HOUSTON'S NFL GOLD "MINDS!"
Written by: Craig Shelton
Perched only 45 minutes off the Gulf Coast shoreline in what many view as the football Capitol of America, Houston, Texas boasts some of the most accomplished football minds in the country working in the radio broadcasting industry.
Looking back as few as three years, ago, most would not have viewed Houston in this manner. Even today, some may not fully appreciate the magnitude of what dynamics have come into play in recent years. Houston's uptick in talented football savvy broadcasters, has slowly begun the process of revising the Houston sports talk landscape.
When former Houston Cougar, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Andre Ware, joined the morning show lineup on CBS Radio in 2007, co-hosting alongside the Voice of the Texans, Marc Vandermeer, who knew that was the subtle start to a trend that would change the profile and philosophical approach of the Houston sports broadcasting market.
Oddly enough, the individual to be credited for the transformation in the brand of talent being former NFL players introduced into the Houston market in significant volume and quality is former SportsRadio610 Programming Director, Gavin Spittle.
Spittle once remarked that he was not a big fan of bringing in former athletes, but to his credit, Spittle exhibited that he was not above thinking outside the box of his own comfort zone when he added former NFL ballers in Greg Koch, ND Kalu, Seth Payne, Chester Pitts, and to a lesser degree, Matt Murphy.
Ryan McCredden, has continued the trend began by Spittle and CBS Radio by adding during his tenure as the SportsRadio610 PD, former New England Patriot and three time Super Bowl Champion, Ted Johnson. McCredden also added former Texans first-round draft pick from Florida State, defensive tackle Travis Johnson to the 610 talent pool.
Former Texans and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end, ND Kalu and former Green Bay Packer, Greg Koch, have moved on from SportsRadio610 to greater success at Sports Talk 790. Koch and Kalu are the highest-rated sports talk show in the market and lead a powerful Sports Talk 790 lineup, which is notable because iconic names in Houston sports talk like Lance Zierlein and Charlie Pallilo also make 790 their place of business.
Taking into consideration the vast roster of names making up the influx of former NFL players working in Houston sports talk radio, amazingly those names serve as the depth in talent, more so than the cream of the crop in "football minds." Whether it's accurate to assume or not, the names that lead the team in regard to football IQ are non-former NFL players, and not the former NFL players themselves.
John Harris of the Houston Texans Radio & TV Network, and now the Texans sideline reporter, is considered by most as Houston's most respected football mind along with Sports Talk 790 morning show host Lance Zierlein. Harris is a former NCAA player, but did not play in the NFL. Zierlein's father is an NFL offensive line coach, but never played in the NFL.
Nevertheless, whether the perception is accurate or not, both Harris and Zierlein sit at the top of the Houston football knowledge food chain. Opinions may vary depending on measurables per the individual considering between the two, but to most I've spoken to among their peers and from what I've observed via social media, Harris and Zierlein share the belt.
Unless you've been asleep under a rock on Pluto or Mars, you have likely been living a NFL Draft detox the past couple weeks. Assuming you're unfamiliar with the name Jayson Braddock, I'm happy to be the guy to suggest you stop what you're doing and give @JaysonBraddock a quick follow on Twitter.
Jayson Braddock of RotoExperts.com is without a question, Houston's biggest rising star in the pool of of talent making up Houston's football-centric community.
Braddock's attention to detail in his player analysis is second to none in the country.
Braddock's code of excellence in his approach to film watching and willingness to 'tell the truth' in lieu of opportunities to do what most do in following national trends is unmatched.
Braddock is a "grinder" who has an ND Kalu like humble appreciation for the fans and is totally responsive to fans on twitter who have questions about players and general football topics.
The twist of fate that the model of Houston sports talk culture is eating off currently is the beneficiary of some timely irony that isn't the easiest to explain, but nevertheless has been completely beneficial to sports talk listeners.
The guys who played the game provide the "awe factor" with the guys most respected in the market who never played professionally, providing the deeper, more in-depth content analysis factor.
It's a weird dynamic that was no master plan, just one of those bizarre rarities in life that we sometimes are fortunate to stumble upon and are privileged to have experienced.