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Sports Media Shined Brightest Supporting Jeff Dickerson’s Son

“Many of the more than 15,000 donors to Parker’s Go Fund Me are a veritable “who’s who” of sports figures across cities and leagues from around the country.”



Often, it takes a tragedy in order for people to reveal, as Abraham Lincoln once put it, “the better angels of our nature.”

An unspeakable tragedy happened on Tuesday, December 28th, 2021. Longtime ESPN NFL writer and host Jeff Dickerson succumbed to complications from colon cancer. What made Dickerson’s death all the more tragic is that he had lost his wife Caitlin to cancer two years prior, leaving their 11-year-old son, Parker an orphan.

Dollars and sense: How ESPN's Jeff Dickerson is honoring his wife's memory  and giving back – The Athletic

What happened in the days that followed was an amazing story of generosity and kindness and a testament to the “better angels” of the human spirit. 

A well-publicized Go-Fund-Me was started for Parker by Dickerson’s aunt. The original goal was $100,000.

Fueled by social media promotion, sports media members across the country banded with athletes, team owners and fans to quicky meet and surpass every feasible expectation. 

As of Monday, January 3, “Parker’s Fund” has raised nearly $1.1 Million.


For the hosts, producers, and staff at ESPN 1000 in Chicago, Dickerson was more than just a colleague or co-host. He was family. This was someone who had been there for birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs and bachelor parties for the better part of two decades. 

While Dickerson kept his diagnosis private, his inner circle at ESPN 1000 knew this was coming. It didn’t make preparing for the inevitable any easier.

“I was heartbroken,” said ESPN’s newly named Director of Content Danny Zederman, who had worked alongside Dickerson for sixteen years. “JD was a fighter and he was determined to beat it. He told me all the time ‘I have no choice but to beat this.’ I talked to him on the phone three weeks ago and he told me it had gotten worse. I went to visit him in hospice on Christmas Eve with Carmen DeFalco, Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman. When we were visiting him, he was talkative, upbeat, and cracking jokes. Again, he insisted he was going to leave hospice and beat cancer.”

Dickerson’s friend Marc Silverman, ESPN 1000’s longtime afternoon show host, had his own well-publicized battle with cancer the last couple of years. In a cruel twist of fate, he was the one that had to break the news of Dickerson’s passing on the air.

“I was constantly checking my phone for updates & wasn’t sleeping knowing what was coming,” said Silverman. “All that said, with all that you know, there is nothing to prepare you for when you announce that your friend and co-worker of twenty years has passed away. And there’s nothing to prepare you for having to tell thousands. I don’t remember what I said, or how I said it, it was a blur and gave me a sick feeling. I knew the news would be shocking to our fans because he wanted to keep his journey private. I think the approach from a lot of us was to make JD proud. That’s what I kept telling myself.”


The day after Dickerson had passed, something you rarely see in our world happened. Media members, regardless of the outlet they worked for, came together. Team owners, players, and fans, often at odds with each other, found a common cause.

Everyone needed to help the orphaned son of a good man.

Word of “Parker’s Fund” soon reached the Twittersphere. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, who has nearly nine million followers, posted a link to Parker’s Go-Fund-Me Page. 

ESPN 1000 went fully local with an all-day tribute to their former teammate. The ESPN 1000 team promoted “Parker’s Fund” on air, and implored listeners to donate.

The effort soon snowballed into major donations from major figures.

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, longtime division rivals, each donated $25,000. Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder and Colts owner Jim Irsay did the same. Executives from the White Sox, Cubs, and Blackhawks all made sizable donations. 

Even a local apparel company, Obvious Shirts, raised over $50,000 selling commemorative tee-shirts and hoodies with all proceeds going to the cause. 

Many of the more than 15,000 donors to Parker’s Go Fund Me are a veritable “who’s who” of sports figures across cities and leagues from around the country.

“It was surreal,” said Zederman. “Everyone at ESPN 1000 was amazing. All the hosts and producers raised their hands and offered to do whatever they could to help. Many of the hosts were on vacation and still came in to honor JD. We always say ESPN Chicago is a family. That has never been truer.”

Even for Silverman, how the all-day tribute unfolded was beyond anything he had ever seen.

“These eyes have seen a lot in twenty-three years at ESPN 1000 and twenty-seven years working in my hometown,” said Silverman. “There are many Chicago legends who have passed away where you’re definitely sad and emotional. But they are not JD. They are not people who you worked in the trenches with to make ESPN 1000 relevant. They are not people who you’ve celebrated engagements, bachelor parties, weddings, and births with.”


The outpouring of support for Dickerson and the phenomenally successful effort of raising money for “Parker’s Fund” is another example of the power of social media.

It certainly speaks to the power of radio, and how it can still reach and engage with so many people so quickly. It’s also a testament to how many people have had their lives affected by cancer, and how the tragedies it has caused have bonded so many.

In the final analysis, this wasn’t about any of that. It was about “JD” and who he was at his core.

“It’s a testament to who Jeff was as person,” said Jonathan Hood, who co-hosted shows with Dickerson on ESPN 1000 and ESPN Radio for a decade. “Jeff was one of the few people that I know that could form a friendship easily. He had many colleagues that he became friends with over the years.

Dickerson & Hood | Free Internet Radio | TuneIn

“This business bonds all of us that are lucky enough to play a role,” said Zederman. “JD was a reporter and host that interacted with people in the industry from all over the country. The support from fellow media members was incredible and a testament to the type of people that work in broadcasting.”

“(Tom) Waddle tells the story of JD emceeing the Vaughn McClure fundraiser in October and not caring how shitty he felt, he just wanted to pay tribute to Vaughn,” said Silverman. “That’s who he is. Totally selfless. So, it’s great to see so many acts of kindness directed JD’s way. Parker deserves it because he certainly doesn’t deserve what happened to his parents.”

BSM Writers

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

Grant Cohn is a media member who writes for the FanNation 49ers blog on 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:

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

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Bron Heussenstamm, CEO Bleav Podcast Network

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.

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