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The NBA Fun Bubble and What’s Right About Sports

“The playoffs are here, and even with ratings issues, the NBA has built a steady pandemic model compared to chaotic MLB and other sports leagues.”

Jay Mariotti

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I now make appointments with NBA games. Life is about snacks, beer, a sanitized remote and Charles Barkley summoning his inner grocery store, warning Shaquille O’Neal, “You better quit yelling at me, Karen.’’

Oh, the joy of railing against bad officiating again, dipping into the old conspiracy bag after Kristaps Porzingis was ejected for weak-sauce b.s. I forgot how liberating it is to vent. The coronavirus? I’m busy, channeling my inner Mark Cuban and having … fun?

The same can’t be said for baseball, which is reconfirming everything that is unwatchable and infuriating about it, including the immaturity of players who still flout virus protocols — see Nick Senzel bear-hugging Joey Votto — and wonder, “Gee, how did someone test positive?’’ And having observed the initial visions of football training camps, we should brace for scenes out of battlefields: so many players lost to COVID-19 that teams literally make public cattle calls for replacements. “I feel like the Titanic — we have hit the iceberg and we’re trying to make decisions on what time we should have the band play,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an NCAA infectious disease expert who, unfortunately, doesn’t make health decisions for the reckless NFL, SEC, ACC and Big 12.

Oh, and if a world-class goaltender can opt out of the NHL Igloo mere hours before a playoff game, with the Bruins positioned to contend for a Stanley Cup, isn’t any scenario possible in this ongoing reality show known as Sports In A Pandemic? “I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that’s being with my family,” said Tuukka Rask, who has a newborn and two other young children at home, not that the cruel-dude segments of Boston sports fandom really care.

But basketball? I’m watching it, talking it, feeling it and unabashedly living it as the postseason begins, with nary a thought about swabs. With live events wrapped in spectator-free weirdness, sports must maintain high levels of performance and intrigue to keep the interest of viewers who, with time on their hands at home, don’t have the usual original TV programming options. Major League Baseball barely can honor a schedule, and I can’t wrap my brain around the concept of a football game, all the spitting and piling and tackling and snorting.

NBA Players Lodge Complaints About the "Bubble" — What They're Saying

The NBA has been Bubblicious, though, and for coming up with that pun, I don’t know if I should be shot or given a patent. For commissioner Adam Silver, this is a conquest of ingenuity that stands to place his league on the right side of pandemic history as MLB, the NFL and three college holdouts stumble to the dark and dangerous side. The NBA still must complete its playoffs without an outbreak, of course, and any number of temptresses “known by a player only through social media or an intermediary’’ always could slide into DMs and into the sacred Bubble, with the Corona spreading and poisoning all the implied normalcy the league has created within the quarantined confines of Disney World. At this point, the vibe doesn’t involve policy violations or snitch lines in the least.

It’s all about story lines: LeBron’s body language says he doesn’t want to be there … the Lakers are vulnerable to a top-seed implosion against Dame (only the uncool still call him Damian) Lillard and the Trail Blazers … Luka Doncic trying to slip-maneuver through Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Pat Beverley for seven games … Chris Paul, who helped create the Bubble, now wants to blow up James Harden and a hobbling Russell Westbrook … Rudy Gobert vs. Nikola Jokic … the Bucks look distracted and pressure-bloated, which could lead a head-butting Giannis Antetokounmpo to force his way out of Milwaukee … the Raptors have the savvy, toughness and defensive chops to emerge from the East again, even if Canada won’t let them cross the border for another title parade … can’t pick the Celtics if Gordon Hayward is taking paternity leave during a series … are the Heat a sleeper contender or immediate-ouster material?

“I definitely don’t believe in the turn-on switch that everybody talks about, like we can turn on the switch and be great,’’ said Antetokounmpo, who thinks the Bucks slogged through the seeding games.

“Some things that you can’t control that’s here, I really don’t want to talk about. That’s off the floor,’’ bemoaned James, making the same cryptic comments he used to made in Cleveland before playoff exits. “It feels like a different season. Will we be the team that we want to be in Game 1 of the first round that we were when we stopped (in March)? I don’t think so, but we’ll get better and better as the games go on.’’

