AND NOW HERE IS THE HOST OF JEOPARDY…AARON RODGERS!
It’s a reality, at least for this week. The Packers QB is going to host ten shows before April 16. So far, what we have seen has been decent, pretty good frankly. After all, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have the deep TV background that other guests hosts have come in with.
Rodgers says it would be a dream come true to get the job full time, and he is serious about trying to make that dream a reality. He told The Ringer that he is capable of being a quarterback and hosting a daily gameshow simultaneously. Jeopardy actually has a pretty limited shooting schedule.
That’s a nice idea. Could it ever really become a reality? Frankly, I also wonder how interested in Rodgers the producers at Jeopardy actually are. For sports fans, Aaron Rodgers is a super star, but does his name have the same caché to the average American?
“I think so but it doesn’t matter because he’s really good at it and if you are fan of the show that’s what you want,” Stugotz told me. He says that Aaron may surprise some Jeopardy fans with just how perfectly he could fit their expectations. “Someone who loved Alex, loves the show, respects the position, will treat it with care, is super smart, good sense of humor and who is really good at it. Aaron checks all those boxes.”
CBS Sports Radio night time host JR Jackson agrees that Rodgers could be an ideal fit. He says it isn’t a problem if Rodgers isn’t a household name for people that aren’t sports fans, because he could bring a whole new audience to the show. As long as Jeopardy stays Jeopardy, the longtime fans will likely stay.
“No one can fill the shoes of Alex Trebek, but Rodgers would bring his own flair, and an expanded audience of curious football fans with him,” he tells me.
This is all so strange to me. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to see Aaron Rodgers hosting Jeopardy. I think he could be really good. The guy has just never struck me as the type that is interested in a career on television. I can’t even really picture him in a more traditional TV role for ex-football players.
“He has criticized the media for sensationalism so I think he has a real interest in what is said and how it is said, New York Post reporter Andrew Marchand reminds me. “In terms of being in the booth, he hasn’t gotten that much buzz, however, if it were something he wanted to do post-playing, he would be able to get a job.”
What if Aaron Rodgers were offered the job but told that it would have to be his top priority? Is he willing to walk away from football to be the full-time host of Jeopardy? He gave an interesting answer to that question when asked earlier this week.
“I want to keep playing, you know. I still have the passion and the fire, and this last season just reminded me and I think a lot of people that I can still play and still play at a really, really high level, and I feel like I can do this for a number of years moving forward,” he told Good Morning America.
It is interesting to note that Rodgers didn’t say there was no way he would walk away from football. If the next host gets paid the way the late Alex Trebek reportedly did, it could be a little easier to give up NFL starting quarterback money. At the time of his death, Jeopardy was reportedly paying Trebek $10 million per year. ESPN’s Bomani Jones told me that should be more than enough to make anyone reconsider playing in the NFL.
“There’s a reason I’m not a football player,” he said in a text. “Because you offer me even one million and I don’t have to get hit for it, and I forget I was ever in the NFL.”
Stugotz told me that he wouldn’t even need to be paid in the millions. If Rodgers won’t give up football and that is a problem for Jeopardy producers, Dan Le Batard’s co-host wants them to know that he comes cheap.
“$500,000,” he says flatly when I ask for his price. “I think even Aaron would agree if given a few reps I’d probably be better.” I tell him that is the perfect answer and he quickly fires back “I was thinking of saying 50k.”
Jackson says he wouldn’t mind seeing Rodgers walk away to become a gameshow host. “I need the headline, ‘Packers Move on from Rodgers, QBs Next Move is Jeopardy’. I can dream right?”
It would certainly be one of the most unique A blocks in sports radio history.
The part of this that I am having some trouble with is the idea of Rodgers on TV. Sure, he can be entertaining, but I have never thought of him as having a big personality. Isn’t that a prerequisite for being a gameshow host? The only other ex-football player hosting a game show I can think of is Michael Strahan. He just brings very palpable charisma. I am not sure Rodgers is capable of that.
