‘This is the future’: Dan Patrick shifts to Peacock amid pandemic sports summer

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Dan Patrick

Dan Patrick was “en fuego” at ESPN before spreading his wings at NBC.

This week, the sports icon moves his SiriusXM simulcast from YouTube to Peacock.

“The Dan Patrick Show” airs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“This is the future,” Patrick told WTOP. “I was on the front lines of CNN, I started there when CNN started, I was there in the early, embryonic stages of ESPN [and] the early stages of doing a simulcast radio show on TV. I think that’s where we are with Peacock. I haven’t been wrong on the other ones and I don’t think I’m wrong on this.”

What guests does he have lined up for the Peacock launch?

“We just do it in accordance to what is the day’s news,” Patrick said. “Sometimes you have those home-run guests if Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, they join you, or Jim Parsons from ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ but for the most part we try to stay in our lane.”

It’s a bizarre time to be doing a sports talk show during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It feels like Charlie Brown,” Patrick said. “I just worry baseball has given this, then all of a sudden do they take it away from us because of COVID with what the Cardinals have done, the Marlins have done, some of the Cincinnati Reds have done. That’s where you can bring down an entire sport by a couple of guys being foolish.”

For now, his fingers are crossed that baseball can at least get through the playoffs.

“Baseball is just trying to get to the postseason,” Patrick said. “If we get there, that’s when we’re going to make some money back, we have 16 teams in the playoffs, we get a World Series champ, then we get out of here and try to regroup for next year.”

What’s his take on simulated crowd noise and cardboard cutouts in the stands?

“I vowed when I saw it I would not be critical,” Patrick said. “Just like the bubble with the NBA, I was not going to criticize if there’s no fans or lack of ambience. … All I asked for is that we had sports coming back, so I can’t now go, ‘Oh, now I’m going to complain about the way they look.’ I’m fine with this. This might be just a one-off.”

On a local level, he’s surprised by the success of the Baltimore Orioles.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say, ‘They’re looking good,'” Patrick said. “I’m all for having the Orioles back at least being relevant, because there were times when I would watch, no one was at the game, that pitching staff was horrible, Chris Davis was hitting as many home runs as I was. This was a once proud organization.”

The defending champ Washington Nationals are struggling, but he still tunes in.

“I love watching [Max] Scherzer,” Patrick said. “How many players do you tune in that you would actually tune in to see a baseball player? Scherzer is one of them, Bryce Harper is one of them, Mike Trout is not tune-in factor; best player in the game, not tune-in factor. Aaron Judge, tune-in factor. Gerrit Cole when he’s on the mound.”

Still, he thinks the national pastime has some old-school traditions to iron out.

“Baseball has an identity crisis,” Patrick said. “We get upset with Fernando Tatis Jr. because he has the audacity to hit a grand slam when his team is up by seven runs in the eighth inning. What is the unwritten rule of how many runs can you be up? …  How safe is the safe lead? … These pitchers have got to grow up and stop being a baby.”

As for the NFL, he predicted the Washington Football Team’s name change.

“I joked about this prior to the announcement of the Washington Football Team, because I said, ‘Why don’t you just do it like soccer, like the Washington Football Club?'” Patrick said. “I just threw it out there on my show. I come in the next day and my producer says, ‘You know what the new name is? Washington Football Team.'”

Now, he offers rebranding advice amid a flurry of fan designs.

“If I’m Dan Snyder … I’d go kicking and screaming to give you the optics of ‘I’m not happy about this,’ but privately as a businessman, I’m going, ‘A whole new stream of revenue!'” Patrick said. “I would keep the script ‘R’ and whatever your nickname is going to be, have it start with an ‘R’ so you still keep that iconic looking helmet.”

What does the national media make of the situation here in Washington?

“It’s interesting how we move on in the media,” Patrick said. “Dan Snyder was a real hot topic there for a variety of reasons: what was going on in the office, the Washington Post story, what was going on with the nickname, you fire some people, he’s on his yacht somewhere in the south of France. … The minority owners want him out!”

He is skeptical of Snyder, who ran out Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Shanahan.

