Mediots! Series: John Dennis As The Last Professional Internet Tough Guy

John Dennis

January has too much promise of the New Year. February is all about love. March, though? March is where we heat up the snark. Once a week, we’ll profile why we strongly dislike members of the local and national sports media, in what I’m calling the Mediots! Series. 

Here’s the biggest indictment of John Dennis: I can’t tell if he’s Jack Nicholson playing Lt. Jessup, an ornery, morally corrupt HO-RAAHHH dude, shown below demanding respect; or if he’s Tom Cruise, who Jessup mocks, calling out his “Harvard mouth.”

Come to think of it, he’s probably both. And that’s why John Dennis is awful.

In terms of a national comparison, John Dennis is Bob Costas. Which, all told, is a massive insult to Bob Costas. In actuality, John Dennis is how a growing number of people perceive Bob Costas, meaning the version of Bob Costas that’s as insufferable and annoying and pompous as the rest of the world views him.

The comparison coalesces when we think about how each personality looks at the Internet. For instance, in 2008, Bob Costas had Will Leitch-Buzz Bissinger-Braylon Edwards(!!) on Costas Now to discuss the new media, and it immediately became clear Costas had a vague understanding of the sports blogosphere, which is to say he had NO CLUE about the blogosphere. (By the way, Bissinger is the real showstopper in the clip, holy shit — his reputation was forever tarnished. Acting like a lunatic will do that to you.)

Re-reading Leitch’s dissertation of the debacle on New York magazine’s website displays the true issue: For all he has accomplished, Bob cares too much about what other people think of him. That’s a recipe for loads of snark; the Internet tends to smell insecurity and, instead of relenting, it ATTACKS. I’m not particularly proud to be a part of this contingent — but, then again, I’d like to think I’m level-headed about the endeavor, and write with a conscious and tone that’s both enjoyable AND truthful. Regardless, for how brilliant and smooth Costas typically comes across, I get an unseemly amount of pleasure knowing that he failed to distinguish between a blog post and the comments section while reading Deadspin.

Anyway, John Dennis is all of that – to his credit, he can be eloquent in his delivery, yet annoyingly loquacious at the same time. More important is that Dennis is insecure, and that insecurity manifests itself on Twitter. Consequently, instead of severely misunderstanding the blogosphere like Costas, Denito acts like a 17-year-old backup nose tackle on a junior varsity high school football team in his social media exploits. (In other words, he’s Andy Gresh, which is almost an insult to Gresh.)

It’s not a good look, but again, insecurity only fuels venom.

In fact, you could argue Dino’s timeline should be a case study for what NOT to do if you’re a polarizing Mediot. Worse, and I’ve written this before, John Dennis TOTALLY thinks if you delete a salty tweet from your timeline no one will notice and it will be like it NEVER HAPPENED. (It’s the Internet, JD – NOBODY FORGETS.)

Anyway, on top of him being a generally terrible person to listeners (I’ve received multiple emails from readers complaining about this), some of my personal favorite John Dennis moments on Twitter include the following:

  • The time he berated Marc Betrand, or at least a Twitter account that he thought was Marc Betrand.  What a moment. So many strange angles here, but I can’t help but think about the poor guy who was on the receiving end of those tweets meant for Bertrand. Must have been a strange email to get from Twitter. “Honey, why is John Dennis verbally accosting you on Twitter?” Great times. I love divas of sports media. Never change, guys.

(The tweets have since been deleted)

(Dino’s tweets supporting Sileo have since been deleted)

(And yes, for those of you keeping score at home — those tweets, too, have since been deleted)

  • Also, as an aside: I can’t find the link, but I remember people being up in arms about the time he [allegedly] told someone to check his W-2 forms and get back to him. Yeah, he’s awful.

That’s all interactive stuff, though. The complaints about the actual show are even more egregious. And no, we’re not talking about the legendary voicemail he left Ryen Russillo or the METCO gorilla comment. That stuff will live on forever, but it’s almost too easy.

