SportsRadioInterviews.com is Signing Off, It’s Been a Fun Ride

May 1, 2013 – 9:30 am by Jimmy Shapiro

I have zero idea how to write a farewell column. I’ve actually had trouble sleeping the past week deciding what to write. Yes, that’s overly dramatic, but SRI has been like a child to me.  Around five years ago, my business partner Dan Zucker challenged me to come up with a website that would have a symbiotic relationship to our core business of media booking and sports public relations. Not sure how Edison came up with his ideas, but mine usually come over drinks, while I’m lying in bed, or when I’m driving alone.

About a month later the plan for SportsRadioInterviews.com was hatched. I had two better names for the site but one was too long and the other wouldn’t have explained what the site was about. Those names were FirstTimeCallerLongTimeListener.com and CosellsToupee.com. SportsRadioInterviews.com was obviously very descriptive and I’m glad that was ultimately the name we chose. The site was up with content for about five months with myself and one other writer tweaking the way the site looked and the way the blog postings would be formatted.  We launched the site a week before the 2009 Super Bowl.

I remember vividly sending out an email to every media person in my database and every friend in my contacts introducing them to SRI. Building the site had been a labor of love for me as I’m a former PD, Host, and Executive Producer in the world of sports radio. I’ve always felt that sports radio is an underappreciated medium and has the ability to cover stories from a multitude of angles. I also think that you’re going to get more compelling answers from a player on a phone interview with an engaging host that can typically disarm them with a good sense of humor over a media scrum with ten press members hovering over a naked player after a game when all that player wants to do is get the hell out of the locker room.

I received positive feedback from a plethora of members of the media off of that email.  The one exception was Woody Paige. Enough said, right then and there I knew the website was a good idea.

While I’m biased and I think I’m a very good writer, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had to do less writing and focus more on marketing the site. It’s the old “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a sound” theory. So I started bombarding different websites and writers with emails with a list of our posts of the day. Thankfully, SRI’s content was found to be compelling, informative, controversial, and often funny. No longer could an athlete/coach/gm say something on a local radio station and have it disappear into thin air. SRI became a bit of a watchdog and you could even say a ‘shit-stirrer”. I never felt bad about that either because I wasn’t making up the quotes. These were all words that came from people’s mouths and finally they were being held responsible for what they said on sports radio.

Quickly, we were getting a positive name in the sports blogosphere and were getting linked everywhere. ESPN.com, Peter King’s MMQB, Fox Sports, Deadspin, The Huffington Post, ABC News, The NY Post, the Washington Post, PerezHilton.com, and a host of others. We’ve averaged about 75,000 uniques a month since our third month of our hard launch. To this day, it still gets my juices flowing to see our content linked.

Within a year, we had daily content on ESPN.com and Deadspin and were hopeful to sell the site. We had a lot of companies reach out and ultimately sold the site to SBN (SportsBlogNation.com) in late October of 2010.  This wasn’t the days of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, so we definitely didn’t get rich off of the sale. We basically made the money back we’d spent paying for writers for 18 months and a little pocket change.  Plus, it’s pretty cool to say you sold a website. I received a three year contract to stay on as Editor of SRI and a budget for writers and an assistant editor.

I was so excited for SRI to eventually move to SBN’s platform and allow me to stop marketing the site on a daily basis. I could actually write again! Well, it’s thirty months later and unfortunately SRI never moved over to SBN’s platform. I completely feel like the title of Jim Valvano’s book, “They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead”. I’m not writing this to bash SBN. They bought the site, own the rights, and have the ability to do whatever they want with SRI. I really liked the people I was interacting with over at SBN as well. I’m more just disappointed that after a bunch of promises to integrate SRI into SBN’s platform, it never happened.

Companies change directions and their mind all the time and SBN just decided that SRI wasn’t a fit for them. At the beginning of 2013, I was informed that the funding of SRI was going to cease. My business partner and I weren’t quite ready to close the doors of SRI and discussed with SBN buying the site back and getting some new investors. We had a few meetings at the Super Bowl with potential new buyers of SRI but unfortunately nothing has come to fruition. So here we are today. I have a lot of emotions running through me right now. Sadness, anger, and relief probably are the three most prominent ones. SRI was my baby, a daily grind, and something very positive for me personally and professionally. I won’t know what to do with myself without having to check RSS feeds, Twitter, and Sports Radio Websites throughout the day. Or waiting for that email from a host or producer cluing me into an awesome interview they just had. But I think it will be somewhat therapeutic not to have that daily grind of searching for worthy interviews and hopefully I can channel the extra time I have into something creative again.

