelf life was only a few seasons before greed kicked in and the league failed miserably against the NFL. NFL Europe was a great concept that lasted a while, but ratings were never great in the US. We have seen the XFL fail twice and the AAF never really get off the ground so what will be different now?

Radio stations have been hemorrhaging money during the pandemic, and it is hard to envision advertisers flocking to buy spots during another attempt at spring football when one has gone bust in each of the last two years, but could The Rock’s backing equal a potential windfall? This will be the hope when the XFL comes back around. One thing advertisers do love is live spots during live sports, and if the talent can be brought in to play the games maybe fans will buy in.

Dwayne Johnson is one of the best stories in the history of entertainment. 

$7 to his name when he started and now worth over $300 million.

Even though the odds are stacked against him, it is hard to bet against The Great One.

XFL Creditors File Motion To Stop Sale Of The League To The Rock And His  Partners - Wrestling Inc.

Once again we hope that a new football league can thrive, but unlike previous ventures, fans, CEO’s and people spending money will be skeptical. We have been burned many times before, and this time we have the knowledge to make a smart decision. That decision is simple, don’t overextend on a product that has shown to fail many times in the past

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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