NEW YORK — It’s not even close.
The saddest 10 minutes on sports talk radio is Sam Darnold’s weekly paid appearance on ESPN-98.7’s “The Michael Kay Show.” It’s not as if the quarterback of the 0-9 Jets is hesitant to answer questions. He tries. Darnold is a sympathetic figure. Through all the losing, through sickness and injury, he also remains likeable.
But whatever Darnold is getting paid to do the spot now isn’t worth it. That’s the reality. It’s painful to listen to. And if they are human, it can’t be an easy lift for the three Gasbags asking the questions. Maybe the time has come for the quarterback to bow out of these sorrowful sessions. There are seven left.
Darnold has to answer inquiries (from Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg) knowing that in his third season the Jets are more than a mess and his future, once so bright, is, at best, a question mark. The media has already moved on from him. Now, all the talk is about the organization dumping Darnold and selecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence if it gets the first pick in the draft.
For those wrapped up in the Jets future, winning even one game is out of the question. Their crusade won’t stop until the Jets lose every contest remaining on the schedule. Still, Darnold keeps returning to 98.7 at around 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday to take the heat. Even one of his interrogators wonders why?
“Who benefits from our talking to Sam?” Rosenberg asked after Darnold’s interview last Tuesday. “…Are we just doing this because we have a deal with him?”
In the past, players or managers who got paid for weekly radio spots, have bailed when they couldn’t take the heat and they had no use for the Gasbag(s) asking the questions. This isn’t the case with Darnold.
Kay, DLG, and Rosenberg ask pointed questions. And while Darnold may tap dance, and give a variation of the same stock answer, he comes off sincere, concise and non-confrontational.
This was apparent when Kay wondered if the quarterback has gone off the deep end.
“…Are you broken, are you demoralized over all the losing that’s gone on (here) the last three years?” Kay asked Darnold.
Darnold: “No, not at all.”
Kay: “Is it tough not to be broken and demoralized?”
Darnold: “No, not at all. …We have a great organization. … And I’m going to continue to do everything I can to put us in a position to win football games.”
As Darnold’s season in hell continues, about all that’s left to wonder is if the quarterback actually believes his own answers.
That, and how many listeners continue tuning in to be part of the saddest 10 minutes on radio.
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