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Friday Four-Pack 10.13.23
An eye-opening Pats read. A good mini-doc. More McAfee headlines. NFL Picks!
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the big deal. This all seems a bit forced.
The biggest story in sports media this week came Thursday when the NY Post broke the “news” that Pat McAfee pays Aaron Rodgers to be a guest on his show.
There are dozens of websites reacting to this news. Awful Announcing has THREE different columns/stories about it, including our friend Alex Reimer getting all fired up and using this opportunity to go after Rodgers for his COVID-19 takes. For probably the 100th time.
Did people think Rodgers came on for free? I always assumed he and other big guests were compensated. I mean, this happens everywhere.
Locally, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Alex Cora were all paid in some way for their appearances on WEEI over the years. Either directly from Entercom/Audacy or as part of deals with the team. In Boston, The Sports Hub does less of that from what I’m told. But it happens everywhere,
There are media members being paid for their time on these stations, too. I’m guessing Ian Rapoport is not going on McAfee’s show for free. Peter King used to get Red Sox tickets for radio appearances. It goes on and on and on.
If I’m McAfee, I’m paying Rodgers, too. Those interviews, while not hard-hitting in any way, put the former NFL punter and his show on the map in a lot of ways. As he pondered his future, the only place one of the best players in football was talking was on that show. There is massive value in that.
Like a lot of people (most?), the only way I consume McAfee’s show is in the clips posted on social media. I would not call myself a fan. But the reaction to the news of Rodgers being paid for his time seems forced.
Either because these aggregation/media sites know it’s good for business when you write about McAfee. Or they don’t like Aaron Rodgers and this vaccine takes. Or maybe it’s a way to take a shot at ESPN, which is always fair game.
Either way, this is one of those things that’s a much bigger deal to the people who cover sports media than is it to the folks who actually consume it. I think.
You let me know in the super interactive poll question. Thought-provoking!
The failures of the Patriots, a mini-doc worth watching and Week 6 NFL Picks. All ahead in today’s Four-Pack.
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On the mess that is Mac Jones, Bill Belichick and the Patriots…
As a consumer of sports media in New England, it felt like Jeff Howe’s story in The Athletic telling the world that Patriots owner Bob Kraft would not be afraid to fire Bill Belichick got a lot of run this week.
But it was Andrew Callahan’s deep dive into Mac Jones and the Patriots front- office that should have been far more concerning if you’re a Pats fan.
Yes, a lot of time in the story is spent putting the blame for the poor play of the quarterback on well, the quarterback himself. And as a defender of Mac Jones, it was jarring to see just how bad he’s been against the blitz (Dead last EPA vs the blitz this year. Sixth worst last year).
He’s been bad this year. To the point where he might get benched for Will Grier.
But the team-building/front-office breakdown was much more damning.
Belichick, league sources agree, has failed to adapt in a post-Brady world, despite having more cap room than all but a half-dozen teams entering free agency last year. The Patriots currently have the third-cheapest roster in the league by 2023 cash spending, per Over the Cap.
"I don’t think (Belichick) ever felt like you had to go spend on the offensive side of the ball because of how good Brady was," one source said.
This should be obvious to everyone at this point. From idiots like me to former Patriot Jason McCourty, the world can see that Bill’s approach to offense is not in line with the best teams in the NFL.
And this is not like when Bill was first on the scene with playing two good tight ends on the field at the same time. He wasn’t in line with the league then, but the 2 TE thing worked and other teams copied his plan.
Now? No one trying to compete for the Super Bowl is building defense and special teams first with offense as an afterthought.
Well, besides the Patriots.
The real holy s$$t moment for me for reading the Callahan piece was this line about the front office.
The Patriots are now scheduled to have more cap space than any NFL team in 2024 and 2025 and rank among the cheapest teams by cash spending. It's unclear to some inside and outside the organization why Belichick keeps his powder dry, aside from conducting business as he always has.
According to league sources, part of that business includes a front office that evaluates players almost entirely without the assistance of analytics. GPS tracking data, such as publicly available information from Next Gen Stats, would have tipped them off that a receiver like Parker generates the least separation in the league. Poor separation currently plagues all of the team's receivers, except sixth-round rookie Demario Douglas, who is responsible for Jones' longest gain of the season.
Maybe that explains some of their moves over the years. Does a lack of analytics lead you to draft Tyquan Thornton over George Pickens?
Just the idea that an organization once considered the smartest in football is not using all the information available to them….that seems so stubborn. And dumb.
Getting blown out at home by the Saints might feel like rock bottom for the Patriots. It isn’t. Rock bottom would be being forced to replace Mac Jones with Will Grier. That would not only be rock bottom for the season, but also the post-Brady Era of the Patriots to date.
Looking forward to seeing how the coach, QB and the rest of the team show up in Vegas on Sunday. Is there any fight? Quitting time? Should be interesting either way.
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On a well-done look at a famous Boston sports radio moment…
Earlier this week, NBC Sports Boston debuted a 15-minute mini-doc on one of the more famous moments in Boston sports radio history.
October 12, 2011, in the aftermath of an epic collapse by his franchise, Red Sox owner John Henry stormed into the studios of 98.5 The Sports Hub and asked to go on the air with Felger and Mazz. The show was attacking the anonymous Red Sox “team sources” who took a blowtorch to the personal reputation of Terry Francona in the pages of the Boston Globe.
As a talk show host, it doesn’t get much better.
