When the Buffalo Bills hired Mike Pettine away from the New York...
WGR550 Loses Its Mind Over Throwaway Stevie Johnson Comment
In case you have ever wondered why sports media generally does such a poor job, and in particular Buffalo NY sports media, today WGR550 gave us a Harvard Case Study.
In case you haven’t heard, Stevie Johnson stopped by Jim Rome’s camp on Radio Row in New Orleans today to chat things over. Stevie and Rome have quite a rapport built up to the point where Stevie will be quite honest, and today was no exception. When Rome asked how Stevie was keeping busy in the off season, Stevie mentioned that he really didn’t “work out” too much. Rome asked if that meant he didn’t do anything, to which Stevie responded that he didn’t really lift weights, electing to instead keep in shape by running and playing basketball.
I found it a little surprising that a NFL player could get by without pumping iron, but than remembered Bo Jackson said the same thing, and apparently Steve McNair, LT (meaning Lawrence Taylor, not that whiny former Jet who hijacked the initials), and Reggie White never spent a ton of time in the weight room either. After sending a quick tweet out, I forgot the incident and proceeded to finish the work day.
When I started my car to drive home from work, I had apparently left the radio on WGR 550 (something I try to avoid doing for reasons we’ll get to), and couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing: Mike Schopp, one half of “The Schopp and the Bulldog” show, was yelling indignantly that he was open to the idea of the Bills cutting Stevie Johnson over the comments he made to Rome.
Step back, take a deep breath, and read that last sentence again.
Schopp was suggesting that since the Bills only receiver to ever record back to back 1000 yard seasons (twice!) was candid about his disinterest in weight training, it might not be a crazy idea to cut him loose in order to “send a message.”
I couldn’t believe it either.
Among other facets of the “issue” that were touched on:
-What does this say about Buffalo to the nation? Answer: Nothing. It says nothing about Buffalo. I don’t think San Francisco’s full of homophobes after the Chris Culliver comments.
-Why won’t Stevie work harder? Doesn’t he care about the team? Answer: you don’t make the NFL as a 7th round pick without working your ass off. And in the sea of athletes peddling trash that is Radio Row, Steve was promoting “Buffalo Bills Football.”
-What a lack of PROFESSIONALISM. Two guys that are paid to talk about sports for a living openly admit to not paying attention to College Football, the NBA, College Basketball, and that couldn’t tell you who NaVorro Bowman is or what the differences are between any of the draft QBs, are going to pontificate about professionalism. Right-o.
Now, I’ve never held WGR550′s stable of bloviating personalities who dominate the drive time shows in particularly high regard, but to quickly blow a throwaway quip from the always eccentric Stevie Johnson completely out of proportion set both a new low for the station and acted as a microcosm of so much of what is wrong about both WGR and the sports media at large. This was the latest example of a WGR host following the Skip Bayless method of taking some item in the sports world that might be slightly interesting yet abstract and off the field in nature (like Tim Tebow’s effects on the Jets, or Steve Johnson’s workout regimen), pounding their fist on the table while delivering a controversial or “edgy” stance on said item (all Tebow does is win, Stevies remarks were potentially cut-worthy), and finally feeding off of and moderating the bottom of the barrel level of discussion that follows.
The last portion is a key ingredient; if there is one subset of Buffalo sports observer that is more petulant, irrational, and more ill informed than the WGR host, it is the WGR caller. As little as Mike Schopp may know about the NFL (and he openly admits to this), he still knows twice as much as the miscreants who form the majority of those who call in to agree or disagree, allowing the host to speak from a position of authority on a topic that should not even be a topic. Thus the noise machine fuels itself on a race to the bottom, and as local sports fans who like to talk about our team intelligently, we all lose.
But why care? Why not just ignore those who openly refuse to learn about the sport or facilitate anything beneficial? I try to do so as much as possible (and it will be easier once Rome moves to the new CBS station), but they combine their recently acquired rights to Bills games with those of the Sabres and a few hosts who do attempt to know the subject matter on which they speak (Cappacio, Buscaglia, and of course Murph all have solid working knowledge of the team) to obtain a thin layer of credibility. If you want to hear the post game interviews on the way home from the Ralph, you must also unfortunately subject yourself to Schopp and the Bulldog.
However, the real issue is that there’s a huge contingent of Buffalo sports fans who aren’t able to identify this as noise, and thus attempts to shout louder and more absurd things just to be heard (i.e. the whiner line). This amplifies to realms outside WGR radio such as this, and the collective sports conscience gets beaten down the lowest common denominator. At this point, we’re not much better than Boston.
Fortunately, there are a couple rays of hope. As mentioned earlier, the CBS station is promising, although it remains to be seen how much they are going to invest in local shows. But furthermore, with the advent of the internet and ease pod casting, there is a greater opportunity for sports fans in this town to take it upon ourselves to raise the level of discourse. It’s the reason we created the site. As Bills fans, we’ve put up with enough garbage on the field; we don’t need to have our ears treated likewise.