Connect with us
blank

BSM Writers

Tom Waddle Isn’t Running Out Of Ideas Or Incentive

“I think the growth has just been in our ability to try to share our life experiences on a day-in, day-out basis. I think the growth has gone from strictly an all sports type of presentation to more lifestyle and family life.”

Brian Noe

Published

on

blank

It’s funny how paths cross in the sports radio industry. Many moons ago I was at ESPN 1000 in Chicago to chat with former program director Adam Delevitt. As I walked around the downstairs area of that gigantic downtown building, former Chicago Bears wide receiver and ESPN 1000 radio host Tom Waddle walked by. He nodded his head at me and said hi. That interaction didn’t tell me everything about Waddle, but it told me a lot. It told me he didn’t have an ego. It told me he was actually — wait for it — nice.

O'Donnell: Even Dick Clark probably couldn't save Chicago's ESPN radio

Waddle spent 20+ years as a football player and has been in the sports broadcasting business for 25+ years. He’s learned many tricks of the trade and has fine-tuned his own style of mixing in fun and family life with sports. Waddle is highly respected not just because he’s great at his profession, but also because he shows other people the proper respect. Look, Yelp isn’t the only place someone can leave a bad review. That’s especially true in sports radio where colleagues can turn into enemies if you mistreat them.

There are several interesting topics that Waddle discusses below. He touches on Waddle & Silvy co-host Marc Silverman’s decision to announce his battle with cancer and the response of their listeners. Waddle also talks about the impact concussions have possibly had on his broadcasting career and how the personal criticism he received as a player has helped shape his approach behind the microphone now. Enjoy.

Brian Noe: What’s it like doing sports radio right now with a pandemic going on?

Tom Waddle: I don’t mean to sound callous or take it for granted but quite frankly — there are no sports, there are no games, but we have not been devoid of conversation. The NFL obviously went about their business. They went through the draft and had their offseason and free agency, which provided us conversation. Every day there’s a new story about different leagues trying to get ramped up and what their plan is to try to get back to some sense of normalcy. While we haven’t had the opportunity on a day-in, day-out basis to recap NBA games or Major League Baseball games, we still have had a full complement of things to talk about.

So far — now the longer this lingers, the more difficult it may become. Maybe our listeners would argue with us about finding new, entertaining things to talk about, but we don’t sit around in our daily meetings and go oh, what are we going to do now? We’ve always had something to talk about. It hasn’t been ideal, but at the same time it hasn’t been the massive struggle that maybe some thought it would be.

BN: In what ways have you felt that the show has been different?

TW: I think that it’s been more of a personality-driven show. Silvy and I have been doing this together now for better than 13 years. We’ve been more than willing to welcome people into our personal lives. That’s always been the dynamic that’s existed with our show but now even more. We’re both working from home so there are times when you’ll hear my dog bark, or he’s got young kids, so one of his kids will come flying down the steps and have a breakdown that’ll get on the air. We’ve learned to deal with the humanity of it all. I think that there’s probably a larger element of your own personality and your own personal life in the show now than maybe there used to be.

BN: It doesn’t get much more personal than Silvy announcing that he has cancer. What are your thoughts on him making that announcement and the situation overall?

TW: Yeah, myself and Adam Abdalla, who’s our executive producer, and Jeff Meller, who’s also one of our producers and is our sound guy, we’ve been working together for so long that we all know where each other is coming from. We just took the approach that we were going to let Silvy lead the way with how he wanted to handle this. This is obviously his individual battle, but we’ve kind of looked at it as teammates of his to battle this together.

I’m not surprised at all what he wanted to do was to handle it head-on and to be very open about it. I think as long as I’ve known him and worked with him, he’s always been very much interested in developing a relationship with the different listeners. He’s always asked listeners to share their own private situations with us on the air whenever they’re comfortable, so I think he took the approach that it would be unnatural and it would be hypocritical if he didn’t do the same. I thought he handled it with tremendous grace and tremendous strength.

