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Bickley & Marotta: NFL ‘Devalued’ Sport With Thursday Night Football

“It’s just laughable how hypocritical the NFL can be to even stand on the platforms of player safety.”

Derek Futterman

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This week’s Thursday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals was a thriller, ending with Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas coming up with an interception to beat his former team. The highly-anticipated quarterback matchup between 37-year-old veteran Aaron Rodgers and 24-year-old newcomer Kyler Murray kept fans entertained all throughout the contest, despite other star players, such as Green Bay’s Davante Adams and Arizona’s J.J. Watt, being out for the contest.

On Friday morning, Bickley and Marotta on 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station in Phoenix recapped the primetime contest and let callers give their thoughts and opinions on the Cardinals’ first loss of the season. One caller, who said he drives for a living, mentioned the shortcomings of Thursday Night Football as a product for the National Football League, and how the change in game scheduling for teams ultimately hinders the on-field product.

Thursday Night Football continues to be a disgrace for the NFL,” said the caller Friday morning. “Players aren’t able to play because they don’t get enough rest; they are dropping all over the field. Every Thursday night, it’s the same thing.”

The NFL recently negotiated new media rights deals with various broadcast networks, such as Fox, NBC, and ABC; however, Fox’s contract to broadcast Thursday Night Football, in which they pay $660 million a year to the league, was recently renegotiated to end at the conclusion of this NFL season. According to the Standard Media Index, the average cost of a 30-second advertisement on Fox’s Thursday Night Football broadcasts was just under $500,000, and the league expects to generate even more revenue with its new deal with Amazon Prime. 

Amazon is set to pay $1.32 billion annually to become the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football for the next 11 seasons, the first sole streaming provider to secure a broadcast deal of this magnitude with the National Football League. The subscription-based streaming service seeks to innovate the way sports broadcasts are presented, and will lead what is thought to be a new era in multimedia dissemination.

While having an exclusive, primetime contest makes sense from a logistical standpoint for the NFL in order to maximize ratings and revenue, Bickley and Marotta agree that from a football standpoint, it is not exactly practical in offering the best product on-the-field, sacrificing long-term health and sustainability for short-term gain.

“It’s just laughable how hypocritical the NFL can be to even stand on the platforms of player safety,” said Dan Bickley, co-host of the morning drive program and former columnist at The Arizona Sun. “They’ve just devalued the game.”

While a recent study performed by scholars at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Northwestern University suggested eliminating Thursday Night Football would not significantly impact the injury rate, fans around the league continue to question the NFL’s commitment to player safety. After all, Thursday Night Football does significantly shorten the practice and ramp-up time for NFL teams who previously played in a Sunday contest that calendar week.

Referencing a dangerous play that happened in the game, co-host Vince Marotta echoed Bickley’s sentiments, saying the league continues to be duplicitous in its commitment to protecting the players.

“Immediately prior [to the dangerous play] happening was a public service announcement [about] how important players safety is,” said Marotta, “and I thought to myself, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ And it really hits home when it’s a team you’re invested in [playing] on Thursday Night Football.”

Thursday Night Football broadcasts will continue on Fox for the remainder of the 2021 NFL season before shifting to Amazon Prime a year earlier than originally anticipated. Streaming is largely thought of as the future of watching live sports, and with the move, the National Football League will attract and draw a new audience to platforms such as Amazon Prime to watch the game’s best go at it in prime time for 15 regular season games — even if it superficially augments the risk for the occurrence of injuries before, during or after the game.

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Jason Fitz: Keyshawn Johnson Cannot Be Serious With Trevor Lawrence Take

“There is no way Trevor Lawrence is the eighth-best quarterback out of eight left in the playoffs after doing what he did after the first quarter of that last game.”

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Jason Fitz

When he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021, Trevor Lawrence was heralded as a once-in-a-lifetime type of prospect. While his career had a bit of a rocky start, he has shown a lot in year two, including leading one of the largest come-from-behind victories in playoff history Saturday night against the Chargers. Jason Fitz cannot believe that isn’t enough to impress Keyshawn Johnson.

The ESPN Radio morning man ranked the eight remaining starting quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs and put Lawrence dead last.

