Sports Media Musings: Let’s Play Angry Birds On The Radio!

birds

GET INVOLVED, GUYS: Due to popular demand, I’ll be running a Media Musings Mailbag soon; in fact I may post it tonight, but more likely tomorrow morning. To contribute to the fun and games, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

John Dennis & Gerry Callahan vs. Fred  Toettcher

(Because A Team-Friendly Contract Is Worth Embarrassing Yourself For)

First the build up: Back in late 2011, Andy Gresh called me an “idiot media blogger” on his radio show (Real rich coming from a dude whose immediate reaction to the Jerry Sandusky scandal was that Joe Paterno‘s legacy would remain intact. Really hit the nail on the head there, Geraldo Rivera. Nice work!).

I’d rank Gresh crushing me on the airwaves right up there with the first time I showed up unprepared for a pop quiz in high school or the time I couldn’t figure out how to unhook a girl’s bra strap while Dashboard Confessional was playing  in the background. Just grand memories. (Introspective Song Choice: GLOOOOOORRRY DAYS! DUH DUH DUH DUNNNN, GLORRRRY DAYSSS!!!)

Well, since then, I’ve gotten a few angry emails, a few nice emails, blah, blah, blah — but never my name came up in conversation on the air …


When Gerry Callahan responded to me saying it was more than one person John Dennis was irate with, my interest piqued. “GOLD, JERRY,” I said out loud to no one in particular. And hey, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me thought, “Could it be? Will I have another moment in the sun?? I HAVE TO CALL MOM!” All for nothing, guys. (Sorry mom.)

John Dennis was perturbed at Toettcher (and Gresh) for his rant about Tom Brady’s letter to Dennis about his contract situation on Sports Tonight Wednesday night.

A few notes from this morning:

– First of all, SOME INSIDE MUSINGS for you guys: I get my fair share of emails from media members, many whom I write about. I would never publish these exchanges without consent, mainly because I’m not an idiot. RELATED: Evidently, John Dennis is an idiot. He and Brady had correspondence about why he didn’t want to talk about his contract on the radio; and, in turn, Dennis decided it was appropriate to disseminate the letter on the very medium Brady wanted to avoid. In the name of ratings, I guess Dennis subscribes to the saying, “Don’t ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness.” According to Dennis, Brady’s not happy with him. No matter — I suspect Tom won’t have to deal with him next season anyway.

– Second of all, everyone involved in this episode should be embarrassed. Dial it back, guys. This is the dumbest debate ever. And there have been plenty of dumb debates in this town (Clay Buchholz went to a pool party and signed autographs. DOES HE GET ‘IT’??? DISCUSS!)

– Dennis said he and his cohorts aren’t allowed fire insults back at “Sports Hub” personalities. In retrospect, another great executive decision by the Entercom brass. I like it: BE ABOVE IT ALL (Except, of course, in the ratings. Currently, they are below it all in the ratings.)

–  From the Semantics, minor details, and stuff everyone is overlooking department: The headline, “Toettcher: Screw You Brady,” is more than misleading. He was posed the question of how other players should react, and not necessarily his own reaction.

– “Dennis and Callahan” insinuating that all of “The Sports Hub” is in bed with the Patriots is laughable. This is a station that Michael Felger spent the better part of 2009-10 getting hot and bothered over how great the Jets organization is. The Jets for crying out loud — the same team interested in Brady Quinn! Worse, your station is LOSING TO THIS RHETORIC. I need to shower. Or a drink. Maybe I’ll start drinking in the shower … Is it noon yet?

– I don’t think this was a planned rant to combat the return of Rich Shertenlieb. I do think this was a planned attack at “The Sports Hub” in order to garner ratings. That’s totally fine. “Toucher and Rich” have been employing the same tactics for over three years now. Welcome to the show, guys.

– Does Toettcher, Gresh, or anyone else REALLY think NFL teams are going to the bargaining table tell agents that THOMAS EDWARD PATRICK  BRADY TOOK A TEAM-FRIENDLY DEAL. YOUR CLIENT SHOULD TOO!!! If so, we have bigger problems in the media than I initially anticipated.

– How funny is it that, despite this posturing, Gregg Doyel still comes off as the biggest tool since Brady signed his extension? Talk about setting the bar.

– Kirk Minihane wanted no part of this discussion. None.

–  Does John Dennis walk around with a thesaurus? Love how he whipped out the word “unctuous” multiple times. So officious with his tone and vernacular rangggggeeee. CLASSIC DENITO.

