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The NFL’s Two-Week Break Before the Super Bowl Backfired With Bad Publicity

Would any of the NFL’s recent controversies have received so much oxygen if not for its usual one-week hiatus providing the opportunity?

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Do you think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wishes there hadn’t been a week off between the league’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl this year?

No, the NFL probably won’t change having its usual two-week break before the Super Bowl. As former league spokesman Greg Aiello told The Guardian in 2016, “The concept was to give the promotion of the game time to build.”

“The two-week break has been standard procedure since the first Super Bowl,” he added. “There have been one-week breaks a handful of times when circumstances dictated it. Another benefit is that it gives the two teams more rest and recovery from injury.”

That “rest and recovery from injury” line will surely cause media and fans to smirk. The NFL added a game to its regular-season this past year, expanding each team’s schedule to 17 matchups.

As Aiello said, the extra week before the Super Bowl is all about promotion. Yes, there are travel considerations for the teams, league personnel, media, and fans. But really, the additional time provides an opportunity to ramp up the hype for the big game, to build anticipation to the one sporting event most everyone in America still seems to watch together.

The week off also presents an opportunity for football-related promotion and stories that don’t relate to the pending game. Tom Brady almost certainly planned to announce his retirement during the NFL’s two-week break. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington beat him to it by reporting the news first and creating three days of unnecessary drama.

Is it possible that Brady was forced to reveal his plans before he was ready, perhaps after the Super Bowl? Maybe. But Brady and his people have shown they know all about marketing. Announcing his retirement as the NFL went into its showcase event, presenting a story that nearly everyone involved with the Super Bowl would be asked about, sure seems more likely.

The Washington Football Team scheduled the announcement of its new name while the NFL made preparations for Super Bowl LVI. Could the team have announced they were now the Commanders after the season ended, with media and fans exhaling? Sure.

But team executives and marketers knew the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl was the ideal time to maximize exposure and create a whole lot of publicity before the focus turned to the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.

Washington’s front office also likely intended for the Commanders announcement, logo and uniform rollout, and fan reaction to overshadow the congressional hearing on the NFL’s investigation into workplace sexual misconduct allegations.

Oh, and did the U.S. House Oversight Committee schedule that hearing for the week before the Super Bowl with the belief that it wouldn’t be lost amid the football news and hype coming from Los Angeles for The Big Game? Hmm.

However, the party that took full advantage of getting full media attention and dominating the sports news cycle and sports radio airwaves was former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores and his lawyers explaining their lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in the NFL’s hiring practices for head coaches.

Flores and his team were on virtually every network to discuss the lawsuit and the coach speaking out against NFL team owners’ bias against Black coaching candidates, demonstrated by the lack of Black head coaches and the embarrassing text message between Flores and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The trio appeared on CBS Mornings, CNN New Day, ESPN’s Get Up, and NPR among many other morning and daytime shows. Later in the evening, Flores and his team were on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes.

This was an all-out blitz. It could be called a “zero blitz,” which is a popular term on football telecast these days. But for Flores, “zero” might refer to the number of TV shows on which he and his lawyers didn’t appear. They were everywhere!

Yet would any of these stories gotten the oxygen they received if the NFL hadn’t taken its usual one-week hiatus and provided the opportunity?

Brady, the Washington Commanders, and Flores certainly could have tried. But with football media in Los Angeles to cover the Super Bowl and sports radio devoting time to previewing the Bengals-Rams matchup, it’s doubtful those three developments would’ve gotten the same attention.

No, they likely wouldn’t have been ignored and Goodell might have even had to address those matters in his annual “state of the union” press conference. But he also would’ve had some cover, possibly claiming that he and league officials hadn’t had proper time to look over sudden controversies and craft a proper response. (Would media and fans have bought that? No, and they shouldn’t.)

But maybe, just maybe, the past week and all of the negative publicity that these stories rained down on the NFL has Goodell, league executives, and team owners evaluating whether or not the two-week break before the Super Bowl creates too much opportunity for bad press. Many believe no week off makes for a better game and reduces the hype that make people just want to watch the game so all the noise will stop anyway.

Now, Roger Goodell might think that getting rid of that extra week could end up helping the NFL more than all that promotion and build-up. Those happy with dirty laundry getting aired out might think a week of free time might be best. It sure was this time around.

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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