1. There has been a lot of fallout from Saturday’s blockbuster trade between the Lions and Rams that saw quarterbacks Matt Stafford and Jared Goff swap teams.
One unexpected turn of events was Fox’s lead analyst, Troy Aikman, getting dragged into the mess.
In a glowing column on Goff for NFL.com, writer Michael Silver called out Aikman for criticizing the quarterback over the course of the season.
“Routinely trashed this season on FOX telecasts, specifically those with Troy Aikman as the lead analyst, Goff could reasonably assume that McVay's words about his quarterback's play in network production meetings were far from glowing,” wrote Silver.
The insinuation there is that Aikman was doing McVay’s dirty work. But other analysts for Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN had production meetings with McVay this season. Did McVay speak poorly about Goff to only Aikman? Or did McVay speak poorly about Goff to other analysts, but Aikman was the only one to call out Goff’s poor play?
I don’t understand how anyone could’ve watched Goff toward the end of the season and NOT criticized him. His team lost to the winless Jets in Week 15. In Week 16, Goff went 24 of 43 for 234 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in a 20–9 loss to the Seahawks. He missed Week 17 because of a thumb injury. He completed just 9 of 19 passes in relief of John Wolford in the Rams’ wild-card win against Seattle and threw for just 174 yards in the divisional round loss to the Packers.
I reached out to Aikman for a response to Silver noting that he was particularly hard on Goff during telecasts.
“Unlike Michael Silver, I strive to be fair and balanced and do not have an agenda when doing my job,” said Aikman. “The record will show that I have been a strong supporter of Jared Goff’s over the years. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Rams and Jared Goff, he did not perform at his best in the games that I broadcasted this season and I’m confident Jared would be the first to agree.”
If NFL viewers pay close attention, it’s pretty clear that Aikman, more than any analyst on television, criticizes players when warranted. And he always does it in a fair way.
I talked about this with Aikman at length recently on the SI Media Podcast.
Here was the exchange we had.
Traina: One of the things I admire about you, and you do it fairly, you don’t hesitate to criticize the players. For new guys who get in the booth, they’re probably nervous about doing that. Is it because you’ve been out of the game and now you don’t have the relationships you may have had when you first joined the booth, or are you just trying to do your job the best that you can?
Aikman: I think it’s a little bit of both. I remember the very first press conference I did when it was announced I was going into this profession, and I was asked whether or not I can be critical of the players, and it took me aback a little bit. I said, “I don’t know if my job is by description to be critical. I think my job is to be fair and accurate and honest.” If you’re asking me if I could be those things, the answer is yes. I do believe that when you first leave the playing field and you’re in the booth, you do have much closer relationships and it’s a little bit harder to be objective. Then as you get further away from it, I still have a lot of great relationships in the game, I see these players regularly, I talk to them all, especially the quarterbacks, the coaches and the star players, if you will. I’m glad you said that you think I’m fair. I don’t have an agenda when I go into the booth. I try to call the game as I see it. And if there’s a play that’s poor, I try to point that out, but I never want to do it at the expense of anyone and I just try to be fair in my critique. I like to be fair when things aren’t going well so that when I say, “Hey, this is really a great play, this player is exceptional," that people know I’m not just saying it to say it. I want the words that I say to mean something, and that’s only true if you’re really honest with how you feel.
2. Former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola shared some thoughts on the "Patriot Way" that will make headlines today.
3. A leaked video that appears to be Nick Saban pitching a recruit on coming to Alabama is exactly what you'd think it would be.
4. It pays—literally—to be the best player on earth.
5. We released a bonus SI Media Podcast late Friday afternoon with WWE superstar Roman Reigns.
The universal champion pulled no punches in responding to recent claims made by the Undertaker and Bill Goldberg that today's WWE wrestlers are "soft." Reigns also explains why he thinks the superstars of today have it tougher than those who performed during the company's Attitude Era. Reigns discussed his long-awaited heel turn and how that has gone for him, why this WrestleMania may not be right for a match against Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and whether he has any concerns about performing in front of fans at WrestleMania during the pandemic. The man known as "The Head of the Table" also talks about what it's like to be the father of not one, but two sets of twins and gives a Bucs-Chiefs Super Bowl prediction.
You can also watch the podcast on YouTube.
6. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: John Krasinski hosted SNL this weekend. In one skit, he gave the Office theme song lyrics, and it was pretty solid.
7. SPORTS VIDEO OF THE DAY: If you watched Royal Rumble on Sunday night, just remember that his moment will never be topped.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram