Getting to know Mo Egger is a testament to what a small world radio is. Mo got his start producing Jim Scott’s morning show at WLW in Cincinnati. Jim’s son, Scott Fitzgerald (obviously not his real name) has been one of my very best friends in this industry for the better part of a decade. I didn’t know this before I picked up the phone to call Mo, but at the end of our conversation we started swapping stories about this family we both have an emotional connection to.
In his radio career, Mo has moved up at iHeartMedia’s Cincinnati office. He has never moved out, and he doesn’t have any plans to either.
Like so many of his listeners, Mo Egger was born in Cincinnati and he plans to stay in Cincinnati. The Reds and Bengals unite the town’s sports fans, while the Buckeyes, Bearcats, Muskateers, Wildcats, and maybe half a dozen other college teams divide it.
My conversation with ESPN 1530’s afternoon host touched on legendary Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman’s final season behind a microphone, Mo’s sensitivity to local college basketball fans, how we have each screwed up our kids, and the finer details of making and eating authentic Cincinnati chili.
Demetri: Why do you you think there is no competition for you guys in Cincinnati? I know there are multiple sports stations in the market, but they’re all in your building, right?
Mo: Yeah. It is just sort of the way ownership in the market played out. We happen to own all of the AM sticks here that matter.
When I was in high school and college there was a company called AM/FM I think. They had a sports talk radio station that was really quite good. We actually ended up hiring a lot of their guys. One of them is still with us.
They were on the air from 1994 until like 2000 or 2001. They had a morning show, a mid day show, and an afternoon show. They took the Bengals rights for a while. Then just the way things went down with regulation in the 90s, that station ended up folding.
Then across town Radio One launched a station in 2012.
D: This was the CBS Sports Radio affiliate right? If I remember, weren’t they all national shows?
M: No. They had a local morning show and a local afternoon show. The problem against us is we have the rights to everything. We have the Reds, Bengals, UC (University of Cincinnati), and Xavier. The problem in a market like this is that it’s hard when you can’t get rights to anything.
It’s a weird market. I am on ESPN 1530. WLW is literally two doors down, and a lot of what we do is programmed not to compete with them, but to offset or supplement them. If you want to do sports talk radio, there’s really only one place to go.
D: Does the average sports fan in Cincinnati value the play-by-play more than hosts and shows?
M: Yeah. Maybe. It’s a baseball-centric town and the sport you most connect to radio is baseball. And we’ve always had iconic broadcasters doing baseball in this town, so that branding has always meant so much.
It’s funny, whenever I hear people talk about apathy for the Reds, they can still recite what Marty Brennaman said the night before. It may be a little less so for the NFL because that is such a TV sport. Plus, when you have the rights you have access to Marty and to the Bengals guys and you have a larger degree of access to the teams themselves, which helps the programming.
The Reds are so unique because, he’s retiring this year, but Marty doing a Reds game is almost like another talk show. He is so opinionated. It’s always been interested to me how he kinda sets the tone for what so many people say and think. Not many people have done this the way he does and have a voice that is so authoritative. It’s what makes the broadcast so unique.
D: How much do Reds fans care about that story? The team isn’t competitive this year. Is who will replace Marty Brennaman a subject on your show?
M: I don’t think people care who replaces Marty. I think whoever replaces Marty, people will just complain about him.
Cincinnati is a very parochial town. Sports talk radio, as you know, is very local, but maybe here even more so. It really has to transcend if it happens outside the 275 loop or we’re probably not going to talk about it.
We’ve had a lot of coaching changes here over the last couple of years. Maybe it’s like this everywhere, but the Reds need a new manager and everyone just mentions their favorite former Red. The Bengals need a new head coach and everyone just mentions their favorite former Bengal. There are a lot of folks that consider themselves die hard Reds fans that probably can’t name five other local baseball broadcasters, because they just aren’t paying attention.
They’re using a guy from their Double-A team on broadcasts this year named Tommy Thrall.
D: This is the kid from Pensacola, right?
M: Yeah. I think they are doing the smart thing. They’ve had him work some games with Marty. He is doing their postgame show. I think they’re working him in and saying “here’s our guy” so that when the torch is passed to him the listeners will accept it, but when it was announced, no one knew who he was.
