Well, it’s draft season, and everyone’s hearing from the various gurus and experts out there, so I figure it’s a good time to tell a War Story on me.
This is from my days as one of two partners in the precursor to ITL. It was called Lone Star Football. When I first moved to Houston in 1998, I met a dude who wanted to start a Mel Kiper Jr.-style draft magazine, and after meeting me, he knew I had a passion for the game that mirrored his, so he asked me to help him out. It wound up lasting four years before it folded. Troy handled the offense and I handled the defense. One of these days, I’ll tell more stories from my humble beginnings with Lone Star in this space. When I do, take some No-Doze.
At any rate, we didn’t have any money, so our main strategy for selling our draft magazine (yes, it was a print publication just as the Internet was taking off, which was among our inept business decisions) was doing radio shows. I’d poke around on search engines (pre-Google) for whatever stations I could find with a sports talk format, and we’d volunteer to do their shows. We never got paid, so we’d always hope they had a toll-free line, so at least we didn’t have to come out of pocket to give away free programming.
Anyway, one year we landed a couple segments on a station in Green Bay. The problem was that they wanted to do it mid-day (which is probably where they stashed the draft guys that weren’t ready for prime time). We liked to do them together because we had a pretty strict dividing line between offense and defense, and if we had to ‘solo’ a show, we could wind up looking stupid if a caller asked about the wrong player. This is why I was really, really nervous while waiting for call time for this show, because my partner had to work. That meant I was stuck. I had to roll without Troy and hope for the best.
Well, the show wasn’t going very well (I think the host had wrangled with me over my opinion on a player, which kinda pissed me off) when we got a question on a cornerback from a small Midwestern school. I immediately panicked. As we only had two people trying to watch hundreds of players, our focus was almost solely on the big schools. Obviously the wise thing to do would be to cop to my ignorance, admit I didn’t know him, and throw myself on the mercy of the caller.
But hey, screw wisdom. I decided to sell out. Go for it. Burn my ships. Throw caution to the wind. I said something along the lines of ‘great ball skills, plus tackler, needs to prove he can play on a bigger stage.’ You know, the usual blather you get about small-school players, and it might have worked. Problem is, the caller had said ‘quarterback.’
No easy way to wiggle out of that one. Obviously, this didn’t endear me much with the host, who was already not a fan. I don’t remember how we wound up the segment, but that pretty much took all the steam out of it.
Ever since then, when I do radio and I get stumped, I will admit it. I will own it. It’s awkward, but it’s a way better place to be than I was that woeful day on Green Bay radio.