Will they? “We have a belief in ourselves that we can win the series,’’ Lillard said. The fact we’re even discussing the Lakers-Blazers is a miracle in itself, given the threats that could have sabotaged the NBA restart. “It’s better than what we had envisioned,’’ Silver told Sports Illustrated in a rare Bubble interview. “Players have taken to it in a more spirited way than we thought they would. We knew that this would require enormous sacrifice on everyone’s part, but I think what is hard to calibrate is the human emotion that comes with being around other people. And I think everyone realized that they missed it more than they even understood. I think that it’s the togetherness, the camaraderie, the brotherhood of the players. To take those masks off and bang into each other, whether it’s someone on your team or an opponent, it’s just a human craving we have for contact with other people.’’

The Ultimate Guide To March Madness In Las Vegas - Sports Gambling Podcast

Think about it: Take those masks off and bang into each other. Wasn’t basketball supposed to be, with football, absurdly unfavorable to the idea and practice of physical distancing? Only two months ago, I was writing, “Vegas is laying the wrong odds. Rather than establishing the Lakers, Bucks and Clippers as NBA title favorites, sportsbooks should emphasize the real action: What is the likelihood that the league’s military lockdown camp — er, Bubble — will collapse in a shambles of coronavirus outbreaks, Black Lives Matter concerns and star defections that leads to a shutdown of the Adam Silver Salvation Tour and exposes this Disney World fairy tale as an all-time disaster? Again, why are they doing this?’’

Answer: Because Silver is trying to save a league that, in some mystical convergence, has been innovative enough to isolate 22 teams in place and lucky enough that basketball is a sport conducive to such a plan. He also is fortunate to have gained the trust of players who, in near-unanimity, are cooperating in the Bubble and tolerating lifestyle hassles just enough to focus on the competition. Yes, the commissioner is funneling financial givebacks to team owners and pumping oxygen to dying TV partners, but unlike the NFL, which could lose an entire season and remain fully operable in 2021, the NBA has an uncertain future that cannot be overstated. Only MLB, heading toward a lengthy work stoppage and a bleak existence when its collective bargaining agreement expires in 14 months, needs its season to finish more than the NBA does.

Entertaining as the games have been, with Lillard advancing his legend and Doncic emerging at 21 as a generational offensive force, the league is entangled in a thicket of politics at the worst time. By embracing Black Lives Matter — natural and necessary when 75 percent of the league’s players are African American — Silver has alienated Trump America and opened himself to the president’s disdain for NBA players protesting during the national anthem. “I think it’s been horrible for basketball,” Trump told talk host Clay Travis. “Look at the basketball ratings. They’re down to very low numbers. Very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They don’t realize that, they don’t want, they have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re driving down, going up for the shot. They don’t need it. And there was a nastiness about the NBA the way it was done too. So I think that the NBA is in trouble — I think it’s in big trouble, bigger trouble than they understand.’’

The TV ratings aren’t nearly as grim as Trump claims and will spike beginning this week. But the league is undeniably hypocritical when it claims, in one breath, to care about human rights by displaying “Black Lives Matter’’ statements across its hardwood courts, only to do traditional business in another breath with the Chinese government. The NBA wishes it had more viewers such as myself, who can separate politics from hoops when a game is compelling enough. “I understand critics who say that they turn to sports to avoid controversy. But it’s unavoidable at this moment in time in our country,’’ Silver said. “I wish there was an easier path for us to follow right now. Even if there were, I don’t think it would necessarily be the responsible thing to do. … I think our fans are able to separate words on the floor or messages on the players’ jerseys or the floor. Even to the extent that they don’t, I think they recognize that these are not simple times. Our players are not one-dimensional people, and they can both be deeply concerned about issues that our country faces and at the same time perform their craft at the highest level.”

Adam Silver - Phi Delta Theta Fraternity

No one should be surprised that Silver has taken sport’s most ambitious lead in what is becoming a successful social and science experiment. The league wants to remembered as a testing visionary, joining the National Basketball Players Association in funding a fast, inexpensive, saliva-based sample authorized for public use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MLB is living in a perpetual outbreak scare. The NFL and aforementioned college conferences want to stick tens of thousands of swabs up human noses. At least the NBA is thinking about the masses, as well as its future, in helping to facilitate a convenient test called SalivaDirect.

