One of my favorite parts of the former ESPN TV show His & Hers was the Doin’ Too Much countdown. Michael Smith and Jemele Hill would show multiple examples of athletes and entertainers going too far in an effort to stand out. It’s very easy — and often hilarious — to see someone else go to absurd lengths while trying to shine. It’s also very easy to fall into the same trap yourself.
If the Doin’ Too Much countdown were still around, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters would be on it. Peters made a big mistake while getting burned by Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas on a 72-yard touchdown grab on Sunday. Peters motioned to numerous teammates — linebacker Cory Littleton and defensive backs Nickel Robey-Coleman and Lamarcus Joyner — before the play began in an effort to get them into position. The next thing you know, Thomas was celebrating in the end zone with a flip phone because Peters didn’t take care of his own responsibility.
Troy Aikman was the color commentator on the FOX broadcast. Aikman described the play by saying, “Well, you see Marcus Peters — he’s not even ready. He’s trying to communicate. Michael Thomas just simply runs right by him.” Yep, that’s about right. The touchdown gave the Saints a 45-35 lead with 3:52 remaining, which ended up being the final score of the game. Peters allowed Thomas to zoom right by mostly because he was focused on his teammates doing their job instead of doing his own.
Do your job. Where have I heard that before? Oh, that’s right, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick believes in that philosophy so much that he practically has each member of his team get the phrase tattooed on their body. I wouldn’t be surprised if Belichick has an elaborate “Do Your Job” back mural of his own. You can roll your eyes at the phrase because you dislike the Patriots, but you can’t knock the impact it has had on their success.
The Patriots beat the Packers by two touchdowns on Sunday night. No Gronk. No Sony Michel. No big deal. They’ve won 12+ games over an NFL-record eight straight seasons for a reason — each individual simply does their job. It’s no coincidence that the Patriots continue to stockpile achievements. The football gods don’t sprinkle magical pixie dust onto the Pats before the season. New England has a formula. The job requirement is to avoid doing more than you’re required.
I started thinking about the Patriots formula for success as it relates to sports radio. If you have a role on a radio show and attempt to do the work of the people around you, your own responsibilities are more likely to be uncompleted. You are at greater risk of basically pulling a Marcus Peters and falling short yourself. I never thought about the “do your job” philosophy beyond this point until now.
If you try to take care of someone else’s responsibility, it will look like you don’t trust the people around you to get the job done themselves. Imagine two people that work as mechanics. If Matt says, “Hey, Phil. Don’t worry about that car with the broken headlight.” If that is Phil’s responsibility to fix, Matt is giving the impression that he doesn’t trust Phil to get the job done. That might not be the case. Maybe Matt just wants the problem fixed a certain way, but Phil will think, “What’s up with that? Why would that [cuss word] [cuss word] [cuss word] think I can’t fix the headlight too? [cuss word]”
Sports are all about trust. A sports radio show is all about trust. Relationships are all about trust. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything. Most people like to have things done a certain way, but it’s silly to prioritize having things done exactly how you want them, over showing others that you trust them to follow through. Trust is empowering. It enables a group to mesh together and perform as a unit.
Did you see what happened to the Maryland football team on Saturday? They got trounced by Michigan State 24-3. Sparty has had a disappointing season with three losses, but they were able to smoke Maryland by three touchdowns. The drama leading up to the game that Maryland experienced definitely played a major role in the outcome, but that wasn’t their main issue.
DJ Durkin was initially reinstated as Maryland head football coach on Tuesday following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair in June. There were also allegations that included mistreatment of players. When Durkin held a team meeting to announce his reinstatement, multiple players walked out. Maryland reversed course and decided to fire Durkin on Wednesday due to public backlash.
Sure, the Maryland football team wasn’t highly focused on the game. There were a ton of distractions throughout the week. However, many teams have survived huge distractions by being on the same page. The minute Maryland’s locker room became split between Durkin supporters and detractors is the minute the team became a disjointed collection of individuals. You can’t win a team game if players are moving in opposite directions. Sports radio shows can’t reach their full potential when the staff isn’t on the same page either. You have to work together, not separately.
It’s funny to me that many fans and media members are incredibly critical of Carmelo Anthony’s play, yet they’ll turn around and do similar things within their own occupation. Melo, now with the Houston Rockets, has long been criticized for being a one-on-one player instead of a team guy. I’ve seen many people within sports radio buildings do the exact same thing. Instead of setting up a co-worker with an easy alley oop pass, they’ll look to score in isolation by doing everything themselves.
The way you win in sports is the same way you win in sports radio — do your job while setting up your teammates for success. Don’t make the same mistake Rams cornerback Marcus Peters made against the Saints by focusing on everyone else’s responsibility while overlooking your own. Do your job and show that you trust the people around you to do theirs. Do you think the Patriots would be successful if Tom Brady turned to his teammates in the huddle and said, “I don’t trust you”? Not so much. Your sports radio building will encounter the same problems if you send the same message.
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.