Andrew Marchand tells me I am overthinking it. Rodgers doesn’t want to be a gameshow host. He wants to be the host of Jeopardy.
“I think his appeal is specific to Jeopardy,” he tells me in an email. “He has a true affection for the program and for Alex Trebek. That passion translates. So I don’t think he would be considered — and I suspect he wouldn’t be interested — in any other game shows. This program only features some small talk and it is taped in advance so I think he probably has enough skills to do it full-time.”
At the end of the day, it is hard not to root for this to happen. As Jackson points out, the headline is amazing. Also, what better middle finger to the team that drafted your replacement when you told them you needed weapons is there than saying “Screw you! I’d rather go quiz nerds than wear green and yellow ever again!”?
That’s probably not how this will go down. Besides, there is a lot of competition for the opening. Rodgers may not be producers’ first choice to step in for Alex Trebek, but across the sports media there is clearly no shortage of people that think it would make a lot of sense.
Grant Cohn’s Trolling of Players is Unacceptable
After an altercation between Javon Kinlaw of the San Francisco 49ers and Grant Cohn, it became clear that Kinlaw was being trolled by a member of the media.
Grant Cohn is a media member who writes for the FanNation 49ers blog on SI.com. He also talks about the team on his YouTube channel, which has over 48,000 subscribers as of noon Thursday. His father, Lowell, was a longtime columnist in the Bay Area.
Javon Kinlaw is a defensive lineman, whom the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the first round despite concerns about the durability of his knee. He played four games last season, his second in the league.
The two were involved in two confrontations this week. The first one occurred off to the side of the 49ers’ practice field. Kinlaw apparently cursed at Cohn and knocked his hat from atop his head. Later in the day, Kinlaw again swore at Cohn, this time after joining a live stream on Cohn’s YouTube channel. (Side note: I have never felt so freaking old as I did while typing that previous sentence.)
OK. That’s my attempt at an absolutely straightforward and objective summary of a situation that scares the hell out of me. Not because a player was mad at a member of the media. I’ve had it happen to me and I’ve seen it happen to others. It’s my opinion that this has been happening for as long as human beings have scrutinized the athletic efforts of other human beings.
What scared me was that I was seeing some version of the future of sports media. A future in which media members behaved like YouTube trolls, acting purposely ridiculous or antagonistic to initiate conflicts that could be turned into more conflicts that would could be gleefully recounted as content for the audience. I thought that because that’s pretty much what Cohn did:https://youtu.be/4Hf9sjBttFY
Cohn essentially bragged about the number of different things he said that may have prompted Kinlaw’s reaction, and you know what? It worked. Kinlaw got mad. He confronted Cohn. Twice. TMZ published a story about it. So did SFGate.com.
This is troll behavior. You know, the online pests who say or do something intended to provoke a reaction, and once they get that reaction, they recount and scrutinize that reaction with an eye toward triggering another reaction. Lather, rinse repeat. Increasingly, entire online media ecosystems consist of nothing more than people who don’t like each other talking about how much they don’t like one another.
I’m not going to pretend this is entirely new in sports media. Sports columnists have been known to make reputations with their willingness to be critical of the home team. A huge part of Skip Bayless’ brand is his unwavering insistence on highlighting Lebron James’ perceived flaws. Stephen A. Smith has engaged in public feuds with players, namely Kevin Durant.
I do see a difference between this and what Cohn did, though. The reaction Bayless and Smith are primarily concerned with is from their audience, not their subjects. The subjects may get mad, but that’s not the primary goal. At least I hope it’s not.
What happens if that is the primary goal? What if someone is offering opinions not because it’s what they really think, but because they want to provoke a response from the subject? Media careers have been built on less.