Waddle and Silvy - ESPN Chicago

I think also he’s got such a great relationship with all of our listeners in the greater Chicagoland community, I think he’ll derive some strength from knowing that he’s going through this battle in somewhat of a public arena. I thought he handled it great. I thought our listeners responded well. I think again the fact that he handled it the way he did will provide him some comfort and some strength.

BN: After 13 years on the air together, in what area do you think you and Silvy have grown the most?

TW: I think just our willingness to share our own personal lives. We’ve been at different stages in our lives despite being fairly similar in age. I think he’s 47 or 48. I’m 53, so I’m a little bit older, but I was married at 24 and had a kid at 25. I’ve got basically four adult daughters. I have a 27-year-old, a 24-year-old, a 22-year-old, and the 16-year-old is not an adult but I could argue she’s the most mature of all of us. I’ve always been in that father family environment for a very long time.

When we first started he was still single and obviously didn’t have any kids. He had a different approach and ran a little more red hot about certain things and was a little more red-assed about stuff. But I think as he got married to Allie and had kids I think it’s provided a different perspective for him. While you’re never going to take his edge away from him, we’ve kind of been able to round off and sand down some of the rough edges so to speak. I don’t feel I’m speaking out of turn. I think that he would agree to that as well.

We’ve always had kind of a brotherly relationship. A lot of times I’ve been the older brother because I was in a different stage of life. I’m proud to have been able to provide some advice at least at times with regard to being a husband or being a father. I think the growth has just been in our ability to try to share our life experiences on a day-in, day-out basis. I think the growth has gone from strictly an all sports type of presentation to more lifestyle and family life. I think we spend a lot more time trying to have a laugh and keep people entertained.

BN: Would it be boring to you if it was just sports, sports, sports without personality or life included?  

TW: It would for me. I come with a different experience, not a better experience, not a worse experience; it’s just a different experience. Having played all my life, I have such a huge passion for sports, but I’ve also found when I retired there’s more to life than sports. It’s given me this career in radio and television over the last 25 years. It’s given me an opportunity to branch out and do different things and speak about different things. I think you’re reluctant to do it when you’re first involved in the industry, but over the course of time you become more comfortable with letting people in and letting them know who you are other than just being somebody they used to watch on Saturdays or Sundays. 

I don’t want it to be all sports because I have a lot of life experiences that I like to share and like to talk about. This kind of stage gives me the closest thing to competing and performing as I think I possibly could find coming out of the sports world. Live television and a four-hour radio show is the closest thing that I’ll ever get to trying to recapture that adrenaline rush that comes on Sundays. I don’t want to focus just on football, basketball, and baseball. I think that at times you can drone on about that stuff and lose your audience. I’ve enjoyed branching out and being able to talk about different things.

BN: In the past you’ve joked around a little bit about the concussions you suffered during your career. Is there any impact from your playing days on what you do professionally now?

TW: I try not to make light of it because there are guys that have had to deal with stuff that is probably more significant than what I’ve had to deal with. I was a teammate of Dave Duerson. I played against other guys around the league that aren’t with us any longer. I maybe at times try to use humor as a way to deflect from what is the serious realization that it is such a real thing. I do have moments.

I’m fortunate that it hasn’t overwhelmed me, but I’d be lying if I told you that there aren’t moments occasionally over the course of a month where I’ll have a couple of days that I know exactly what I want to say but I struggle to be able to verbalize it. There are other times where verbally I’m okay but my mind is a little bit cloudy. I don’t know if it’s old age, if it’s what I used to do for a living, or it’s a combination of both. I’m aware of it and I take it seriously, but look I signed up for it, so I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t part of the job description.

BN: Is there a topic over the last 13 years in Chicago that has felt like Groundhog Day where you say, oh man, another day of talking about this?