Brady Contract Reaction Typical of Modern Media

If you were doing a case study about the modern news cycle, this Tom Brady contract extension that broke on Monday afternoon might be the ideal subject.

First, Peter King absolutely deserves credit for being the first with the story. He broke it, good for him.

The victory lap he took yesterday morning though, was a bit much.

Way to stay humble, Peter.

The story has been updated so many times in the last 36 hours or so, it’s hard to keep track of who is reporting what details and analysis about the contract. Every few minutes it seemed like someone, somewhere was “reporting” something different about the contract – the amount guaranteed, the clauses in the deal, the base salaries in the final three years, the cap hits, whether he really took less money, whatever. Some of it conflicts, some is the same, some just look at it from different angles. It might be hard to know which ones to believe or not.

Others speculate about the motivation of the deal. They insist that this extension was done with the expectation, if not the edict that the Patriots re-sign Brady’s pal Wes Welker. You’ve got agents crying to Mike Florio about how the deal will hurt their clients. You’ve got some saying if Brady were truly unselfish, he’d play for the minimum. Others insist this shows how evil the Patriots really are because now they’re just going to go cheap with everyone.

It’s all part of the modern, constant news cycle. I’ve probably ranted on this before, but this might be a case where the old days were better. There would be a gap when all the information could be gathered before it was put into print, or on the air. It’s nice to have news instantly, but it is also nice to have accurate news. King insists his story is all you need and is 100% accurate. Maybe it is.

In any event, the Patriots and Brady both reached a mutually beneficial agreement. Maybe that’s all that needs to be said. However, there are columns to be written, and hours of on-air time to be filled. So everything is dissected and analyzed ad naseum.

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A couple of updates on former Boston TV sportscasters:

Former WBZ sports director and anchor Bob Lobel has had a rough go of it in the last several years. In his column today for GoLocalWorcester, Lobel writes that “For the past four years, with three back surgeries and two broken femur bone heads from falls, I cannot walk without the aid of crutches. It means I can’t stand up without assistance.”

Yesterday, Frank Shorr of The Sports Institute at Boston University reported that former Boston sportscaster Bill O’Connell, who worked at WCVB and on Channels 7 and 56 among others, had passed away in Florida.

If you don’t remember O’Connell, here are some clips from his time on the air.

Sports Media Musings: Columnists Gone ‘Cray’

Is everyone alright? I only ask because sports scribes everywhere are producing work that, frankly, is wildly absurd. I know, I know: The quixotic endeavour of  journalism commentary has long been dead. I get that. And somehow, someway, Deadspin has become the voice of reason, leaving major outlets (e.g. ESPN, Fox Sports, and CBS) behind.

It started with news that ESPN was hiring Jay Mariotti as a freelancer.

I think the WorldWide Leader gets a great deal of criticism levied their way just for being ESPN. It gets old sometimes. But then Rob Parker makes race-baiting comments about RGIII, Skip Bayless continues to do Skip Bayless things (and collect a paycheck), and the list goes on and on (and on). To its credit, ESPN eliminated Parker. A good move, for sure. But then it brings in Mariotti? Confounding. It’s like giving up Burger King for Lent, but then embracing Wendys. Even on an one-off assignment, this wreaks of strangeness.

Mariotti, who has taken a sabbatical from writing, is loathed in the industry, mostly for being a jerk and writing sensationalistic (Read: crappy) columns. On a personal basis, if you’re not a fan of spousal abuse, Mariotti probably isn’t your cup tea, either. With so many other writers available (Hey! ESPN! Look over here!), why does the four-letter network bring in Mariotti for a freelance assignment? Odd choice.

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You’d never believe it, but Jason Whitlock wrote a stupid column. Yeah, this thing was actually published. I’m not saying there is — or isn’t — a homophobia problem in the NFL. But Whitlock irresponsibly conflating the Manti Te’o situation with coming out of the closet in an NFL locker room is a reach at best; an ill-fated attempt to bolster his crusade against Roger Goodell for whatever it is he’s botched most recently. (Seriously, is there a more hated commissioner? Goodell is terrible, but come on, David Stern curiously vetoed a trade involving a league-owned franchise for crying out loud! Gary Bettman nearly killed ANOTHER NHL season! And Bud Selig oversaw the steroid era!!)

A few fun excepts:

Goodell could and should free the gays.

Let me stop there for a moment.

Please do. Just stop. Oh wait — you’re going to keep writing, aren’t you? (Side note: “Free the gays”? There are so ma– Really???? … WTF!)

I am not stating an opinion on Te’o’s sexuality. I don’t have any inside or outside information on Lennay Kekua’s widower. I do, however, believe Mike Florio of NBC’s ProfootballTalk is correct in his belief that the Notre Dame linebacker’s sexuality is a topic of high interest for his prospective NFL employers.

Phewwww. Don’t worry, guys. He’s going to bring in Mike Florio: Purveyor of journalism! Thank god!

Because if Te’o is hiding in the closet, he is highly vulnerable to exploitation and extortion. There is a popular theory that the possibility of hustling money from Te’o — and not love — motivated Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the mastermind and voice behind Kekua.

It could all be a coincidence, but Te’o just happened to have a horrendous performance in the BCS Championship as the Kekua fraud was unraveling. Maybe he was distracted. Or maybe the wrong people knew his secrets.

I thought he had no inside information?

Whatever the case, difficult questions must be asked, and they should come from the commissioner’s chair. It’s Goodell’s job to protect The Shield. It’s Goodell’s job to protect the employees.

The best protection for the league and the players is the freeing of the gays.

WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE! (Side Note: I thought the “Free the gays” thing was a typo. I was wrong – ROLLIN’ WITH IT)

Let’s be honest. I think it’s reasonable to assume that 15 percent of NFL players are gay and/or bisexual.

Doing the numbers … Yes, your baseless claims seem to add up, keep going! You’re almost there!

Goodell should use this Te’o situation as a convenient excuse to enact tough measures and standards of behavior that attempt to eliminate the homophobic hostility within football locker rooms.

I can see the edict now …

Goodell: Fake Internet girlfriends can happen to you! Also, if you’re gay … We’re totally cool with it!

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The last shot taken before dry heaving ensued was CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel taking a hatchet to the notion that Tom Brady is a hero. BECAUSE WE NEEDED CLARIFICATION!

No reasonable person believes Brady is a ‘hero’ for taking a deal below market value as Doyel insinuates. He isn’t altruistic nor is he a philanthropist. But if you’re an absolutist, like Doyel, then it’s all or nothing. Take it away, Gregg!

Tom Brady is not heroic or noble or even unselfish for signing a contract Monday for considerably less than his market value. To be those things, he would have had to sign a contract for the NFL minimum.

And I’m kind of wondering why he didn’t.

Me too. Me too.

Being honest here.

Is it a red flag when you need to give an “honesty” disclaimer in your column? Methinks so.

Nobody in his position has ever done that, of course, but nobody — and I mean nobody — has ever had the freedom to be as altruistic as Tom Brady. His net worth is in the vicinity of $100 million, and he earns millions more in endorsements, and that’s not even what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about Gisele.

Who?

To be fair, Brady is unselfish in the sense that he’s not selfish.

So it’s either one … or the other? No gray areas. Got it.

A player’s contract is more than his salary. It’s his status symbol. That applies to almost everybody in professional sports — but it doesn’t apply to Tom Brady. He doesn’t need the biggest salary in the Patriots locker room to have the utmost respect of everyone there.

Respect > $20 million > Logic. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW, PREACCCCCCHHHH!!!!!

He’s sort of a team player, yes. He made a gesture. But if he’s going to think of his team a little bit, why not think of it a lot?

Let’s go a step further: Brady should start paying the Patriots for the right to play quarterback. THAT’S A TEAM PLAYER.

But let’s have some perspective, please.

Pretty please? Pretty, pretty please!?!

OK, for some perspective, here is Doyel’s bio on CBS Sports:

Hi. Hello. Congratulations, you found me. And I know why you’re here — it’s because of that column you just read. It angered you. So here you are, trying to decipher my motives.

Good luck.

I can’t CRACK THE CODE. Hold on, I think — yes, I figured something out — you’re just a troll. That’s all. Just like the rest of them, only with a bigger forum. You probably took an ethics class in college, and you most definitely tried joining the debate team. You play devil’s advocate hoping not that you’ll convey any greater point that no one considered, but that it will piss people off.

Hmm. And to think: It only took me reading, the words, “Being honest” as a disclaimer. LUCK MUST HAVE BEEN ON MY SIDE.

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Finally, this Deadspin Q&A with the National Sports Journalism Center on how they handled the Te’o story is incredible. Read it.

As always, thanks for reading, give me a shout on Twitter: @Hadfield__