Whitt's End: Misunderstanding Dak's '$45M' & Cowboys Best-Ever Ballers

Richie Whitt

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 5.22.20 …

*Dak Prescott will win the wage war, but he’s losing the public relations battle. The screaming headline this week was “Dak wants $45 million a year!”. The Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback’s contraction negotiations are, of course, a tad trickier. But as we’ve learned recently – masks vs. no masks, for example – we no longer do nuance.

So … “Dak’s greedy!” is the growing, albeit shallow sentiment.

The $45 million Dak “wants” seems to be merely his counter to the Cowboys wanting to lock him into a five-year deal. ... and you'll note in Fish's coverage (Fish is the one who broke the story weeks ago of the "five years x $35 mil APY = $175 mil'' offer) that he characterizes the "$45 mil fifth year'' as a "rumor.''

A false one.

Anyway ... This deal will get done, but only then will Dak’s image reconstruction begin. He’ll get a smattering of boos during the preseason. No way around it: Regardless of context, the appearance that he's asking for $45 million (in any form) in the middle of a pandemic that is prompting record unemployment and countless shuttered businesses is horrible optics.

*Dirk Nowitzki was a better leader than Michael Jordan. I know. I know. No arguing Jordan was a far superior winner – six titles beats one, duh. But The Last Dance documentary reminded us that His Airness could be an a-hole of the loftiest proportions.

He picked on teammates (Scott Burrell). He punched teammates (diminutive Steve Kerr, not burly Charles Oakley). He quit on teammates (baseball).

In 21 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk never squabbled with teammates or coaches (outside of urging Lamar Odom to at least try). Never had an off-court hiccup (outside of one sour romance). Never did anything that wasn’t geared toward helping his teammates. With his “hometown discounts” in contract negotiations, he sacrificed potentially $200 million in salary – including $16 million in 2016 alone – so he could have better teammates.

Jordan proved a mean streak can help finish first. Dirk proved nice guys don’t always finish last.

*Day 72 without sports … Ah, Memorial Day, a time to celebrate the dawn of summer with a visit to the lake, grilling assorted meats and washing them down with … a seven-mile run, 300 pushups, 300 squats and 300 pullups?

That’s what some of us off-kilter types will engage in Sunday morning at Katy Trail in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy. It’s “The Murph,” and it’s our way of recognizing the sacrifice of our fallen military heroes.

*Counted, but not combined. In the wake of my reporting on Dallas-Fort Worth’s radio ratings, several Ticket listeners – and a couple of hosts – have accused me of not accurately representing the numbers.

Their contention: “Radio” listeners and “Stream” listeners should be combined into one overall rating.

My rebuttal: In its official ratings, Nielsen – the industry’s gold-standard scorekeeper – doesn’t combine them. For a deeper understanding, I reached out to the folks at Nielsen this week. Their explanation:

Listening to radio station streams is included in the total radio numbers reported by Nielsen. In the PPM markets, the online streams must be encoded in order for the meter to capture listening to them, and many stations choose to combine the stream audience with the over-the-air audience through a mechanism we call 'Total Line Reporting.'

However, even if the online stream is reported as a stand-alone and not combined with the over-the-air, we still capture any listening to the stream and roll it up into the market totals.

This is the case in Dallas specifically, where both KRLD-FM and KTCK report their internet streams separately, so they are NOT included in the overall numbers you see for KRLD-FM or KTCK-AM. By breaking out the stream separately and not combining it with the over-the-air content, this allows stations such as KRLD-FM (and) KTCK to sell the advertising inventory separately on the stream as opposed to the over-the-air.

Nielsen provided to Sports Illustrated this chart – covering all listeners and all hours of the most recently rated week – that shows … As you can see, KRLD-FM ranks 21st in the market based on audience share, KTCK-AM ranks 24. KTCK-AM stream ranks 33rd and KRLD-FM stream ranks 39th.

Nielsen Ratings
Chart provided to Sports Illustrated by The Nielsen Company

Bottom line: We’re both right.

The Ticket has far and away the most listened-to stream in DFW radio. But because stations create unique online streams that are often not 100-percent simulcasts –spiced with extra content, etc. – Nielsen considers them separate entities from radio programming.

Is stream counted? Yes. Is it combined? No.

The Ticket sells delicious applesauce. It also makes DFW’s meanest apple pie. Nielsen, however, considers them to be separate line items when it comes to overall sales of apples.

Just for fun – and to appease you-know-who-you-are – I requested a special "not-on-the-usual-menu'' report from Nielsen combining The Fan and The Ticket’s “Radio + Stream” combined numbers in the desired demographic (Men 25-54) for the last two quarters available. The scoreboard:

2019 4 Quarter (Oct-Nov-Dec), Radio + Stream

Fan 5.8

Ticket 4.3

2019 - 4Q
Chart provided to Sports Illustrated by The Nielsen Company

2020 1 Quarter (Jan-Feb-March), Radio + Stream

Ticket 5.5

Fan 4.9

2020 - 1Q
Chart provided to Sports Illustrated by The Nielsen Company

So in summary, 25-54 men in combined Radio + Stream, The Fan closed 2019 strong ... and The Ticket has opened 2020 strong. And the numbers to support the work of both stations are Nielsen's numbers.

*Want your head to explode? Figure out what action to take if “bolting is sanctioned.” Securely locking something up is approved? Lunging for the door is grounds for penalty? Or vice-versa, on all accounts? Contronyms are a thorny bunch.

*Day 73 without sports … Staggering stat that can’t help but have a negative effect on us moving forward: Worldwide, nine out of 10 schools are closed.

*I don’t blame baseball players for balking at the owners’ latest proposal to re-launch their sport. Under the plan, players would accept all the risk of exposure to COVID-19, take massive pay cuts, and be asked to perform under restrictive guidelines that would take some of the joy out of their game (no high-fives, no post-game mosh-pit celebrations, etc.).

