For the first time in a while, ESPN will feature the same Monday Night Football booth in consecutive years. The crew of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick will be back to call the action on Monday Nights. The trio debuted last season and got mainly good reviews, but the bar was set pretty low after the Tessitore/McFarland era.
I didn’t have a major problem with the booth as constructed. I thought the addition of Riddick was a great move. Levy is a pretty solid play-by-play guy and Griese has been around for a while, so I’m used to him as an analyst. Probably not a glowing review on my part, because I grew up in an era of Monday Night Football being a spectacle, and an event. Howard Cosell was the star, “Dandy” Don Meredith was the jokester, and Frank Gifford was a former player turned pretty darn good play-by-play man. I’m spoiled, what can I say?
Over the years as things evolved on the broadcast, television executives tried to fix what wasn’t broken. Wanting to do things differently. Like the failed experiment of Dennis Miller. I’m not sure what the attraction was. I mean Miller was hilarious on Saturday Night Live, but come on, why was he in the football booth? Tony Kornheiser had a crack at it to, but it wasn’t the right fit. My point being, if you’re going to change it up, change it for the better while keeping the integrity of the game and booth in mind.
I bring this up because of Dan Le Batard. Last week he tweeted about having only 17 percent battery life on his phone and he’d been drinking tequila. He opened up his Twitter account to anyone that wanted to ask him anything. One of the first questions he received was from Mina Kimes, the ESPN NFL analyst.
She asked: Do you think Rico Dawdle cemented his position as RB3 on the Cowboys depth chart with his explosive performance tonight?
Le Batard responded: Yes. And I think they need to be smart and put you in the Monday Night Football booth because your analysis is better than anyone’s and no one cares more about football or is better on football than you are.
Le Batard later tweeted he doesn’t want to see Kimes as a sideline reporter on an alternate simulcast. He wants her in the booth each week. To which Kimes tweeted back, “Please drop me off a block away from school; you’re embarrassing me in front of the other kids.”
The former ESPN’er said he didn’t want to see Kimes in a sideline reporting role or on an “alternate broadcast”. He says she belongs in the booth.
Could this be a legitimate option for ESPN, say if Riddick gets a front office position in the league? What if Griese decides he wants to coach? I’m not sure that’s even an option, but you get my point, what if there is an opening as an analyst in the MNF booth? Would Kimes be considered?
First off, if Kimes gets offered a role to host on the MNF Alternative broadcast, she should take it. That would be a great way to get some broadcasting “reps” and better prepare her for a possible role in the main booth.
After watching a recent Los Angeles Rams preseason broadcast, I think Kimes would be a hit on the regular broadcast. She worked the Rams/Chargers game for a local LA television station, which was also carried on the NFL Network. Kimes was seated alongside Aqib Talib as the analysts, working with play-by-play man Andrew Siciliano. He is the perfect broadcaster for Kimes to learn from. First off, he does a great job calling the action, but an even better job of setting up his analysts.
As I watched on my iPad, while getting my car serviced in suburban Chicago, one thing struck me immediately. Kimes knows her stuff. It was clear to me that she spent time preparing for this game. Her information was excellent. Kimes had in-depth knowledge of the camp battles for both teams and was very informed on what the teams did last season and needed to improve upon. She spoke confidently.
What also struck me, was that Kimes was not afraid of the moment that’s for sure. Although I would say early in the game, she did defer a lot to Talib. He wasn’t seizing the opportunity to “analyze” right after a play. Kimes though showed respect for a guy that played the game, allowing him to gather his thoughts. But you could tell that Talib respected her. He deferred to her a few times. In kind, Kimes would bring Talib back into the conversation, with on point questions, especially about the DB’s. His area of expertise. It was fun to hear the two work together. I did feel that most of the time, her information was better.
For example, in the second quarter Kimes began talking about the Rams running game. With Cam Akers out for the season, she said fans should keep an eye on who will be running the ball. She asked the question out loud about whether the Akers’ injury would cause a philosophy change in the Rams run game. She wondered if the style would be drastically different without Akers.
Kimes showed an ability to have a lot of fun in the booth. She joked in the 2nd quarter, after a replay showing a DB grabbing some of the receiver’s jersey. Talib and Kimes laughed about it, with Kimes stating, “I work with a lot of DB’s and I know better than to call that pass interference or holding.”
She told a few great stories too. One was about Chargers quarterback Chase Daniel and his bank account. Kimes mentioned that Daniel, after this season would have made 38.9-million dollars in his career. She added that he’s only started 5 games in the NFL. She capped it by saying, “Wow, his average (dollars) per throw is more than I make in a year.”
I enjoyed her information and the way she relayed it. Kimes certainly has a working knowledge of the schemes on defense and on offense, but the information was presented in a very digestible way. The info was very relatable and she wasn’t trying to overdo it. Meaning, she wasn’t saying, “look at me, I know my stuff and I am proving it to you by saying this.” Kudos to her for realizing that and sticking to her style and understanding of the situation.
If I had a criticism, it would be her ‘feel’ for the booth. It’s probably unfair because nobody ‘gets’ that dynamic right away. Plus, she’s only recently made the transition from writing to hosting and now to analyzing during a game. My biggest gripe is a small one in the grand scheme of things. Every once in a while, she would talk over referee Tony Corrente’s penalty calls, which shouldn’t happen. There were a few awkward moments and a few times where maybe things sounded a little forced. But that was early in the game and it got better as time went by.
The most awkward moment though was handled beautifully by Siciliano and Kimes. She went viral when she was trying to get into position for a booth shot. Kimes wasn’t completely seated when the director took the shot. When Siciliano said, “Hey look, we’re on camera.”, Kimes responded with “So are my pants.” The ability to laugh at herself is something to respect as well.
Kimes is a good story teller. I want to hear more stories, especially during a preseason game. Why? Because the casual fan probably doesn’t care that the Rams are in “Cover Zero” with a blitzing strong side linebacker. But I’ll bet they’d love to hear the “SAM” linebacker was an undrafted rookie free agent from a small school in the Midwest. Those are the stories that the NFL is built on.
I’ve said it before, you don’t have to be a former player to analyze a sport. It’s a bit tougher because you don’t have playing experiences to draw on. But remember, just because you played at a high level doesn’t mean you’ll be a good analyst. If you study the game, if you immerse yourself in it, if you continue to learn from coaches and players, you can analyze the NFL or any sport for that matter. Gaining respect from teams means you’ll get information that others may not.
Kimes was named to the NFL 40 Under 40: by the Athletic. According to the site, “she’s a skilled interviewer and a masterful writer who in the past year crossed over into a full-time analyst role on “NFL Live.” It’s still exceptionally rare for a woman to sit in the analyst chair, yet Kimes already has become one of the most respected voices in football.”
The site interviewed her co-analyst on NFL Live, Dan Orlovsky, the former NFL QB. He added, “Mina is so great because she never wants to live on the surface of a conversation about football. It’s always going down into the weeds, understanding it and then making it surface-level understandable,” said Orlovsky. “Being her teammate is fantastic because you know she’s locked in and forces you to be on top of your game.”
Should Kimes be a candidate if/when a spot opens up in a broadcast booth? Yup. She’s good, oh and she’s qualified too. Her enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge of the game have earned her respect from colleagues and the adoration of many fans. Le Batard is on to something here, hopefully the bosses at his former network are listening.
She’s already ten times better than Dennis Miller.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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