With Dennis, it’s the elongated questions. The persistent claim during their tailspin that “Dennis & Callahan” are victims of Chad Finn misrepresenting the ratings. The time he used what was supposed to be a private correspondence with Tom Brady about Brady’s contract negotiations to – I don’t know?? – gain listenership.  Finally, the crusade he went on about how management was silencing him and his cohort, Gerry Callahan, from doing the show the way they wanted to do it, as if the temporary removal of the “Headlines” segment was the reason for the ratings plummet.

(Because, God forbid, sports talk radio keeps the conversation to sports.)

And let’s not forget about his recent, kinda creepy penchant to YACK IT UP about his MACK-DADDY-SMOOTH days with the ladies. One reader put it best when he said, it was called the ’70s, John.

There is a good side to Dino, I’m sure of it. I’ve been listening to the WEEI show more frequently than “Toucher & Rich” of late. He’s shown professional growth by learning to interact with Minihane, as opposed to pretending he doesn’t exist, and the show is better for it. Truthfully, the start to this new series could have featured a number of media personalities, but given the recent resurgence of the “Dennis & Callahan” morning show, which has been praised in this space of late, it was just time to remember that John Dennis is still an abhorrent individual.

To contribute or nominate a Mediot, shoot an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, yell at me on Twitter, @Hadfield__.

***

10 quick musings (NOT INCLUDED: I don’t know what to think about the Big O’s new Internet venture, so I didn’t write about it. Maybe next week. If you care about such matters here are details):

1.) Ron Jaworski thinks that unless Johnny Manziel changes his playing style, he won’t last three games in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Johnny Football, who recently changed his moniker to Mr. Football, is one of things I most look forward to in September. I love that he’s so polarizing that people like Barry Switzer (!!) come out of the woodwork to call him an “arrogant little prick.” And I love that there’s no in between with Mr. Football, he’ll either be great or awful — any intermediary take is unreasonable. Just the best.

2.) AJ McCarron’s lady friend, Katherine Webb, has been part of Internet folklore since Brett Musburger got all hot and bothered by her in the middle of the BCS Championship game two years ago. RELATED (BUT NOT REALLY; ACTUALLY, YEAH, THIS IS DEFINITELY RELATED): NFL quarterback prospect, Blake Bortles’, girlfriend is not ugly. There has to be a correlation between McCarron’s stock dropping and Bortles’ coming on strong.

3.) Speaking of correlations, the MIT Sports Analytics Conference is this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center. The attendee list gets more and more impressive every year, and 2014 is no different. Writers, thought leaders, and important sports figures – both national, and here in Boston – will be there. Here are a few names that stick out: new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Andrew Luck, Brad Stevens, John Henry, Jonathan Kraft, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Gladwell, Mike Reiss, Mike Zarreen, Phil Jackson, Richard Deitsch, Thomas Dimitroff, Zach Lowe, and Wyc Grousbeck.

4.) A laundry list, indeed. Still, there are people – even select decision makers – in the sports world who have little to no interest in advanced analytics. In a piece that’s well worth your time, Bill Barnwell, formerly of Football Outsiders and now the lead football writer at Grantland, does his best to offer insight into why this gap still exists.

5.) Rajon Rondo took a day off to celebrate his birthday without permission from the Celtics. It is a story that requires reaction. Most people agree it was the wrong move, especially for the team’s captain. And I think that’s reasonable.

I don’t know Rondo. I don’t know what’s said behind closed doors, or what his teammates think of his personality. I will say that when I covered the team in 2012-13, the year Rondo truly became Boston’s best player, he always appeared like an aloof individual. (Read: has ZERO use for the media)

But because of that, his “it’s none of your business” comments about the story make perfect sense. Look, he doesn’t seek the attention when things are great, thus he doesn’t feel he owes an explanation when times are tough. I’m OK with that rationale, I suppose. But still, it’s not a good look.