The league should ship a batch of kits to MLB, which has not played a full schedule of games since July 26 — three weeks and counting, Rob Manfred — after the Reds become the third team to call off games because of positive coronavirus tests. If only Manfred, the antithesis of Silver, had devoted resources to a more reliable system with daily tests and quicker results; instead, the Reds didn’t learn of the positive until AFTER they’d played an entire game with the infected teammate. There seems a better chance of Babe Ruth rising from the dead than a season being completed, with the Cardinals forced to play three doubleheaders in Chicago. Infected teams now seem more interested in spinning excuses than owning their lapses, such as players continuing to hug after victories or indulging in fraught nightlife. “We had some pretty tight rooms when we were up in Minneapolis,’’ Cardinals president John Mozeliak said. “Some people thought they were healthy and they weren’t and they had close contact in terms of discussions. At the time, if I had to guess, they were mask-less. We had it drilled down to possibly the dining halls.”

So they didn’t hit the casino, as reported? “What I can tell you, with confidence, is it would be very irresponsible to say this group went out and did anything that was egregious,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “To say something otherwise would be strongly inaccurate. We will be even more prudent with every regulation that is out there. I don’t think you’ll have anyone touch anyone on the field the rest of this year. Our dugouts will be even more sterile. We’re going to show up later. Every meeting will be outside. It’s going to be very little time spent in the ballpark.’’ I assume the Cardinals, as I write this, already have had players “touch’’ one another on the field.

Knowing the absurd measures MLB teams are taking to sustain this unsustainable season — imagine I-55 the other day as Cardinals players and staffers drove 41 rental cars from St. Louis to Chicago — we should applaud the clubs that so far are beating COVID-19 and their on-field rivals. It figures the Cubs, always quirky, would have one of their most successful starts ever during a pandemic. The organizations that best handle a health crisis will be remembered admirably, and Cubs boss Theo Epstein has been prioritizing protocol obedience for months. While other teams are screwing around, such as two Cleveland rogues who went out in Chicago and maybe ruined the Indians’ season, the Cubs are isolating. “It’s a short amount of time to just hunker down, stay in your room and do what needs to be done,” Kris Bryant said. “It’s a big learning experience. The Indians had some guys step out. Hopefully, we have a collective group of 30 teams that is able to commit to this process.”

Forget it. But baseball does give us glimpses of what it could be if run properly: Clayton Kershaw mowing down Mike Trout all night in Anaheim … the breakout of “El Nino,’’ the dreadlocked, dugout-dancing Fernando Tatis Jr. … and how long Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon can maintain a .400-plus batting average weeks after he was quarantined in Georgia with the virus.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg to make 2020 debut Sunday | WJLA

We very much miss spectators and their energy. Without them, we’re hearing way too much of baseball’s salty rawness, which I’ve addressed in an accompanying column. Only in quiet ballparks do we have to hear Stephen Strasburg yell “f—— brutal’’ at the home-plate umpire, which landed him an ejection. Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis, heretofore a vanilla voice trying not to upset the post-Vin Scully legions in southern California, made a name for himself the night pitcher Joe Kelly retaliated against the Astros. When Houston manager Dusty Baker shouted at Kelly, “Just get on the mound, little f——,’’ Davis realized there was no audio delay and told his audience, “Oooh, OK. So in empty stadiums, we pick up some things that we don’t normally pick up. Apologies for whoever the potty mouth is.’’ Would Vin have handled it any better?

The NHL also is having coarse moments, including 16 fighting majors in the qualifying rounds alone. Between that and the injuries being concealed while staying in the same pods in Toronto and Edmonton, I’m surprised brawls don’t break out in lobbies and elevators. I don’t advocate hockey fights — or cleaning blood off the ice, as they did after one bout — but at the moment, it beats a 0-0 game.

Hell, even the maddening topic of replay is enhanced by pandemic TV. During a Major League Soccer game, viewers could watch a discussion between the match referee and a video review official. Why not provide real-time transparency during reviews in all sports?

