On Goats, Dynasties, and 3peats

Goats, Dynasties, and 3peats

We’re back with another episode of Running It Back, finding lessons learned from the world of sports, old and new! Tarlin shares stories about his 50th birthday and dealing with rainstorms in LA. Mike talks about playing in the snow with his 5-year-old son.

Discussing NFL season highlights, we debate whether Patrick Mahomes can already be considered a GOAT after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win or if it’s too soon. Tarlin thinks we should let Mahomes’ career evolve before making proclamations.

Reviewing NFL dynasties, we agree the Chiefs are building their own with Mahomes. We also discuss NBA dynasties and three-peats, with Mike paying his respects to Michael Jordan while exploring whether he played baseball to duck the Twin Towers in Houston.

Closing topics include Eli Manning’s comedic potential, Tarlin’s support of QB Brock Purdy, and praise for broadcaster Nate Burleson’s Super Bowl work on Nickelodeon and beyond.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And be on the lookout for a steady flow of episodes from here on out. Thanks for listening.

FSU Deserves a Shot

FSU Deserves a Shot

Mike and Tarlin kick things off by chatting about their recent adventures – Tarlin’s trip to see Usher perform in Vegas, his progress in the step challenge (down 9 lbs!), and a podcast he discovered called Smartless.

But the main event is a discussion about Florida State University’s football team getting snubbed from making the College Football Playoff, despite their undefeated 13-0 record this season. Mike and Tarlin think they deserved a shot, but the selection committee went with 1-loss Alabama and Texas instead.

The guys talk about how the current 4-team playoff format is flawed and often comes down to TV ratings and money rather than rewarding deserving teams. They cover some controversial playoff selections in past years too.

Getting into the FSU situation, Tarlin breaks down their strong defensive rankings, key wins, and how they persevered despite losing their starting QB. For Mike and Tarlin, leaving out an undefeated power conference team goes against the competitive spirit of sports – it denies potential underdog stories.

They touch on lots of famous cases where underdog teams/players defied expectations after adversity, like the 1980 Lakers without Kareem and the 1990 Giants with backup QB Jeff Hostetler. The new 12-team format starting in 2024 should improve things, but controversy will always exist on the playoff fringes.

In the end, they think the system should give worthy teams like FSU their shot, between the lines not in some conference room debate. You never know how the games will unfold or who will rise to the occasion. That unpredictability and drama is part of why we watch sports.

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Dissecting the Michigan Football Spying Scandal

Michigan Football Spying Scandal

Tarlin and Mike kick things off by chatting about Tarlin’s recent trip to Barbados, including some turbulent flights thanks to Tropical Storm Tammy. But we quickly segue into a step challenge Tarlin is participating in, where he’s determined to beat his very competitive and fit coworkers. He’s even wondering if there are any tricks to game the step counters. We’re open to suggestions.

We then dive into the main topic – cheating scandals in sports. We discuss famous examples like Spygate with the Patriots taping opponents’ signals, the Astros’ trash can sign-stealing scheme, and MLB’s steroid era. An interesting debate emerges around whether cheating can ever be justified if you can pay the fines and it leads to success, especially with ultra-competitive coaches like Belichick and Harbaugh.

The latest cheating drama in Michigan football takes center stage next. A rogue staffer named Connor Stalions had been illegally filming opponents’ sidelines for years, but the heat is now on head coach Jim Harbaugh about how much he knew. Tarlin runs through Michigan’s futility against rival Ohio State during Stalions’ tenure to question whether the cheating even helped. We joke about the excuses around Stallions “acting alone” when several coaches were likely involved. We consider just how high up it goes as we think through how it relates to Uber, Air BnB, and even OpenAI. There are even connections to our current political landscape along the way.

In the end, we explore how rules in sports often have to catch up to new techniques for gaining an advantage. And many innovative companies follow a similar path – they’re willing to break rules early on if it means gaining market share, and they’ll pay the fine down the road if needed. An interesting perspective heading into the big Michigan vs. Ohio State grudge match in The Game.

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NFL 2023 – Bieniemy of the State Edition

Eric Bieniemy

Tarlin and Mike are back to kick off 2023 with our NFL Super Bowl, Black History Month, Black Quarterback, and Coaching Carousel edition. We start by running it back to NFL Combine reports on Super Bowl QBs Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes. From there we talk about swagger, high floors, low ceilings, vice versa, and more. How do Hurts and Mahomes compare with fellow draftees Zach Wilson and Mitch Trubisky? What lessons can we learn from this about assessing talent and uncovering inherent biases in a system like the NFL?

Then we pivot to Big Red, aka Andy Reid, to understand his success and that of his coaching tree before zeroing in on what the stories of Eric Bieniemy, Steve Wilkes, and Lovie Smith (and his beard) teach us about where the NFL is today and how far it still has to go.

Subscribe to Running It Back wherever you get your podcasts. Visit us at RunningItBack.fm for more amazing Lessons Learned from the world of sports.

Tua’s Concussion and the Warrior Ethos of the NFL

Tua Tagovailoa

Tarlin and Mike are back to talk about their guilty pleasure, the NFL, in light of the concussion(s) to Tua Tagovailoa in recent games–within four days from Sunday to Thursday night. We explore Tua’s extensive injury history and find parallels in other players like Austin Collie who also displayed the “fencing position” after a concussion and who never returned to the same level afterwards.

