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The NFL's Media Circus

Updated on July 23, 2014

For a while now, I've been pretty vocal about my distaste for televised sporting news.
I mean the ESPN's, the NFL Network's, etc, etc.
These plastic, unqualified models come out and sit behind their desks with big, fake smiles and sell pre-determined angles off of the teleprompter.
The NFL Netowork used to be different. It used to feature articulate, intelligent Hall of Fame players like Rod Woodson and Marcus Allen, and you may not remember this, but the legendary Adam Schefter got his start through the Network. But slowly, the knowledgeable analysts either left for coaching jobs, for more money, or to spend more time with their families, and a new breed of NFL Network Superstars were born. Gone were boring but knowledgeable players and coaches like Jim Mora and Matt Millen, and in came the likes of Brian Billick and Warren Sapp.
No, sure, Brian Billick knows all about football.
I mean, remember how great those Ravens teams were? They didn't have any offense, but man! Those defenses??? What a genius!
Of course... He was hired as an offensive coordinator, and he was expected to bring that insane Viking offense to Baltimore, and I don't remember if he ever delivered. And I'm sure he built those defenses, not Marvin Lewis. I mean, it's not like he still runs that defense today... On a team... That he coaches. Moving on.
And Warren Sapp isn't the whole problem, but I'll be damned if he doesn't personify it perfectly.
Extremely energetic and entertaining, but not the most knowledgeable.
I mean... the guy doesn't even tip.

If the NFL Network and ESPN are real news outlets, then the WWE is a real fighting company.
Think about it.
Sports entertainment? Check.
Trying to push a fake product? (Turns on NFL Network, pictures of what Johnny Manziel did last weekend, no mention of his camp struggles) Check.
Models instead of knowledgeable talent? I don't know, why don't you google "NFL Network Hosts" and see how many played football, and how many are in their underwear.
So it begs the question.
If the hosts and players are reading a teleprompter in front of the camera, who's behind it?
Who is the one coming up with half of the crap they talk about?
Because it sure as hell isn't Rich Eisen, and half the time it couldn't be more wrong!
Of course, I can't just sit here and blare my opinions at you without evidence, my name isn't Skip Bayless.
I'll have to give you some examples.

First Take!

Here are some of my favorite opinions of a Sir Skip Bayless.

Skip Bayless was an avid supporter of Tim Tebow, and a self-proclaimed LeBron James hater. As if that wasn't hilariously backwards enough, he would constantly criticize "Lebrick" for performing extremely well in the first three quarters, while occasionally disappearing in the fourth, while applauding Tebow for his "brilliant fourth quarter antics". As if one good quarter was greater than three great quarters.

Skip Bayless believes that the NBA regular season is more exciting than March Madness. Firstly, that's crazy-pants. Secondly, I don't believe that the NBA playoffs can compete with March Madness. Even if it was closely contested (Unlike this year, thanks D-Wade), March Madness brings an excitement and mystery that no other sport can provide.

Skip Bayless didn't think that The Dark Knight was a good movie. I have nothing to add to that.

There are more in the link I posted off to the side, but as I am offended by the stupidity of Bayless and Smith, I can't help but wonder.

Is the ignorance intentional?
Is Skip Bayless trolling us?
Nobody can be that stupid.
Yet again, ESPN and WWE become one.
Skip Bayless is the ultimate heel.
You love to hate him, and you tune in to be disgusted.
In a way... I'm impressed.
I consider myself a bit of a troll, but I have to be able to see the work of another and appreciate it for what it is, but there's a problem.
People take him seriously. People actually buy into what he and Smith say... I'll address that more later when I bring up accountability.