So, kids, not all is gloom and doom about sports during its resumption. Though, as soon as I stopped typing those words, a headline dinged on my phone: “Nine Oklahoma Sooners test positive for COVID-19 after returning from break.’’ Said head coach Lincoln Riley: “Disappointed about the news, obviously. We’ve done such a tremendous job this entire time. Certainly, you know when you give your players some time, there is risk in that.”

Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields starts 'We want to play' petition  | Fighting Irish Wire

Does he honestly believe the brainwashing jibber-jabber that college players are safer on campuses than at home? And why doesn’t Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who is petitioning the Big Ten to reinstate its season, stop with the gushy appeals — “this cause is close to my heart’’ — and do more homework about the risks of spreading the virus to others in close quarters? It should be obvious now, in a time when little in life is discernible, that this much is true in 2020: Sports leagues that don’t play in restrictive environments, such as football, are vulnerable to COVID-19 shutdowns at any time.

And those that do? Bubblicious.

BSM Writers

Colorado Hiring Deion Sanders Will Be Constant Gift for College Football Media

“If Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers, he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor.”

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Deion Sanders quickly made it clear why the University of Colorado chose him to be its next head football coach.

Coming off a weekend in which the four College Football Playoff teams were announced and all of the other bowl-eligible teams accepted their invitations, Colorado — which went 1-11 this past season — made news for hiring Sanders, the former NFL star who was phenomenally successful at Jackson State.

The media that covers college football and sports as a whole should be thrilled that the Buffaloes program decided to take a big leap for attention and notoriety. Sanders is a bold, risky hire. But he’s also been successful in virtually every venture he’s taken. “Primetime” had a Hall of Fame NFL career and also played Major League Baseball. And he’s a master at drawing attention to himself.

During his first meeting with his new team, Sanders made sure to mention that he has Louis Vuitton luggage to make the point that some of his Jackson State players are coming with him to Boulder — including his son, quarterback Shadeur Sanders. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart probably don’t cite luxury fashion when explaining to their players that they’ll have to compete for starting positions.

Coach Prime will not be boring to cover. (That self-appointed “Coach Prime” title, which was on his name plate at his introductory press conference, is a big clue there.) He never has been. This is a man who said during the 1989 NFL Draft, after being selected No. 5 overall by the Atlanta Falcons, that if the Detroit Lions had selected him at No. 3, he “would’ve asked for so much money, they’d have had to put me on layaway.”

Even if he doesn’t win as much as Colorado hopes, Sanders will pursue top talent — players who want to perform on a larger stage than the FCS-level Jackson State allows — and impact athletes will be attracted to him. He got the No. 1 recruit in the nation, cornerback and wide receiver Travis Hunter, to play for him. (Hunter is following his coach to Boulder.) Now that Sanders is at an FBS school in a Power 5 conference, more stars will surely come.

But if Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers — going 27-5 in three seasons, including a 12-0 campaign in 2022 — he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor. And he’ll get the attention that such figures typically draw from media and fans. According to the Denver Post‘s Sean Keeler, at least 400 people attended what felt more like a celebration than a press conference.

Coach Prime wasn’t going to just win the press conference, which is what any school and fanbase want when a new coach is introduced.

If Colorado wanted someone to sit at a podium, and give platitudes like “We want to win the Pac-12 and get to the College Football Playoff,” “We’re going to build a program with young men you’ll be proud of,” or “It’s time to restore Colorado to the football glory we remember,” Sanders isn’t the guy for that.

“Do I look like a man that worries about anything? Did you see the way I walked in here? Did you see the swagger that was with me?” Sanders said during his introductory presser. “Worry? Baby, I am too blessed to be stressed. I have never been one for peer pressure. I put pressure on peers. I never wanted to worry, I make people worry. I don’t get down like that. I am too darn confident. That is my natural odor.”

To no surprise, Sanders announced his presence in Boulder with authority. He had cameras following him as he met with Colorado players for the first time. How many other coaches would have recorded what many would see as a private moment for posterity and post it online?

Sanders caused a stir by putting his players on notice. He warned them he was coming, telling them they’ll be pushed so hard they might quit. He told them to enter the transfer portal and go someplace else if they don’t like what he and his staff are going to do.

That candor, that brutal honesty surprised many fans and media when they saw it Monday morning. For some, that message might have felt too familiar. How many in media — or many other industries — have worried about their job status when a new boss takes over? What may have seemed secure days earlier is now uncertain.