TW: The Bears quarterback situation falls into that category. It’s not just Mitch Trubisky related. You could talk about the Bears struggles with the quarterback position for decades. Now I don’t have a problem with it because I’m a football-centric person. I have a huge passion for the game and for this team, but I can see how that would become tedious for some.

I think that the Cubs/Sox rivalry at times gets to be a bit manufactured especially when one team is good and the other team is not. It’s funny, I infrequently find myself going to work and saying, ahh shit, I got to talk about this again. You know? 

We’re fortunate because we have so many teams and there are so many different issues to talk about. I don’t think we get into that mundane type of mode at all because there are things on a day-in and day-out basis. The Bears quarterback situation is obviously one of those conversations. The Bulls struggles to be relevant over the last several years has been one that it does feel like Groundhog Day. At times you feel like they’ve been running in place. I would say those were probably the two that make you feel the most worn out.

BN: As far as The Last Dance goes, how much have you guys talked about it on your show?

blank

TW: It’s been a huge focus for us. Obviously without games going on, it takes up a large portion of our show at least on Mondays. We’ve developed a nice relationship with Jason Hehir who’s the director. He comes on with us on Mondays to recap the previous episodes and previews the next couple of episodes. We’ve had a great relationship with him and a great response.

Silvy covered that second three-peat so he’s got a lot of insight and thoughts on it. For the fans my age it’s a great walk down memory lane and for the younger fans that didn’t really witness it, it’s a nice opportunity for them to see something that they weren’t aware of or were too young to really appreciate. Then come Monday and Tuesday it gives them an opportunity to participate as well. It certainly has come at the right time.

BN: What was your favorite part of The Last Dance?

TW: My memory isn’t great so for me the first thing I just wanted to be reminded of how great a player Michael was. To see him back in the early ‘90s and then the mid-to-late ‘90s, there are some things athletically that guys struggle to do now in 2020.

We always talk about on our show how sports evolve. In the world of football people get bigger, faster, and stronger. There weren’t any guys like Brandon Marshall playing wide receiver in my day. There weren’t 6’4”, 230-pound guys running 4.4’s. The game evolves. The athletic part of it becomes more impressive as time rolls on. Michael was doing that stuff back in the ‘90s. It was nice to just remind yourself that he was so far ahead of his time athletically and he was able to do some things then that guys can’t do now.

BN: As far as your future is concerned is there anything you would like to do within your current role, or beyond ESPN 1000 before you retire?

TW: I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve had some great opportunities. I’ve done national television in Los Angeles with some great people at the NFL Network and worked with some of the greatest guys and best players in the world in Deion Sanders, Kurt Warner, Steve Mariucci, and Michael Irvin. I had the same great opportunity at ESPN to work for six years on the television side and obviously on the radio side, ESPN has given me a great opportunity both nationally and locally.

What I want to do is continue to do what I’m doing now with the people that I’m doing it with for as long as we have this passion and desire to do it. I’m not running out of ideas and I’m not running out of incentive. I’m not getting tired of participating in this job. I love the people that I’ve worked with. I love the old group with Jim Pastor and Adam Delevitt. Craig Karmazin took over when they purchased the station and we’re with Mike Thomas now who has such a great track record in this industry.

Waddle & Silvy Show - PodCenter - ESPN Radio

We’ve been surrounded by winning people. I haven’t hit the wall. I did in football but there’s only so far you can take 6’1” and 185 pounds. Fortunately in the world of sports broadcasting and more importantly in the radio industry — size, speed, and age really isn’t a factor. I’m still very much enthused with what I do and love the people I work with. I want to continue to keep doing this as long as we possibly can.

BSM Writers

790 The Ticket Was Something Special And Stugotz Knows It

“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen, that they’ve ever heard.”

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

blank

When I was making the transition from the rock world to talk radio, there was one show I looked at as a guide. I got laid off from 96 Rock in Raleigh, NC in the summer of 2011. That was the beginning of my flirtations with streaming and podcasts, which is how I stumbled onto The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket out of Miami.