The NFL's Top 100 List

Have you guys seen this crap?
I mean honestly, how do you kill time during the off-season?
Let's randomly select a few NFL players and ask them to list their top 100 players in the league!
Great! I mean, who knows the game better than the players?!
Not every player gets a ballot. Guys like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Patrick Willis, and a few other established superstars have mentioned that they've never received a ballot. So, it seems as if the players aren't actually voting on the top 100, and only a select few voices are ever actually heard.
And whoever is voting is clueless.
Drew Brees ahead of Aaron Rodgers?
Josh Gordon ahead of Dez Bryant?
Russell Wilson and Cam Newton ahead of Andrew Luck?
Joe Flacco ahead of Tony Romo?
If you agree with all four of those, congratulations, you're part of the problem.
IMO, the Top Ten should look something like...
10. Luke Kuechly.
Is it too soon to have Kuechly in the top ten?? Absolutely not. Rookie of the year and defensive player of the year in back to back seasons?! Most tackles since he entered the league?? Insanity.
9. Earl Thomas.
The top ten should be reserved for the very best of every position, and no safety made a bigger impact than Thomas in 2013. Don't believe me? Ask Peyton Manning.
8. Joe Thomas.
Easily the best offensive lineman in the NFL. Not a very sexy position, but an extremely important one.
7. Aaron Rodgers.
If Rodgers had managed to stay healthy in 2013, he would've been higher on the list, but that damn injury bug knocked him down a few pegs.
6. Richard Sherman.
The best cornerback in the NFL lead the league in interceptions again, despite being the least targeted. He kept talking the talk and walking the walk and he ended up hoisting the Lombardi.
5. J.J. Watt.
I don't think people understand why JJ Watt is so impressive. It's not just his physical size and ability (though you can't undervalue that), it's the fact that he is a 3-4 defensive end. Usually those guys just suck up blocks so the linebackers can rush the passer, and yet Watt came minutes away from breaking the single season sack record two years ago, and he hasn't slowed down.
4. Adrian Peterson.
On a team without any real offense, Peterson continues to be amazing. Though he didn't do as well this year as he did in his incredible 2012 season, Peterson is still equivocally the best back in the league, and he didn't need a gimmicky offense to do it either.
3. Calvin Johnson.
The wheel keeps turning and Calvin Johnson refuses to slow down. Another season of 10+ TDs and almost 1,500 yards. He's the perfect blend of height, speed, and skill, nobody else comes close.
2. Tom Brady.
Despite playing a team with about as much talent as the Raiders, Brady managed to lead the Patriots to the AFC Championship game for the third straight season. Stats or no, there's no question who make the Patriots one of the AFC's elite teams.
1. Peyton Manning.
C'mon. 55 TDs, 5,400 yards, and an AFC Championship appearance? Cake.

So, we don't know who's voting, and they don't know what they're doing, but not only are we subjected to it, we're subjected to pre-shows, post-shows, and re-shows.
Why does this bother me?
Well... That's my next point.


What really bothers me about all of these false sports networks is that people rely on them for information.
Normal sports fans don't turn ESPN or NFL Network on for entertaining background noise, they turn it on to learn things, and to keep up with current events, and they're being lied to.
Eager fans open up their minds and hearts to a source, and the source feeds them nonsense.
They should be speculating. They're allowed to voice their own opinions, but I honestly don't believe it is their opinion being shared. Remember when ESPN forced Ron Jaworski to try and sell Tyler Palko? That's ridiculous! It removes any credibility that Jaws had and makes a sham of the entire program.
And I kindof understand.
Nobody wants to tune in to see Rich Eisen say, "Well, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the best, I guess you can throw Rodgers in that category, but I really believe that Andrew Luck is the future".
Nobody would watch a show where they just repeat the obvious, and you've got to add something to make people tune in, but at what point do you stop and say that it's not worth watering down the quality of the show to steal views?
The very worst? The very, very worst of the worst?
Draft analysts.
These guys are wrong almost all of the time. The Mel Kiper's and Mike Mayock's of the world are what's wrong with all of "sports entertainment" today... but I've already addressed that in the link on the side.
The reality is that ESPN and NFL Network are willing to do whatever it takes to make money, even if that means misleading the masses and creating more and more ignorant fans.
If you don't believe me, just tune into ESPN's "First Take" any given week and you're almost guaranteed to be misinformed, but it's okay, because it's so cute when Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless bicker.

My Real Problem with the Networks

As annoyed as I am by all the ignorance and irresponsibility, the real problem I have with the sport networks are the effects they have on real people in real life.

Here's a huge one.
Tim. Tebow.
Before I get into it, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't making this up. That I wasn't the only person who felt this way.
The most interesting response came from Jensen Messick of Glen Burnie, Maryland.
So, you feel that the media ruined Tim Tebow?
Well it's quite simple, Overhype. They created an unwanted media circus and by proxy destroyed his career. No team wanted to deal with it, and it created unrealistic expectations for Tebow. Seriously, I like Tebow, but he's not great, but that's not the point, he's good enough. He's better than some that do get options. If you tailor made an offense for him, I believe he could excel. I would pick Tebow over Kaepernick, No question. Blaine Gabbert? Terrelle Pryor? These people still have jobs.
To sum it all up, you believe that a guy who has some exceptional tools doesn't get the same opportunities as others because the media put him on a pedestal?

Now, while I'm not as big on Tebow, and I believe that his inability to pass the ball ruined his career, I completely see where Jensen was coming from. There are definitely guys in the league who bring less to the table who are getting job opportunities.
Who can honestly say that Geno Smith is better than Tim Tebow? Brandon Weeden? Terrelle Pryor? All of those guys have roster spots, why won't anybody touch Tebow?
A lot of it has to do with the fact that the NFL cashed in on his character.
"Oh, he's really religious and plays with an unconventional style, let's blow him up!"
Now I won't lie, I think that the hype might have been what made him a first round pick to begin with. That, and Josh McDaniels' stupidity. The reality is, Tim Tebow wasn't worth a first round pick. He's a truck of a runner, but he needed years to develop as a passer, a window that most first rounders aren't granted. Instead, he was thrown into a conservative option offense in his second year, and despite a playoff run, didn't have a prayer when Peyton Manning came to town.
Imagine if he hadn't been under that media scrutiny?
Imagine if Tebow went in the third or fourth round, on a team with an established passer and came along naturally. He could've paired that running ability with an average passing technique and found a home somewhere.
But he never got that chance. Instead, he was expected to be a passing QB everywhere he went, and when that never happened, he never got his shot.
And now? Now he's an analyst for the very same company that makes him too hot to touch.

