Every once in awhile a sports radio interview takes place that is tremendously awkward. Interviews go that direction for a variety of reasons (chemistry issues, line of questioning, dumb questions, host or guest wakes up on the wrong side of the pillow). And to quote Kenny Bania from Seinfeld, these segments “are gold, Jerry, gold!” I can’t get enough of them.
On Thursday, the Big Lead made me aware of a classic uncomfortable segment on ESPN Radio. Doug Gottlieb was filling in for Colin Cowherd and was interviewing NFL Network Analyst Jim Mora Jr. in regards to his upcoming interview with Michael Vick (BTW, Mora did a terrific job with the Vick interview). As you’ll witness in the video below, Mora doesn’t like Gottlieb’s questions about Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb and 1:40 into the video says “Is this your first interview? Jesus Christ, what kind of questions are these.”
I listened to this segment multiple times and while I think Mora’s reactions were rude, Gottlieb’s interview skills were not impressive. He was clearly flustered, his questions were often too long, and I lost a bit of respect for him as he didn’t defend himself with enough conviction or confidence. I like Gottlieb as an analyst. How can I not as he was one of the few successful Jewish college hoop players in my 40 year existence. Jews get tired of talking about the plodding Danny Schayes! But I digress. The fact is many analysts are good at their jobs and interesting guests for other radio shows, but that doesn’t mean they have the requisite skills to conduct a well done interview.
Doug Gottlieb joined 104.3 the Fan in Denver with Alfred Williams, D-Mac, and Mark Schlereth to talk about whether he started off the interview asking Jim Mora about Michael Vick, the notion that Jim Mora was angry before he came on for the interview and that he is in denial about Vick while they were both in Atlanta, and the notion that Jim Mora was fired because he went on radio in Seattle saying he can’t wait to be the coach of the Washington Huskies football team not because of Mike Vick’s play.
Whether he started off the interview asking Jim Mora about Michael Vick:
“It was a couple of questions in but there was nothing before that I think would have led it to be negative. I’ve listened to it a couple of times now and I tried to figure what the deal was, and I am sure part of it was, it wasn’t my show it was Colin’s show. He doesn’t know me, I don’t know him, but I think the big thing was he didn’t like the line of questioning, but sometimes maybe there was a misunderstanding. It ‘s just weird. What did you guys think set him off?”
On the notion that Jim Mora was angry before he came on for the interview and that he is in denial about Vick while they were both in Atlanta:
“That is actually how I started the interview and this maybe set him… I just asked him, we’re taught up here guys to open with neutral questions… ‘What is your reaction to all of this happening so quickly?’ Quickly, he sat on the bench last year; he was in jail for two years. I was like, ‘Yeah, did you think he was going to be the starting quarterback for the Eagles, and killing it, and League Offensive Player of the Month? In the first month of the season? I would say, I didn’t. Then I thought, I tried to go retrospective. I don’t know, I have used my past to learn from it and think of it, what could have been? I don’t think there is anything to wrong to wonder… I look at Mike Vick, Alfred maybe this is where I think it brings in everybody into the conversation. I look at Mike Vick and think that we may end up seeing Muhammad Ali, where, how good would Muhammad Ali have been if he could have fought those three years that he wasn’t allowed to fight? How good would Mike Tyson have been if Cus D’ Amato hadn’t died and been put in jail? How good would the Bulls have been if Jordan didn’t walk away and go to baseball for two years? I think it is a far and valid question for a guy whose first professional job was completely linked to Mike Vick. Do you mean to tell me that there is not one time during the day that he watches Mike Vick on tape before the interview and says, ‘Now he buys in? If he would have bought in when I was coaching we’d still be killing things in Atlanta.”
On the notion that Jim Mora was fired because he went on radio in Seattle saying he can’t wait to be the coach of the Washington Huskies football team not because of Mike Vick’s play:
“That is where I kind of took the high road a little bit, I didn’t bring that in. Listen, maybe he wouldn’t have wanted out if Mike Vick was watching tape. If his franchise quarterback was more interested in being a franchise quarterback than being an entrepreneur, which I mean there is a lot to it. It is not a big deal to me. I feel bad because I think I could have been, I am a nitpicker, I think there are some things that I could have done better. I could have let him answer questions. I was stunned by his tone, I was stunned by how negative he was?”
Whether he is in any kind of trouble:
“No, my security badge, I think, still works… I just want to know if I can get some chili and some of that good protein powder.”
His last thoughts on the Mora interview:
“Usually, guys hang up. Sometimes guys hang up. I didn’t feel like I was…Part of it was my tone is like…I don’t know, I guess part of it is my generation. Maybe I come off more snarky than I think I do or I try to. I didn’t think my tone was that off. I did interrupt him and that was wrong. Maybe you could have taken it in a negative way asking if he’d still be coaching Atlanta.. I’m like you guys I’m surprised and it stinks because now he’s going to be forever linked to that interview, but that’s part of the deal. Why agree to do an interview and then kind of not want to talk about the interview and the subject of the interview.”
Listen to Doug Gottlieb on 104.3 the Fan in Denver with Alfred Williams, Mark Schlereth, and D-Mac (interview starts at 21:55)