Rich Eisen was Richard Deitsch’s latest guest on the SI Media Podcast. The NFL Network broadcaster spoke about his recent commentary on Skip Bayless, which came in the form of a simple tweet after the NBA Finals.
Eisen, who has been doing a radio show since 2014, spoke of his reluctance to not simply voice an opinion just because one is expected by masses (around the 24-minute mark).
“To do this here now where I’m now in a world of sports talk radio where opinions are not only currency, it is the engine, it’s an opinion-based format,” Eisen said. “I find myself sometimes having conversations with my producers here about ‘people are talking about this, you should talk about it.’ I have, honestly, no opinion and the last thing I’m going to do is get out there and have an opinion on something that doesn’t come from the gut. And that is the point why I have an issue with the opinion-based programs because sometimes, in this world, it’s okay to have no opinion.”
Eisen said it’s perfectly acceptable to concede that both Stephen Curry and LeBron James excelled at different points of the season and are tremendous players — a bit of common sense that is an affront to certain parts of the hot-take-osphere.
“It’s fine. This world can survive with that stuff. When [Scott]Van Pelt came on my show the other day he said, ‘to put the Crying Jordan meme on everyone who’s on the losing side of the scoreboard’ … and that’s just part of the world that I don’t want to be a part of. It’s not part of my DNA.”
This is a refreshing approach, especially in 2016. While a select few have excelled parlaying their opinions into value, examples of pundits contorting their true personalities to fit into a role are abundant. Often times, the disconnect is apparent to the consumer.
It’s easy to be a solider in the war against “hot takes.” To me, the real problem is not with the incendiary opinions, it’s the intellectual dishonesty that fuels some of them.
Eisen is proof that compromising one’s true nature is not a prerequisite for success. He has achieved more in the industry than I’ll ever achieve, but it’s a blueprint I try to follow.
It’s important to once again state that not all opinion-spouting is inauthentic. Everyone views sports — and the world — through a unique lens.
Eisen’s words are personally profound to me because — and here’s some unfiltered honesty — there are times when I feel like a fish out of water writing for this website.
We traffic in opinion. Our founder has turned his ability to have strong, authentic opinions into a national radio show and a role on a television show with two high-profile personalities who have no trouble formulating takes.
My default response to sports controversies du jour is somewhere between “meh” and “everyone calm down.” Once a week, I wonder aloud if I’m doing it wrong because, try as I might, I can’t carve out a strong reaction to the hot topic.
But you know what? If I tried to conjure up and support a viewpoint that doesn’t truly come from within, all that would do is perpetuate the problem. More than that, it’d be a disservice to the the reader, who would be able to see the fault lines in a cobbled-together take.
It’s nice to know that there’s still a place at the table for people who share this belief. It’s a testament to my boss that he doesn’t force people who think in squares to force content through circular holes.
Eisen has been himself and it’s worked out. Hopefully his message is heeded by those who have aspirations in this industry who feel uncomfortable being someone other than themselves.
Or, you know, put a Crying Jordan on his face if that’s truly in your DNA.