Who else?

Let's talk about the future.
Let's talk about how they've handled the Michael Sam situation.
In case you've been living under a rock for the last 7 months, I'll bring you up to speed.
In February of this year, Mizzou defensive end, MIchael Sam confessed to ESPN and the rest of the world. That took a lot of courage, because nobody in the football world had done that before, especially before the draft.
However, after the breaking the story, ESPN put Sam in a dangerous spot.
The unfortunate truth is that Michael Sam is only an average football player. He's not very tall, he's not very strong, he's not very fast, and he only had one productive season despite playing in all four. So when he fell to the middle of the seventh round, the NFL owners of the league were put on notice.
Instead of applauding St. Louis for making such a historic move and giving this brave young man a chance, the media turned on the other 31 teams for not drafting him sooner.
Despite the most successful franchises in the NFL being ones who like to keep the media out (Seattle, New England, Denver), the media demanded that teams take an average football player with a dump truck full of media attention.
Incidentally, I might be in the minority, but isn't treating somebody differently because of their sexuality the definition of homophobia? Isn't it more tolerant to say "I don't care if he's gay, he's not a great football player?".
So now, this young man who did something incredibly brave, who risked his career to honestly proclaim that which most people take for granted every day, is under the spotlight, and he couldn't be on a worse team for it. See, St. Louis already has Robert Quinn and Chris Long, two extremely talented defensive ends, and Sam is far too small to play defensive tackle.
After 2 or 3 quarterbacks, 3 or 4 runningbacks, 6 or 7 wide receivers, 3 or 4 tight ends, 9 or 10 offensive linemen (over 5 positions), 9 defensive linemen (over 4 positions), 7 or 8 linebackers, 10 or 11 defensive backs, and then 2 kickers, crammed into a 53 man roster, can you really afford to keep a guy just because he's a brave person?
The NFL is a business, and I worry about the ramifications for St. Louis, a team that should be applauded, when Sam ends up like almost 80 percent of seventh round picks, and gets cut.
It's rough.
But it goes deeper than that.
Let's talk about Tony Dungy.
Anyone who knows anything about Tony Dungy knows that he's a religious man. So after ESPN took words from May were taken out of context, it was easy for equal rights activists to complete the rest of the puzzle.
This insecure, homophobic old man couldn't handle the idea of a gay player in the NFL, so there's no way that he would've drafted him. We've already seen Donald Sterling show his ass this year, what's one more bigot out of power.
Except... That's incredibly short-sighted.
If you've ever read "Quiet Strength", an autobiography of Dungy's, you'll know that nobody in the NFL has overcome more adversity that he has. From high school to college, even as a coach in the pros, Tony Dungy was constantly overcoming racism. Homophobia and Racism are different shades of the same ugly color, and how could anybody believe that the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl in history would say anything negative about the first openly gay football player? If anything, you think they'd have a lot to talk about.
Here's how that honestly went.
Back when it was announced that Michael Sam would have a reality TV show about his journey to the NFL, Dungy was asked if he would draft Sam, he replied that he wouldn't because "things would happen".
If you're an avid enough fan of football to remember Tony Dungy's teams, you'll remember that they were all very soft-spoken and stayed out of the news. Tony Dungy hates locker room distractions, and wouldn't even post criticisms of the team as billboard material.
Tony Dungy was saying that he wouldn't draft Sam specifically because he wasn't good enough to warrant the media circus that followed. If Peyton Manning were gay, Dungy still would've coached the Colts. If Dungy were drafting a quarterback this year, I can promise you he wouldn't have taken Johnny Manziel for the same reasons, and Johnny Football has made it abundantly clear which team he plays for.
It's character assassination.
A man who has fought his whole life to overcome obstacles and has endured tragedies that most of us can't even imagine, and ESPN grabbed a quote from two months ago because we still have a week before the media has training camp access. It's cruel and unusual.

Ultimately, I hope I reached some people with this.
I understand that my audience is small, and that very few people will read it. I also understand that most of those people will take my message the wrong way.
But I hope somebody read this and it clicked.
I hope somebody read this and realized, "Hey, he makes a point, maybe the big sporting networks do have alternative motives, and maybe they don't always have my sorting interest in mind".
Or hell, I hope you knew all this already.

If you want real news, or real analysis, then I have good news, you've already taken your first step.
You're already reading my work!
You're already reading a sports article on the internet, and unless you scrolled to the bottom, you read the whole thing.
Please, Pleeeeease go to,,, or even find smart guys here on Hubpages (there are some).

I promise you, when you're drafting your fantasy team, making small talk at the office, or engaging in a furious football debate online, you'll thank me.

© 2014 Ryan Smith


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