Something social-distancing rules should make baseball consider: Pitching changes made by managers from the dugout. No more slow, deliberate walks to the mound by 65-year-old men wearing costumes.

*Seems like this offseason the Cowboys didn’t replace primo pass-rusher Robert Quinn. But ...

with the reinstatement of Aldon Smith and knocking at the door by Randy Gregory, maybe they will after all.

As Fish reminds us, though: Each of these guys is different, and should be treated as such - by their circle, their employers and the rest of us.

*Day 74 without sports … Anxious to watch the new FX documentary, AKA Jane Roe. Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, said in her 2017 “death-bed confession” that in 1995 she was paid to speak out against abortion. McCorvey was “Jane Roe” in the landmark case that legalized abortion in America, but later joined anti-abortion activists and started an outreach group opposing the ruling.

*Where Are They Now? Marty Griffin edition. In an era when Michael Irvin was running his pet “skinny post” to win three Super Bowls and cultivate a Hall-of-Fame career on the field, Griffin was throwing gas on the local TV ratings fire by forging a reputation as the Metroplex’s top investigative muckraker and NBC5’s “Public Defender.”

Irvin was the Cowboys’ loquacious and bombastic leader who doubled as the best receiver in franchise history; Griffin the street-smart and charismatic persona that rocketed from a meteorologist in Wichita Falls to pre-TMZ Harvey Levin.

It was 24 years ago – during TV ratings’ “sweeps” week – that NBC5 aired Griffin’s “Tarnished Star” expose. Leading the 10 p.m. newscast for six consecutive nights, the series centered on a hidden-camera investigation of Irvin. The series won Griffin awards and earned Irvin a seven-game suspension. But Griffin followed it up with a story about a rape charge.

That story imploded, Griffin was fired and the Cowboys players each won $1.1 million settlements from NBC5.

These days Griffin, now 61 and a cancer survivor, has moved back to his native Pittsburgh where he hosts a daily radio talk show and has launched a do-good charity, Sparkt.

“I don’t necessarily regret it,” Griffin says now of his days investigating the Cowboys. “But could me and the station have handled it all better? Of course. In retrospect, it wasn’t worth it. I grew up. I’m a better man now.”

*Now that I’m again working out, I realize I did a horrible job of working in. Hello, “binge butt.”

*Hot.

*Not.

*Best Cowboys’ all-time basketball players:

1. Cornell Green – 5 Pro Bowls

2. LeBron James* - Because he was never actually a Cowboy

3. Terrell Owens* – Because he stood on the star

4. Preston Pearson – 24th all-time in catches

5. Martellus Bennett – Flourished after leaving town

6. Pete Gent – Better known for authoring North Dallas Forty

7. Percy Howard – Only NFL catch was TD in Super Bowl X

8. Rico Gathers – Great athleticism + sure hands = 3 career catches

9. Pat Riley – Shrewd career choice begat 5 NBA titles

*Not that it means a damn thing – Greggo and I once made the list for crying out loud – but The Fan’s Shan & RJ is ranked No. 19 on Talkers.com’s “Heavy Hundred” of the country’s most influential sports talk-radio shows. Their morning show competition – The Ticket’s Dunham & Miller – is No. 20.

*Day 75 without sports … Headlines only a pandemic could spawn: A priest used a squirt gun to spray holy water on congregants … A South Korean football club apologized for filling its fan-less stands with sex dolls … A Maryland restaurant is using inner tubes to encourage social-distancing.

*If Dak is going to make elite quarterback money, he needs to play his best against the best. In 2019 he was 7-2 against non-playoff teams with a TD-INT ratio of 22-3, but only 1-6 against playoff teams with 8-8. He was also only the second quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns without authoring a game-winning drive in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

*If your home is equipped with security cams, take note. Two class-action federal lawsuits were filed against ADT this week after an employee spied 220 DFW families by hacking their security cameras. Customers who were spied on included minors while nude, and a Homeland Security employee.

*Day 76 without sports … I stumbled upon a 1972 Ringling Bros. Circus poster I wanted to frame and hang in media room. Naïve to this racket, I took it to Michael’s for framing. Proposed cost: $258. Two-hundred fifty-eight. Needless to say, it’s now hanging via four thumbtacks.

*Good as Last Dance was – and it was amazing – there were two notable omissions: 1. Where was Juanita, Jordan’s wife of 17 years (including throughout the 1990s)?; 2. What was the topping on the poisonous pizza? Why were there five delivery guys? And who sits in a hotel room late at night to watch Jordan eat an entire pizza without stealing a slice?

Director Jason Hehir actually said Jordan spit on the pizza to prevent his buddies from sharing. And, for what it’s worth, the former manager of the pizza joint in question says the entire story is “total crap.”

*Another in a long line of COVID-19 company casualties: Fort Worth-based Pier 1 Imports. Bankrupt. What will become of all those wicker chairs?

*Day 77 without sports … Sobering stat: A new study led by epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman says the U.S. could have prevented 84 percent of COVID-19 deaths and 82 percent of cases if it had simply locked down the country two weeks earlier than it did.

*Final shoutout to Roger B. Brown, the former 1990s local sportswriter and radio host who passed away this week after suffering a stroke on his 61 birthday. Seems like just yesterday “B” was handing me the reins to the Mavs beat-writing job at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was actually 1994. RIP.

*This Weekend? Friday – for the first time since March 7 – let’s play some golf, down at The Golf Club of Dallas. Sunday morning it’s the Murph. As always, don’t be a stranger.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
WMX
WMX

No, Dirk wasn't a better leader than MJ. MJ made many of his teammates a lot better than they were naturally. 6 rings.


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