Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Is the NFL controlling the narrative, or catering to media partners?

Is Roger Goodell overreaching with his media policies? Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Monday was another average day at Gow Media. Some of the personalities have taken vacation, so some of your favorite shows had fill-ins. The Bench had Lance Zierlein and Raheel Ramzanali instead of John Granato with Del Olaleye producing. Charlie Pallilo was replaced by Raheel and Del, with Tyler Scott producing. The Usual Suspects are the Cal Ripken of ESPN 97.5 because they’re always there. Joel Blank, Barry Laminack, and producer Nick Sharara held down the 1-4 p.m. slot as usual. Barry wasn’t even on his typical world tour doing comedy. Even when he is, he’s on-air from a remote studio. The Blitz, the No. 1 one show in the market so far every month in 2018, was intact with Fred Faour, AJ Hoffman, and producer Jong Lee. These shows have more than held their own in this market, often times they occupy most of the top slots.

Seeing as this station has occupied most of the top slots in the ratings, you would think the Texans would be more than happy to grant them media credentials for the season, right? WRONG! Word came down today that for the third year in a row (possibly fourth, I’ve lost track of the count), ESPN 97.5 will have to apply on a game by game basis for FOUR credentials! They most likely won’t even offer up parking passes. I know. I know. Parking passes are first world problems. But if you’ve ever had to pay for parking at a Texans’ game, you’d know how much of a hassle it is to park further away at a cheaper rate, or to pony up the money to park closer. So who exactly are they saving all this space for?

Their radio partner, A.K.A. “Houston’s Sports Leader,” gets everyone credentialed, including Tammy from accounting. And we all know how Tammy from accounting acts in public after a few drinks. Their television partner gets the same treatment. I’ve also been in the press box when The Beaumont Telegraph, KPPH-TV of Nacogdoches, and KBHY of Jefferson have had at least one or two seats. Not to say the smaller newspaper, television, or radio outlets don’t deserve access to cover the team, but what about one of the most successful, locally-owned media companies?

At one point in time, I thought this was strictly a Texans issue. My thought was: Kevin Cooper is gone, now they’ve put someone in his place that wants to control things and let that power get to their head. However, after looking into the situation by consulting with industry professionals around the country, other media outlets are having similar issues with other NFL teams granting them access via credentials. Yes. I know the NFL has its own network to put over. I know they want people to put eyes and ears on their version of the product, but what about the honest opinions and analysis of others?

Some may be thinking “here’s another fluff piece in-house,” and you’d be wrong. I can write my Texans column without having to be at the game. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like crowds or dealing with an overwhelming amount of people unless absolutely necessary. I can also write my NFL column more effectively from home since the NFL bars you from watching Sunday Ticket inside an NFL stadium. Yet another attempt of them to control how you consume their product, I might add.

This was about the NFL setting a dangerous precedent. If an entity can control what media is allowed to cover said entity, it shapes the public perception of that entity. If they’re allowed to control who covers them, how they are covered will be dictated as well because media outlets given access will feel pressure to cover them favorably to maintain access. Look no further than what President Trump did to a CNN reporter recently. CNN’s rival news network Fox News even issued a statement of solidarity. This is akin to a teacher giving the class a survey on his/her teaching methods/style, but hinting at the results of the survey affecting their grade. It’s blackmail in a suggestive form. Commissioner Roger Goodell has enough to worry about. From CTE, to the national anthem, to disciplinary problems, his plate is beyond full. Unnecessarily adding total control of media access won’t help his cause. It’ll only make him more vilified than he already is and the media will happy to cover his downfall.

 

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Often times, sports can be a copycat forum. Whether it's trying to replicate an offense, defense, philosophy, or outright style biting, we rarely see anything original. Sports sometimes take their cues from Hollywood. How many remakes of old movies and ideas have we seen? Or, how many different iterations of a successful movie franchise will we continue to get shoved down our throats? (I'm looking at you Fast And Furious. But I'm going to see the new one anyway.)

Every so often, we'll get the pleasure of a trailblazer. Someone who stands out against the crowd and prefers to do something so out of the box, we may choose to fully embrace the different approach, or, we may choose to mock the out of the box ideas. The Texans have chosen to blaze their own trail and go with a general manager by committee for the upcoming season. They came to this conclusion (forced into it) after a failed attempt to woo Nick Caserio away from the Patriots amidst tampering charges. Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Chris Olsen, and Jamey Rootes will all play a part in fulfilling the role of GM. I go back and forth as to whether they've made the right decision and whether or not it'll work. Let's take a look at a few reasons to support both sides of the argument:

Will Work: Three or four heads better than one

Texans Chairman and CEO D. Cal McNair

houstontexans.com

Think back to when you were in school. I know that may be difficult for some of us that are long removed from those days. What was one of your favorite type of assignments? Typically, group assignments were fun because you got to collaborate with others on a project. It worked best if you chose your own group because you knew everyone would pull their weight. This may be the case here, as long as there are clear cut lines in which each person will operate and how tough decisions will be made.

Won't Work: Too many sheriffs, not enough cops

Texans EVP of Team Development Jack Easterby

houstontexans.com

Those same group projects have also been known to cause division, friction, and make getting a good grade nearly impossible. All of the guys on this committee have primary responsibilities. Now they have to take on extra duties. This can lead to some lacking in areas of each of their jobs. We've all experienced a collaborative effort gone wrong. Whether someone didn't pull their weight, or someone was a control freak, there's always a chance of something going awry when multiple people have to come together for a common goal, especially when you're dealing with a bunch of alpha males used to being the in charge of their own lane but forced to cooperate and collaborate with others.

Will Work: Everyone's seats are hot

Texans President Jamey Rootes

houstontexans.com

I grew up respecting the knowledge older people could pass along. I may not have always listened to what they said, but I most definitely absorbed those lessons. One saying I remember and still hold onto is "pressure can make a diamond or crack a pipe." The former is why I think this setup will work. When former GM Brian Gaine was fired late into this offseason, it put everyone on notice that their jobs are also on the line. If this group can feel that heat and use it to fuel them positively, this GM by committee thing can work.

Won't Work: No blueprint or copycat source

Texans Senior VP of Football Operations Chris Olsen

houstontexans.com

Like I said previously, sports are a copycat forum. Usually, there's someone somewhere that's done it before that you can get a few pointers from. Hell, the Texans organization has been trying to replicate what the Patriots have done for almost their whole existence! However, there hasn't been an example that I can think of in which any sports franchise has had a committee of people fill the role of GM instead of a single person. When you have an example to follow, it's similar to having directions on assembling a toy you've bought for your kid. Next time you try putting something together, do it without the instructions and see how easy/difficult it could be.

While the draft and the bulk of free agency has come and gone, there's always work a GM is doing that will help his team. There are always players on other teams to watch in case they're cut. There's also college players to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft, as well as a multitude of other duties an NFL GM has on a daily basis. Information funneled through one person and sent out to others is much more concise than being funneled through several and sent out to many.

Signals can get crossed. Critical steps or info can get missed and/or overlooked. However, we don't know if this will or won't work because we have nothing to base it off of. We will have to wait and see how this plays out. Who knows? We may be on the verge of something new and innovative in sports. We could also be seeing a disaster the likes of which we've never seen. Let's wait and see what happens before we pass judgement.

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