Those are obviously big shoes to fill. If you ask most Reds fans who should take Marty’s place they would say “I don’t know. Thom Brennaman?” or “Why not have Jeff Brantley do the games?”. I don’t think most listeners could really give you a bunch of qualified candidates.
D: So it’s the Dietrich story then that is the obsession night in and night out?
M: Oh yeah. It’s been interesting, because this team has been entertaining and they have had so many of these kinds of personalities. Cincinnati is the world’s biggest small town, but when these big personalities show up, people just embrace them. It makes us feel like “We’re New York! We’re cosmopolitan! We’re cool!”.
I think Derek Dietrich has done that. I think Yasiel Puig has done that. Nobody did that better than Chad Johnson. They just made people not only feel good about Cincinnati but like Cincinnati is cool.
I also think that has framed how people view the team. As we’re talking they’re 27-32. They haven’t been above .500 since opening day. The franchise itself hasn’t advanced in the postseason since 1995, but right now no one wants to hear that because of Derek Dietrich and Yasiel Puig. This team has a certain personality that has hooked people.
Now, you haven’t necessarily seen that translated into ticket sales. That is such an uphill battle for this team that it will take more than a Derek Dietrich to sell some tickets, but they’ve really changed the conversation around here. It’s been fun to talk about something besides “Why can’t they win?” or “Who are they going to trade?”.
D: Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems like the Reds have had that situation a lot since like 2010. Maybe the team is not good, but there is one exciting player that you don’t want to miss the highlights from whether it is Joey Votto or Johnny Cueto or now Derek Dietrich.
M: Well Votto is always that guy. He’s been the best player for like a decade. You talked about 2010. No one saw that team coming. They won 90+ games. I cannot remember anything that galvanized Reds vans like that year when he initially didn’t make the All-Star team.
People were pissed. They took that personally. We had the league leader in OPS and he didn’t make the All-Star team? If he was playing for the Yankees or the Cubs or the Mets you can’t tell me he isn’t a shoo in!
The one thing we aren’t used to here is someone making $236 million. Money always changes relationships. We’ve gotten a lot of milage out of that topic. I think it greatly changed the relationship between Joey and this city. Plus, the sport has changed over the last 20 years. It’s more analytically driven and he has been at the epicenter of that.
In 2013 he was in the top 10 I counted in like 19 different offensive categories. I could still do three hours everyday on “Joey Votto is overrated because he doesn’t have enough RBI.” I could say “Yeah, but he leads in on-base percentage, plus they have two other guys with 100 RBI and its largely because of Joey Votto.” No one wanted to have that conversation.
He put together seven straight MVP calibre seasons, with the exception of 2014 when he was hurt, and yet he was the most polarizing guy. I can’t name a whole of other cities where the guy that was clearly the best player was the most polarizing guy. There was just this time where you could not have a conversation about Joey Votto without people mentioning what he was making. That’s interesting to me.
It’s maybe predictable. There’s just been no one like him, and he’s not going away. He’ll be here for the next four years, and he’s still making a lot of money and from a pure baseball standpoint, the numbers aren’t what they have been in the past.
D: What about when you switch over to college sports? What is fandom like in Cincinnati, because Ohio State is this big national brand, but I get the impression that Cincinnati is more of a college basketball town, and when it comes to college basketball, you have two much better teams right there in the city.
M: It’s funny. I try to approach my show knowing I’m a fan. I’m a UC basketball fan. I’m a UC football fan. I grew up a fan of those teams.
The first thing I try to do is say “Okay, if I’m going to talk about the Bearcats, I need to be able to do it in a way that I am not going to lose the Xavier fan, the Ohio State fan, the Kentucky fan, the Dayton fan, the Louisville fan, the Indiana fan, and that’s hard to do. It’s particularly hard when there is a coaching change or any major topic that is specific to one school. I’m really cognizant of that.
I get pushback all the time. “Boy, your show is a three hour UC lovefest,” but I really go out of my way. If we are going to have someone on talking about UC basketball during the season, I am going to make sure we have someone on later talking about Xavier basketball, because I am really sensitive to the perception that you are unfair to one school because you love the other.
