As an organization, the Jets have their share of media circuses going back to the summer of 1969 and Joe (Willie) Namath’s tearful press conference “retirement” over the Bachelors III controversy.
There was also craziness over the coming of Bret Favre, Tim Tebow, Rex Ryan and others. Now, if a deal can be reached between the Jets and the Packers, Aaron Rodgers will not only become Gang Green’s next quarterback but its microphone potentate too.
Rodgers doesn’t need any of the Jets PR consultants or in-house spin doctors. In his own mind, he is the de facto boss of his own media shop. After 18 years with Green Bay, Rodgers has become a master of controlling his own content. It could be about football, darkness retreats, immunization or the effect of ayahuasca. There is enough evidence to say he is obsessed with managing the message.
Rodgers figured out how to put a variety of media platforms to work for him. The way he orchestrated the timing of his Wednesday revelation (on Pat McAfee’s YouTube show) of his intention to become Jets quarterback was just the latest example of his savvy.
As the Free World waited while he was literally in the dark, Rodgers built suspense before finally providing his own timeline of what went down with the Packers and how he arrived at his decision.
The build-up worked. Almost 500,000 viewers watched McAfee’s interview — on a national platform — with Rodgers. It’s doubtful he would’ve had the same number of listeners if he decided to limit his reach and delivered the word on one of NYC’s local sports talk stations. Nor would he get the commercial-free, one-hour, of interview time McAfee gave him.
While McAfee has reverence for Rodgers, the former punter asked the right questions. This wasn’t a Twinkie Munch. At least until one of McAfee’s colleagues, near the end of the interview, paid his respects by verbally kissing Rodgers’ tuchis.
Yet Rodgers’ Wednesday stylings also reinforced his desire to control the media. Rodgers bristled when a “rumor” about him asking the Jets to acquire certain players was raised by McAfee. Rodgers called the rumor “ridiculous” before chiding two ESPN NFL reporters, Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini, for texting him looking for confirmation.
Rodgers said he responded (sort of) to Schefter but not Russini because he didn’t know her. He said he would have told Russini the same thing he texted Schefter: “Lose my number. Nice try. I’ll speak for myself.”
This is not to suggest Rodgers will have an adversarial relationship with the local media including boss Jets scribes if he comes here. They have provided ample evidence that gratuitously stirring the pot, is not a priority. And Rodgers’ history suggests he is more than willing to fulfill the NFL’s media requirements.
Considering how well it works for both sides, there is every reason to expect Rodgers will continue doing his weekly McAfee spot. That would likely mean he will not appear on ESPN-98.7 or WFAN to participate in a paid weekly interview where Gasbags are looking to enhance their own reputations by playing the game of “gotcha.”
Surely, that’s not a part of Rodgers’ media plan.
HATING ON THE ‘CLASSIC’
On Twitter, two usually righteous commentators, had self-serving, I-told-you-so moments, after Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending injury Wednesday night celebrating a Puerto Rico win in the World Baseball Classic.
Both voices are harsh WBC critics. Howie Rose, the veteran radio play-by-play man of the Mets, tweeted: “Thank you, WBC.” The other mouth, WFAN/SNY’s Sal Licata, released a video calling the WBC “a stupid worthless exhibition tournament” and chiding Diaz for “getting hurt celebrating.”
Not once did either man express any compassion for Diaz, the Mets closer, or show any concern for him and his well-being after the injury he suffered.
They were blinded by their hatred of the WBC and, in Licata’s case, Diaz’s injury messing with the Mets “World Series or bust” aspirations.
FORGOT THE FREAKOUT
James (Guitar Jimmy) Dolan is busy with facial recognition, the Sphere, the State Liquor Authority and the Garden’s annual property tax break but he can take some solace knowing his MSG Network is still covering up for his Knicks.
Happened last Saturday during the Knicks’ 106-95 loss to the Clippers in L.A. Late in the third quarter Julius Randle got called for a technical foul after elbowing Mason Plumlee in the face. Then, Randle flipped out on the bench, yelling at coaches and team security while Tom Thibodeau tried restraining him.
On the broadcast, the Randle incident was replayed. Yet on the postgame show, featuring Ed Cohen, Alan Hahn and Bill Pidto, it was not discussed or replayed. The only time the Randle freakout was even mentioned on the postgame show was by Thibodeau during his press conference.
Could it be all the hours waiting, and talking about, the possibility of — and the machinations surrounding — Aaron Rodgers being traded to the Jets got to Brandon Tierney?
For there is no other reason (at least one we can manufacture) why he would — out of the blue — launch into a Monday WFAN rip-job on the self-deprecating Cooper Manning, Eli and Peyton’s older brother.
“Why so much Cooper [Manning]?” Tierney, on the air, asked. “Those [comedy] bits he does are painful enough!”
Tierney will never be known as Mr. Laughs, but on this occasion at least his Manning riff was semi-funny.
AROUND THE DIAL
Steve Cohen, senior VP 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 reaches out to people with mental health issues and substance abuse problems. Cohen will also serve as a consultant to SXM. Eric Spitz, Cohen’s long-time colleague, will move into the senior VP role. … As expected, Michael Kay on his Thursday radio show, said he will be staying put at ESPN-98.7 after agreeing to a new deal. Kay wasn’t convincing while previously dangling the possibility of radio “retirement.”… MSG is back in the diamond business airing 10 Fordham women’s softball games and 10 men’s baseball tilts this Spring. … Actually thought Adam Schein was going to break down and cry while paying tribute to recently “retired” Jim Boeheim on CBS Sports Network’s “Time to Schein.” He did try injecting a bit of 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 introducing the unwashed masses to his Boeheim blow-up doll.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: ROB MANFRED
Hold the confetti. We’re not getting carried away and organizing a parade for the commish. Yet give him credit for driving home baseball’s new rule changes that are re-energizing MLB play.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: GALAXY MEDIA
For firing veteran ESPN Syracuse talkie Brent Axe last Sunday. Listeners say he played it straight while talking Syracuse Univ. sports, but management says Axe recently became too negative, calling his tone “dark.” Just wondering if recently “retired” SU hoops coach Jim Boeheim, who owns 21% of Galaxy Media, is a collaborator in Axe’s demise?
What Rick Pitino said: “In terms of coaching, I probably have the same passion that I had as a 30-year-old.”
What Rick Pitino meant to say: “I still have what it takes to leave Iona for a bigger school and a larger paycheck.”