6.) I think Andrew Sharp, who I highly recommend reading over at Grantland, especially his Onion-esq weekly column #HOTSPORTSTAKES, went the wrong way with the Rondo thing, claiming that because his name always pops up in trade rumors and he finds himself stuck playing on a crappy, tankaliscious team, Rondo should be free from scrutiny.

I’m not sure if Rondo needs to be lambasted here, but that rationale is faulty at best. Players are on the trade market all the time. Rondo deserves criticism.

7.) Criticism, mind you, which the local media is happy to give, of course. Although, on WEEI.com, Ben Rohrbach is mostly pro-Rondo, citing the Captaincy thing as a misplaced narrative considering the title has been “reserved for such luminaries as Dee Brown, Rick Fox, Pervis Ellison and Antoine Walker.”  Chris Gasper, as is his MO, delivers a harsh, but fair viewpoint about Rondo’s frustrating personality on and off the court. Meanwhile, Chris Forsberg does well to describe how this is just another chapter, in a series of chapters, of the Rajon Rondo Experience.

8.) For those who emailed me this week, I’m in on True Detective, but out on Mixology. Yes, I watched the pilot because I live with girls and am exposed to such things. In short, Mixology portrays guys like they’re a bumbling mess or borderline creeps. It’s the equivalent of how people react to Johnny Football — meaning there’s no in between. Somehow, this makes Girls look like a reasonable show. (Hey, at least Girls tries.)

9.) Drunken college kids. Competitive “student-athletes” (whatever that term means). Lack of security. Surprised incidents like this don’t happen more often.

10.) SELF-PROMOTION: I wrote about Aaron Hernandez and guilt in fandom for the Metro this week. Check it out.

***

Sorry for getting this up so late. Go big or go home, ya know? Anyway, I’ll hold off publishing the first part of Monday morning, so it doesn’t get buried. Hope everyone has a great weekend and, as always, thanks for reading. Say hello on the Twittersphere. @Hadfield__.

  • smack_libs_around

    One of the biggest problems with Jonnie Dennis (he’ll waddle over here and be ‘outraged’ at me for this) is that he has the penultimate ‘Connecticut Skool of Broadcasting’ pedigree. That is, he can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. His is the picture you see beside ‘Media Hack’ in Wikipedia. But Jonnie does what pleases us most: he gets ‘outraged’ and ‘offended’ and promises great bodily harm to any and all comers. Which just invites more richly-deserved scorn and ridicule.

  • LocalSportStuff

    Mediots! Two words: Brill Iant! Standing by with hands being wrung.

  • DryHeave

    “And let’s not forget about his recent, kinda creepy penchant to YACK IT UP about his MACK-DADDY-SMOOTH days”

    I admit I don’t listen to a lot of D&C , (maybe 5-10 minutes in the morning at the start of the show) but when I do they always seem to be talking about THEMSELVES. Do they do this for the entire 4 hours?

  • bsmfan

    I can get the ‘each has become insufferable’ part juxtaposing Costas and JD. I think it stops there. Costas has been a national ‘media elite’ for two+ decades now. Even in 1988, Darren Rovell posted some ‘highest grossing sports media’, and Costas was pulling in a million or two then. Costas, from what I recall reading, is making 5-10m now, which isn’t surprising. The guy hasn’t been a ‘regular joe’ for quite some time. Costas suffers from the typical elite media syndrome, when you’re far away from the regular plebs like you and I, you forget how most people live.

    I think JD’s ‘insufferably’ is more the typical fall-from-grace, where you’re pissed off as to the less-than-favorable circumstances. Put simply: he had this #1 dominant station and basically these two sophomoric, punks who rip Opie and Anthony off, acting so juvenile, have not just knocked him from #1, have replaced the dominance he once experienced, but even threatened his job and way of life. These people are everywhere. JD could just do better and accept his fate. Someone has had to told them that they should be happy they get what they do right now, and that it can continue if they stick to what they’re good at. He’ll still make more than most do. Maybe not close to a million but getting low six figures for what he does is something a number of people would kill for.