Whenever you’re doing college sports in this market, you have to frame things in a way that at least keeps fans of other programs there. You also have to go out of your way to make sure you’re talking about every program objectively and fairly. I don’t pride myself on much, but I have a good relationship with Xavier University. We have their coaches on and we do plenty of topics. We talk about them fairly.
I go back to Cincinnati being very parochial. If I talk about Kentucky basketball, who by the way, we carry their games, I will inevitably get a call. “Why is a Cincinnati station talking about Kentucky basketball? They’re 90 miles away.” Well, it matters to a lot of people in my audience, and I’m always going to serve my audience.
Most times you are going to try to make those topics broad enough to appeal to everybody, but sometimes they are big stories for just one school. A few years ago Ohio State played for the national title in the first College Football Playoff. It used to be they played a BCS game. The run up to it was Christmas and you might not be on the air so then it would just kind of happen. Well, this time you had a College Football Playoff game and then the title game. It lapsed into the new year. Then you had Cardale Jones and the whole quarterback situation. It was a unique situation and it mattered to a large chunk of my audience.
I would still hear from UC people. “Why are we spending so much time on Ohio State?” and it’s like “Look, if UC is playing for a national title, we’ll be there. Ohio State is playing for a national title. That’s not my fault. It matters to a lot of my audience. We’re going to talk about it.”
I think, if nothing else, over time you try to establish enough equity and trust with the audience that they get it. If Mo is talking Kentucky basketball it is because something major is happening, and if they stick around, we will get back to the Bengals or the Reds or UC.
D: You’ve got a pretty young kid, right?
M: I have a 2-year-old.
D: Do you ever wonder about the psychological effects of having a dad in sports talk radio?
M: (Laughing) I wonder about the psychological effects of having me for a dad.
D: (Laughing) My kids are older. They are 9 & 7, but I do sometimes wonder what effect it has, and granted I am not on the air everyday right now, but when I was I would wonder what sort of effect it has on them to turn on the radio and hear someone calling their dad an idiot.
M: Well, her mom does that, so she’s used to it. I’ve never really thought about it from that point of view.
D: Well, you’re welcome for keeping you up tonight.
M: (Laughing) Well, to me I would also worry about the psychological impact of her dad not having a job, so I am glad I don’t have to do that. One thing I do think about, you know this, any host has to be relatable. A large chunk of my audience has kids, so naturally I introduce that into the conversation without her getting shit for it.
I don’t want her feeling like she has no privacy. My life can be an open book, but she didn’t ask for that. I definitely have thought about that, but as for the psychological impact, I could be driving a truck and I would still worry about my psychological impact on her.
D: Speaking of your relatability, I would imagine a huge chunk of the audience grew up in Cincinnati just like you and are now raising their kids there.
M: Oh sure.
D: Is it a “I was born here and so I will die here” kind of place, or do you have a lot of transplants coming in from other cities?
M: It’s mostly insular. I will hear from people that moved here from St. Louis or Pittsburgh. I always enjoy hearing from people that left here but still make time to listen to the show or catch the podcast. It makes me feel good when people tell me the show is a connection to home.
We got a call a couple of weeks ago from a guy who was a Cardinals fan and he grew up in Illinois and then he moved here. He said “Hey, I like your show” and then went on and made whatever point.
I think that’s need. Maybe you aren’t talking about something that matters to them, but I always think it is cool when people embrace whatever their new town is all about.
Let’s face it. It’s 2019. It’s easy for that guy to keep listening to whatever he was listening to before he came here, but he chooses to listen to us. That tells me that what we are doing is at least interesting enough to keep somebody or get someone who maybe isn’t interested in the subject matter. That’s flattering.
Even within the town it’s an insular town. It is segmented between the East Side and the West Side. Then there is Northern Kentucky. It’s the world’s biggest small town. Whenever people what school you went to, they aren’t talking about college. They want to know what high school you went to.
D: When someone that didn’t grow up in Cincinnati or at least doesn’t have a strong connection to the teams tells you they still love the show, do you consider that a personal compliment or is that a tribute to topic selection?
