As an organization, the Jets have had their share of media circuses since the summer of 1969 and Joe (Willie) Namath’s tearful “retirement” press conference over the Bachelors III controversy.
There was also the frenzy for the arrival of Bret Favre, Tim Tebow, Rex Ryan and others. Now, if a deal can be reached between the Jets and Packers, Aaron Rodgers will not only become Gang Green’s next quarterback, but also his microphone mogul.
Rodgers doesn’t need any of the Jets PR consultants or in-house spin doctors. In his mind, he is the de facto boss of his own media shop. After 18 years with Green Bay, Rodgers has become a master at controlling his own content. It could be football, retreats in the dark, immunization or the ayahuasca effect. There is enough evidence to say that he is obsessed with message management.
Rodgers has figured out how to make a variety of media platforms work for him. The way he orchestrated the timing of his revelation Wednesday (on Pat McAfee’s YouTube show) of his intent on becoming a Jets quarterback it was just the latest example of his cleverness.
As the Free World waited while literally in the dark, Rodgers built suspense before finally giving his own timeline of what happened to the Packers and how he came to his decision.
The build worked. Nearly 500,000 viewers watched McAfee’s interview — on a national platform — with Rodgers. It is doubtful that he would have had the same number of listeners if he had decided to limit his reach and broadcast the word to one of the local sports talk stations in NYC. He wouldn’t even get the commercial-free, hour-long interview McAfee offered him.
While McAfee has reverence for Rodgers, the former punter asked the right questions. This was not a Twinkie Munch. At least until one of McAfee’s colleagues, near the end of the interview, paid his respects by verbally kissing Rodgers’ bum.
However, Rodgers’ antics on Wednesday also reinforced his desire to control the media. Rodgers became enraged when a “rumor” about him asking the Jets to acquire certain players was picked up by McAfee. Rodgers called the rumor “ridiculous” before scolding two ESPN NFL reporters, Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini, for texting him seeking confirmation.
Rodgers said he responded (sort of) to Schefter, but not to Russini because he didn’t know her. He said he would have told Russini the same thing he texted Schefter for: “I’m losing my number. Good try. I will speak for myself.”
That doesn’t mean Rodgers will have an adversarial relationship with the local media, including Jets chiefs, if he comes here. They have provided ample evidence that free stirring the pot is not a priority. And Rodgers’ history suggests he’s more than willing to meet the NFL’s media demands.
Given how well it’s working out for both sides, there’s every reason to expect Rodgers to continue to make his weekly spot at McAfee. That would likely mean he won’t be appearing on ESPN-98.7 or WFAN to participate in a weekly paid interview where the Gasbags look to improve their own reputation by playing the “gotcha” game.
That’s certainly not part of Rodgers’ media plan.
HATE THE “CLASSIC”
On Twitter, two usually righteous commenters had self-serving, I-told-you-so moments after Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending injury Wednesday night, celebrating a Puerto Rico victory in the World Baseball Classic.
Both voices are harsh critics of the WBC. Howie Rose, the Mets’ veteran radio play-by-play, tweeted: “Thanks, WBC.” The other mouth, WFAN/SNY’s Sal Licata, released a video in which he called the WBC “a stupid worthless exhibition tournament” and berated Diaz for “getting hurt celebrating.”
Not once did either express sympathy for Mets closer Diaz or show concern for him and his well-being after his injury.
They were blinded by their hatred of the WBC and, in Licata’s case, Diaz’s injury messes with the Mets’ World Series or bust aspirations.
I FORGOT TO EXPLOIT
James (Jimmy Guitar) Dolan is busy with facial recognition, the Sphere, the State Liquor Authority and the Garden’s annual property tax exemption, but he can take comfort in knowing that MSG’s network still covers his Knicks.
It happened last Saturday during the Knicks’ 106-95 loss to the Clippers in LA Late in the third quarter Julius Randle was called for a technical foul after elbowing Mason Plumlee in the face. Randle then toppled onto the bench, yelling at trainers and team security as Tom Thibodeau tried to restrain him.
On broadcast, the Randle incident was replayed. However, on the postgame show with Ed Cohen, Alan Hahn and Bill Pidto, it was not discussed or replayed. The only time Randle’s mania was mentioned on the postgame show was by Thibodeau during his press conference.
Could all the hours of waiting and talk about the possibility – and the machinations surrounding it – of Aaron Rodgers being traded to the Jets come down to Brandon Tierney?
Because there’s no other reason (at least one we can come up with) why he would launch, out of the blue, into a Monday WFAN piece on self-deprecating Cooper Manning, Eli and Peyton’s older brother.
“Why so much Cooper [Manning]?” Tierney asked on air. “These [comedy] the bits he does are pretty painful!”
Tierney will never be known as Mr. Laughs, but at least on this occasion Manning’s riff was semi-funny.
Around the dial
Steve Cohen, senior vice president of sports programming for SiriusXM, is moving on to more charitable pastures. He will focus on ‘Shaina’s Wish’, a charity he and his wife founded after their daughter Shaina died in 2017. The charity caters to people with mental health and substance abuse issues substances. Cohen will also serve as a consultant to SXM. Eric Spitz, Cohen’s longtime colleague, will move into the role of senior VP. … As expected, Michael Kay, on his radio show Thursday, said he will remain at ESPN-98.7 after agreeing to a new deal. Kay was unconvincing while previously touting the possibility of a radio “retirement” … MSG is back in the diamond business, broadcasting 10 Fordham women’s softball games and 10 men’s baseball games this spring. … I actually thought Adam Schein was going to break down and cry while paying tribute to the recently “retired” Jim Boeheim on CBS Sports Network’s “Time to Schein.” He tried to inject some balance into his soliloquy, but with lines like “I absolutely love him” and “From every Syracuse fan, coach, thank you” we thought Schein’s next move would be to introduce the unwashed masses to Boeheim’s explosion. doll.
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MAN OF THE WEEK: ROB MANFRED
Hold the confetti. We don’t get carried away and organize a parade for the commish. Still, give him credit for driving home the new baseball rule changes that are reinvigorating the MLB game.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: GALAXY MEDIA
Because he fired ESPN Syracuse veteran Brent Ax last Sunday. Listeners say he played it straight while speaking Syracuse Univ. sports, but management says Ax has become too negative recently, calling his tone “dark.” I wonder if recently “retired” SU Hoops coach Jim Boeheim, who owns 21% of Galaxy Media, is complicit in Ax’s demise?
What the Rick Pitino said: “When it comes to coaching, I probably have the same passion that I had when I was 30.”
What the Rick Pitino he meant, “I still have to leave Iona for a bigger school and a bigger salary.”