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Can Finebaum Thrive in Big 10 Country?

Demetri Ravanos



When I say the name Paul Finebaum what comes to mind? Do you think about a rabid Bama fan calling to explain why he poisoned trees on the Auburn campus? Do you think about Phyllis in Mulga losing her mind over Colin Cowherd’s comments about Nick Saban? Maybe it’s Tammy from Clanton calling in to yell about officials being biased against Auburn.

Whatever your answer is, whether you are from the South or not, my point is you think about something related to SEC football. It is where Finebaum’s bread is buttered. It is why he wrote a book called My Conference Can Beat Your Conference.

Finebaum and ESPN are locked in a contract dispute right now and according to Clay Travis at Outkick the Coverage, who you may be tempted to dismiss because of his constant head-butting with ESPN, the relationship is close to irreparable.

According to sources Finebaum, who declined comment to Outkick, was told in October of last year by then-president of ESPN John Skipper not to worry about his soon to expire contract. Nine months later, with limited contact from ESPN executives, Finebaum has now reached the limits of his patience with the network and is preparing to depart. That’s despite substantial efforts by an increasingly frustrated SEC office over ESPN’s inability to get the deal done.

Whatever your thoughts on him, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Travis here. He and Finebaum are close friends. I trust that he has some insight as to where Finebaum’s head is at right now.

Paul Finebaum walking away from the SEC Network wouldn’t be the end of the world. After all, the guy was already successful long before that channel was even a spark of an idea in either Bristol or the league office in Birmingham. Finebaum was already Finebaum even before he was on Jox 94.5 in Birmingham.

What is a little hard to believe though is Michael McCarthy’s report in The Sporting News that Fox and their Big Ten Network would have interest in snapping Finebaum up if he walks away from ESPN. McCarthy says that some executives for that conference believe Finebaum’s show might be BTN’s missing piece.

But Fox Sports has a history of poaching ESPN talent, like Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Jason Whitlock and Erin Andrews. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is said to be a huge Finebaum fan.

Some Big Ten executives have lamented the absence of a “Paul Finebaum-like show” on the network’s programming schedule. Fox owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network.

I talked to a few program directors of stations in both the Southeast and in Big 10 country to get a gauge on what they expect of Finebaum and the challenges he would face trying to swap out the SEC for the Big 10.

Arky Shea is the program director at The Ump in Huntsville, AL. I asked him how important his home state (and to be fair, mine too) has been to Finebaum’s success.

“Alabama is the meat of the stew. Auburn is the potatoes,” Arky said in a conversation over Twitter DMs. “The rest of the SEC and their fan bases are the spices and vegetables – depending on what’s in season. Paul has a legacy because of that state and Birmingham.”

Bama and Auburn fans seem to be content to see Finebaum’s focus go conference wide since launching his partnership with ESPN and the SEC, but how would they react to Finebaum moving to the Big Ten Network? Maybe he could talk about Bama or Auburn from time to time, but the Big Ten Network would probably want him focused on the Big Ten, right? That would be a very different show from the one Finebaum’s long time fans are used to.

“After all the smack he and his callers have dished out on the Big Ten and others, that’s traitorous territory,” Shea says of a potential move.

“The average Big 10 fan in Wisconsin would need to be ‘won over’ and heavily educated about the who and why of Paul Finebaum,” Tom Parker (the program director of 105.7 the Fan in Milwaukee, not the colonel that managed Elvis) told me in an email. “He’s an SEC insider with sources and contacts. Why would the Big 10 even want what appears to be ‘a project’? Except for times when he’s said something crazy in the past that got some run (very little here), I doubt a Big Ten fan would have even heard of him. Maybe Fox sees him as another Stephen A or Skip. Willing to say crazy things for attention?”

That very well could be. After all, if a deal to do a televised version of his radio show on BTN did become a reality, you would have to assume that Fox would also use Finebaum on its Saturday college football coverage in the fall. That may be where Finebaum is the most valuable. Fox’s coverage is pretty good, but they are missing the headline-maker ESPN has in Kirk Herbstriet or even their own “face of college football,” something ESPN has a seemingly endless supply of. Finebaum could fill both of those roles for Fox.

Brad Lane now programs 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis, but he grew up playing football in Texas. He is very aware that football means different things to different parts of the country. He says the Midwest isn’t a college football wasteland. Fans are aware of Finebaum.