I truly feel like SRI was at the forefront of recognizing the great content, from an interview perspective, that sports radio consistently produces. Many of the bigger sites have taken a page from our book and are now transcribing interviews from sports radio and using them as content in their stories. My ego tells me I got that ball rolling. And as a former sports radio guy, I’m proud of that.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank a lot of people for their help along the way. First and foremost, my wife for dealing with me being online practically 24/7. My business partner Dan Zucker for putting up with my sometimes maniacal and sometimes aloof ways. Michael Bean for helping me get the site off the ground and writing for SRI for three years. SBN for buying the site.  All the loyal writers at SRI, especially my current staff of Eric Schmoldt, Chris Fedor, Steven Cuce, and Brad Gagnon. I’d also like to thank other people who wrote for the site in the past including Will Brinson, Tas Melas, Doug Farrar (for a week!), Tim Gunter, Paul Bessire, Lance Zimmerman, and Zach Krantz. Shockingly, I still haven’t met Eric, Steve, or Chris who have all worked for the site for over two years. One day I’ll meet you guys and dinner and drinks are on me. John Mortensen who built the site and taught me how to use it. All the radio stations for letting me link to their interviews, the producers for consistently keeping me abreast of the better interviews out there, and the hosts for conducting some great interviews. I’d also like to thank some people who championed the site early on and were tremendous advisors for SRI including Darren Rovell, Mike Florio, AJ Daulerio, Rick Chandler, Michael David Smith, Lynn Hoppes, and Jason McIntyre. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, so my apologies in advance.

It’s been a great ride and I’ve learned so much throughout these past 4+ years. Thanks again for checking out SportsRadioInterviews.com.

Jimmy Shapiro

P.S.  Indulge me here, but since I haven’t written much in the past three years, here’s my favorite column that I wrote during SRI’s existence:

http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2009/04/14/baseball-will-never-sound-the-same-again-for-me/


Chip Kelly Says the NFL Draft Went Too Slow for Him

April 30, 2013 – 10:30 am by Chris Fedor

In Chip Kelly’s first NFL season, he has already implemented a number of changes to the Eagles. He hands out smoothies to his players when they come off the practice field, he has sped up some things on the practice field and he has changed the attitude in Philadelphia. This season, he will encounter a number of firsts. He will coach his first game, he will have his first big decision on fourth down, he will have to decide whether to kick an extra point versus go for a two point conversion and the list goes on and on. He just finished his first NFL draft as the head coach of the Eagles and he did great. A number of the players he picked had success against Oregon (IE: 2nd round pick Zach Ertz who caught 11 passes against the Ducks last year), but it was about adding long-term starters to an already solid roster. That’s what Philly did. So far, so good for Kelly in the NFL.

Chip Kelly joined WIP in Philadelphia with Angelo Cataldi to talk about what the experience was like for him during his first draft, whether the Eagles entertained trade offers for the fourth pick, if it was an advantage to coach against many of these players in college, on the QB competition in Philadelphia, why he wanted to bring Michael Vick back and whether he thinks the Eagles can win as soon as this season.

What the experience was like for him during his first draft:

“To be honest, it was awful because you make a pick and then it seems like six hours later you get to make another pick. So it doesn’t happen like the game, it’s a lot slower in terms of, you make a pick, you get excited about the guy you get and then you’re not up for another three hours. The in between part kills you, being on the clock and waiting towards the do you get an opportunity to get this guy? He’s still on the board. When it gets closer to your pick it gets exciting, but the down time, I think, took a little bit to get used to.”

Whether the Eagles entertained trade offers:

“I think when you look at you can say ‘well they should have traded.’ But there has to be a partner to trade with. If no one is calling you then no one wants to move into your spot. You can look at it from the outside and say ‘hey if I was in that situation I would have traded back and done this, this and this.’ But you have to have somebody to trade back with. We entertained some calls but obviously the value wasn’t there. It’s like ‘trade your pick and we will give you a football.’ When you look at it that way you’re just like that is not very valuable to the franchise so we’re going to stick with it. For us, in every round, after the first we had guys on the board that were rated the round above. We always felt like we were getting value.”

