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Philip Rivers & Randy Moss Could Make ESPN Country As Hell!

“Give America the gift of two rowdy country uncles talking ball, ESPN!”

Demetri Ravanos

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Good headline, right? Understand, that I mean “country as hell” in the most positive and glowing way possible! As a college football fan that grew up in Alabama, I expect my football conversations to be dripping in dropped Gs, exclamations like “whoooo!” and four letter words stretched into two syllables.

The polished, bend-over-backwards to be be vanilla presentations of College GameDay and NFL Sunday Countdown are fine. The information is usually solid, but the shows don’t hold my attention because they don’t feel very authentic to me. They are big jock laughter performance art.

ESPN's College GameDay reportedly headed to Ames, Iowa instead of Syracuse  | WSTM

ESPN has a strong piece to work with on its NFL coverage, and if Andrew Marchand of The New York Post is to be believed, there’s a chance it could add another.

I implore ESPN to hire Philip Rivers, but not for Monday Night Football. I get the temptation to add a future Hall of Famer to the booth, but come on. Everyone in Bristol knows that Philip Rivers and/or Brian Griese are not going to affect the ratings one bit. To do that, you need the very best matchups each week.

Philip Rivers can make a bigger impact in the studio. Put him alongside Randy Moss in the studio on Sunday NFL Countdown, let Sam Ponder introduce a segment, and watch them go.

Rivers and Moss are a classic TV formula with a country drawl. Rivers is an Alabama boy that wears his Christianity on his sleeve and married his high school sweetheart when they were both 20 years old. Anyone in his family would tell you “he don’t cuss” and “he loves all them babies”. Moss was a West Virginia hell-raiser that had a criminal record by the time he was 18 and a rap sheet by the time he was 19. He loves football, owned a truck racing team, prefers to deal in “straight cash homie,” and has a history of daring authority to do something about his rule breaking.

There are dozens of examples of the sinner and the saint through TV history. It is Bart Simpson and Milhouse, Richie Cunningham and Arthur Fonzerelli, Jim and Dwight. The only difference is Moss and Rivers would be that no one is being asked to play the fool and everyone sounds like an extra on the Andy Griffith Show.

In recent weeks, I have seen some writers suggest that FOX would be an ideal landing spot for Philip Rivers. The network could train him up to be a future replacement for Terry Bradshaw on FOX NFL Sunday.

Forgive me for being blunt, but that is a dumb idea. If you are looking for an eventual replacement for Terry Bradshaw’s energy, it’s not Rivers. The people suggesting this see two white, Southern quarterbacks and think it is a one-size-fits-all situation. That’s not the case. There is a huge difference between being upbeat (Rivers) and being an outright goofball (Bradshaw).

That over-the-top jock laughter is a staple of Sunday pregame shows. It doesn’t have to be that way. It is the same logic that gave us laugh tracks on sitcoms. If you see and hear other people having fun, your brain can trick you into thinking you are having fun. Ask yourself if you have ever heard Matt Hasselbeck say or do anything that would actually cause Rex Ryan to pound his fist on a table in a fit of hysterics.

What if ESPN didn’t have to manufacture fun? What if network executives looked at what it has on the radio and on SEC Network in Marty & McGee and decided to bring that energy to a bigger stage?

ESPN has been pretty transparent in its desperation to add attention grabbers to Monday Night Football, but would doing that with Philip Rivers solve whatever problem it is the network thinks exists? Sliding him into a spot currently occupied by Brian Griese or Louis Riddick doesn’t guarantee can’t-miss television. In fact, I am not even sure it makes a meaningful difference at all.

Philip Rivers needs a partner that speaks his language. Two people become a comedy duo through comfort, conflict, and space to work. They also need teammates that can create opportunities and then get out of the way and let them shine. That is absolutely what ESPN would have with Ponder and Ryan.

Give America the gift of two rowdy country uncles talking ball, ESPN! If executives feel like they absolutely have to have Rivers in the Monday Night Football booth, so be it. Just make sure Randy Moss is in there with him (something I’ve advocated for before).

Randy Moss shares his thoughts on MNF's Giants at Vikings - ESPN Front Row

Tony Romo is on a different level as an analyst. Troy Aikman is an icon to sports media’s target demo. Drew Brees…well, let’s just say I am not optimistic NBC will be satisfied with that investment in the long-term.

With Moss already in house and the network showing interest in Philip Rivers, ESPN has the chance to do something very special, For a network that has struggled to find star power for its NFL coverage, it is now being presented with a golden opportunity to create an iconic duo made up of two current or future Hall-Of-Famers that can offer first hand perspective on the stars of today’s game.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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