But how do we know other coaches haven’t said something similar when taking over at a new job and addressing their team? We just hadn’t seen it before. But Sanders has been in the media. He knows social media. He understands controlling his own message and telling his story.

Sanders also knows what kind of value he brings to any venture he takes on. How many people would have left an NFL Network gig for Barstool Sports? But Sanders went to where his star would shine, where he was the main show, where he could be Deion Sanders. Maybe he’ll have to turn that down just a bit at Colorado. But athletic director Rick George knows who he hired.

Colorado could have made a safer choice, including previous head coaches Tom Herman, Bronco Mendenhall, or Gary Patterson. A top assistant from one of this year’s Playoff contenders — such as Georgia’s Todd Monken, USC’s Alex Grinch, Alabama’s Bill O’Brien, or Michigan’s Sherrone Moore — could also have been an option.

But what fun would that have been? What kind of tremor would Colorado have created in the college football news cycle? How much attention would a more conventional hire have received? Yes, Sanders has to recruit and win. However, if the objective was to make Colorado football a talking point again, that’s been accomplished.

There could be some friction too. Sanders has already been criticized for being a champion of HBCUs, only to bolt for a mainstream Power 5 program when the opportunity opened. (To be fair, other columnists have defended the move.)

At Jackson State, Sanders tried to control local media when he didn’t like how reporters were addressing him or covering a story. Last year during Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day, he balked at a Clarion-Ledger reporter addressing him as “Deion,” not “Coach,” insisting that Nick Saban would’ve been shown that respect. Earlier this season, Sanders admonished a school broadcaster (and assistant athletic director) for speaking to him more formally on camera than he did off-camera.

Will that fly among Boulder and Denver media, or the national college football press? It’s difficult to imagine. Maybe Sanders will ease back on his efforts to control reporters within a larger university environment, metropolitan area, and media market. But we’re also talking about Deion Sanders here. He doesn’t bend to outside forces. He makes them bend to him.

Sanders’ stint in Boulder — whether it lasts the five years of his contract and beyond, or less than that — will not be dull. There could be no better gift for the media covering Colorado football. Or college football, a sport already full of bold personalities, eccentric to unhinged fanbases, and outsized expectations. Coach Prime will fit right in.

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The Media Is Finally Strong Enough To Take On The Rose Bowl

“The whole Rose Bowl organization is stuck in a black and white TV world. The future playoff is Marty McFly stepping out of a Delorean and the Rose Bowl is the Enchantment Under the Seas Dance.”

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I am a sucker for packaging. Take me to a grocery store and show me a uniquely packaged sauce or condiment or waffle syrup and I’ll give it a try just based on bottle size or design. The one packaging ploy that has vexed me is the “biggie size” at the local drive through. I’m always interested in the largest drink possible but don’t necessarily want a grain silo full of fries passed through my window. The College Football Playoff is going “biggie sized” in 2024 and I’ll take all of that I can get.

The College Football Playoff Committee made official last week what had long been speculated, that the four-team playoff field would increase to 12 teams starting with the 2024 season. This was an inevitable move for money and access reasons. The power conferences and Notre Dame stand to gain significantly in TV revenue and the “non-power” conferences finally get the consistent access they have long craved.

What may have finally pushed the new playoff over the finish line was the end of an ultimate game of chicken between college football powers and the Rose Bowl.

There is a scene from the movie The Hunt for Red October when the rogue Russian nuclear submarine is trying to avoid a torpedo from another Russian submarine. The American captain, aptly played by Scott Glenn, tells Jack Ryan; “The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.”

The Rose Bowl finally flinched.

The only thing that delayed an earlier move to this new world was the insistence of the Rose Bowl Game to cling to the bygone era of the antiquated bowl system. Only in college football could an organization that runs a parade hold such outsized influence but, until recently, the Big Ten and PAC 12 gladly enabled their addiction to a specific television time slot.

Dan Wetzel is a Yahoo! Sports National Columnist, he also wrote the book Death to the BCS which laid out a very early argument for dumping the bowl system for a Playoff.

“The single hardest thing to explain to people is that the Rose Bowl and its obsession of having the sunset in the third quarter of its game was a serious impediment to a billion dollar playoff,” Wetzel wrote. 

