Q&A with Boomer Esiason
Last week SI writer Richard Deitsch interviewed Boomer Esiason for the magazine's Q&A. The CBS Sports analyst takes over the Don Imus slot on WFAN-New York on Sept. 4. Here are additional excerpts from their interview:
SI: Are you stepping into a minefield with this job?
Esiason: It's a great challenge, like starting at quarterback [in the NFL]. It's a minefield because you have to live up to the expectations. It's part of the excitement.
SI: Why take the job as Imus' replacement?
Esiason: It's an unbelievable platform -- and too good a platform to pass up.
SI: What will the format of your show be?
Esiason: I know they are positioning it as a sports format, but it will be everything. We could do Hurricane Dean or Hillary Clinton. We could do Rudy Guliiani or Tom Tancredo. Or we could be talking about the Yankees, the Jets or sinkholes in the Bronx. This month we're coming up on the sixth anniversary of 9-11. I had offices on the first tower of the World Trade Center so I have intimate contact with 9-11. The anniversary affords me a platform to talk about all the things that have transpired over the years.
SI: Who are your three dream radio guests?
Esiason: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, so I can grill the s--- out of him. Michael Jordan, to ask him about what he thinks of today's athlete. And Gisele Bündchen. To get the real scoop on Tom Brady, and just to say that I interviewed her. My buddies would be impressed.
SI: People are going to learn about your politics and other things normally not associated with a sports broadcaster. Does that concern you?
Esiason: No. I would characterize myself as an independent. I'm not registered as a Democrat or a Republican. Am I going to sit there and tell you the night before the election who I'm endorsing? No. I don't think people give a damn.
SI: Do you feel pressure to be funny?
Esiason: No. I'm not a comedian by trade, but I think a little self-deprecation every now and then is not bad. I'm not too serious about who I am and what I've done. I think a little locker room banter is a good thing. You just can't beat people over the head with it.
SI: Have you spoken with Imus?
Esiason: I have not spoken with Imus and I don't expect to speak to him.
SI: Your co-host for this show, Craig Carton, has endured some controversy for what some have perceived as sexist and ethnically insensitive comments. You obviously him gave your endorsement. Why do you believe he won't go over the line? Esiason: He knows that's not who I am. I don't need to be controversial. There is enough stuff out there that is happening. There is enough stuff to talk about. It should be smart, it should be funny. It should be intriguing. It should be sad. We should have a range of emotions. That's what all good radio is. I love the fact that we will have a difference of opinion and, hopefully, it will be without being mean-spirited.
SI: You signed a two-year deal? Esiason: Yes.
SI: Can you envision doing this for a decade? Esiason: I really can. Good morning radio to me is when you are driving to work and you miss your exit because it's so good to listen to. Some people have said that when they are listening to Marv Albert and I calling Monday Night Football, they will sit in their car in their driveway listening to us as opposed to getting out of the car to watch the broadcast.
SI: Who does talk radio well? Esiason: I'm fans of the Curtis [Sliwa] and [Ron] Kuby radio show in New York, and I was an Imus contributor. I don't agree with everything Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh say but the fact is they are successful in what they do. They are committed to their positions and like them or not, they are entertaining.
SI: How difficult will getting up in the morning be for you? Esiason: In some instances I'll go home after the Monday night game but Tuesday mornings will be toughest mornings for me. There are 10 Tuesdays after Monday night road games that will be really be tough. I'm just going to have suck on some Red Bull and be a gamer.