I don’t know if that’s the case with Cohn. I’ve never talked to him in my life, and even if I had, it’s impossible to know someone’s true intent. But in listening to everything he said AFTER the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, I’m not willing to assume that Cohn was operating in good faith. Here’s how Cohn described the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, which occurred as practice was beginning.
“In the training room, I saw Javon Kinlaw, who is the king of the training room,” Cohn said. “He’s usually in the training room.”
Cohn said the two locked eyes, but were separated by about 70 yards at the time. Kinlaw then walked across the field to where the reporters were gathered. He stood directly behind Cohn.
“So I turn, and I say, ‘Wassup, Mook Dawg?’ “ Cohn said, referencing the nickname on Kinlaw’s Instagram account. “And he doesn’t say anything. And I say, ‘Why are you looking at me like that, Javon?’ “
“And then he said, ‘What are you going to do about it you bitch-ass,’ and then he said one more word that I can’t say,” Cohn said. “And then I turned to face him, and I said, ‘Oh, it’s like that?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’ And then he knocked the hat off my head.”
OK. Pause. In my experience, when your job is to publicly describe and critique the performance and attitudes of professional athletes, there will be times in which the athletes do not care for your description or your critique. Some of those who are displeased will make their objections known to you.
However, there are two things that are unusual here: First, the fact Kinlaw knocked the hat off Cohn’s head, which is unacceptable. Second, Cohn then posted a video on YouTube to not only talk about what had happened, but state he had been so critical of Kinlaw for so long he wasn’t sure what specifically sparked Kinlaw’s anger.
“Javon, what are you upset about?” Cohn asked toward the end of his video. “Is it the fact that I said you have an 80-year-old knee? Is it the fact that I said that you’re a terrible pass rusher and you’re just a two-down player? Is it the fact that I said the Niners shouldn’t have drafted you and should have taken Tristan Wirfs instead. Is it the fact that I said that you’re unprofessional and immature.
“It escapes me, which of the hundred negative things I’ve said about Javon Kinlaw the last couple of years, moved him to approach me in such a way, but you know what, I applaud Javon Kinlaw for coming to speak to me directly, and I ask you, what do you think Javon Kinlaw is mad about.”
Cohn was trolling Kinlaw. No other word for it.
That night, Cohn was conducting a live stream on YouTube, which Kinlaw joined, while apparently eating dinner, to make declarative statements about the size of Cohn’s genitalia — among other things.
Neither one looked particularly impressive. Not Kinlaw, who was profane and combative with a member of the media, at one point making a not-so-subtle threat. Not Cohn, who asked Kinlaw, “Do you think I’m scared of you, Javon?” He also said, “I don’t even know why you’re mad, Javon.”
I think Kinlaw would have been better off ignoring Cohn. If I was Kinlaw’s employer, I would probably prefer he not log into video livestreams to make testicular comparisons. But honestly, I don’t care about what Kinlaw did. At all. He’s not on a team I root for. He didn’t physically harm anyone. He used some bad words in public.
I am bothered not just by Cohn’s actions, but by some of the reactions to them because of what I think this type of behavior will do to an industry I have worked in for 25 years. Credentialed media members who behave like Cohn did this week make it harder for other media members who are acting in good faith. Preserving access for people like him diminishes what that access will provide for those who aren’t trying to use criticism to create conflict that will become content.
I think Cohn knew what he was doing. In his livestream, before Kinlaw joined, Cohn stated he was not scared because he knew — by virtue of his father’s history in the business — that if Kinlaw had touched him he would potentially be entitled monetary compensation.
By now, it should be pretty apparent how problematic this whole thing is and yet on Thursday, a number of 49ers fans online were sticking up for Cohn as just doing his job. Dieter Kurtenbach, a Bay Area columnist, Tweeted: “Javon Kinlaw does not know that @GrantCohn was built for this.” Built for what? Winning Internet fights? Kurtenbach also deleted a Tweet in which he called Kinlaw “soft.”
