NFL Network

Nate Burleson talks about how hard it is for former players to criticize current players on TV.

By Jimmy Traina
August 13, 2018

1. First things first. As you read this, I'm either on my way to Atlantic City or already in Atlantic City to see what his whole sports betting thing is all about. Hopefully, I will have a report for you on Wednesday. There will be no Traina Thoughts on Tuesday. There wasn't supposed to be a Traina Thoughts today, but since I love you guys so much and can't stay away, I put together this "Best Of" edition for anyone who still isn't subscribed to the SI Media Podcast in hopes of convincing you to just click that "subscribe" button and make me a happy man

We have a ton of great guests, heavy on NFL and college football coming up for the rest of August and September, so subscribe now to get the podcast delivered to the device/player of your choosing.

The latest SI Media Podcast featured an in-studio interview with the full cast of the NFL Network's Good Morning Football. Kay Adams, Nate Burleson, Kyle Brandt and Peter Schrager talked about how the show came together, the challenges of doing the show, whether the NFL ever tries to get involved in editorial content and much more. For example, all hell breaks loose at the 44-minute mark when we try to figure out the Mt. Rushmore of HBO shows.

One of the more interesting parts of the podcast is when Burleson talked about the difficulties of being a former player who now has to criticize his peers. Here's what Burleson told me on the SI Media Podcast:

"When I first got to the NFL Network, I was just like every other player protecting brand, protecting the fraternity. I was always complimenting guys and I never wanted to step on people's feelings. I remember, one of my mentors was like, 'Say something.' I was like, 'What do you mean? I am saying something. I was clever. I'm clever, I make people laugh, I smile.' He was like, 'You did that in the locker room, but say something, man. You know the game. Take a risk and criticize these players. They'll respect you more when they see you.' I was like, 'Damn, this feels so awkward.' I literally was a cringeworthy feeling when I had to criticize a guy, even when I knew the player was in the wrong, like he dropped the ball or said something stupid.

I started to do it and I would see these guys. James Jones, who actually works for the network now, I'm doing a playoff game in Detroit ... it's Green Bay and Detroit and I'm sitting there and somebody walks up from behind and says, 'Really? Really? You're gonna talk about the Packers wide receivers like that?' I had said [the Packers wide receivers] can't get off the line of scrimmage. That's why Aaron Rodgers was struggling getting them the ball. They need to have better release moves and get some separation down the field. This was when James was still playing.

I'm like, 'Who is talking to me?' He comes up and puts his hand on my shoulder, aggressively. Mind you, I've known James because I played against him. I don't know him personally. He's like, 'So you're gonna get on TV and act like you don't know how hard it is to get off the line of scrimmage?' I was like, for a split second, 'Is he serious?' And I paused, I waited, and then he smiles and says, 'Nah, I'm playing. You're doing a good job, man, but you were hard on us.' I was like, 'I'm just saying, I feel like you guys gotta do a better job getting off the line of scrimmage.'

That right there was validation that I'm handling the X's and O's right."

You can listen to the full podcast with the cast of Good Morning Football below or download it on iTunes.

2. With HBO's Hard Knocks under way, I spoke to the show's senior coordinating producer Ken Rodgers about what goes into producing an episode, how much footage is filmed, the editing process and much more. Rodgers also explained why he doesn't think it's out of the question that the Patriots would do the show one season.

3. One of my favorite interviews so far was Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, who talked about what a skipper's relationship with the media is like, the importance of a manager dealing the media and how his experience in media has helped him deal with the Philly media. This interview is not only for Phillies fans. It's a must-listen for any baseball fan.

4. ESPN icon Chris Berman joined the show for a one-hour interview about his storied career. Berman spoke passionately about his love for NFL Primetime, revealed how he feels about the harsh criticism he receives and told a great story about the time a SportsCenter producer banned him from using his famous nicknames on the show.

5. This one is very simple to sell: If you are or have a been a wrestling fan, you need to listen to Jim Cornette go off on a variety of topics. This was by far the podcast in which I spoke the least because Cornette is not shy about offering up opinions.

6. If you're an NBA fan, you'll want to hears SI's Lee Jenkins go in-depth on the on- and off-the-court personalities of Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

7. For my gamblers out there, Brent Musburger and Scott Van Pelt joined the SI Media Podcast right after the Supreme Court decided sports betting is legal. To say the three of us were downright giddy while discussing the ruling and the ramifications would be a huge understatement. This is just a fun listen for anyone who likes to wager.

8. If you're a Yankees fan who hasn't listened to my interview with the legendary John Sterling, do it now. The man affectionately known as "Pa Pinstripe" talked about his philosophy for calling a game on the radio, how he preps, his daily routine and also had plenty to say about his critics.

9. After this podcast with Darren Rovell, I had so many people say to me that while they were not a fan of Rovell's schtick, they enjoyed the interview. I got lots of great feedback to the friendly argument Rovell and I had about a totally irrational thought he had about Vince McMahon one time.

10. Chris "Mad Dog" Russo: If you've read my work for a long time, from the Hot Clicks days to Traina Thoughts, you know I'm a die-hard old-school Mike and the Mad Dog fan, so this interview was a thrill. Anyone who has ever been a fan of the old Mike and the Mad Dog show will love this conversation.

Traina Thoughts is the best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts right here. And make sure to listen to and subscribe to the SI Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina.

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