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Rodney Harrison on Pre-Super Bowl Aaron Donald Interview: ‘I Was Stunned’

“I would like to see him come back and play because once you walk away, there’s no coming back.”

Ricky Keeler

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NBC Sports

Before Super Bowl LVI last Sunday in Los Angeles, viewers tuned in for NBC’s pregame coverage and watched Rodney Harrison’s interview with Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Fans did get the interview, but they also heard Harrison reveal surprising news about what Donald might do if the Rams won the game (which they eventually did):

“If he wins a Super Bowl,” Harrison told Jac Collinsworth, “there’s a strong possibility that he could walk away from the game and retire.”

Harrison appeared on The Dan Patrick Show Thursday and even he was stunned when Donald told him about that possibility in the interview:

“When I had a chance to speak with Aaron, we spent 15-20 minutes. I asked him how many more years do you want to play?” Harrison explained. “You’re at eight. I’m thinking, ‘Hey man, you’re going to play another seven years to get at least 15.'”

“He looked at me and he was like, ‘I tell my teammates all the time but they don’t believe me that if I win this Super Bowl because of how I prepare and how hard I work on my body year-round’ and he mentions his family, he’s accomplished everything so it’s very believable. He said there’s a chance I could walk away. I was stunned.”

At the Rams’ championship celebration parade, Donald talked about possibly coming back next year. Even though Harrison could be the one that breaks the news if Donald did announce his retirement, he would like to see Donald come back for another year:

“I saw him at the parade and he was emotional,” said Harrison. “There’s a lot of emotional type things before you initially win that Super Bowl. Your mind is playing tricks on you. After you win that Super Bowl, your mind is playing tricks on you.

“I would like to see him come back and play because once you walk away, there’s no coming back. You don’t want to sit at home and wish you could’ve done this, could’ve done that. He’s got plenty of time this offseason. We will see what happens.”

As the interview progressed, Patrick asked Harrison if Donald was the best defensive player he had seen, which would be great accolades from a former player of Harrison’s caliber. He said that Donald was someone he ended up having a strong connection to because of the way the pass rusher plays the game: 

“I used to say Lawrence Taylor, then I was really, really high on J.J. Watt when he was at the top of his career,” Harrison said. “When I saw Aaron Donald, I saw something different. I saw a guy I could connect with, a guy that I absolutely fell in love with how hard he plays the game, how tough, how passionate he is.”

Maybe that connection could have led to Donald revealing to Harrison that retirement was a possibility. Either way, it led to one of the more talked-about moments that people will remember about Super Bowl LVI. 

Sports Radio News

16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets

The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.

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Sports Radio News

New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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