Cohn’s father, Lowell, is a former columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. He promoted the first video his son made on Tuesday:
Sorry, I don’t find it funny because it’s another step down a path in which media members seek reactions at the expense of information. Where they look to make fun of players instead of learning about them. They’ll stop acting like journalists and start acting like the trolls who make their money by instigating a conflict, which they then film: “Jake Paul, reporting live from 49ers practice …”
If that’s the case, thank God I’m about to age out of this business, entirely. I’m 47 years old and I can’t believe there’s anyone in our industry who thinks what Cohn did this week is acceptable.
Media Noise – Episode 75
A new episode of Media Noise is all about reaction. Demetri reacts to the ManningCast’s big win at the Sports Emmys. Danny O’Neil reacts to people reacting to Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Las Vegas and Andy Masur reacts to John Skipper’s comments about Charles Barkley.
Bron Heussenstamm Blends Bleav Podcasts Advertising with SiriusXM
Bron Heussenstamm, the CEO of the Bleav Podcast Network says blending podcasting advertising with satellite radio’s reach is a victory for both sides.
Last week, the Bleav (pronounced believe) Podcast Network announced a deal with SiriusXM to make all 32 NFL team-specific Bleav pods available on the SXM app. SXM can also air Bleav content on any of its sports channels. Each NFL Bleav show pairs a former player with a host to discuss team issues. Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, and Pac-Man Jones are amongst the former players Bleav has signed as talent.
I have hosted a Bleav podcast about Boise State football -the Kingdom of POD. I am usually provided 1-3 advertisers per episode by the network and get paid by the download. My subject matter is regional, so my take-home pay is usually under four figures. I have enjoyed the technical assistance and cross-promotion I receive and I enjoyed meeting Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm. Bron is Los Angeles-based, a USC graduate, and founded Bleav in 2018. We discussed the SXM deal, podcast advertising, and the future.
Will the podcast advertisers be carried on the SXM distribution platform?
Yes, Bleav baked-in advertisements and hosts read ads are distributed across all platforms. This enables the host to do their show once through, making it as easy as possible for the hosts and consistent for the advertisers.
How is advertising on Bleav different?
We want to be more than a ‘host read ad’ or a ‘digital insert’ with our advertising partners. When companies work with Bleav shows and talent, those companies can receive our omnichannel of distribution points—podcast platforms, YouTube, socials, streamers, TV, radio, and more. This allows for consistent branding across all platforms: great talent presenting great companies to fans and consumers no matter where they consume content.
What is the growth pattern for podcasts that you see?
The industry trades have presented 400%-800% percent growth over the next ten years. Once the COVID fog lifted, we really saw these gains. Sports are always going to be at the forefront of culture. The increases in all sports sectors have certainly carried into the digital space.
SXM has started with NFL shows but can also air more Bleav content – what does that look like?
We’ve started with our NFL network of 32 team shows hosted by a former player. We’ve kept the door open for our NCAAB, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, Basketball, and Soccer networks. We’re happy for our hosts to be part of such a tremendous company and platform. SiriusXM can continue to amplify its voice and give fans the access and insight only a player can provide.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau-IAB- says podcast revenue grew 72% last year to $1.4B and is expected to grow to $2B this year and double to $4B by 2024. Have you seen similar growth? What is driving the industry now, and what will be the primary cause of growth by 2024?
There is a myriad of reasons for the growth. I‘ll lean into a couple.
At Bleav, we launch and maximize the digital arm of industry leaders. The technology upgrades to allow hosts to have a world-class show — simulcast in both audio and video – from their home has led to an explosion of content. With this, the level of content creators has risen. Having a YouTube, RSS feed, podcast, and more is now part of the brand, right alongside Twitter and Instagram.
If a company wants to advertise on Bleav in Chargers, we know exactly how many people heard Lorenzo Neal endorse their product. We can also safely assume they like the Chargers. The tracking of demo specifics for companies is huge. It’s a fantastic medium to present products to the right fans and consumers.