On Tim Couch’s legacy in retrospect
In the moment, it felt substandard to Browns fans’ most recent version of success with [Bernie] Kosar and those guys. After nearly 20 years of what we’ve trotted out, they miss him. He still has the most passing touchdowns and only playoff appearance since 1999, but he also had an interception about every touchdown. (Editor’s note: Couch had 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions in his five-year Browns career.) That can’t work in today’s NFL. But he took a beating and constantly picked himself up off the ground. I loved his style.
On Browns general manager
John Dorsey Listening to John, you hear this marriage of hopeful enthusiasm, knowledge and experience. He constantly talks about his love for the game. That’s important. If the fans can be patient — and I know that’s a bad word to Browns fans, the most patient fans on this planet — and give John two or three draft classes, I think you’re going to get more hits than misses.
On No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield
I like his feistiness, his confidence and his passion for winning. Looking at things like the Ohio State flag-planting incident, you say, “That’s not the kind of guy I want to play against, but that’s the kind of guy I want in my foxhole.” His personality mirrors John’s. Winners are consumed by the idea of winning and terrified by defeat. If he doesn’t make it, it might be because he lacked a certain skill set, but it won’t be for a lack of trying. He’ll exhaust every ounce of energy he has.
On the Browns appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks
Is it a distraction? Absolutely. But I see it as a positive. This team has an opportunity to learn how to deal with adversity before the season even starts. There will be a few scratch-your-head moments. Under the microscope, there will be a moment or two where the whole world is laughing at the organization. But I think they are equipped to handle that. Either way, it’s going to be tremendous to watch. I can’t wait.
On lessons he taught at Bowling Green State University
When I was coming out of school, it was pick your lane: film, print, TV or radio. Today, I want students who want to practice journalism as a profession to be able to podcast, go on camera, edit video and write, which is the basis of all good journalism. Arm yourself with as many different weapons as you can. The more diverse you are, the more likely you are to be hired. Then, work your ass off. Don’t be outworked by anybody. Hard work is always noticed and recognized.
On the state of media
Media still can be a wonderful profession. I still believe in it. It’s just as exciting of a career as it was in 1987. The opportunities are different but I still believe it’s a rewarding career. When it comes to journalism, everyone has their own idea of what that is today. I’m not sure that it’s alive and well any more. If you’re going into journalism, make sure you’re telling story as it is — not as you want it to be. Journalism is telling stories as they are or as they happened. I shouldn’t be able to tell your political leanings by your posts. That makes you an operative. Opinion doesn’t have room in the type of journalism that I learned. There is only one truth. It can’t be manipulated and twisted. Look around. It’s dripping with personal belief and opinion, and as a group, that’s why we have a terrible approval rating. Society doesn’t look at us as trustworthy or reliable any more. That’s where we used to get our facts. It wasn’t always right, but it was more correct and fact-based than what I see today.
My first ESPN show, Cold Pizza, the first live nationally televised sports show, was a fledging morning show. When we became First Take, debate became the entire show and ratings skyrocketed. It was a runaway train. In this copycat business, people saw value in veins popping out, fingers pointed and voices raised. That’s fine in sports, but in politics, where there’s no real right or wrong, that model is divisive. Now, it’s being deployed in cable news. They’re getting huge ratings, but at the expense of dividing our country. We’ve blurred the lines of opinion and journalism. That’s very troublesome.