Women, money, and Tim Tebow — all things in life that cause men to say and do stupid things. To be fair, plenty of women have also gotten caught in the Tebow bear trap. There has never been a sports figure that has generated more stupid comments based on performance than Timothy Richard Tebow. Nobody. He’s at the top of the list. The GOAT.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has been kicking around the idea of offering Tebow a one-year deal to play tight end. No, seriously. It sounds like a Hollywood movie script gone wrong, but somehow this is a real thing. Just the potential of Tebow landing with the Jags has sparked an onslaught of foolishness.
Of course you have the blind believers; the people that say things like, “He’s a leader. The guy is just a winner.” I list these folks under the heading “crazy.” They’re the same people who were waxing poetic nearly a decade ago about a guy that has a 47.9 career completion percentage, and a 75.3 career passer rating. That isn’t good enough to qualify as rotten, yet somehow Tebow is a major asset in their eyes.
It isn’t just Tebow’s production that some people are wildly inaccurate about. It’s also the speculation as to why he’s supposedly on the brink of an opportunity. “White privilege” has been mentioned. Hmm, let’s think about that for a second. Do you honestly think Urban Meyer looked at the Jags depth chart and said, “Man, we definitely need more white guys on this squad”? Really?
This is a classic case of trying to recreate a winning formula from the past. The Raiders have tried for decades to recreate the Cliff Branch vertical passing attack. Steve Spurrier signed a bunch of former Florida guys when he coached at Washington. Meyer is trying to regenerate the magic of Percy Harvin at Florida by shoehorning running back Travis Etienne into a hybrid role. Meyer is also trying to recreate Tebow’s presence and leadership in Jacksonville. The problem is that Tebow hasn’t played the tight end position to begin with, or an NFL game since 2012. It’s laughable, but it isn’t white privilege. That’s just another wacky theory in a sea of bad Tebow takes.
Maybe you’re reasonable about Tebow. If so, I applaud you. But do you go off the rails elsewhere? Has your rooting interest caused you to be stupid about other athletes?
There are a lot of Tom Brady wackos out there. Last Saturday, NFL Network replayed Tampa’s 34-23 loss to the Saints in Week 1 last year. It was open season after that loss. “Brady’s washed. He doesn’t have the arm strength anymore. He’s a product of the Patriots culture and a system quarterback.” Yeah, he went on to win another Super Bowl. To put the Brady hate in perspective, think if the roles were reversed last year. Can you imagine the comments if Bill Belichick won a Super Bowl in his first season without Brady, while Brady went 7-9 in his first season with the Bucs? Oh. My. Lord.
By the way, it is utterly insane that Brady — a 7-time Super Bowl champ — has gotten criticized way more unjustly than Tim freaking Tebow.
Another athlete many people are unreasonable about is Russell Westbrook. “Just look at Steven Adams boxing out so Westbrook can get the rebound.” I swear that’s my sports radio version of those old “wanna get away” commercials. Adams isn’t the reason Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in four of the past five seasons. Westbrook has averaged those numbers because he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer and a relentless Energizer Bunny. Adams doesn’t play for the Wizards, yet somehow Russ averaged 11.5 rebounds this season. He’s a 6’3” guard. That’s absurd.
What’s crazy is that Brady and Westbrook have produced massively, while Tebow has had a tiny sliver of professional success. And somehow Brady and Westbrook are nitpicked while many put Tebow on a pedestal. It’s pure poppycock with a side of malarkey and rubbish.
If you’re a Tebow realist (aka non crazy person), you’re thought to be a hater. It’s personal. You must have something against him. There’s no way you can legitimately think this guy isn’t destined for greatness. Look, hating Tebow is like hating hugs and happiness. What’s to dislike? He’s a great dude who’s disciplined, committed, and respectful among 73 other admirable qualities. Is it possible that it isn’t personal at all? That in spite of respecting the guy, some people simply think he can’t play?
Yes, it’s possible. It’s also true.
It boils down to this; we know the minute Tebow’s name is mentioned, a tidal wave of stupidity is soon to follow. Is it a good or bad idea to invite that type of nonsense on a sports radio show? Not only is it a good idea, it’s tremendous. People are invested. They care about this subject. We’ve been taught since day one to play the hits. Tebow is a smash hit. The topic might be as annoying as Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, but it’s popular. You’d be crazy not to ever play it.
Never forget that we are captivated by stupidity. When a contestant on Jeopardy! gives a wildly inaccurate response, we can’t wait to share that video on social media. When Pat Sajak says there are only vowels left in the puzzle, and the Wheel of Fortune contestant guesses W, we belly laugh like Santa Claus. Sometimes stupidity is angering, other times it’s amusing, but stupidity is always an attention getter. It’s the crash on the highway that we can’t help but look at.
It’s smart for hosts to use emotion to their advantage. Sure, emotion is the enemy of logic, but it’s also the engine that drives the sports radio audience machine. You’ll have to put up with a crazy listener or two (or 60) when Tebow is mentioned. Big deal. It’s the cost of doing ratings business. Don’t avoid stupidity. Invite it. It’s the autobahn to success.
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.