America’s first power plant was opened in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1882, a full fourteen years before the power station in Niagra Falls opened for business. Given Wisconsin’s abundance of bodies of water, it quickly became one of the nation’s leaders in electrical conversion. Within a few years of President Roosevelt’s Rural Electrical Administration formation in 1937, electrical power was running to nearly every farm in Wisconsin, no matter the size. Glorious shining light bulbs glowing all throughout Dairyland, USA. Someone may want to pass this information on to Colin Cowherd. He must be under the impression that Wisconsin residents still use kerosene lamps to light their houses, because he has spent the last several weeks gaslighting the hell out of Green Bay. Let the Packers training camp madness commence.
For those of you lucky enough to not know who Colin Cowherd is, let me save you a Google. Cowherd is a national sports radio host (apparently, some people do still listen to radio–what a crazy world!) who spent about a decade at ESPN (and the GDP of Guatemala on blousy button ups and dad jeans), before transitioning to Fox Sports five years ago. Cowherd is the type of guy who has never met a contrarian point he has not wanted to dry hump. Cowherd postures himself as a big brand loyalist (despite leaving the largest sports brand for a slowly decaying sports brand), yet has never warmed to Green Bay despite the fact that the Packers are the NFL’s all-time leader in wins and are routinely pulls down the biggest TV ratings in the league. Cowherd’s brand is derision, and the brand has been strong as of late.
I like to picture Colin Cowherd as a talking head during the World War 2. Naturally, Cowherd would have been rooting for the Nazis. I can see him opening his show with a scorching hot take built around the fact that our president is in a wheelchair (Sample–Our president sits in a chair on wheels. The Geri’s president resides in an eagle’s nest. I like guys who can stand on their own two feet). He would probably spend 6 minutes talking about how the Germans uniforms projected strength and professionalism. Black and grey are manly colors, after all. I am getting sidetracked here. In short, he sucks.
I am sure you have ran across his video clips on Twitter decrying Aaron Rodgers as a prima donna, or have brushed up against his rants on You Tube detailing how Matt LaFleur is too weak to lead Green Bay to a Super Bowl. Or maybe you have seen him posing for pictures with sixteen year old high school football players who have committed to USC. Did he go to USC? Great question. The answer is no. But a few of his bosses at Fox did, so he is more than happy to carry their water for them. Quick aside–You should only be posing for pictures with high schoolers when you are in your 50’s if you are the parent of the student, the coach of said student, or you are a shady music producer in the late 1990’s.
Despite his repeated screeds against the Packers, his most egregious act took place last Thursday. Colin Cowherd, in the year of our lord 2022, went on a nationally recognized media apparatus and said, in a sober and clear voice, that he thought the Minnesota Vikings would win 13 games in the 2022 season. Best I can tell, this wasn’t some kind of comedy bit or publicity stunt. Cowherd, who fashions himself a gambling expert, said in front of God and everyone, that he thinks Las Vegas (well known for being underresearched in the art of oddsmaking) are 4 full games off on the Minnesota Vikings this year. The Vikings. A team with a new head coach, a first time GM, and effing Kirk Cousins at quarterback. 13 wins. Listen, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and, in 2022, apparently everyone is entitled to espouse their opinions as loudly and publicly as humanly possible, but this is just ridiculous. Viking fans don’t think they are going to win 13 games. Vikings players don’t think they are going to win 13 games. Hell, the Vikings front office probably doesn’t think they are going to win 13 games.
This is an enormous problem in sports right now. Bad faith actors espousing scorching hot takes to draw in as many eyeballs as possible. The space that was once dominated by gentlemen like Frank Deford, Paul Zimmerman, Dick Enberg, and Rick Reilly, has now been replaced by carnival barkers and braying asses who just want to stand out from the rest of the ooze in the fetted pond of national sports commentators long enough to grab a few bags of money from corporate entities who sold their souls years ago. Every national media “personality” is essentially Thich Quang Duc, minus the piety and the flowing robes.
And these supposed media conglomerations are more than happy to let this group of demented Eddie Haskell’s run amok, too. Old media is dying. Sports talk radio is like Goliath the monkey at the end of Project X (If you got that reference, you need a life). Traditional sports TV show’s ratings are resembling Peloton’s stock valuation chart over the last six months. The powers that be at ESPN and Fox Sports are just holding these rickety airplanes together with chewing gum and duck tape long enough to land safely and sell what’s left of the vessel off to the highest bidder. And, these entities have found that the most effective way to retain audiences to these decaying structures is by pissing off as much of their audience as they possibly can. What a business model, right?
When these companies aren’t busy jamming their thumbs in your eyes, they make time to pull the wool over them. Look at the coverage of the recent college football conference realignment. Fox has assumed control over the Big Ten’s media rights, and have recently lured USC and UCLA over to their inauspicious white panel van with promises of annual 9 figure payments. And, before the ink had even dried on these contracts, which, effectively has driven the stake into heart of college football once and for all, Fox hit the airwaves with their loudest megaphones extolling how this is great for college football. Yeah, just like going to war is great for munition companies, but, ya know, also means you are at war. The needs of the few, eh. These media companies don’t give a damn about you, your interests, or your traditions. They only want your money. Like an old 1930’s revival church, with the snakeoil preacher predicting doom from the pulpit while the preacher’s wife passes around the collection plate. It’s cynical. It’s craven. It’s life.
With training camp opening this week, you are bound to hear a lot of fantastic claims and unfounded predictions for this upcoming football season. I caution to take this all in stride. The NFL preseason is all foreplay. There is no doubt that foreplay can be exciting. And these media jackals are as skilled at foreplay as an actor in a late 90’s HBO porno. We are almost there Packers fans. Enjoy the next few weeks. Just be sure to double check your sources and enjoy the process. And, if you see Colin Cowherd pop up on your TV, change the freaking channel. Just because Wisconsin was one of the first states to enjoy electricity doesn’t mean we need run up our electric bills supporting hot air.
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on twitter at @LegitimateTimP.