We also reflect on the NFL’s tendency to be reactive to situations like this and anticipate changes to the NFL concussion protocols in light of the Tua incident. Are they exhibiting “an abundance of caution” or are they ultimately driven by their bottom line? How did Coach Mike McDaniel, the Players Association, and the NFL respond and what lessons can we learn from there? And what do we think about the future of Thursday night games? We cover all of this and reflect on the joys of a good night’s sleep. Don’t miss it!

Subscribe to Running It Back wherever you get your podcasts. Visit us at RunningItBack.fm for more lessons learned from the world of sports.

Sports Protests in the Wake of Uvalde and Buffalo

Steve Kerr

Tarlin and Mike react to the powerful moments from sports leaders in response to the tragic shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York. We listen to what Steve Kerr said and talk about what Gabe Kapler did as coaches and leaders of their teams respond publicly to the unthinkable events.

Then we run it back to the history of sports protests and activism ranging from Kaepernick, to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, to the leading role of the WNBA, the Brittney Griner situation, and Muhammad Ali’s historic protest of the Vietnam War, among others, as we try to make sense of the senseless. And there’s plenty of reference to famous soundbites from Marshawn Lynch, Rasheed Wallace, and Allen Iverson along the way to keep things lighter.

What lessons, if any, can we learn from all of this? How can we use sports narratives as tools to work through our response to the unthinkable? And what does this tell us about leadership and acts of conscience in these challenging times? We cover all of this and more on our latest episode. Listen in and enjoy.

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When’s the Right Time for an Athlete to Hang It Up?

Jim Brown

Get your red wine bath ready, Tarlin and Mike are back after a SXSW panel, a Good Morning America appearance, and a bout of Covid-19(!) to talk about the age-old question of what’s the right way to hang it up at the end of a long and successful sports career. Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here for (nearly two!) years and we’re not planning to retire any time soon.

We begin with Tarlin recounting conversations with his Dad about Tiger Woods playing past his prime and how he should’ve retired on top like Jim Brown. From there, we span multiple sports looking for heroes who have faced the end of their playing careers in various ways. What can we learn from Barry Sanders or Andrew Luck, who left their sports early? What can we learn from Shaq or Patrick Ewing or others who stuck around longer as their physical abilities began to fade? And what about GOATs who retired and then unretired like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Tom Brady? Plus we show our range by covering Shaun White, Jimmy Connors, Kelly Slater, Serena Williams, Sue Bird and more. We even talk Carl Lewis both as a track star and as a National Anthem singer in a free-flowing romp through the greener pastures of sports retirement. Don’t miss it!

Subscribe to Running It Back wherever you get your podcasts. Visit us at RunningItBack.com for more lessons learned from sports.

The Flores Suit Pre/Post Super Bowl Hangover Edition

Brian Flores

Tarlin Ray and Mike Palmer are back to talk about the Flores Suit against the NFL and to follow up on our previous conversations about the shortage of Black Head Coaches in the League. Tarlin almost gets irate but keeps it on a simmer as we revisit questions about why Eric Bieniemy (of The State), Byron Leftwich, and Brian Flores still don’t have head coaching jobs even as Lovie Smith and Mike McDaniel have gotten the nod since our last episode.

What can we learn from the Flores suit and the response to it? How does this connect back to Curt Flood and Free Agency in Major League Baseball? And what behind-the-scenes references to Ben Simmons and James Harden is Mike using to “motivate” Tarlin before we start taping?

We cover all of this even and even share a few tricks of the trade as we start to pivot towards the NBA now that we’re shaking off our NFL Hangovers on our latest search for lessons from the sports stories that are capturing the global imagination.

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The NFL’s Black Head Coach Problem

Mike Tomlin

As of the release of this episode, Mike Tomlin is the lone Black Head Coach remaining in the NFL. Tarlin and Mike run it back to our ongoing conversation about the Rooney Rule and soft affirmative action in the NFL referencing Tomlin, Art Shell, and Jim Caldwell. We talk Eric Bieniemy and Byron Leftwich. We reminisce and look for lessons from the careers and legacies of Tony Dungy and Bill Belichick. And ultimately, we celebrate Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s recent hiring as GM of the Minnesota Vikings.

Then Tarlin talks about the work of Guy Primus and The Board Challenge to effect the long, slow turnaround of institutions like the NFL. We admit that we can’t quit the NFL even though we know we probably should as we say goodbye to a friend of the show and talk about how we can give black head coaches more chances than they’re getting to turn the institution of the NFL around.

Subscribe to Running It Back wherever you get your podcasts. Visit us at RunningItBack.fm for more lessons learned from sports.

Antonio Brown’s Walkoff, The NFL and TMZ Culture

Antonio Brown

Tarlin and Mike are back to find lessons learned from sports. This time we look at the spectacle surrounding Antonio Brown’s exit from the Tampa Bay Bucs game versus the New York Jets during the 3rd quarter of the game last weekend.

Why did Tarlin not want to cover the AB story? How does this situation compare to the broader challenges of working with divas and other selfish personalities on teams and in the workplace? What must it have been like to be Bruce Arians trying to talk to AB while recovering from Covid and a partially torn Achilles? And how might this relate to Mike Tomlin and lessons from other diva wide receivers like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ocho Cinco over the years?

We cover all of this while kicking off 2022 with our inimitable style. Thank you for listening.

Subscribe to Running It Back wherever you pod. Visit us at RunningItBack.fm for more amazing lessons learned from sports.