Tremendous week of interviews
Following a week dominated by Donald Sterling talk, this week was dominated by several great interviews.
On Thursday, we broadcast from Radio City Music Hall to preview the NFL Draft, and Mad Dog sat down with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
A few things about Goodell’s responses. First of all, I really am agitated about Goodell’s stance on Thursday Night Football. This is a man who wants to talk about making the NFL a safer game. He can quote statistics that there aren’t more injuries on Thursday night, but in a game as violent as the NFL, you cannot say that it isn’t a safety issue to not give players a full week to recover. This is strictly an opportunity for the NFL to add another primetime game on a network that will get massive ratings and win the night. It’s a money grab at the expense of the players’ safety.
He has the same stance with his playoff expansion. It adds two playoff games, which is six hours of advertising with a lot of eyeballs on the television. That means more television revenue for the league. But it will water down the playoffs. Nearly half the league will be in the playoffs. This will allow 8-8 teams to regularly make the postseason. Goodell’s stance that the league is so competitive that they need more teams in the postseason is yet another smokescreen. It’s about dollar signs. Please use the term, “increase league revenue,” just once. That’s all I ask.
I will hold judgement on his Jim Irsay comments until the story progresses. The commissioner mentions that “there are no charges at this point in time, and we’ll have to see if there are charges and make a determination from there.” There were no charges to Ben Roethlisberger, and Goodell gave him a suspension (the right move), so if you are going to hold players and owners to the same standard, which he mentioned, then he also better suspend Irsay – charges or not. We will have to see how that plays out.
You can hear the whole interview with Goodell at siriusxm.com/ondemand.
Earlier in the week, we had a special SiriusXM Town Hall where Doggie sat down with Nolan Ryan for an hour. The two discussed Ryan’s amazing career, including one of the worst trades in Mets history, when New York shipped the strikeout king to the Angels for an aging Jim Fregosi.
I love the candor of Ryan talking about how upset he was that he was dealt to the Angels. I know it was 40 years ago, but many athletes never open up that much about anything in their careers. The other thing about this clip is that it shows you how long Ryan pitched at a great level. Mad Dog tells Ryan how he remembers being a kid in the early 1970’s and wanting to know what Ryan did when he pitched with the Angels. Dog is almost 20 years older than I am, yet I also remember being a kid, and always checking box scores to see what Ryan did each night when he was pitching in Houston. Ryan struck out 329 batters during the 1972 season, and he struck out 301 batters 17 years later in 1989! Truly a physical marvel.
The full one-hour interview is available on siriusxm.com/ondemand.
If that wasn’t enough, Dog also had an in-studio visit from broadcasting legend Larry King. King is a great story teller, and the entire 30 minute interview is worth a listen at siriusxm.com/ondemand. What many people don’t realize is that King is a HUGE sports fan, specifically of the Dodgers. He talked with Dog about 1951’s “Shot Heard Round the World,” and how much it devastated him.
You want to talk about remarkable careers; King’s is tough to beat. Toward the end of the interview, Chris asked him the top five interviews he’s done. King started rattling some off: Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Malcom X. He then paused trying to come up with a fifth, and said it was probably one of the seven sitting presidents he’s interviewed, the most memorable being Bill Clinton. That’s 11 interviews most broadcasters would give their right arm for just one, and King’s done them all. Hats off to you, Mr. King.
A little ‘drafty’ in here
Each year, the NFL Draft is one of the big sporting events of the spring. And why wouldn’t it be? The NFL is without question the most popular sport in the country, and the top 20 television “shows” of the year are all NFL games. It’s a freight train. But how much of the Draft is just “Hope Springs Eternal” for fans?
I used to mark the weekend on the calendar when I was young, and watch every second of the draft. It was such a great couple days. But things have changed.
This year’s draft had a lot of intrigue with many experts failing to grasp exactly how much of the first round would shakedown. Drafting is critical to maintain success in the NFL; with 22 positions, you can’t just throw money at a problem like baseball teams do. You need to continually develop talent.
But how critical is Round 1?
In theory, your Round 1 selection is supposed to be an impact player. A Pro Bowl caliber player. Anything less is technically a miss. If you take a look at first rounds from 2002 to 2011 – let’s eliminate the last two years to be fair for developmental reasons – 39 percent of all selections were one-time Pro Bowlers or better. And that includes individuals like Vince Young, who despite a Pro Bowl appearance, is largely considered a bust. At best, that means about one-third of first-round picks impact teams to the level they may have hoped. So two out of every three picks are, in essence, busts – and that is in the first round alone!
As a sports fan, it’s tough to commit four hours on Thursday and even more on Friday and Saturday to watch Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock talk about how these guys are future stars, when most of them are not. Meanwhile, there are great games to be watched in the NBA and NHL playoffs. Maybe it’s just me.
That being said, I thought the draft on Thursday night did make for compelling television, largely because the biggest name in college football, Johnny Manziel, stayed on the board until the Cleveland Browns’ 22nd selection. Manziel’s tumble, along with ESPN’s Jon Gruden’s obsession with finding his future team, made for a dramatic development with a comedic twist.
Just keep in mind, of the 32 names selected Thursday night, roughly 10 of them will go on to solid career or better; the other 22 will be out of the league before you know it.
Stream of Consciousness
Matt Wieters might be the first person to visit Dr. James Andrews and not have elbow surgery … I’m still waiting for Henrik Lundqvist to do something truly special in the postseason … Paul Pierce says he doesn’t like LeBron, and that’s fine by me … Mariano Rivera spent 19 years never saying the wrong thing, and it only took him six months of retirement to end the streak … The end of their Game 2 against the Pacers showed me that the Wizards might be able to win this series, but they will get annihilated by Miami. The Wiz aren’t quite ready for the big stage .. Last week, I said I wasn’t buying the Brewers; this week, I am buying the Colorado Rockies … Not sure if it’ll survive, but I’m a big fan of the new CBS comedy, Friends with Better Lives … Nicklas Hjalmarsson is one tough SOB … I don’t think I have been more excited to read a biography than I am for Michael Jordan: The Life, by Roland Lazenby … The Orioles will win the AL East … I’m sure the Nets are thrilled they were 4-0 against Miami in the regular season, as they are buried by the Heat in this year’s playoffs … Fire Lake by Bob Seger … The Oklahoma City Thunder, the way they are currently constructed, will never win an NBA championship … Speaking of the Thunder, it’s time for Seattle to get over it.
This fan spent $72 to sit in the front row of the Rays- Orioles game. Might actually want to WATCH the game, or Steve Pearce might end you.
Tweet of the Week
David Nugent is a BIG fan!
Next Week on MDU
We’ll be discussing the NFL Draft on Monday, breaking down the best moves of the weekend. Most of the rest of the week will be spent on the NBA and NHL playoffs, unless, of course, news breaks. Plus, our good friend Rick Reilly will be in studio on Thursday, May 15th, to talk all things sports and about his new book.