M: Oh, maybe a little bit of both. I certainly don’t think it is because they like me. I mean, why would you?
Look, when you move somewhere eventually you will be interested in what is happening there. You’ll be interested in civic matters or local politics. Chances are your new friends and co-workers will be into the local teams.
We moved away for a while when I was a kid. My dad was still a Reds and Bengals fan even though we were living in New Jersey, but he would still listen to New York sports radio and he has opinions about the Jets and Giants. He cared even though he didn’t root for those teams.
I do think on some level you have to connect with them. You have to be entertaining enough to get someone to sit through hours and hours of Reds and Bengals when maybe they are into other teams. It does make me feel good to hear from those folks.
D: So just how insular is the Cincinnati fandom? Were people there into LeBron coming back to Cleveland because it was still an Ohio story or did you treat it like “that’s a Cleveland story and my listeners don’t care”?
M: I think that was big enough that we could do it.
D: What about the Blue Jackets’ run in the playoffs this year?
M: That one is interesting. You can obviously find pockets of Blue Jackets fans. They have been a perennial playoff team and they won a series this year, so I think you had folks who didn’t have a hockey team that were like “There’s a team a 100 miles from here? Fine, let’s root for them.”
I think a lot of sports fans over the last…however long they’ve been around, have gone up to a game, and it’s a great experience. Because of that, they may not be hardcore hockey fans, but they’ll say “Well, I went to a Jackets game and had a good time, so they’re my team”. Then when they are playing important playoff games maybe those folks are a little more likely to watch.
You know though, what happens here is we are four hours from Pittsburgh and about four hours from Detroit. When the Blue Jackets came to town it took them forever to be good. Meanwhile the Red Wings and Penguins are winning Stanley Cups. The people that were into hockey before 2000 they already had a team. Chances are that team was either Detroit or Pittsburgh, and for the most part those teams gave their fans in Cincinnati little reason to jump ship.
I had John Tortorella on. That was really good. During the playoffs we had their play-by-play guy on, not before every game but there’s certainly enough of a market that it made sense to do some guest driven segments.
D: What kind of support staff do you have for your show? Between doing a show, writing for The Athletic, and doing your occasional TV work I would imagine you need all the help you can get in show prep in order to have a personal life.
M: I need help just getting out of bed.
I’ve actually been really lucky. In our building, I’ve always had the best producer. I think the reason is I did that job. I really understand how important what a producer does is to making a show great. Every producer I’ve had I’ve sat down with and said “Look, these are my expectations and my expectations are high, because I did that job.”
Maybe I wasn’t the world’s greatest, but I understood how a fully invested and engaged, creative producer can help a show. I ask them to do a lot, but I never ask them to do anything I wasn’t asked to do.
From 2009 through the end of last year I only had two different people. That is great consistency. The guy I had has moved on to Cleveland and now I am working someone new in. That can take some time, but I really value that job.
I wish more people in our business valued that job. As an industry, I wish we did a better job of cultivating producers and giving them an idea of what is expected and how rewarding the job can be and what a jumping off point that job can be. I rely on that position.
Sometimes it becomes a little bit of a crutch. When we do go through a change, there is a moment of “holy crap!” and you realize all the things that the guy that just left did for you. Now you have to get the new person conditioned to do all of that. That’s when I start to have a little bit of inner dialogue with myself about “am I being a little too reliant on the producer?”.
It’s a job I put a lot of value in. Every producer I’ve ever had, I always tell them to come with ideas. What is weird now is we’re kind of having the first generation of guys come into this job that didn’t grow up listening to the radio.
When I was a producer at WLW, I was 20 and I had grown up listening to that radio station. I was put on the morning show I grew up listening to, so I knew what it was supposed to sound like. I grew up listening to talk radio, and I got it. Now, nothing against these kids now, they just haven’t grown up listening to a radio station.
D: I was a producer before I started hosting as well. I always debate with PDs about what makes a good producer. My argument is you can build a rolodex. There is no substitute for drive and creativity. I think that can be found in the guys that want to eventually be hosts, and I wonder if these kids that grew up not listening to the radio can give the medium the kick in the ass it needs sometimes to compete with the plethora of other entertainment options that are available in your car or on your phone.
