What Radio Talent Can Learn from “The Manning Way”

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Friday Night Lights Author and Daily Beast Contributor Buzz Bissinger penned a wonderful article about the classy way Peyton Manning handled Wednesday’s press conference:

I was so powerfully moved by Peyton Manning… I was moved when he said, “Times change, circumstances change, and that’s the reality of playing in the NFL.” I was moved when he said, “I’ll always be a Colt. I always will be. That’ll never change.” I was moved when he talked about all the members of the Colts organization he would miss, even the equipment guys. I was not simply moved, but impressed, when he acknowledged the difficult decision owner Jim Irsay faced…

I really don’t care where he goes or what he does. I just want to luxuriate in a sliver of sports that was important and poignant and, in its own way, poetic. I just want to think about a man coming to grips with the end of something so powerful, because it was something so powerful, with such uncommon grace.

Buzz is spot on. There’s much to celebrate, and to learn from “The Manning Way.” As someone who was “cut” from my team (Mornings at WMZQ) over two and a half years ago, I wish I had Manning’s example from yesterday fresh in my mind to emulate.

Did I handle everything with grace and class, like he did? I tried, at first, but I was extremely hurt, and a few times in the months that followed I bad-mouthed people who were simply doing their jobs. Time has shown they made a solid business decision. Sure, it hurts to admit that, but Peyton’s lesson yesterday makes me proud to admit it. I’ve moved on.

If you’re a radio personality, there will be that day that you’re “cut” from the team. When we’re winning, we all believe we ARE the franchise. It’s that part of our egos that makes us good, and makes us want to win. Success breeds confidence, and confidence breeds more success. But as good as any of us really are– in radio, only a handful could claim a radio career that looks like Peyton Manning’s Football career. And HE JUST. GOT. CUT.

So here are some things Radio talent should reflect on this weekend from the Peyton Manning story:

1. Always. Be. Classy.

How bizarre was the picture of Manning riding in Irsay’s car the night before? Only bizarre because we can’t imagine ourselves doing it, and doing it gracefully.

2. How are you preparing for “life after football/radio?”

What will you look like in the mirror when the only way you “see yourself” is taken away? All it takes is a neck injury, or ownership change/budget pressures, and you suddenly have no field to play on. How will you handle it? Are you preparing for it now? Have you branched out into enough “other areas” while you’re still a big deal, while you’re still “winning” to make your transition easier?

Remember: Peyton learned to excel in the world outside of football. His talent doing TV commercials put him in high demand as much, if not more so, than his success on the field. During the playoffs, I saw a piece on Aaron Rodgers’ endorsement deals, where the Producer commented that Aaron Rodgers is the first Athlete in 10 years to have that “Peyton Manning Magic” when the tape’s rolling.

3. Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late.

What are you doing in your local community to be more than just the “radio talent”? How can you show other potential “teams” (ad agencies, other media outlets, leading companies) how your unique range of skills can help them win?  Then, when you get “cut,” you have a meeting ready the next day. And it’s okay if that meeting doesn’t involve a radio station.

4. Work hard and always keep your sense of humor. Will there ever be a funnier SNL appearance by an athlete than the United Way SNL Digital Short he did in 2007? Peyton wasn’t born to do that. Archie and Olivia didn’t send him to Summer Camps with the Groundlings. Manning worked hard, and like everything else in his life, he committed to be the best and he was.


Brian Egan


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