Was it an advantage for you because you saw many of these players in college up close and personal?

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John Amaechi on Jason Collins: “He Knew all the Implications from the Very Beginning. He Deserves Great Credit”

April 30, 2013 – 7:30 am by Steven Cuce

NBA veteran Jason Collins revealed to the world on Monday that he is a gay professional athlete. The big announcement came on Sports Illustrated’s website. Collins is a free agent and made the daring move to come out while still being an active player.

The 12-year veteran was tired of living a lie and should be commended for the courage it took to make this announcement. John Amaechi became the first former NBA player to come out publicly after doing so in his book ‘Man in the Middle,’ in 2007. Amaechi spoke with Collins before this announcement and sheds some light on the emotions that Collins was dealing with.

John Amaechi joined Fox Sports Radio with Primetime to discuss his reaction to Jason Collins coming out as a gay basketball player, the impact of Collins coming out as an active NBA player, the reason why Collins came out now, the general public still being squeamish about a professional athlete coming out and the chances of an NBA team signing Collins after coming out.

So Jason Collins? Your thoughts?

“I think he is remarkable guy. I’ve been speaking to him over the last month and he was talking about this decision to come out and obviously one of the things I said was that being out was better than being in. It’s better and more healthy for you, but the reality is that he is just a perfect spokesperson. He’s eloquent. He’s smart. He’s thoughtful, and he’s going to be out there navigating through the nuisances of what, at times, might be a little bit turbulent water.”

Some people are saying that Jason Collins’ impact may not be that big because he’s a free agent and not in the prime of his career. What do you think?

“I think this line — and I know it’s not yours — is one of the most juvenile out there. The fact is that people will say this about Jason to try and minimize what he has done and to try and suggest what he has done is not brave or not bold, but it is. The reality is that they will say this about Jason and then the next player comes out and it’ll be the middle of their career and people will say, ‘Maybe if he is a better player this would be important.’ Then the next player will come out mid-career and then there will be a better player and he was an All-Star. Then maybe it’ll be important. The excuses will just keep coming. Maybe he’s the best player in the league. These are weak excuses. The fact is that what he’s done is brave. He’s done this in a country where there is still a great deal of anti-gay sentiment that is manifested in lore. Never mind anything else, and yet he’s out there as an eloquent spokesperson, not just for gay people, but to show difference is not something you need to be afraid of, and that perhaps the assumptions of who belongs in what jobs and what parts of society, you can be a little bit shaken up, and I think he’s going to do that very well.”

Why did Jason Collins come out now?

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn: “I’ve Had a Feeling that There Might Be Some More Twists and Turns”

April 30, 2013 – 6:20 am by Eric Schmoldt

It was a sad day Monday in Seattle as fans and the community there found out that the city would not be getting an NBA team back. At one point, it seemed inevitable that the Sacramento Kings franchise was on its way there, but fans in Sacramento celebrated Monday as the team will be staying.

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn joined KJR in Seattle with Dave “Softy” Mahler to discuss the news that Seattle isn’t getting an NBA franchise, why he was concerned this could happen, what happens next, the initial timeline of how this would go down and if he’ll be talking with David Stern.

The news that a team is not coming back to Seattle is tough to swallow:

“I was disappointed, too. I was really hopeful that this was going to go our way. But, you know something? The fans have a lot to be proud of here. I’m speaking from where I sit. Without the fan support around the Sonics, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Obviously we have a great investor team. … If we can go a little bit higher, too, when we entered into that memorandum of understanding, we didn’t know what team we’d be getting. We didn’t even know what team was on the horizon. And we put five years on it, too. So the fact that it was happening this fast was amazing.”

If we were just hanging out on Friday night and I asked if you thought the team would be coming here, what would you have said?:

“I was hopeful, but I’ve had a feeling that there might be some more twists and turns in the story. That’s the truth. I was wondering what the twist and turn was going to be. I was just waiting to see how it would turn out.”

What was your biggest concern?:

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Andy Reid “Had to Laugh” at Rumors the Eagles Stole Matt Barkley from the Chiefs

April 30, 2013 – 5:35 am by Brad Gagnon

Andy Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 years, and he can’t seem to escape his former team. Not only does he have to return to Philadelphia in September with the Kansas City Chiefs, but there was a hot rumor during the draft that the Eagles jumped ahead of Kansas City at the beginning of Round 4 to steal Matt Barkley from them.

