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Will Cooley Leave DC Radio For NFL?

Jason Barrett

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Chris Cooley was sitting in an office break room in Rockville, a few minutes before the start of his daily radio show on ESPN 980. That morning, the former Redskins tight end had power cleaned 350 pounds inside the Redskins Park weight room — the most he had done since he was in college. After being about 15 pounds over his playing weight in January, he was back down to his normal 250.

“I feel [bleeping] awesome,” he said on a recent afternoon.

NFL assistant coaches who have run into him in recent months have seen what sort of shape he’s in, and asked why he isn’t still playing football. It’s the sort of question that can stick with a just-turned-33-year-old radio host.

Because Cooley never actually retired, not formally, anyhow. He couldn’t imagine playing for a team other than the Redskins, and he didn’t want to play for a bargain rate, so he left the game after the 2012 season and started a media career, just a few hashmarks into his 30s.

The typical sports-radio host, though, has a different health regimen than the typical NFL player. By this January, Cooley didn’t like the way he looked, or the way he felt. So he resumed football-style workouts, running pass routes in the Redskins Park bubble, sprinting 20 or 30 yards while dragging a sled loaded with 45-pound weights, jogging down to the Redskins Park weight room to do a quick set or two during his show’s commercial breaks, benching 315 pounds six times in a row.

Now he’s back in shape, and having non-joking conversations with an out-of-town NFL offensive coordinator about playing in the league. And the 33-year old can’t help but wonder: Could he still do it?

“If I went to camp, I could be anybody’s third tight end, worst case,” he said. “I have no doubt. Any team in the NFL, I could be their third tight end. There’s not a question in my mind.”

But Cooley can see both sides of this column, like any proper radio host should. (Your calls, after the break!) He will tell you that he feels like he can still play, and then without taking a breath he’ll admit that every former player believes that same thing. He will tell you he “absolutely” would listen if a team called, and then acknowledge the idea “seems far-fetched to anybody else.” He will talk about how much fun it would be to get out on that field again, and then explain how much he doesn’t want to tarnish his Redskins legacy.

He will describe his feeling during recent workouts and then admit that “this feeling of greatness can only occur in my life for, what, two more years?” He doesn’t want to beg someone for a chance, but he still imagines “somebody calling me and being like we really, really, REALLY, want you; come play.”

Cooley said he loves his job: breaking down film, calling games from the booth and hosting an afternoon drive show. But there’s a certain thrill that comes with playing football, a jolt of life that apparently does not come with debating it.

In football, “you prepare, and then you achieve something great, and there’s this huge adrenaline rush, this huge excitement,” he said. “And it’s so dumb, because it’s just a game, but there’s a great fulfillment. You finish a radio show, and some days you might think ‘That was an awesome show!’ and then everyone walks out of the studio like ‘All right, see you later.’ … The atmosphere, being a part of a team, trying to achieve something, it’s unattainable outside of professional sports.”

In the meantime, he got engaged, had a daughter, and watched countless hours of football tape for his weekly film breakdowns, which remain among the best segments in local sports radio. That process, he said, increased his love and knowledge of the game. Two seasons in the booth also mostly convinced him that his Redskins legacy wouldn’t be spoiled if he spent time running around in some other color uniform. And so?

“So I’ll just say that I want to” play again, he said on the radio a few weeks back. “There aren’t the competitive challenges and the competitive accomplishments to be achieved in [every] job, the feeling of going crazy because you’ve worked to achieve something. And if you think you only have a couple more [chances], why wouldn’t you do it?”

To read the rest of this story visit the Washington Post where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Steak Shapiro Apologizes, Says He Didn’t Think Stetson Bennett Criticism Was ‘That Inflamatory’

“You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history.”

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Wednesday’s edition of The Steakhouse was one Atlanta sports fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, Steak Shapiro took to Twitter to promise that he would address Stetson Bennett IV’s reaction to his criticism of the way the quarterback behaved at Georgia’s National Championship parade on Saturday.

“The notion is that Steak was basically roasted,” he said of the coverage the social media spat received. “He was put on the grill and taken to task.”

Shapiro had tweeted that he did not think it was a good look for Bennett to be on his phone during the championship parade and that his speech seemed more about settling old grudges than it was about celebrating the team or the fans. In a message on Twitter, which began by addressing Shapiro as “Mr. Med Rare”, Bennett explained that he was using his phone to play music in the car he was riding in. He was not ignoring the moment or the fans.

After giving Bennett credit for coming up with a funny nickname, Steak Shapiro said that he was surprised that the quarterback took the criticism so personally.

“My job is to give an opinion. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory. I didn’t think it was that dramatic.”

He added that has no problem with Stetson’s disdain for the media. He just thought the parade should have been about the fans and the accomplishment rather than Stetson Bennett IV trying to settle old grudges. Still, Shapiro wanted to make it clear that he does not hate the Georgia quarterback. He remains one of Bennett’s most vocal fans.

“On three or four occasions, I was lambasted because I said I thought he was the greatest player in Georgia history, and I said that before he won the national title,” Shapiro said. “I said that when they had the undefeated regular season, and then people started saying ‘stop saying that about Stetson’ or ‘Stetson’s overrated’. I just kinda had his back the entire year and probably had his back the last two years. I just didn’t think Saturday was a great day. That is what I have been saying, and I stand by it. I just didn’t think it was a great-looking day.”

Steak Shapiro did offer an apology to Bennett. He said that if the quarterback was just trying to play music on his phone, that isn’t that big of a deal, and if he had known that is what was happening, his reaction may have been different.

“My bad,” he concluded. “You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history. You’re one of the iconic sports figures — maybe number one — in a town of Hank Aaron, and Chipper Jones, and Domonique Wilkins, and Matt Ryan, and Deion Sanders. You’re probably number one all time.”

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Sports Radio News

Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140

“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”

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Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.

Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.

“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.

“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”

“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.  

The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.

The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.

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Sports Radio News

DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand

“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”

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After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.

In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.

“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”

Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.

The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.

The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.

Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”

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