M: Oh, there’s validity to that. I have this conversation with every producer I have ever had, again that is not a lot of them, but it’s “Chances are you are listening to stuff I’m not listening to and consuming stuff I’m not. So bring ideas from that. Use those options and see what ideas you get that fit what we are trying to do.”
I think there’s value there, but you do need basic radio fundamentals. Radio is real time. Podcasts aren’t. So you do need to get people that understand this is happening right now and this is what you have to do.
I am with you in the sense that it helps an industry that is trying to evolve and adapt to have people who’s backgrounds aren’t entirely radio. At the same time, it helps to have people that get how it’s supposed to work. That way you can take what has worked and modernize it based on these other things outside our sphere.
Another thing I agree with you is, my last producer wanted to be a host. The person I was with before him didn’t want to host. She wanted to be a sideline reporter and is doing that for FC Cincinnati now. I think there is a difference between “I want to be on the air” and “I want your job,” because I have seen that one. I have seen the producer sitting on the other side of the glass and stewing, thinking “God! I am better than this guy!”. I want someone with aspirations higher than guest booking, but that version of it? That’s not productive.
D: What is the deal with you people and chili on spaghetti?
M: (Laughing) It’s the best!
M: I will admit that it is an acquired taste. I was walking downtown. I used to live there about four years ago. The Washington Nationals were in town. I’m going to meet a buddy to go to a game and I decided to stop in at Skyline Chili.
I sit down at the counter next to this couple from Maryland. They’re there to see the Nationals. The guy tells me the concierge at their hotel told them they had to check out Skyline. So I say I can help walk them through the menu and tell them what to order. They take one taste and look at me like I have three heads.
It is really, really an acquired taste, but there aren’t a lot of people in Cincinnati that don’t love it. I prefer a coney. That’s a small hot dog with the chili on it as opposed to the 3 way, which is what you’re talking about, but man, just talking about it has made me hungry.
I’m a big Cincinnati chili guy. I understand how that is viewed by outsiders, because it is very specific to this part of the country.
D: To see it on any sort of travel show, the chili does not look unlike the meat sauce my mom used to make with spaghetti, but for whatever reason the mental image of a kidney bean on top of spaghetti grosses me out.
M: Cincinnati chili is almost like a soup. People from other parts of the country think of chili and they picture something really chunky. They think of huge meaty chili. That’s not us.
The beef in Cincinnati chili is cut down really fine. It is almost like a sauce. It really is. It’s good. At least, I think it is.
D: I say this as someone that grew up on the Gulf Coast, sucking the brains out of crawfish heads, you guys eat some gross stuff up there.
M: (Laughing) Fair enough.
Sports Are Learning To Meet Gen Z Where They Are
“The crux of the issue is that Gen Z is the first generation of kids who are truly free to find their “thing” in a way previous generations never could thanks to modern connectivity.”
Should sports radio be concerned about where audiences will come from in the future? It is an interesting question that we talk about here a lot. It is also something that the New York Times tackled indirectly last week.
A column from Joe Drape and Ken Belson declared this generation of kids “The eSports Generation” and went on to explain just how disconnected from traditional sports they really are.
An alarmist might ask if this is the beginning of the end of traditional sports leagues. Someone a little more level-headed, like Joe Ovies, may want to dive a little deeper to see what leagues are learning and how they are adapting.
Joe hosts The OG in afternoon drive at 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh. He is always interested in how changes in technology and consumption patterns effect sports and his audience. I saw him tweeting about the New York Times piece last week and asked if he would want to write a little something for us.
“Meet your audience where they are.”
How many times have you heard that phrase in the last 5 years from a consultant, manager, or any number of Barrett Media posts as content consumption trends continue to spread out over a variety of platforms? Turns out the same applies for pro sports leagues, who are fearful that an entire generation of fans will be lost and their traditional business model will crater as a result.
The New York Times recently highlighted what sports marketers are doing to win over Generation Z, which typically applies to kids born from 1997 to 2012. The Times hits the usual beats.