“Trevor Lawrence at eight? I know Keyshawn Johnson is out there in California, but I want to party with Key because obviously, he was doing a little partying before this show, Harry,” Jason Fitz told his partner on Tuesday’s edition of Fitz & Harry. “There is no way Trevor Lawrence is the eighth-best quarterback out of eight left in the playoffs after doing what he did after the first quarter of that last game.”

Fitz noted that during the season people started calling Lawrence “Trevor Tangerines” for the daringness he continued to show even after things looked bad for him and the Jaguars. He said that on Saturday night, he should have been called “Trevor Watermelons”.

Jason Fitz acknowledged that it would be hard to rank anyone ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Jalen Hurts, which made up Keyshawn Johnson’s top four. But Fitz doesn’t think this is a matter of Lawrence being disrespected for being number eight, behind Brock Purdy, who began the season as the 49ers’ third-string quarterback, instead of number seven.

“Considering the whole body of work and the way that Trevor Lawrence has played since week nine, you wouldn’t have to press hard to put Daniel Jones below Trevor Lawrence.”

He added that Keyshawn Johnson is also being influenced by the uniform Trevor Lawrence wears.

“I think there’s a little element that speaks to the fact that we have a perception on certain organizations. I’m just saying — four interceptions or not — this is the analogy I keep making this week: If Trevor Lawrence had the bounceback game with the star in his helmet as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, today the conversation would be like ‘Well, you can’t hold him down the whole game’.”

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Boomer Esiason: ManningCast Proves Peyton Manning Can Never Be a Coach

“He’s got no patience whatsoever.” 

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Don’t expect to see Peyton Manning on an NFL sideline. He may be one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen, but Manning isn’t cut out to be a coach according to Boomer Esiason.

On Tuesday morning, Esiason and the rest of the Boomer & Gio cast listened to highlights of the previous night’s ManningCast. They enjoyed the audio of Peyton Manning losing his temper after Cowboys kicker Brent Maher missed his third extra-point attempt of the night.

The clip, which has since gone viral, includes Manning asking if a kicker can be cut at halftime of a playoff game.

“This is why Peyton can’t coach,” Esiason said in response to the audio. “He’s got no patience whatsoever.” 

The chemistry and authenticity of Peyton and Eli is often cited as the appeal of the ManningCast. Esiason noted that was what is on display in moments the brothers cannot control.

Boomer Esiason was a guest on the week eight ManningCast, which featured his former team, — the Cincinnati Bengals — playing Cleveland Browns. Esiason said at the time that while it was a distracting way to try and follow a game, being a part of the show is a lot of fun. He echoed that praise Tuesday morning.

“Those things are really unbelievably done. I mean, they are funny.”

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NHL All-Star Game Airing Exclusively on SiriusXM After Contract Extension

The game — held on Saturday, February 4th — will feature Steve Kouleas and Gord Stellick in the booth. Scott Laughlin will work as the broadcast’s rinkside reporter.

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SiriusXM and the NHL have reached an extension that will see the satellite service continue to carry every league contest. The new multi-year deal will run through the 2028-2029 season.

Part of the deal includes the NHL All-Star Game airing exclusively on SiriusXM. The game had previously been distributed by Westwood One before Sports USA Media took over the rights in 2021.

The game — held on Saturday, February 4th — will feature Steve Kouleas and Gord Stellick in the booth. Scott Laughlin will work as the broadcast’s rinkside reporter. All three are regulars on NHL Network Radio. Stellick and Laughlin serve as hosts of NHL Morning Skate, while Kouleas hosts the station’s afternoon show, The Power Play.

NHL Network Radio will also provide live coverage of the league’s All-Star Media Day on Thursday, February 2nd and the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday, February 3rd.

The deal includes SiriusXM continuing to produce and distribute SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on the platform for the duration of the contract.

“Hockey fans are among the most passionate sports fans, and our long-term relationship with the NHL enables us to deliver those fans across North America comprehensive access to the league, offering them live broadcasts of every game and the only 24/7 NHL channel in audio,” said SiriusXM’s President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein.

“Live sports, coupled with great, in-depth sports talk, is one of the key elements of our programming and we are very pleased to be extending our content agreement with the NHL for many more years.”

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