Not so, says Reid. They were dead set on taking Nico Johnson all along.

Andy Reid joined Soren Petro on WHB in Kansas City to discuss some of his team’s later draft picks, particularly two guys — Travis Kelce and Sanders Commings — who come with character concerns. He also talked about the difficulties attached to coaching players with those concerns, a popular draft rumor involving his former team and Luke Joeckel, whom the Chiefs passed on with the top pick.

On third-round pick Travis Kelce, who has gotten into some trouble in the past and whose older brother Jason played for Reid in Philadelphia:

“He’s kept himself on the straight and narrow here for the last couple years and done well with that. I told him if he acts up I’m gonna just sick his brother on him.”

On fifth-round pick Sanders Commings pleading guilty to domestic violence charges after striking a woman last year:

“I’m not very good with those situations. I have kind of a no-tolerance with that, and so we made sure we did our homework on it, and his roommate was actually a kid [Brandon Boykin] that played for us last year as a rookie at Philadelphia, and I knew the character of the kid. I talked to the coaches about the situation and we looked into it from the law-enforcement standpoint, and we found out what we think really happened and we felt comfortable taking him at that position. Obviously I can’t get into all the details of that, but neither John nor I, we’re against those type of things, but again, we did our homework on it and we feel pretty comfortable with him.”

On the distractions that come with having to watch over players who are also known troublemakers:

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Bjoern Werner Learned About the NFL By Playing “Madden”

April 29, 2013 – 10:10 am by Chris Fedor

For the longest time, the Indianapolis Colts had a great pass rushing duo with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. But Freeney left this offseason leaving Indy a man short. They needed to find someone to replace him. They did just that on draft night with Bjoern Werner. The German-born defensive end was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year at Florida State this past season and should have a chance to come in and make a difference right away for the Colts.

Bjoern Werner joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis with JMV to talk about where the Colts were in terms of level of interest in him, on learning about the NFL by playing Madden, how it felt to finally hear his name called and how big of a deal him getting drafted into the NFL was for his family.

On where the Colts were in terms of level of interest:

“I knew they were really, really interested. Talked to my agent, they were talking to my D-Line coach at Florida State a lot. So I knew if I fell to the 24th pick then they had a good chance to take me. I was hoping they would take me because it’s a great organization and a great football team. They picked me. I can’t complain. I’m so happy.”

On learning about the NFL by playing the video game Madden:

“That is so correct. I knew every NFL star probably when I was 12, 13 or 14. I learned every team, every player in the game and I always created my little All-Star games, All-Star teams. I was just telling a few people when I was 12, 13, 14, I played with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. They were like the dynamic duo for years. Now I’m going to play with Robert Mathis. He’s going to be my veteran. I can ask questions, I can look up to him. This is just so amazing and so unbelievable.”

How it felt to finally hear his name called:

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Matt Barkley Slips to the Third Day of the Draft, Lands in Philadelphia

April 29, 2013 – 8:20 am by Eric Schmoldt

One year ago, Matt Barkley almost certainly would have been a high first-round draft pick, but he decided to stay at USC for his senior season. Things didn’t go well for the Trojans, Barkley got injured and this past weekend, he slipped all the way to the fourth round. Now he joins up with new coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, who already has a pretty full quarterback room with Michael Vick and Nick Foles.

Matt Barkley joined WIP in Philadelphia with Reuben Frank to discuss keeping a positive attitude despite slipping to the fourth round of the NFL draft, how much scouts’ opinions of him changed in one year, not having a chip on his shoulder, joining a couple of other solid quarterbacks in Philadelphia, what it would be like to not start and the process of watching the draft.

On having a positive attitude despite slipping all the way into the fourth round:

“I think I’ve learned a lot over the last couple years, that has been able to give me that positive outlook and attitude. And regardless of where I ended up, I think just the fact that I ended up on a team, and to end up on a team like Philadelphia, with the organization that they have and the fan base, I could not be more excited. I knew that wherever I was going to end up, it’s just the beginning. It was just the starting point, and everything’s a clean slate. I know I have to work my way up from here.”

