The job is to talk and talk. And in addition to that, it’s to talk and talk and talk. And in the case of Chicago sports radio caveman Dan McNeil, the appeal was to say things in an outdated, boys-will-be-boys, locker-room kind of a way.
He has been paid to do that for decades. On Tuesday, he was fired for it. WSCR 670-AM finally had enough of McNeil (this isn’t the first time) after he tweeted about ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor’s outfit during Monday Night’s game between Pittsburgh and the New York Giants:
“NFL sideline reporter or a host for the AVN annual awards presentation,’’ McNeil tweeted.
The Adult Video News awards are basically the Academy Awards of porn. You can catch them on Showtime, or so I’ve been told.
And Twitter blew up again, much the way it did when Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless said last week that Dak Prescott shouldn’t have shared his feelings about anxiety and depression. But it didn’t blow up nearly as much as it did the week before, when ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said that Steve Nash getting the Brooklyn Nets coaching job was the result of “white privilege.’’
Don’t get me wrong: McNeil needed to be fired for what he said. But these talkers are paid to run all the way up to the line and push it and say the most outlandish thing without crossing over . . . much. McNeil crossed way over.
This is just what these talkers do. It’s a dance, and they’re paid to be super-aggressive. No one knows that better than Outkick’s Clay Travis and Jason Whitlock, actually.
In 2017, Travis, on Brooke Baldwin’s show on CNN, was talking about Jemele Hill calling President Trump a white supremacist on ESPN when he said he’s a First Amendment “absolutist:”
“I believe in only two things completely,’’ Travis said. “The First Amendment and boobs.’’ That shocked Baldwin, who kept asking him to repeat it.
Whatever you think of what he said, he got national attention and there was no way, really, for him to get in trouble for it. He had hit the sweet-spot for talkers.
That’s what talkers are all after. By contrast, in 2012, Jeremy Lin scored 38 points against the Lakers and Whitlock tweeted “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.’’
He had gone over the line, mixing in stereotyping.
Whitlock had to apologize. If he repeated that mistake today, he’d probably have to fire himself from Outkick.
Talkers cross over all the time, of course. McNeil has been on and off of radio stations and podcasts around Chicago for decades. He leaves under controversy and then someone gives him another chance because he gets ratings and then he leaves under controversy, and then . . .
Of course he said something like that. He ends up a man in his late 50s acting like a middle-schooler in the locker room of gym class because he has so many radio listeners and fans on social media who cheer him on when he does it. There are plenty of cavemen in Chicago, particularly during the Bears season, believe me.
With Smith and Bayless (and also McNeil), the idea isn’t to provide intelligent arguments on sports. It’s to get people talking about them on Twitter or other forms of social media. It’s to tap into a mob mentality that forms there. You get a large group of people who have this strange belief that they are becoming friends with people they don’t know, or barely know.
They share their thoughts comfortably and without filter, hoping all of their fake friends on social media will provide them with an identity.
It really wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bayless said what he did about Prescott because Smith got so much attention for what he had said about Nash.
Sure, most of Smith’s attention was negative. But he’s Bayless’ competition. So Bayless pushed the line even more. And FS1 felt it had to issue a statement saying that it didn’t agree with Bayless.
“Wow!’’ Terrell Owens tweeted about Taylor and McNeil. “Y’all just feel like y’all can say whatever y’all want to under this president I see. Just speaking reckless. It was @RealSkipBayless about @dak now u about @MariaTaylor! If Skip was black, he would have been FIRED already. Relieved of his duties immediately!’’
Sorry, Terrell, but this stuff has been going on for years, long before this president.
Bayless didn’t get fired, or suspended. Fox issued a little statement that it didn’t agree with him and then reaped the rewards: On Monday, Bayless’ show had its highest ratings in almost a year. His Prescott comments worked.
Smith wasn’t suspended or fired, either. And ESPN was rewarded with a national discussion over one of its shows. McNeil was not so lucky. He’s out of work. Again. He’ll be back eventually.
“Well Danny Dearest if you would like to continue making sexist comments about me … please bring your misogyny with you to the NBA Countdown double header I’ll be hosting tomorrow night,’’ Taylor tweeted. “Hey ladies remember you can wear whatever you feel confident in!’’