If you weren’t inspired by the performance of UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, your pulse might be on vacation. His left hand was amputated at the age of four due to a prenatal condition which prevented his fingers from fully forming. Griffin used a prosthetic hand while pumping out 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press. He also ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering time of 4.38 seconds. It was the fastest time for a linebacker since 2003.
Many people were moved by the incredible story. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips tweeted, “What an inspiration! Congrats – you are a great role model.” Former Notre Dame and 49ers defensive lineman Ian Williams tweeted, “Everyone please remove can’t from your vocabulary!!”
The shot of Griffin catching a pass during drills was remarkable. Griffin isn’t Odell Beckham Jr. He’s a defensive player straight out of college with one hand. However, Griffin possesses a unique mindset — he approaches football without dwelling on deficiencies. Instead, he concentrates on maximizing his strengths and opportunities.
This mindset can lead to great success in any field, especially sports radio. Maximizing strengths is incredibly important, yet often unattained. It’s common for us to think about the things we don’t have instead of actually utilizing the skills and opportunities we do.
Plenty of on-air hosts want a better shift or more hours. What goes along with that desire is a tendency to half-heartedly approach the current opportunity. Jack Harbaugh, the father of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, used to tell his sons to “attack every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” He didn’t say to approach each day with a lack of passion unless everything is exactly how you want it.
Where would Shaquem Griffin be if he wasted time moping around due to missing a left hand? He might not be in a football uniform to begin with. Griffin most likely wouldn’t have been named Defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl following the 2017 season. I doubt Griffin would’ve been the toast of the 2018 combine if he only fixated on what he lacked instead of what he’s been blessed with.
What if Griffin went through the motions at UCF because he wanted to play for a powerhouse like Alabama? Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s what happens every day when a disgruntled host underperforms while drooling over a better gig. Maximize opportunities and there will always be more. Do the opposite and become even more unfamiliar with the word “promotion.”
I’m a perfectionist. It can go one of two ways when you’re wired like this. You can achieve great things as a result of striving to be better, or you can become dejected while only focusing on failures. There isn’t anything wrong with striving for perfection, but the pursuit has to include a positive outlook. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you only dwell on the negative.
My mom has said that she might have had to wait all day to find something to praise her kids for, but she made a big deal out of it when she finally got the chance. I’m sure it was my sister who was hard to praise, not me of course, her perfect little angel. Positivity and praise both feel great. That doesn’t go away when you become an adult. Both are needed — you just can’t wait on the world to deliver it.
There are many players like Shaquem Griffin that are highly criticized. They’re told any number of things — too slow, too short, too weak, too limited. If Griffin bought into the idea of being too limited because he doesn’t have a hand, he wouldn’t enjoy the same amount of success. There is a lot of negativity in this world. The one thing controllable is whether you focus more on your strengths or limitations. It’s pretty obvious which one Shaquem Griffin has centered on.
Think of rap music for a minute. Rap music gets every last cent out of a hit song by having different versions and remixes. You might hear five variations of the same song. That’s the way we need to be with our opportunities and talents — get every single drop out of the chances we get and the skills we’ve been given.
Shaquem Griffin’s performance at the combine is inspiring because it showed qualities that we all desire to possess — determination, perseverance, tenacity, will. It’s the ability of Griffin to disregard his limitations and focus on the positive. He showed that we should remove can’t from our vocabulary — that we should maximize our strengths and resist a negative mindset.
There’s a famous quote from Bobby Jones; “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears.” Shaquem Griffin showed that life is also played within the same space.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.