Coming from a format that I felt out of place in at times, I instantly latched onto a show that reveled in pointing out how out of place it was in its own format. It became a daily listen for me, which opened me up to hearing other voices on the station like Jonathan Zaslow, Joy Taylor, Brian London, Brendan Tobin, Brett Romberg and others.

There were unique thinkers and passionate sports fans in every day part on 790 The Ticket. What set the station apart though is that I never heard anyone that sounded uncomfortable when the conversation turned to something that wasn’t a Dolphins’ loss or LeBron’s stat line. They talked sports the way normal human beings talk about sports. It was part of their lives, not the only thing they paid attention to.

Look at the outpouring of love for the station on Thursday. Hosts, producers and programmers from across the country took to social media to eulogize the station when the news broke that it would cease to exist the following week.

I can’t say for sure that all of those people felt the same way I did about the station and I cannot say whether or not it was for the same reasons. What I can say is 790 The Ticket had an influence that stretched far beyond South Florida.

Jon Weiner, better known as “Stugotz” to fans of the The Dan Le Batard Show, helped start the station in 2004. He told me that it didn’t take long for him to learn just how much The Ticket’s approach was making an impression on everyone in sports radio.

“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen or heard,” he said in a phone call on Sunday. “I had people from out of market who had secure jobs at places that weren’t startups sending resumes and tapes because they wanted to be part of it. So yeah, we were aware and it is what we were going for. We got there pretty quickly and we were aware of the impact, not just in South Florida, but throughout the country.”

Last week, Brian “The Beast” London said his internal alarm bells first went off when he heard the Miami Heat were giving up their relationship with 790 the Ticket. The station and the team had been partners since 2008. He said in a YouTube video that it was hard to imagine the team’s games being heard anywhere else.

I asked Stugotz if he had the same feeling when he heard that news. He said in hindsight, he realized it was the beginning of the end, but he didn’t really get a sense something was up until Jonathan Zaslow was let go.

“[Zaslow] had been there since basically day one with us. And so I just kind of figured, yeah, between the Heat and then that I felt, okay, you don’t make a move like that unless there’s going to be some sort of seismic change. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to let him go. That was the moment I was like ‘okay, 790 is likely going away.'”

His feelings are no secret. He took to social media immediately on Thursday and said that the news that 790 The Ticket would soon be going away filled him with both sadness and pride. What Stugotz told me in our phone call was that he realizes that the station lasted about 15 years longer than it should have.

When the station was sold to Lincoln Financial Media, he was not expecting that company to want to keep a sports station. Senior Vice President Dennis Collins surprised him.

“The company saw so much potential in what we had built, both from a lineup and a sales perspective that they kept it going and that’s why it lasted all the way to 2022. We got it up and going and were responsible for the first three or four years, but Dennis saw the growth potential with the lineup we put together. That made me feel great because I had a pit in my stomach like ‘Oh, man, this thing we started is going to go away. It’s going to be three, four years and gone.’ And he said, ‘No, we love it. We want to keep it going’. So that was a huge compliment to everyone.”

Stugotz described the original owner of 790 The Ticket as a “young, good looking real estate mogul driving around in Lamborghinis.” That certainly helped the image of the station when it launched, but it is also a phenomenon that was very of the moment. It’s not 2004 anymore. Lamborghini-owning real estate moguls aren’t chomping at the bit to pour money into radio stations.

The conditions may be similar to what Stugotz and his partners saw in 2004. You could look at the radio landscape in Miami and see a way that a new challenger could fit in the sports radio scene. But what are the chances it actually happens?

It’s a great question,” Stugotz said. “So just to go back to that time, two sports radio stations were popping up in every market. I’m not certain if that’s still the case anymore just because of podcasting and the way the way younger people are consuming media through Tik Tok, Snapchat, and other things that aren’t AM radio.”