    This example comes to mind: when is the last time you think Costas mowed his own lawn? Do we need to carbon date here? For all I know, JD hires someone to mow his or has a kid do it, but he strikes me as a guy who still can at least do his. Do you really think Costas would ever do such labor that’s beneath him? Costas would sit there and whine to his limo driver like Peter King does in his stupid columns. Call it something odd, provincial, whatever… but, to me, it tells me something about who relates better to the people they listen to. You don’t have to agree with their points, but when you have been decades removed from the lives most people live, your perspective is so skewed from those who you’re addressing.

  • Smearing Feces

    JD is a typical country club shithead. Spent his life playing golf, being obnoxious, and falling down drunk. Seen him in action throughout 90s. Maybe he’s cleaned up, IDK.

  • Ted Sarandis

    Ryan, you do good work and I enjoy your columns. BUT, is there anything about Grantland you don’t like? I feel like at times you are a PR hack for them. Grantland has some good features, but really, in a blog post about “look at me” media members (Dino), doesn’t Grantland do the same thing with its pop culture stuff?

  • LithiumBill

    https://twitter.com/BillTortolini/status/324315290861195265/photo/1

    That was the result of me calling one of his jokes, old and tired. He followed me, PM’d me, and blocked me before I could respond. He’s a coward and a troll…

  • Ryan Hadfield

    Hi James, I’ve never — not once — deleted or edited a comment on this site. To that point, I typically enjoy critical remarks and often re-purpose them for future posts (unedited, of course). I believe most readers will attest to this statement. But, yeah, sure I’m a hypocrite. Ha.

  • agramante

    On Rondo, “it’s not a good look.” That’s a good statement as far as outsiders like us are concerned, but the real point I think is within the team. If Rondo’s checked out of the season, knowing the Celts are tanking (it’s hard to take Gasper seriously when he goes Gammons-on-steriods-“how-dare-you-suggest-such-a-thing”), then he sure as hell isn’t a leader. No leadership has been the book on Rondo for a while. It doesn’t matter at all what fans and media think about him: it matters what his teammates think of, and learn from, him.

    I can tolerate guys like Tommy thundering “Never tank! You build a winning culture!” knowing that he’s too loyal to the team to ever want them to tank, or to even discuss it. But the Celts are tanking, and pretty much all of us fans are on board. The extent to which you do build a winning culture while the tanking is going on is, the players on the team who are likely to stick around, have to stay engaged. Sullinger is engaged. Hell, Kris Humphries is engaged. Rondo knows he’s one of the best point guards in the NBA when he’s right. He can be part of a championship team–though he was very, very junior to the new big three. But as one of the veterans, as a tonesetter?…this is when it matters whether he cares or not. Danny, and other GMs, are watching events like this.

    Even if Rondo talked with the rest of the team, said, “Hey guys, I’m gonna take off for a night for my birthday, y’all cool with that?” and they said yes, it’s still the opposite of what you want in your captain. “It’s just a game, and I’m not playing,” is the message. I can see Allen “we talkin’ ’bout practice, man,” Iverson doing this, but sure as hell not Magic. Not Isiah, either, and their respective careers speak for themselves. I see some similarities between Rondo and Isiah–they’re both belligerent dicks. But Isiah learned to run a team. By airing the dirty laundry, Danny’s made it clear to everybody that Rondo isn’t close. That “bad look” seems to be what Ainge intended–his real act of disciplining Rajon.

  • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

    James – some comments do get held in moderation – on their own. I don’t put them there. Whatever filters or whatever the commenting system has, sometimes it prevents some comments from being posted immediately and I have to go in and manually approve them. Sometimes I forget to do this for a few days. This is what happened in your case.