There’s a reference to Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, an esports star who is also a traditional sports fan, who the NFL hoped would be a Pied Piper for youth fandom. There are examples of MLB, famously stingy when it came to fans using their content on social media, now working with TikTok influencers. And of course, highlighting the NBA’s wide ranging approach to online engagement and their franchise run NBA 2K esports league. Most of the article was based on a recent SSRS/Luker on Trends report, which conducts regular surveys about sports and society.
The issue for pro sports leagues isn’t that Gen Z kids aren’t “passionate” enough about sports. It’s that Gen Z is more likely to admit they simply don’t like sports.
“Only 23 percent of Generation Z said they were passionate sports fans, compared with the 42 percent of millennials (defined as 26 to 41), 33 percent of Generation X (42 to 57) and 31 percent of baby boomers (57 to 76) who identified themselves as passionate. More striking was that 27 percent of Gen Zers said they disliked sports altogether, compared with just 7 percent of millennials, 5 percent of Gen Xers and 6 percent of boomers.”The new york times, Jan. 12, 2022
Also factoring into the waning interest in sports from Gen Z is the dramatic decline of youth sports participation. There is a larger discussion to be had about the role of parents and specialization in this decline, but we can address that topic another day. As it relates to pro sports leagues today, the drop in youth participation absolutely impacts the level of interest in kids who might want to watch the best in the world of sports do their thing.
“Participation in youth sports was declining even before Covid-19: In 2018, only 38 percent of children ages 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis, down from 45 percent in 2008, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
In June 2020, the pandemic’s early days, 19 percent of parents with kids in youth sports said their child was not interested in playing sports, according to a survey conducted by The Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. By September 2021, that figure was 28 percent.
On average, children play less than three years in a sport and quit by age 11, according to the survey. Why? Mostly, because it is not fun anymore.”the New york times, Dec. 19th 2021
The crux of the issue is that Gen Z is the first generation of kids who are truly free to find their “thing” in a way previous generations never could thanks to modern connectivity. Meeting up on the playground or at a friend’s backyard for a pickup game has been replaced with meeting your friends on a Discord server and deciding if you’re going to play Halo or Call or Duty after school.
If you have kids in the age range that I do, none of this should be a surprise. You see it every day and don’t even think twice about it. But if you do stop and think about how frictionless it has become to be online all day with your friends, you start to realize the impact of never being bored or getting dragged to things by your parent because there were no other options.
Watching sports and going to sporting events isn’t frictionless. It’s a pain in the ass. Older generations deal with it because we don’t know any better, it’s just what we do. But Gen Z isn’t about to stop what they’re doing just to watch a game. Why would they? They can get the highlights later.
Gen Z is about dropping in and out of entertainment options whenever they feel like it. In other words, why would they sit around waiting for their favorite song to be played on the radio when they can easily pull it up on YouTube or Spotify.
Pro sports leagues can create all the social content and tout billions of views. They can tout engagement with Gen Z because a bunch of kids bought NFL related skins in Fortnite.
Awareness of their leagues isn’t the problem. It’s getting Gen Z to care enough to watch the game. Take my kids, who are fully aware of what’s going on in the world of sports, but getting them to sit down and actually watch the game is torture. Throw in the increasing cost to attend sporting events, I’ve started leaving them at home because it’s a waste of money given my 13-year-old is just gonna play Clash Royale in that $75 seat.
To be clear — I’m OK with my kids just not being into sports. It’s not like I didn’t try. It’s simply understanding we’ve transitioned to a world of niche communities. You can still thrive within those niche communities. Just look at sports talk radio as an example, where you’re not winning with cume, but with passion around sports. That’s what great sports talk radio stations sell. Pro sports leagues will be fine doing the same.
How Soon Is Too Soon To Lean Into The NFL Draft?
“I think there will be even more hype and content leading up to Draft than last year.”
For sports talk hosts, nothing generates content quite like the NFL Playoffs. The country’s most popular sport inches closer each week to crowning a champion. Each game produces an unlikely hero, a questionable call or some other storyline that can generate an entire show’s worth of conversation. Around the country, most stations talking about football are talking about the playoffs.
There is a select group of markets though where it makes sense for the football conversation to be driven by something else. Sure, the playoffs are on the radar, but if you are in a market with a top five draft pick, it makes sense that prospects and potential trades will draw significant interest.
