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Randy Moss Is The Answer For Monday Night Football

“Moss’s frankness and country twang alone are enough to help elevate him to “America’s sweetheart” status if he were calling big games.”

Demetri Ravanos

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ESPN whiffed in its pursuit of Tony Romo. Then it whiffed in its pursuit of Peyton Manning. Then it took a called strike three in its pursuit of Drew Brees.

The network hasn’t officially commented on the futures of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland, but if I were taking bets, I would say the odds of the duo in the Monday Night Football booth for 2019 returning in 2020 are somewhere around 500 to 1.

On TV/Radio: ESPN's Booger McFarland sizes up Texans-Bills ...

In fact, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reported on Thursday that the network was now focusing its search internally to find the next Monday Night Football broadcast crew. Talent and executives have been asked to take pay cuts. Lower-level employees have been put on furlough. It would be a bad look for the network to go out and offer a former star $10 million dollars per year right now.

McCarthy says the new booth is likely to be made up of some combination of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, Dan Orlovsky, and Pat McAfee. It could be that the first three are in the booth, while McAfee serves as a sideline reporter like he did for ESPN’s XFL broadcasts. No final decisions have been made.

With that list of names, it is clear that Levy is the favorite to call the action on Mondays. The only real question is who his teammates will be. I think Riddick has proven he is a great game analyst. Orlovsky not only knows football, he knows how to talk about it in a way anyone can follow. McAfee is one of the three or four most entertaining people on ESPN’s payroll.

All of them are very good at what they do, but none of them are the right answer. ESPN has the perfect candidate to be the next game analyst for Monday Night Football already in house.

It’s Randy Moss.

FOX has Aikman. He has the name recognition. CBS has Romo. He’s got the knowledge and enthusiasm. NBC has Colinsworth. He has the track record of greatness. You know what you can’t say about any of them?

Not a single one of them can be counted as one of the three best to ever play their position. Randy Moss can. If ESPN wants a name in their booth that gives Monday Night Football a special feeling again, putting a Hall of Famer in the booth is a big step in the right direction.

Randy Moss at the Hall of Fame | | spiritofjefferson.com

Moss not only has the star power. He has also proven in his four years on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown that he is fearless in his criticism and that he is incredibly entertaining.

Did you see Rand University, the 30 for 30 documentary about his life in West Virginia? Moss’s frankness and country twang alone are enough to help elevate him to “America’s sweetheart” status if he were calling big games.

I recently responded to Andrew Marchand’s request for questions for his weekly media mail bag by asking why ESPN hasn’t considered Moss. To me, the guy is not only ideal for the role, he is so clearly the guy that checks all the boxes ESPN is looking for that it is absurd this isn’t a done deal.

Marchand responded to my question in his New York Post column.

“I think ESPN has thought about Moss,” Marchand wrote. “He is a big name, but he hasn’t done games and that is something they are hesitant about considering how inexperience has burnt them the last two years. I wouldn’t fully rule anything out.”

You can’t argue with the bulk of Marchand’s argument. Louis Riddick, Dan Orlovsky, and Pat McAfee have all been in the booth calling games. Granted, the majority of game analyst experience for all of them is college football. Still, that is more experience in that realm than Randy Moss has.

I would push back a bit against ESPN if network executives are nervous about committing to Randy Moss based on Booger McFarland and Jason Witten failing to break out as stars.

ESPN's Randy Moss ends up in wrong Bristol in flight mix-up

We knew nothing about those guys before they were put in the Monday Night Football booth. Booger McFarland was one of a thousand different NFL analysts at the network. Jason Witten only got the job because he was a Dallas Cowboy and his friend and former teammate (Romo) was an instant hit on CBS. ESPN didn’t get burned. They made dumb choices.

Any of the four names mentioned in this column (Moss included) are outspoken. They are committed to being great in the commentary world. The last time ESPN had a name that carried weight in the Monday Night Football booth was 2017. That was the last season Jon Gruden was with the network.

Gruden earned praise during his nine years at ESPN. Fans and the media saw a man that understood the game and took pleasure in telling an audience what he saw on the field. I saw a guy afraid to burn bridges that could lead to his next coaching job. A big name is only a valuable asset if he is willing to provide valuable insight.

There isn’t a loser in the bunch when you look at the names being tossed around as in-house options for ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth in 2020. It just seems to me that everything the network has been pre-occupied with finding has already been traveling with the network every Monday night for the last four years and will likely do so again in 2020…if we’re playing football this year, that is.

This is Barrett Sports Media. I know who our audience is, and I know someone that is a part of this decision might be reading this, so I’ll be blunt.

You have plenty of time to train the guy up. Move Randy Moss off of Monday Night Countdown and into the Monday Night Football booth. You have good candidates that offer a lot. Certainly, they can help stem the tide of negative criticism Monday Night Football has received the last two seasons.

It’s not just you, ESPN. The world only has one Randy Moss. With the right teachers and the backing of the biggest name in sports media, he could become a stand out amongst NFL analysts in no time.

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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