“I DO think fans here not only know who Finebaum is, they ‘get’ why he’s successful in SEC land. He’s got the southern drawl, he seems to have deep connections with a lot of the coaches & programs, and he has great self-awareness and the ability to make fun of himself and the way he looks,” Lane said in an email.

“But more than all that he seems to have tapped into the language & world of SEC football fans; he is a reflection of who they are and what they want from their teams,” he says before adding “Would that translate to the Big 10 if he were to move networks? Highly doubtful. I have no idea how old Finebaum is, but his sort-of ‘old man/southern charm’ seems to speak to and reflect a culture down south that won’t work nearly as well up here.”

I wondered if Finebaum might be giving up a position of power with a move to the Big Ten. After all, the SEC footprint has very few cities with multiple pro teams. There are a lot of cities with a lot of sports options in the Midwest. In his email, Parker illustrated just how much of a stranglehold the NFL can have in the region, saying “Here in Milwaukee, the top team conversations are 1)Packers, 2)Aaron Rodgers, 3) Rumors about the Packers, 4) Rumors about Aaron Rodgers, 5) NL leading Brewers and at a tie for topic #6) Bucks rumors and Wisconsin Football. (props to Joe Zarbano at WEEI – I adapted his NE topic sheet haha).”

My impression has always been that is normal for the Big Ten footprint, but Jeff Rickard of 107.5/1070 the Fan in Indianapolis says that is a little off base.

“While the B1G conference has campuses near several big cities, (New York, Chicago, Minneapolis etc.) it’s roots still exist in some of the greatest college towns in America. In places like Ann Arbor, Columbus, Bloomington, Madison or beyond the college game is just as alive and well here as anywhere in the country. In football there are traditional powers with fan bases scattered all over the country. If you’re talking OSU, PSU, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska for example (a ton of titles in that group) they’re not sliding to the side for anyone. In basketball, places such as Bloomington, Madison, Ann Arbor, West Lafayette or East Lansing are as electric on game day as any other place in the nation.  Sure, Rutgers or Maryland can get lost in the shadow of NYC or DC but the entire midwest is B1G country and you’ll see the bumper stickers, t-shirts and yard flags representing those schools everywhere,” he told me in an email.

Jeff added that passion doesn’t look the same in the Big Ten as it does in the SEC, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t passion. “Fans in B1G country are just as passionate for their teams as any other conference, they just don’t feel the need to convince everyone of that. They already know who they are and feel pretty good about it, too.”

Justin Acri, who is the program director of 103.7 the Buzz in Little Rock, says that while the Big Ten Network may be an uphill climb for Finebaum, it’s not like he is a force of nature across the SEC footprint. There are plenty of markets where he isn’t aired at all and plenty of listeners that simply don’t like the show. “I have tried to listen a few times, but alas it is not for me. The one time he was a topic of conversation was when he and Saban had their tete a tete at SEC Media Days a few years back. That being said, I tip my cap to him for his continued success.  Every show will not appeal to every man of course and this is a case in point.”

Brad Carson feels very differently. “I think Paul Finebaum is solid and can do whatever he wants. I think he’s good at football in general as we’ve seen with how much fun he’s had with the Harbaugh stuff,” the program director of Memphis’s ESPN 92.9 told me. “He’s awesome on SEC and can translate that other ways, likely. I’d bet he’ll be awesome on national topics because he’s smart and interested in what fans want to hear in terms of topics. He’s got energy and info.”

So the previous 1500 words and all of those quotes are a long way of saying “Paul Finebaum shifting focus to the Big Ten would be weird.” How successful would it be? That is a little harder to say.

Personally, I have always believed that as a radio host, Finebaum lives and dies with his callers. Taking his show to the Big Ten Network would most likely mean football in that conference would move to the A block of his topics list. Would the passionate fan base he has already established stay loyal to a show like that? Probably not. Would he be able to build a passionate fan base in Big Ten country doing the same thing he did in SEC country? I don’t think so. From a radio standpoint, the move wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

But maybe Finebaum is thinking beyond radio. A move to Fox makes a lot of sense from a TV standpoint. The guy knows college football beyond just the SEC, so the fact that the conference has no relationship with Fox is irrelevant. Besides, it’s not like Fox won’t talk about the SEC at all. The network’s various college football shows will cover everything going on in the world of college football, just like the college football shows on ESPN and CBS do.

