Let’s go back to the season opener of “Monday Night Football” in 1983, shall we?
Dallas would beat Washington in their stadium, 31-30. Alvin Garrett would lead the Redskins that night in receiving with 101 yards – but there was one reception in particular that got Howard Cosell’s attention.
Analyzing a slo-mo replay of the play, with Garrett finding Joe Theismann before breaking a couple of tackles, Cosell told viewers, “That little monkey gets loose, doesn’t he?”
Cosell would never live that comment down, and the 1983 season would be his final season in the “MNF” booth.
That was just thirty years ago.
What Dan Sileo said on the radio on Monday about three modern-day wide receivers itching to dive into the free agency frenzy – receivers that, like Garrett, are African-American – may have set the country back 300 years.
Sports radio veteran Dan Sileo had been entrenched in the Tampa Bay area for the better part of fifteen years. Most recently based at WDAE-AM “620 The Sports Animal,” Sileo had experienced a brief flirtation with regional syndication on sister sports radio stations in markets such as Orlando. Based on an infamous laundry list of lies, you would think that Sileo is the Mike Francesa of the Sunshine State.
In fact, he once claimed that the Glazer family, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – a team that he played for in 1987 and racked up of fourteen tackles in ten games – had been involved in the infamous Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernie Madoff.
That resulted in a suspension of Sileo by Clear Channel, owner of WDAE and several other high-rated radio stations in Tampa.
But the radio personality dubbed “the Sam Kinison of sports talk” really outdid himself this time.
On Monday morning, in the 8 AM hour, Sileo was talking with his co-host about this year’s free agency period in the NFL, which started this afternoon. Said co-host mentioned that defensive back Cortland Finnegan was coercing wide receiver Vincent Jackson to sign with the Buccaneers. On top of that, word on the street was linebacker Jonathan Vilma was going to swashbuckle his way to Tampa Bay.
Sileo was ecstatic – and at the same time, erratic.
“They’re [“they” being the Glazers] gonna spend all that money… [Co-host predicts Sileo will think Finnegan, Jackson and Vilma would be busts if they signed with the Bucs.] No, no! If they get those three monkeys, I’m good! I’m ready, man. I’m ready. I want those guys. Those guys are great players.”
Wait a second… Back that up, Danny Boy… What was that first part?
“If they get those three monkeys…”
Well, I don’t think you’re talking about the surviving members of a ’60’s pop band.
Brutal. Just brutal.
Word first started getting around about Sileo’s choice of words on the radio discussion forum Radio-Info.com. [Disclosure: I’m a charter member on that forum.] “It’s not uncommon for Dan Sileo to cross the line,” wrote a user with the handle TampaSports, “but this morning around 8:20 takes the cake… Isn’t this just as bad as Cosell or Imus?”
“It’s [three times] as bad as Cosell,” replied anatharadiorefugee. “He only called one guy a monkey. Imus on the other hand had five nappy headed hoes. You make the call on that one.”
So just as the new free agency period in the National Football League begins today… so, too, does Dan Sileo’s unemployment.
Tampa Bay Times football columnist Rick Stroud, who has made appearances on ESPN’s “First Take” program, tweeted this afternoon that “Sileo has been fired by WDAE.”
Need more proof? Here’s the daily program schedule on WDAE’s website. Notice the morning show is mysteriously missing.
After the 1983 season of “Monday Night Football,” Howard Cosell left ABC on his own volition.
Of course, there was no Internet back in 1983. In 1983, “going viral” meant you had to stop dating for awhile.
In 2012, Clear Channel would make Sileo’s decision for him – and, to borrow a phrase you might hear at a Buccaneer game, left him with no choice but to walk the plank.
“Dan Sileo is no longer with WDAE,” program director Steve Versnick said in a statement. “We wish him well in the future.”
Shortly after his ‘DAE departure, Sileo tweeted that “it was time for me to leave” the station, and described his mood as “all good.”
No word if Sileo will resurface in another city and add to his sports talk resume. Maybe he can join his brethren Bruce Jacobs in Albany – where, surprisingly, he’s still talking sports in the afternoons after mocking the WNBA with some anti-gay slurs.
However, while he was on the air at WDAE, Sileo had been contributing to Talkers Magazine, a famous radio publication, with semi-weekly opinion columns. The last column he wrote for Talkers, while he was still a Clear Channel employee? It’s titled, “Identifying The Bad Will Help You Be Good.”
Oops. Maybe he might want to have that one back.
The “bad” that’s been identified in his running statement about African-American players possibly joining the Buccaneers certainly didn’t do Dan Sileo any good.
And it certainly doesn’t do you any good when people are likening something you said to the infamous Cosell quip that ultimately led to his abrupt retirement.
For Sileo… for now, anyway… Game over.