Houston is not completely ignoring the playoffs. Landry Locker, co-host of In The Loop on Sports Radio 610 says that just like everywhere else in the country, NFL football is the headliner.
“We cover the NFL Playoffs top-to-bottom whether the Texans are in or not,” he told me. “However, just like all of our content we try to localize it as much as possible and try to respect the fact that we are a local show. Why do Houstonians care about what happened in each Wild Card game? What are the local ties?”
And what about the NFL Draft? The Texans have the third pick. That means there are plenty of discussions worth having on air, especially with the local team being so quarterback-needy.
I asked Landry if the lack of a Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow has dulled interest in the draft for Texans fans compared to what it could have been.
“I think there will be even more hype and content leading up to Draft than last year. While this QB class isn’t as good as last year’s the speculation about Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson make up for that void because if any of those three are traded it will likely be before the Draft. The NFL offseason has become the most active in sports and this year’s will be as wild as ever, especially here in Houston with the Watson drama.”
Ryan Green, better known to Jacksonville sports fans as Hacker on 1010XL, is in a familiar position. Just last year, he and his colleagues on XL Primetime were talking about the Jaguars welcoming a new coach to town and holding the first pick in the draft. By the time the NFL Draft gets here in April, the Jaguars will be holding the first pick as they welcome a new coach to town. So how does Hacker ensure that this year’s conversations don’t sound like 2021’s conversations on air?
“We will discuss what went wrong last year and how not to duplicate that this time around,” he said. “Why did last year fail? What could have been done differently and what needs to be different this time around. Also the history of back-to-back No. 1 picks for teams isn’t good, how can the Jaguars succeed when so many others have failed.”
Having the first pick of draft is great when you have the chance to grab the quarterback that can change your franchise’s fortunes. But the Jaguars experienced that last year and they have the top pick again.
Hacker said it perfectly. Last year was a failure for the Jaguars. Does that make his listeners a little less enthusiastic this time around?
Yes, he says. Last year was such a let down that there is a whole series of conversations fans want to have before they are ready to start breaking down prospects.
“Jaguar fans want the coaching and gm hires to be correct or the picks won’t matter anyway. Coaching matters and the Jaguar fans have had to endure a lot of bad coaching over the past decade. They want the right coach, then they will focus on the top pick”
Draft talk is fun. As Brandon Kravitz pointed out in his column earlier this week, it is a chance for fans of bad teams to feel real hope. Hope is the word right now in Houston too.
Locker says that there are so many factors that make this offseason one that Texans fans have been waiting three years for. His plan is to devote as much time to draft talk as possible.
“Obviously that’s fluid depending on what happens with the Stros and Rockets,” he says, “but this is going to be the wildest offseason in Texans franchise history. This will be the first time the Texans have had a first round selection in three drafts and with the possibility of getting even more compensation for Watson and a new coach it’s going to be nuts around here.”
It seems weird to type this, but Jacksonvillians know it is true. Hope can get old sometimes. When it is all you have ever been served, hope just doesn’t hit the same.
Hacker jokes that he and his co-workers know their way around a show rundown this time of year because this time of year never seems to end for the Jags.
“Draft talk for Jacksonville always starts around Thanksgiving, so we are already a month into draft talk before the playoffs even get here.”
Your Only Focus Should Be On What You Can Control
“We can’t press a Staples easy button and automatically make the audience more active, the sales team more diligent, or the editors gather every piece of sound.”
The crybaby Cowboys are at it again. After Dallas lost its Wild Card playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 on Sunday, there was plenty of blame and finger pointing. Big D’s fingers weren’t pointed at themselves and their ugly run defense, shaky quarterback play, and inability to avoid committing stupid penalties, right?
No no, it’s far easier to just blame the officials. Let’s shine a light on those guys instead!
The controversy occurred at the very end of the game. As the Cowboys trailed by six points with 14 seconds remaining, quarterback Dak Prescott rushed up the middle of the field for 17 yards. As Chris Berman would say, “Tick, tick tick tick tick.” Precious seconds were ticking away as umpire Ramon George rushed over to spot the football. Once Prescott spiked the ball to stop the clock, the final seconds had ticked away and the Cowboys lost the game.