Wetzel makes the point that simply moving the game up one hour would’ve helped the playoff TV schedule immensely, “They were adamant that they get to have an exclusive window on New Year’s Day, the best time of all, not only would they not give that up but they wouldn’t even move it an hour earlier (to help Playoff television scheduling) because then the sun would set at halftime.  It was so absurd but for a lot of years they got so much protection.”

We may never know what it was that finally forced the Rose Bowl to play ball with the rest of the college football world. There are many possibilities, not the least of which was the presence of SoFi Stadium just down the road. The College Football Playoff committee could have always taken the bold step of scheduling games at SoFi, in the Los Angeles market, opposite the Rose Bowl TV window to try to squeeze them out.

It is also possible the Rose Bowl scanned the landscape and realized that, if a 12-team playoff already existed, their 2023 game would’ve been Washington (10-2) versus Purdue (8-5). That shock of reality came with the understanding Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Utah and USC would enthusiastically choose a 12 team playoff bid over a Rose Bowl invite. That was the future the Rose Bowl faced with the departure of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten and the 12 team playoff gobbling up the top remaining PAC 12 teams.

I have proposed that theory to many people in the college football world and have received some version of this response from many of them: “They really wouldn’t care who is playing as long as they can still have their parade.”

That is one of the issues at play here; in many ways, the whole Rose Bowl organization is stuck in a black and white TV world. The future playoff is Marty McFly stepping out of a Delorean and the Rose Bowl is the Enchantment Under the Seas Dance.

One other possibility is that the television executives of the major networks, primarily FOX, may have put the pressure on the Big Ten and Pac 12 to have a little less interest in keeping college football stuck in the late 1970’s. It makes sense, FOX has nothing to gain by the Rose Bowl keeping influence. Fox may have everything to gain by getting a media rights cut of the future playoff. Many believe FOX was a driving force behind USC and UCLA bolting to the Big Ten. If that much is true, pressing for less Rose Bowl influence is child’s play.

No matter what was the catalyst to the expanded playoff, it worked and the fans benefited. College football is moving into a brave new world all because the college football powers finally stood up to the old man yelling at the clouds.

Turns out, it was all a game of chicken. And the Rose Bowl flinched.

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Andrew Perloff Learned From The Master of Sports Radio on Television

“I think I’m really lucky because I went from a really fun and supportive place in the Dan Patrick Show and have now transitioned into what I would also call a very fun and supportive place at CBS Sports Radio/Audacy.”

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It’s a fact of life that not everybody loves their job. To have a job that you love and have fun at is pretty special. For Andrew Perloff, life is good.

“I’m just watching so much sports during the week,” said Perloff. “I don’t come up for air watching sports and I love that.  And the fact that we get paid to sit on the couch for 72 hours…oh my God…it really is the best job in the world.”

That job is being the co-host of Maggie & Perloff weekdays from 3pm to 6pm eastern time on CBS Sports Radio and simulcast on CBS Sports Network. Perloff was an on-air personality on The Dan Patrick Show beginning in 2009 before making the switch to CBS Sports Radio for the new show with Maggie Gray that launched this past January.

And so far, the move has worked out.

“I’m really happy,” said Perloff. “I think I’m really lucky because I went from a really fun and supportive place in the Dan Patrick Show and have now transitioned into what I would also call a very fun and supportive place at CBS Sports Radio/Audacy. I miss the DP Show but I love my new co-workers. (Vice President of Programming) Spike Eskin and (New York Market President) Chris Oliviero have been great. We get a lot of support and a lot of help from those guys and they’ve made the transition so much easier.”

When a new radio program begins, chemistry between the hosts is vital to the success of the growth and success of the show. In the case of Maggie & Perloff, they had an existing friendship from their time working together at Sports Illustrated. 

And that relationship is certainly evident to the listeners.

“I’m having a great time with Maggie,” said Perloff who was an editor and contributing writer at Sports Illustrated and SI.com. “We knew each other pretty well at Sports Illustrated. We’ve been friends for a while now. I have gotten to know her a lot better through the show. It took a couple of months to really find our rhythm and get the show to where we wanted to get it.”