He is quick to commend Audacy, the current owners of the 790 AM frequency. Dan Le Batard and Jorge Sedano were part of his early lineups at 790 The Ticket because Stugotz recognized the Cuban-American community in Miami was not being served in the sports space in 2004, just like it isn’t being properly served in the news/talk space right now. That’s why there’s room for the conservative-leaning brand Radio Libre in Miami and other markets are likely paying attention.

“It seems like a good plan, and I know it’s something that the Spanish population should have and deserves to have and probably was not being catered to correctly. So, yeah, I could see there’s a warning sign to some other sports radio stations or news stations in other markets where the Hispanic population is great. Absolutely!”

It is a shame that 790 The Ticket is no more and it is concerning that a station with its legacy and influence can simply disappear. But if we are being real, it isn’t the first station of its kind to suffer that fate and it won’t be the last.

As the media business changes and leaves sports stations vulnerable to something cheaper and with broader appeal, 790 The Ticket and stations like it should be touted as examples of how to rise above the noise and make an impact. Stugotz and his partners looked around in 2004 and said “we can be different and we can do this better” and that’s exactly what they did.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Chris Simms And His Self-Professed ‘Big Mouth’ Enjoying Life At NBC

“One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

To be a good football analyst, one certainly has to know and love the sport but you also can’t be afraid to use the most important tool that you have to do the job. Chris Simms has all of those attributes and NBC lets him use them to the best of his abilities.

“I love football and I love X’s and O’s and I got a big mouth so it’s a great combination,” said Simms. “Between my podcast, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Sunday Night Football, I get plenty of time to talk and get my studies out there.”

There’s no doubt that Chris inherited that self-professed big mouth from his father, former NFL quarterback and longtime NFL on CBS analyst, Phil Simms.

So, the question had to be asked…does Chris have a bigger mouth than his father?

“Yeah, I probably do,” admitted the younger Simms. “That’s a big mouth to overcome, but I think I probably got him beat in that department.”

Chris Simms set out to follow in his father’s footsteps on the field and played quarterback for Ramapo High School in New Jersey where he earned a pair of All-State honors. After graduating high school in 1999, Simms moved on to play quarterback at the University of Texas where he posted a 26-6 career record as a starter and was the team MVP during his senior season in 2002.

Simms was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and he would guide the Bucs to a playoff berth in 2005.  He would also go on to play for the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos completing a seven-year NFL playing career. He spent one season as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots before taking his talents to the world of broadcasting.

He started with FOX Sports as a college football announcer in 2013 and then joined Bleacher Report in 2014 while also serving as a color commentator for the NFL on CBS.

And then in 2017, Simms joined NBC Sports where he has certainly found a home.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Simms. “It’s a great company to work for. Just good people all around. They’ve given me the platform to be me. One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”

Simms wears many different suits at NBC Sports, most notably his role as a studio analyst on Football Night in America leading into Sunday Night Football. He’s also a part of the SNF post-game show Sunday Night Football Final on Peacock, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned, a streaming/digital show that is also a podcast multiple days a week.

But the most eyeballs are on him during Football Night in America, the most watched studio show in sports.

“I grew up wanting to play in these games more than be the guy in the studio but this is like the second-best thing,” said Simms. “I was kind of that kid at 4 or 5 (years old) who could tell you every player in the NFL, their number and all that type of stuff. It’s the NFL on the biggest stage. It’s such a well-done show. I get to be there with Maria Taylor along with Tony Dungy, and Jason Garrett, and Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. We got a great team and it makes Sunday fun.”

From the “it takes one to know one” category, Simms has also made a name for himself with his ranking of NFL quarterbacks. He’s very diligent when it comes to watching the live action and also in his film study and his top-40 rankings have become a hot topic within the business and around the office coolers.

Simms is well aware that his rankings have become a lightning rod of discussion.