Prescott said in his postgame press conference that the official “needs to be closer to the ball” to spot it more quickly, and the result of that not happening was “tough to accept.” When asked about fans throwing beer bottles and trash at the officiating crew, Prescott said, “Credit to them then. Credit to them.”
Wow, dude. Really? Hooray for assault? Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy chimed in by saying, “We shouldn’t have had any problem getting the ball spotted there.”
This might be news to the Cowboys, but not every NFL official is going to have blazing speed mixed with the agility of a ballet dancer. The offense needs to allow enough time just in case the umpire doesn’t resemble a Cirque du Soleil performer. The Cowboys failed to do that.
The Cowboys also made a huge mistake in the final two minutes. Defensive end Randy Gregory drew a defensive holding penalty for bear hugging and tackling a 49ers offensive lineman. That stupid penalty directly impacted the limited time the Cowboys had at the end of the game. Prescott also had an awful 69.3 passer rating. For context, Dak’s 69.3 passer rating against the Niners was actually lower than the abysmal 69.7 passer rating New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson produced this season. Yuck.
But it’s someone else’s fault. Right, Cowboys? That’s what losers do; they point the finger at others.
For the Cowboys to make the loss about the officials is flat-out embarrassing. They spent more time whining about things they can’t control (officiating) compared to what they can control (their own performance).
The same thing happens in sports radio. A lot. Many people in the industry are consumed by what they can’t control rather than what they can. Several hosts focus on the time slot they want or the job they think they should have. News flash: that isn’t controllable. It’s also easy to complain about a lack of advertisers or sponsors, why listener engagement isn’t better with more calls and tweets, or why some postgame sound is missing on the cut sheet.
“We don’t have the sound? How do we not have the sound? Everybody else has it. How are we missing the same sound that all of the other shows have?”
MacGyver it, dude. Find another way. Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t. As Patriots head coach Bill Belichick says, “Do your job.”
The truth is that there are a lot of things in sports radio that workers want to control, might even think they should control, but don’t actually dictate. We can’t press a Staples easy button and automatically make the audience more active, the sales team more diligent, or the editors gather every piece of sound. But we can focus our attention on many things we do have control over.
Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden once gave some great advice. Before he was known for his emailing ways, Gruden hosted the successful QB camp series on ESPN. I’ll never forget an episode with former Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya. The QB told Gruden, “It’s tough when each week you’re thinking, ‘Man, if I don’t play well, if I don’t throw for this many yards, if we don’t win, my coach might not be here the very next week.’ It’s tough on me ‘cause you spend time around these coaches, you meet the families, meet the kids, coach [Al] Golden recruited me. You grow close to him.”
Gruden stopped Kaaya and said, “Make this note here; worry about what you can control. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Because if you do start worrying about things that are out of your control, you’re going to become a freakin’ basket case like me.”
I love this advice. It’s so easy to get off track by focusing our energy in the wrong areas. The funny thing is that our thoughts might start in a good place but lead to a bad outcome. Kaaya was worried about his coach’s job status and family. That’s reasonable, but by doing so it added unnecessary pressure to the situation and shifted the QB’s focus to things he can’t control. That isn’t a good result.
I think it’s smart to constantly be aware of whether something is helping or hurting your ability to perform.
A lot of people in the sports radio industry are competitive maniacs. That isn’t automatically a bad thing at all. Being super competitive can fuel a great work ethic and provide a valuable edge. However, it can evolve into a roadblock once you become a bitter, competitive maniac. That’s a different story. The bitter competitive maniac becomes jaded, frustrated, and hung up on what other people have. How is any of that helpful? It’s much better to stay focused on things that help you do a good job, not get in the way of it happening.
The Cowboys couldn’t control whether the official spotted the ball faster or not, but they could’ve allowed more time in case the umpire wasn’t Usain Bolt 2.0. They had plenty of control over surrendering fewer than 169 yards rushing to San Fran and Prescott having a much better day. But the crybaby Cowboys will whine and whine instead of being more accountable.
Don’t be like them. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, take a closer look at what you actually can control.
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