There has been a fun and evolving dynamic to the on and off-air chemistry between the hosts.  Perloff is from Philadelphia and a die-hard Eagles fan while Gray is a fan of the Buffalo Bills.  The Eagles have the best record in the NFC at 11-1 while the Bills are among the best teams in the AFC at 9-3.

Perloff has come to understand just how much Gray loves the Bills and there is a chance that their two teams could meet come February 12th in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII.

“She’s a very passionate Buffalo Bills fan,” said Perloff.  “I always knew that, but to actually sit there on a daily basis and see her sweat out every detail about the Buffalo Bills has been a lot of fun.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re on a collision course for the Super Bowl and we’re already trying to figure out a Super Bowl bet.”

The easy wager to set up would involve food.

If the Bills win, Perloff would have to give Gray some Philly cheesesteaks.

If the Eagles win, Gray would have to furnish Perloff with some Buffalo Wings.

But it appears as if management wants there to be more at stake for the potential bet.

“Our boss wants us to do something more severe,” said Perloff. “The truth is I’m an Eagles fan so I’ve already won my Super Bowl. Maggie, on the other hand, has no idea what that feels like. I almost feel sorry for her because it’s tough being a Bills fan.

“We have a pretty big rivalry with our team because she’s a Mets fan and I’m a Phillies fan. We get along great expect for those areas.”

The Maggie & Perloff chemistry extends throughout the show and that includes producer Michael Samtur who has his own rooting interests.

Samtur is a fan of the New York Jets who are having a better-than-expected season.

“When the Jets win, I don’t want to see Mike on Monday mornings because he’s smiling so much,” said Perloff. “He’s an unbelievably cynical Jets fan…it’s hysterically funny.

“Mike is doing a great job. It’s really an all-hands-on deck show. I think we all sort of kind of wear each other’s hats at certain times.”

An added element to the show is that it is also simulcast on CBS Sports Network. If there’s one thing that Perloff learned from working with Dan Patrick — who also has a simulcast on television — is that the program is a radio show that just happens to have cameras in the studio. At the end of the day, it’s a radio show on television and not a television show on the radio.

“That’s also my philosophy,” said Perloff. “From a logistical standpoint, to do a good radio show you can’t really focus on the TV side of it. For us, the foundation of the base is to really focus on the radio show and the TV and video comes naturally after that.”

Perloff’s resume also includes writing and co-writing an assortment of magazine stories, books, and television shows while also hosting his own weekend show on NBC Sports Radio from 2016 to 2019. But it was working on The Dan Patrick Show where he learned an important aspect of being a talk show host that he continues to live by at CBS Sports Radio.

What he learned was that you just have to be yourself.

“Dan always wanted us to be authentic in the sense that don’t try to be someone you’re not,” said Perloff. “Don’t try to come up with hot takes just for the sake of hot takes. When you listen to Dan Patrick on the radio, you’re really hearing Dan. He’s not a radically different person off air.”

This is a huge time of the year for sports radio. 

The NFL’s regular season is winding down and college football is heading towards bowl season and the College Football Playoff. Throw in the NBA, college basketball, NHL, and the World Cup and there’s so much going on in the sports world to talk about. 

Perloff can’t get enough of it.

“I love it so much,” said Perloff. “College football is just huge right now. When we bring up a college football story, the phone lines just light up which I think is a reflection of the growing interest in that sport. This is the best time of the year. It’s incredible.”

As Maggie & Perloff head towards their first anniversary on the air, there are goals and expectations heading into 2023. The show has grown tremendously over the course of the first year and while that may have occurred faster than expected, the hope is that the trend continues.

“I’ve been a little surprised by how fast the audience has grown and our connection with the audience,” said Perloff. “One of the great things about The Dan Patrick Show was the community feel with the show and all of the listeners. That’s definitely growing with us and I’d like to see that really take off next year. It makes it so much more fun when you’re doing the show and everybody is along for the ride.”

It’s been a great ride so far and it should be interesting to see what happens if that ride includes an Andrew Perloff vs Maggie Gray Super Bowl matchup in February. It’s not even because the breakdown of Eagles vs Bills would be fascinating but the audience wants more.

That Super Bowl bet would certainly be intriguing.   

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