You’re ripping the Red Sox for their performance on and off the field, and the billionaire owner is so annoyed he decides to get in his car and alert his driver to take him to YOUR radio station to get on the air and defend himself and his organization.
In sports radio, You PRAY for a moment like that.
Were the attacks that drove Henry to barge in that day personal? Sure. But not unfair given the way team sources went after Francona. Again, anonymously.
Watching the mini-doc on Thursday brought back some memories.
Lou Merloni and I had just started our show that spring in the midday. I remember being so f$$$ing pissed at John Henry for doing that - and trust me that was the general feeling among all of the WEEI staff and management at that time.
WEEI was the Red Sox flagship station, paying (overpaying, really) the team millions and millions of dollars a year. And this guy goes on with the competition. That sucked. For us. Brutal.
Not just for the content it gave The Sports Hub (“Larry Lucchnio runs the Red Sox”), but basically, it made us (WEEI) look bad. And showed how big of a program Felger and Mazz had become.
It’s worth a watch. And a reminder that NESN and NBC Sports Boston should be doing much more of this type of original content.
Meanwhile, 12 years later Felger and Mazz is still a monster show, beating WEEI by almost 5x with men 25-54 in this past summer ratings book.
They should use some of their bonus money from the last decade and get this photo deleted from the Internet. Permanently.
I, for one, have never taken a bad publicity photo.
On our Week 6 NFL Picks…
Week 1: 2-1
Week 2: 3-0
Week 3: 0-3
Week 4: 3-0
Week 5: 2-1
Can we calm down with the praise for Al Michaels when he mentions sports betting on an NFL Broadcast?
It’s 2023. Sports betting is legal almost everywhere.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
Just mention the spread, Al. Jeff Bezos will be okay with it.
Or mention how 🔥🔥🔥🔥the MutStack and MadProps Picks have been.
COLTS +4.5 AT THE JAGS (-120, FD). I don’t love this pick - but I don’t love the Week 6 board as of Thursday Night/Friday morning. I’m betting on the market underrating Garden Minshew and the Jags being tired after two weeks in London then coming right back to play this week. No bye week? Doesn’t hurt it’s a divisional rematch game, either. Holding my nose and playing the +4.5.
SEAHAWKS AT BENGALS OVER 44.5 (-110, FD) Looked at this game a long time for the spread as well, but not 100% ready to trust what I saw from what looked like a healthier Joe Burrow last week. But I can for sure play the total. Burrow looked better, Tee Higgins trending toward playing. Bengals threw the ball more last week - that's good against a leaky Seattle secondary. Seahawks coming off a bye and have played fast - #6 in seconds per play per DVOA. And #1 sec/play when they have the lead. Fast teams combined with bad pass defense are things I’m looking for betting overs. NOTE- there are reports of 30 MPH wind gusts and that might drive the total down a bit. You might get a better number if you wait for the weather worriers to start betting. Just a thought.
JONATHAN MINGO OVER RECEIVING YARDS (28.5, -110, FanDuel) The rookie is coming off his best game as a pro (7-48). The Panthers are likely to be trailing from the jump here and forced to pass. Should be massive target opportunities to push this over. This number is different in a few spots so I’d shop for the best line BUT I’d bet it up to anything under 30 yards.
On a couple of quick hitters…
Former WEEI fixture Pete Sheppard is out after almost seven years in Ft. Myers sports radio. Plenty of tweets suggesting WEEI bring him back. I’d listen. But 10 years ago, Pete quit on the air while at WEEI. That might be a tough one to come back from. Having hung with Pete a few years ago in Flordia, he seemed to LOVE the place. My guess is he finds a new radio spot in Florida. But if he comes back to Boston, I’d tune in.
The Red Sox offseason is off to a hot start. From Sean McAdam.
According to multiple sources, the Red Sox have been been met with a number of rejections by some targeted candidates as they seek to find a replacement to replace Chaim Bloom, fired in September. Some of those prospective hires have been put off by the level of turnover that’s taken place in the Baseball Operations department over the last dozen years or so. The new hire will be the fifth person in charge of the department since 2011.
And increasingly, sources add, there’s concern about the surrounding infrastructure. The new hire will not only be inheriting manager Alex Cora, whose job has been guaranteed by ownership for at least 2024, but also, a front office that includes several executives who’ve been part of the organization for more than two decades, along with various other department heads who come with the job.
The is a lot of sports betting content out there. Probably too much. And yes I’m part of that.
The show/podcast I think does the best job of providing content, actionable sports betting advice and good guests is You Better You Bet with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley. So it was nice to see Audacy find a deal to promote the show on other outlets.
Nick and Ken are really good at what they do. But if you’re reading this and like betting on sports, you already know that. Good for them.
Hopefully, if you’re a parent reading this you’ve been able to avoid it, but we’ve had a house full of sick kids all week. That meant a lot of YouTube time.
And I don’t know how it came up, but it reminded me that being home sick from school in the late 1980s and early 1990s meant The Price is Right, of course. But I also remember watching infomercials.
Specifically, my girl Cathy and her SnackMaster.
I watched that thing at least 20 times. To 10-year-old me, this food looked delicious. To the point where my brother and I forced my mom to get us one.
I was always jealous of Cathy’s kids because their mom had a tray full of pizza toppings ready to go in the fridge. What a legend.
We had Cathy and her canned apple pie filling on white bread.
My kids have Mr. Beast and Madden videos.
I think we had it better.
Thanks for reading. Good luck with all your bets.