Was it surprising to you that scouts’ evaluations of you changed so much in one year?:

“Yeah, I’ve definitely learned a lot through that whole process, just what people thought about my year. It was a tough year, but I think because of the expectations that we had on ourself, coming off the 2011 season, and on top of that, what the media and the country placed on us in regards to what they expected of us. … We played tremendous football at times. … The injury, it was painful and took a while to get back up to speed, but it by no means will affect me in the future.”

Do you have a chip on your shoulder after all this?:

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D.J. Hayden Overcomes All Odds to be Taken No. 12 Overall by Oakland

April 29, 2013 – 7:45 am by Eric Schmoldt

There are plenty of people who are surprised that D.J. Hayden is even alive right now. But he overcame a tremendous injury in practice for Houston and not only survived, but was selected No. 12 overall by the Oakland Raiders on Thursday. Hayden tore his inferior vena cava, a crucial vein, and has yet to put pads on since, but says he’s ready to give it a go in the NFL.

D.J. Hayden joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco with Bucher and Towny to discuss being selected No. 12 overall, working out for the first time after surgery to repair a torn vein near his heart, what he remembers about the day he suffered the injury, his mindset now and being taken by the Raiders.

After all that you’ve been through, what was it like for you and your family when you found out you were drafted No. 12 overall?:

“It was just a true blessing. Just for me to be picked 12 overall, it was just crazy. From where I came from, because I’ve been through some trials and tribulations, I should say, and just for me to overcome my injury and all the odds is just amazing.”

After your heart injury and surgery, when was the first time that you worked out and what was that experience like?:

“I was at … a workout facility that I’ve been training at. My trainer, he wasn’t even there. I was there early, and I was just in there just backpedaling. I’m kind of fresh, just two to three weeks out of the hospital, and I’m still kind of skinny, and my back was still kind of hurting me. I was just out there trying to test myself to see where I was. I kind of sprinted a little bit and I kind of broke a sweat. I got so happy, I got so excited then.”

What do you remember about what happened to you during that practice leading up to the injury?:

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Kyle Long Didn’t Expect to be Drafted as High as he Was

April 29, 2013 – 7:05 am by Brad Gagnon

The Chicago Bears continue to make a strong push to revamp an offensive line that for years has taken beatings. The latest step in that process came in Round 1 of the NFL draft, with Chicago taking Oregon offensive guard/tackle Kyle Long, who just so happens to be Howie’s son and Chris’s brother.

Kyle Long joined Boers and Bernstein on WSCR in Chicago to discuss his role with the Bears, what he has to improve, his position, how he’ll avoid temptations at the pro level, his relationship with the game of football, being picked higher than expected and the Bears’ efforts during the pre-draft process.

On expecting to play a big role as a rookie:

“Everybody that comes into an organization and gets drafted should have the confidence to be able to come in and make an impact. Saying that would be kind of a bold statement, but I can promise you I’m gonna show up and I’m gonna work my butt off.”

On what he believes he has to improve:

“My technique. I’m very raw in the game, I’m inexperienced, but I feel like my best football is ahead of me.”

On if he thinks he’ll eventually play tackle, rather than guard:

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Dee Milliner Isn’t Worried About Replacing Darrelle Revis, Feels Comfortable in Rex Ryan’s Defense

April 29, 2013 – 6:15 am by Steven Cuce

The New York Jets started their rebuilding process under new GM John Idzik by drafting defense in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. A week after trading Darrelle Revis, the Jets used the No. 9 overall pick on Dee Milliner.

The former Alabama cornerback was regarded as the best player at his position in this draft despite injury issues. Milliner is excited to be a Jet and is looking forward to the opportunity of playing for Rex Ryan.

Dee Milliner joined 98.7 ESPN New York with The Michael Kay Show to discuss his excitement of being drafted by the New York Jets, visiting the Jets during the workout process, Alabama’s defense being similar to the Jets’ style of defense, filling in for Darrelle Revis and being considered the best cornerback in the NFL draft.

How excited were you to get drafted by the New York Jets?

“Oh man, it was fun. I enjoyed the process and to finally get to a team and know that I could call it my home.”

Going into the draft, how much knowledge did you have of the Jets and the city of New York?

“I had taken a visit, but going out there I knew everything was going to be fine. There was going to be no problem, and when it comes down to it I didn’t know I was going to be available at the time, but I was there and they decided to take me when I was available.”

Has Rex Ryan told you that Alabama does very similar things that the Jets do?

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