“These guys make the money to buy a team, but they’re not smart enough to let people run the team,” Patrick said. “Jerry [Jones] the owner is pretty good; Jerry the GM is not good [for the Cowboys]. … The Giants’ owners don’t get involved, the Steelers’ owners don’t get involved, and for the most part with the Patriots, you’re not getting involved.”

Does he think new head coach Ron Rivera can turn things around?

“I felt bad for Ron Rivera,” Patrick said. “We had him on our show and I said, ‘Ron, you’ve been there less than six months. You should not be the person who has to come out here and take all these bullets. You should not be taking the slings and arrows.’ It wasn’t fair to him, but he’s a classy guy and he did it.”

Does he think the team has any shot at competing this year?

“You got some weapons, you got some help on the defensive side,” Patrick said. “You’re in that division where the Cowboys are going to be good, the Giants are better, then you got Philadelphia, so it’s tough sledding there to even get to .500. You guys played well at the end of last season, [Dwayne] Haskins did, so I’m curious about that.”

He’s also excited to see the continued rise of the Baltimore Ravens.

“Is Lamar Jackson real?” Patrick said. “Can he take another step here? He took a giant leap, he was Neil Armstrong last year, [but] they took the Titans for granted. They were looking ahead. They didn’t think the Titans could run the ball down their throat. Lamar Jackson, if you want to be the elite quarterback, you do it in the postseason.”

What other storylines is he looking at around the league?

“Is this Drew Brees’ last year, and if so, is he able to finally get them back to another Super Bowl?” Patrick said. “What happens in New England? Cam Newton makes them interesting. … Then you start with Kansas City, they spent all the money with [Travis] Kelce, Chris Jones and Patrick Mahomes. It’s hard to repeat in this league.”

Mostly, he’s excited to see what Tom Brady does in Tampa Bay.

“If Brady didn’t go there and Teddy Bridgewater went there, I would have picked them to still make the playoffs — they have that much talent,” Patrick said. “Now you bring in a guy who doesn’t make mistakes … you got a good coach in Bruce Arians, you got weapons. … Brady only has to be good for the Bucs to be great.”

Patrick fondly remembers hosting NBC’s “Football Night in America” from 2008-2018.

“You’re handing out the Super Bowl trophy [with] 100 million people watching,” Patrick said. “Joe Namath was walking up with the trophy and the players were touching it. … Then it hits you: I’m a kid from a small town in Ohio and I’m ready to hand out the Super Bowl trophy. … I got a chance to do it four times and I never took it for granted.”

It was the highlight of a career launched by ESPN’s “SportsCenter” from 1989—2006.

“It was very, very competitive, because each show thought they were better than the other shows,” Patrick said. “The 6:00 [broadcast] with Charlie Steiner, Robin Roberts and Bob Ley, they thought they were better than us, and then Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen thought they were better than myself and Keith Olbermann.”

He began a series of catchphrases from “en fuego” to “welcome to the big show.”

“When we called ourselves ‘The Big Show,’ we did that to mock ourselves,” Patrick said. “We didn’t know who was watching, so we would just say, ‘Welcome to the Big Show.’ … Olbermann and I went through a five-year period where we would take on anybody. I’d match those shows with anybody with what we did and how we did it.”

At the time, ESPN executives didn’t always approve of their brash style.

“Management fought us all the way,” Patrick said. “Keith and I would do a show where we didn’t know if we were going to get yelled at the next day. We would actually have inside jokes where we’d make fun of our bosses on the air. … They took credit for us when we became successful, but they fought us [and] threatened us with our jobs.”

It was well worth the struggle, preparing him for everything to come.

“It was live TV, there was no net and there was so much fun in that,” Patrick said. “I was able to adapt to any situation after that. You do 200 shows a year of live TV at 11:00 [and] you’re ready for anything that is going to come your way in this business.”

Ironically, his favorite sports movie predates his time at “SportsCenter.”

“Probably ‘Bull Durham,'” Patrick said. “No matter where it is in the movie when I tune in, I stay with it just because I’m so familiar with it. It just feels like a nice bathrobe. … You just go, ‘This is good.’ I know what’s gonna happen and I still want to watch it.”

For sports fans, Patrick is that bathrobe.

Pass the Peacock slippers.

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Dan Patrick (Full Interview)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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