“It all kind of started organically just because I would make statements,” said Simms. “People were like ‘Why don’t you start making a list?’ It’s a really hard thing to do. It offends a lot of people and I hate that. I root for all of these guys and I say on my podcast all the time I hope this guy proves me wrong. I hope he shits on me and shows me that I was wrong. It’s certainly not personal. One of the things I pride myself on is studying and immersing myself in the game all of the time.”

Simms became a full-time employee of NBC Sports in 2019, but his first role with the network came in 2017 when he became a studio analyst for Notre Dame Football.

Here’s a kid that grew up in North Jersey where there’s a ton of Notre Dame alumni and he’s standing on the sidelines at South Bend as part of Fighting Irish telecasts.

“Another special entity,” said Simms. “I used to get chills being out on the field every Saturday there. It gave me great experience in a different way with the halftime show and the pre-game show. One of the years I was kind of the third man in the booth but I was on the sideline. It gave me some reps on in-game stuff as well. I think most importantly what that did for me more than anything is that it opened up more eyes at NBC about me.”

And now Simms’ work has him in the discussion for a new potential opportunity down the road. 

NBC, alongside FOX and CBS, has secured a seven-year media rights deal with the Big Ten Conference that will commence next season. NBC will air Big Ten Saturday Night, the first time that Big Ten Football will have a dedicated primetime broadcast on a national broadcast network. Peacock will stream an additional eight Big Ten games each season and NBC/Peacock will air the 2026 Big Ten Championship Game.

There have been rumblings that Simms could be involved in the coverage. Is he interested?

“I’m intrigued by it,” admitted Simms. “I’m very all NFL right now but broadcasting game is fun. It’s definitely something on my radar for sure. I do have some producers here in the building that are like ‘I’m going to tell the boss I want you to do some of the Big 10 games this year and what do you think about announcing?’ I’ve already had some people in my ear talking about it. It’s awesome for the company regardless. It just expands our football world. As far as me being involved, we’ll see.” 

In a relatively short amount of time, Chris Simms has built up quite the broadcasting portfolio. From FOX to Bleacher Report and CBS to his current expanded role with NBC, Simms has established himself as one of the premier NFL analysts in the business and his podcast has given him the freedom to do something that he loves to do. Including putting his money where his mouth is. 

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

The Pat McAfee Alternate Broadcast Presents Unique Challenges

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

Alternate broadcasts are all the rage these days, and ESPN, in conjunction with Omaha Productions, debuted a new one this weekend as The Pat McAfee Show aired an alternate broadcast of the Clemson and North Carolina State game Saturday evening.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Manningcast copy-cats were destined for failure. And while I don’t believe McAfee’s debut was a failure by any stretch of the imagination, I couldn’t help but notice it brings its own set of challenges.

First and foremost, College Football Primetime with The Pat McAfee Show — the world’s most convoluted way to say “The McAfeecast” — doesn’t really resemble the Manningcast. And rightfully so. I’m not sure there are two more polar opposite sports media brands than the Mannings and McAfee. The Mannings are funny, but not too funny and never “blue”, while often concerned about how finely quaffed their hair looks and whether the button-down shirt color matches with the Nordstrom quarter-zip they’ve donned. Meanwhile, McAfee wears his black tank-top, like usual, and put his best Pittsburgh-ese foot forward.

Even though the Mannings and McAfee are opposites doesn’t mean they can’t work together, however. The alternate broadcast was a win for Manning, a win for McAfee, a win for ESPN, and a win for viewers.

People love Pat McAfee. Plain and simple. For a multitude of reasons that we can get into in a later story, but let’s focus on that for a moment. It was a big portion of my column a few weeks ago. The Manningcast works because people like Peyton and Eli. The KayRodcast doesn’t work because people hate Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. It’s honestly, truly, that simple.

I think it benefitted the McAfeecast to debut with a smaller game, which seems counterintuitive because it was a matchup of top ten teams in primetime. But let’s be realistic, a number five versus number ten ACC game doesn’t hold the same weight as a number five versus number ten Big Ten or SEC game. And it helped McAfee and crew, because there are obvious kinks to work out.