What makes the most sense for Paul Finebaum? That depends on what his goals are. If he wants to expand his profile beyond the Southeastern United States, a move to Fox would expose him to a brand new audience. If his goal is continued domination, a new deal with ESPN makes the most sense.

Plenty of people in our industry are of the mindset that Finebaum’s interest in the Big Ten Network is merely a negotiating tactic, and to be honest I am one of those people. Whatever the motivation and wherever he is calling home next month, what is clear is that Paul Finebaum is a valuable brand name in the world of college football.

BSM Writers

In Defense Of Colin Cowherd

“How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of ‘oh my god, look at this!’?”

Demetri Ravanos



I don’t understand what it is about Colin Cowherd that gets under some people’s skin to the point that they feel everything the guy says is worth being mocked. I don’t always agree with a lot of his opinions myself, but rarely do I hear one of his takes and think I need to build content around how stupid the guy is.

Cowherd has certainly had his share of misses. There were some highlights to his constant harping on Baker Mayfield but personally, I thought the bit got boring quickly and that the host was only shooting about 25% on those segments.

Cowherd has said some objectionable things. I thought Danny O’Neil was dead on in pointing out that the FOX Sports Radio host sounded like LIV Golf’s PR department last month. It doesn’t matter if he claims he used the wrong words or if his language was clunky, he deserved all of the criticism he got in 2015 when he said that baseball couldn’t be that hard of a sport to understand because a third of the league is from the Dominican Republic.

Those missteps and eyebrow-raising moments have never been the majority of his content though. How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of “oh my god, look at this!”?

A few years ago, Dan Le Batard said something to the effect of the best thing he can say about Colin Cowherd is that he is never boring and if you are not in this business, you do not get what a compliment that is.

That’s the truth, man. It is so hard to talk into the ether for three hours and keep people engaged, but Cowherd finds a way to do it with consistency.

The creativity that requires is what has created a really strange environment where you have sites trying to pass off pointing and laughing at Cowherd as content. This jumped out to me with a piece that Awful Announcing published on Thursday about Cowherd’s take that Aaron Rodgers needs a wife.

Look, I don’t think every single one of Cowherd’s analogies or societal observations is dead on, but to point this one out as absurd is, frankly, absurd!

This isn’t Cowherd saying that John Wall coming out and doing the Dougie is proof that he is a loser. This isn’t him saying that adults in backward hats look like doofuses (although, to be fair to Colin, where is the lie in that one?).

“Behind every successful man is a strong woman” is a take as old as success itself. It may not be a particularly original observation, but it hardly deserves the scrutiny of a 450-word think piece.

On top of that, he is right about Aaron Rodgers. The guy has zero personality and is merely trying on quirks to hold our attention. Saying that the league MVP would benefit from someone in his life holding a mirror up to him and pointing that out is hardly controversial.

Colin Cowherd is brash. He has strong opinions. He will acknowledge when there is a scoreboard or a record to show that he got a game or record pick wrong, but he will rarely say his opinion about a person or situation is wrong. That can piss people off. I get it.

You know that Twitter account Funhouse? The handle is @BackAftaThis?

It was created to spotlight the truly insane moments Mike Francesa delivered on air. There was a time when the standard was ‘The Sports Pop’e giving the proverbial finger to a recently deceased Stan Lee, falling asleep on air, or vehemently denying that a microphone captured his fart.

Now the feed is turning to “Hey Colin Cowherd doesn’t take phone calls!”. Whatever the motivation is for turning on Cowherd like that, it really shows a dip in the ability to entertain. How is it even content to point out that Colin Cowherd doesn’t indulge in the single most boring part of sports radio?

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world’s biggest fan of The Herd. Solo hosts will almost never be my thing. No matter their energy level, a single person talking for a 10-12 minute stretch feels more like a lecture than entertainment to me. I got scolded enough as a kid by parents and teachers.

School is a good analogy here because that is sort of what this feels like. The self-appointed cool kids identified their target long ago and are going to mock him for anything he does. It doesn’t matter if they carry lunch boxes too, Colin looks like a baby because he has a lunch box.

Colin Cowherd doesn’t need me to defend him. He can point to his FOX paycheck, his followers, or the backing for The Volume as evidence that he is doing something right. I am merely doing what these sites think they are doing when Colin is in their crosshairs – pointing out a lame excuse for content that has no real value.

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BSM Writers

Even After Radio Hall of Fame Honor, Suzyn Waldman Looks Forward

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.



Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman was at Citi Field on July 26th getting ready to broadcast a Subway Series game between the Yankees and Mets. A day earlier, Waldman was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame and sometimes that type of attention can, admittedly, make her feel a bit uncomfortable.

“At first, I was really embarrassed because I’m not good at this,” said Waldman. “I don’t take compliments well and I don’t take awards well. I just don’t. The first time it got to me…that I actually thought it was pretty cool, there were two little boys at Citi Field…

Those two little boys, with photos of Waldman in hand, saw her on the field and asked her a question.

“They asked me to sign “Suzyn Waldman Radio Hall of Fame 2022” and I did,” said Waldman.  “I just smiled and then more little boys asked me to do that.”  

Waldman, along with “Broadway” Bill Lee, Carol Miller, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Ellen K, Jeff Smulyan, Lon Helton, Marv Dyson, and Walt “Baby” Love, make up the Class of 2022 for the Radio Hall of Fame and will be inducted at a ceremony on November 1st at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

Waldman, born in the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, was the first voice heard on WFAN in New York when the station launched on July 1st, 1987. She started as an update anchor before becoming a beat reporter for the Yankees and Knicks and the co-host of WFAN’s
mid-day talk show. In the mid 1990s, Waldman did some television play-by-play for Yankees games on WPIX and in 2002 she became the clubhouse reporter for Yankees telecasts when the YES Network launched.

This is Waldman’s 36th season covering the Yankees and her 18th in the radio booth, a run that started in 2005 when she became the first female full-time Major League Baseball broadcaster.

She decided to take a look at the names that are currently in the Hall of Fame, specifically individuals that she will forever be listed next to.

“Some of the W’s are Orson Wells and Walter Winchell…people that changed the industry,” said Waldman. “I get a little embarrassed…I’m not good at this but I’m really happy.”

Waldman has also changed the industry.

She may have smiled when those two little boys asked her to sign those photos, but Waldman can also take a lot of pride in the fact that she has been a trailblazer in the broadcasting business and an inspiration to a lot of young girls who aspire, not only to be sportscasters but those who want to have a career in broadcasting.

Like the young woman who just started working at a New York television station who approached Waldman at the Subway Series and just wanted to meet her.

“She stopped me and was shaking,” said Waldman. “The greatest thing is that all of these young women that are out there.”

Waldman pointed out that there are seven women that she can think of off the top of her head that are currently doing minor league baseball play-by-play and that there have been young female sports writers that have come up to her to share their stories about how she inspired them.

For many years, young boys were inspired to be sportscasters by watching and listening to the likes of Marv Albert, Al Michaels, Vin Scully, Bob Costas, and Joe Buck but now there are female sportscasters, like Waldman, who have broken down barriers and are giving young girls a good reason to follow their dreams.

“When I’ve met them, they’ve said to me I was in my car with my Mom and Dad when I was a very little girl and they were listening to Yankee games and there you were,” said Waldman. “These young women never knew this was something that they couldn’t do because I was there and we’re in the third generation of that now. It’s taken longer than I thought.”

There have certainly been some challenges along the way in terms of women getting opportunities in sports broadcasting.

Waldman thinks back to 1994 when she became the first woman to do a national television baseball broadcast when she did a game for The Baseball Network. With that milestone came a ton of interviews that she had to do with media outlets around the country including Philadelphia.

It was during an interview with a former Philadelphia Eagle on a radio talk show when Waldman received a unique backhanded compliment that she will always remember.

“I’ve listened to you a lot and I don’t like you,” Waldman recalls the former Eagle said. “I don’t like women in sports…I don’t like to listen to you but I was watching the game with my 8-year-old daughter and she was watching and I looked at her and thought this is something she’s never going to know that she cannot do because there you are.”

Throughout her career, Waldman has experienced the highest of highs in broadcasting but has also been on the receiving end of insults and cruel intentions from people who then tend to have a short memory.

And many of these people were co-workers.

“First people laugh at you, then they make your life miserable and then they go ‘oh yeah that’s the way it is’ like it’s always been like that but it’s not always been like this,” said Waldman. 

It hasn’t always been easy for women in broadcasting and as Waldman — along with many others — can attest to nothing is perfect today. But it’s mind-boggling to think about what Waldman had to endure when WFAN went on the air in 1987.

She remembers how badly she was treated by some of her colleagues.

