Pat Shurmur would have been better off feeding media whale Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa a few spontaneous, substantive answers rather than sticking to coach-speak script during his recent weekly WFAN interview.
The spot was similar to the sessions Shurmur holds with boss scribes who cover the Giants. During his press conferences, seen on MSG, Shurmur does not present a tough guy façade behind the microphone. He does project a likeable, grounded presence.
Yet the coach has willfully chosen to put reporters on a starvation diet. They ask the same questions in different ways and get mostly nothing out of him. Once in a while he’ll react by rolling his eyes or asking a reporter what he or she is trying to get at.
Shurmur knows better. He definitely knows the difference between direct, meaningful answers and the crap he’s been serving up.
At one point during his spot with the pontiff, (he also asked the same question multiple times in different ways and couldn’t get one straight answer) Shurmur said: “I apologize. This probably doesn’t make for a very good interview. I get it.”
Think about that. Shurmur is getting paid to do these FAN interviews with Francesa and admits his answers are not very good. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. In an interview last January with veteran NFL writer and former Daily News NFL columnist Gary Myers, Mike Holmgren who hired Shurmur to coach Cleveland, said the coach let the Cleveland media bug him.
“He read everything. He knew everything that was said,” Holmgren told Myers. “I told him, ‘You can’t let it get to you. Don’t create an adversarial situation.’ I tried to counsel him that way.”
“If he couldn’t handle the Cleveland media, what’s gonna happen in New York?” Myers wrote.
The answer to that question will come even more into focus should the 0-2 Giants fall to 0-3 by losing to the winless Texans on Sunday. After a week of the media playing the blame game (Is it Eli or the offensive line?), would a loss force Shurmur to be candid when it comes to dissecting another debacle? Or would he circle the Big Blue wagons and be even more evasive and scripted?
Up to this point, Shurmur has done nothing to cultivate any media allies. Should the Giants continue to lose, when expectations were once so high, he’s going to need some. Recent history shows this. When his world was tumbling down, no one in the media had Ben McAdoo’s back. He had not created any relationships or media allies. McAdoo had done nothing to keep anyone from piling on or being a conduit for his side of the story.
If Shurmur doesn’t alter his media style, he could find himself alone on the same island.
TALK AIN’T CHEAP, OR INTERESTING
It’s not only Shurmur who is getting paid by local radio suits in return for delivering nothing.
Todd Bowles (ESPN-98.7) fits into that category. So does Eli Manning. When it comes to radio interviews, the Giants QB is the highest paid. Radio moles say Manning gets between $180,000 and $225,000 for appearing a few minutes each week with Francesa during the football season.
That’s more dough than most of the on-air personalities make in a year.
Bowles and Shurmur ain’t making that kind of moo-la-dee. Their radio earnings are likely part of their overall coaching contracts with the Jets and the Giants. The brass at 98.7 and FAN believe these Giants and Jets paid interviews attract added listenership.
Over many moons no one has ever proven to us that this premise is true.
BANKS FOR THE WIN
As a player, and behind the microphone, Carl Banks has taken a fearless approach.
While much NFL analysis becomes repetitive, Banks, the Giants radio analyst, often travels a different road. He proved this again, when he got into it with FAN’s Joe Benigno, who, like many others, believes that prior to the season Giants brass raised expectations for Big Blue.
“I don’t know why people thought they were built to win now. There are too many holes on this team,” Banks told Joey B. “My expectation was not a win now team, but a get better now team. … This was not a team who was one game from the playoffs last year. I’m one who is taking a sober approach here.”
And that’s a very rare, controlled approach when it comes to NFL analysis.
TWO RIGHTS MAKE A BAD DEAL
Will Entercom’s acquisition of Mets radio rights for WCBS-AM have a negative impact on the company’s local balance sheet?
Entercom is already paying an average of $17 million per year to the Yankees for their radio rights. That deal, a bad one which doesn’t make money, was cut by CBS when it owned FAN. Entercom’s new multi-year deal with the Mets is worth between $6-$8 million per year.
Advertising sources say there is between $23-$25 million baseball advertising dollars available in the New York metro market. So, when you do the math, the best Entercom can hope to do with both the Yankees and the Mets is break even or eke out a small profit.
How does this impact, you, the fan?
Well, let’s just say when a company is losing money on big rights fee deals it has to cut in other areas. There is a trickle down effect. So maybe your favorite Gasbag is jettisoned to save money. Or maybe the company decides to save dough by not hiring “expert” analysts for a weekly spot.
AROUND THE DIAL
While Francesa is taking credit for being the first local Gasbag to discover Sam Darnold (the Pope is predicting stardom for the Jets rookie), 970-AM’s Dino (Mastermind) Costa, has followed Sudden Sam since college and, unlike most, has little to no confidence in the Jets rookie. “While the rest of the lightweights on New York sports radio have been genuflecting in front of Darnold, I, on the other hand, have never been on the hype train and have advised people to chill,” Dino squawked. … Did Adam Silver not only deliver a slap on the wrist to Mark Cuban following the NBA’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and violence toward female employees inside the Dallas organization, but find the Mavs owner a soft place to land? While Rachel Nichols did a fine interview with an abnormally reticent Cuban, the ESPN venue came off too cozy. And even when an ESPN personality — like Stephen A. Smith – took issue with the sleaze inside the organization Cuban runs, they prefaced it by saying what a good guy/owner Cuban is. That’s called vomit material. … While Bart Scott already is working multiple jobs (WFAN, SNY, SI, FS1, Jets Flight Plan) there are strong rumblings that he will add another gig, national in scope, soon.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: RYAN FITZPATRICK
Okay, so we’ve seen this movie but it’s still fun to watch. And the foundation of “Fitzmagic” is the same. His house is built on humility, preparation, teamwork and, of course, a huge dose of self-deprecating humor. These are all hallmarks of the ex-Jets QB who is lighting it up in Tampa. Best of all, Fitzpatrick has the Valley of the Stupid apoplectic over the prospect of him signing another lucrative contract.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: JON GRUDEN
Has the new Raiders’ head coach done anything right since returning to Oakland? His blunders continue. The latest—from the guy who traded super-turbo pass rusher Khalil Mack — is whining that it’s hard to find a great pass rusher. Meanwhile, Gruden’s Raiders are 0-2 and the pirate ship is sinking fast in the Bay Area.
What Isaiah Crowell said: “It (his cheeky end zone celebration) was spur of the moment. My passion came out.”