Firstly, there are entirely too many people on the screen. I’m going to have nice words to say about BostonConnr than the eight-and-a-half-year-old that went viral earlier this summer, but god love ya, your time to shine likely isn’t on primetime on ESPN. In my opinion, for the McAfeecast to really work in the future, a similar setup to the Manningcast with McAfee and A.J. Hawk being the prominent figures on screen is the best solution to the problem. I know McAfee believes in his boys. It’s one of his more endearing qualities, and is frankly part of the reason his show is so successful. But you’re reaching a different audience on ESPN2 on Saturday nights, and the reason the either tuned in or will stay is because of McAfee’s presence.

I didn’t get a great feel for McAfee’s thoughts or reactions on the game simply because you didn’t get a closeup of his face. The best moments of the Manningcast, outside of Eli flipping the double birds or Peyton saying “I can’t hear shit”, have been when the pair have been absolutely disgusted by a decision made by a coach or player and their face shows it without any words following up their reactions. And McAfee definitely holds that ability, and I wish I would have gotten a better sense of his facial reactions on-screen.

Also, and I know this is something McAfee can’t actually control, he had to be a bit more reserved on cable television. Part of the allure of The Pat McAfee Show is the — let’s call it extreme candor — with which he speaks. I believe that’s the scholarly way to write “he says f*** frequently”. And believe me, I subscribe to the theory that the FCC should allow hosts the ability to say obscenities 15 times per week, so I’m down for McAfee’s swearing. But you’re just simply never going to get that on ESPN2. You’re likely never going to get that if the broadcast aired on ESPN+, either. For a “family friendly” company Disney, those cards are just flat out never going to be on the table for McAfee.

One of the things McAfee is known for is his boundless energy, which felt lacking at times on Saturday, but it’s understandable. The man was on College GameDay earlier in the day, flew back to the studio to do the alternate broadcast after travelling the day before to get to Clemson to be on GameDay. I’m sure that takes a toll. On top of that, you’re doing something new for the first time, while trying to, essentially, heard cats on the screen, and you can be a little wiped out by the end of the night.

However, the goodwill McAfee has bought with fans over his extreme generosity was on display as the alternate broadcast donated more than $100,000 to Dabo Swinney’s charity, The Jimmy V Foundation, and the American Red Cross. It was a brilliant move for a debut broadcast, because it acts as a slight shield for criticism. How can you complain about something that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity?

The alternate broadcast, for the most part, avoided the biggest problem I have with the Manningcast. The interviews. I’ve never been watching Monday Night Football, or the Manningcast for that matter, and thought “Man, I wish they were talking to Tracy Morgan right now!” McAfee brought on Peyton Manning, for obvious reasons, and former NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers. That’s it. They didn’t rely on guests to carry them through down periods. The eight folks on screen did most of the heavy lifting, and for that, I thank them.

The McAfeecast was certainly different than any other alternate broadcast I’ve consumed. The crew shooting hoops for extra donations to charity during stoppages of play definitely kept things light and interesting. I couldn’t help but be invested in whether or not someone would bury three out of five threes during an injury timeout for more money for charity.

Speaking of injury timeouts, McAfee planned a giveaway and told fans to use a certain hashtag and when to screenshot or take a picture of their TV. Immediately following him saying “now!”, an injured player appeared on the screen, and he instantly shouted “No! Not now! No! We don’t want that, and we hope he’s ok”. It was a light-hearted, nearly hilarious moment that brought levity to the situation.

The highlight of the cast, however, was — in true McAfee style — picking up on things other broadcasters wouldn’t, like an angry fan. The entire crew shouting at the same time in this specific moment was spectacular television.

Overall, I thought the McAfeecast got off on the right foot. There is undeniably a market for an alternate broadcast based around the former NFL punter’s personality, and I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.