“I think about those first terrible days at ‘FAN,” said Waldman. “I had been in theatre all my life and it was either you get the part or you don’t. They either like you or they don’t.  You don’t have people at your own station backstabbing you and people at your own station changing your tapes to make you look like an idiot.”

There was also this feeling that some players were not all that comfortable with Waldman being in the clubhouse and locker room. That was nothing compared to some of the other nonsense that Waldman had to endure.

“The stuff with players is very overblown,” said Waldman. “It’s much worse when you know that somebody out there is trying to kill you because you have a Boston accent and you’re trying to talk about the New York Yankees. That’s worse and it’s also worse when the people
that you work with don’t talk to you and think that you’re a joke and the people at your own station put you down for years and years and years.”

While all of this was happening, Waldman had one very important person in her corner: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away in 2010.

The two had a special relationship and he certainly would have relished the moment when Suzyn was elected to the Hall of Fame.

“I think about George Steinbrenner a lot,” said Waldman. “This is something that when I heard that…I remember thinking George would be so proud because he wanted this since ’88.  I just wish he were here.” 

Waldman certainly endeared herself to “The Boss” with her reporting but she also was the driving force behind the reconciliation of Steinbrenner and Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. George had fired Yogi as Yankees manager 16 games into the 1985 season and the news was delivered to Berra, not by George, but by Steinbrenner advisor Clyde King.

Yogi vowed never to step foot into Yankee Stadium again, but a grudge that lasted almost 14 years ended in 1999 when Waldman facilitated a reunion between the two at the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping that my thank you to him was the George and Yogi thing because I know he wanted that very badly,” said Waldman.

“Whatever I did to prove to him that I was serious about this…this is in ’87 and ’88…In 1988, I remember him saying to me ‘Waldman, one of these days I’m going to make a statement about women in sports.  You’re it and I hope you can take it’ (the criticism). He knew what was coming.  I didn’t know. But there was always George who said ‘if you can take it, you’re going to make it’.”

And made it she did.

And she has outlasted every single person on the original WFAN roster.

“I’m keenly aware that I was the first person they tried to fire and I’m the only one left which I think is hysterical actually that I outlived everybody,” said Waldman.

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

“I don’t think about it at all because once you start looking back, you’re not going forward,” said Waldman. 

Waldman does think about covering the 1989 World Series between the A’s and Giants and her reporting on the earthquake that was a defining moment in her career. She has always been a great reporter and a storyteller, but that’s not how her WFAN career began. She started as an update anchor and she knew that if she was going to have an impact on how WFAN was going to evolve, it was not going to be reading the news…it was going to be going out in the field and reporting the news.

“I was doing updates which I despised and wasn’t very good at,” said Waldman.

She went to the program director at the time and talked about how WFAN had newspaper writers covering the local teams for the station and that it would be a better idea for her to go out and cover games and press conferences.

“Give me a tape recorder and let me go,” is what Waldman told the program director. “I was the first electronic beat writer.  That’s how that started and they said ‘oh, this works’. The writers knew all of a sudden ‘uh oh she can put something on the air at 2 o’clock in the morning and I can’t’.”  

And the rest is history. Radio Hall of Fame history.

But along the way, there was never that moment where she felt that everything was going to be okay.

Because it can all disappear in a New York minute.

“I’ve never had that moment,” said Waldman. “I see things going backward in a lot of ways for women.  I’m very driven and I’m very aware that it can all be taken away in two seconds if some guy says that’s enough.” 

During her storied career, Waldman has covered five Yankees World Series championships and there’s certainly the hope that they can contend for another title this year. She loves her job and the impact that she continues to make on young girls who now have that dream to be the next Suzyn Waldman.

But, is there something in the business that she still hopes to accomplish?

“This is a big world,” said Waldman. “There’s always something to do. Right now I like this a lot and there’s still more to do. There are more little girls…somewhere there’s a little girl out there who is talking into a tape recorder or whatever they use now and her father is telling her or someone is telling her you can’t do that you’re a little girl. That hasn’t stopped. Somewhere out there there’s somebody that needs to hear a female voice on Yankees radio.”

To steal the spirit of a line from Yankees play-by-play voice John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman’s longtime friend, and broadcast partner…“that’s a Radio Hall of Fame career, Suzyn!”

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BSM Writers

No Winners in Pittsburgh vs Cleveland Radio War of Words

“As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity. “



For nearly 18 months, we’ve known the NFL would eventually have to confront the Deshaun Watson saga in an on-the-field manner, and that day came Monday. After his March trade to the Browns, we also could more than likely deduce another item: Cleveland radio hosts would feel one way, and Pittsburgh hosts would feel another.

If you’re not in tune to the “rivalry” between the two cities, that’s understandable. Both are former industrial cities looking for an identity in a post-industrial Midwest. Each thinks the other is a horrible place to live, with no real reasoning other than “at least we’re not them”. Of course, the folks in Pittsburgh point to six Super Bowl victories as reason for superiority.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when news started to leak that a Watson decision would come down Monday. I was sure, however, that anyone who decided to focus on what the NFL’s decision would mean for Watson and the Browns on the field was in a no-win situation. As a former host on a Cleveland Browns radio affiliate, I always found the situation difficult to talk about. Balancing the very serious allegations with what it means for Watson, the Browns, and the NFL always felt like a tight-rope walk destined for failure.

So I felt for 92.3 The Fan’s Ken Carman and Anthony Lima Monday morning, knowing they were in a delicate spot. They seemed to allude to similar feelings. “You’re putting me in an awkward situation here,” Carman told a caller after that caller chanted “Super Bowl! Super Browns!” moments after the suspension length was announced.

Naturally, 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi happened to turn on the radio just as that call happened. A nearly week-long war of words ensued between the two Audacy-owned stations.

Fillipponi used the opportunity to slam Cleveland callers and used it as justification to say the NFL was clearly in the wrong. Carman and Lima pointed out Fillipponi had tweeted three days earlier about how much love the city of Pittsburgh had for Ben Roethlisberger, a player with past sexual assault allegations in his own right.

Later in the week, the Cleveland duo defended fans from criticism they viewed as unfair from the national media. In response, Dorin Dickerson and Adam Crowley of the Pittsburgh morning show criticized Carman and Lima for taking that stance.

Keeping up?

As an impartial observer, there’s one main takeaway I couldn’t shake. Both sides are wrong. Both sides are right. No one left the week looking good.

Let’s pretend the Pittsburgh Steelers had traded for Deshaun Watson on March 19th, and not the Browns. Can you envision a scenario where Cleveland radio hosts would defend the NFL for the “fairness” of the investigation and disciplinary process if he was only suspended for six games? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous. At the same time, would Fillipponi, Dickerson, and other Pittsburgh hosts be criticizing their fans for wanting Watson’s autograph? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous.

When you’re discussing “my team versus your team” or “my coach versus your coach” etc…, it’s ok to throw ration and logic to the side for the sake of entertaining radio. But when you’re dealing with an incredibly serious matter, in this case, an investigation into whether an NFL quarterback is a serial sexual predator, I don’t believe there’s room to throw ration and logic to the wind. The criticism of Carman and Lima from the Pittsburgh station is fair and frankly warranted. They tried their best, in my opinion, to be sensitive to a topic that warranted it, but fell short.

On the flip side, Carman and Lima are correct. Ben Roethlisberger was credibly accused of sexual assault. Twice. And their criticism of Fillipponi and Steelers fans is valid and frankly warranted.

You will often hear me say “it can be both” because so often today people try to make every situation black and white. In reality, there’s an awful lot of gray in our world. But, in this case, it can’t be both. It can’t be Deshaun Watson, and Browns fans by proxy, are horrible, awful, no good, downright rotten people, and Ben Roethlisberger is a beloved figure.

Pot, meet kettle.

I don’t know what Andrew Fillipponi said about Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault allegations in 2010. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’m guessing he sounded much more like Carman and Lima did this week, rather than the person criticizing hosts in another market for their lack of moral fiber. Judging by the tweet Carman and Lima used to point out Fillipponi’s hypocrisy, I have a hard time believing the Pittsburgh host had strong outrage about the Steelers bringing back the franchise QB.

Real courage comes from saying things your listeners might find unpopular. It’s also where real connections with your listeners are built. At the current time in our hyper-polarized climate, having the ability to say something someone might disagree with is a lost art. But it’s also the key to keeping credibility and building a reputation that you’ll say whatever you truly believe that endears you to your audience.

And in this case, on a day the NFL announced they now employ a player who — in the league’s view — is a serial sexual assaulter, to hear hosts describe a six-game suspension as “reasonable” felt unreasonable. As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity.

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