Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 1 year ago

Rudy Martzke

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joining us in the Huddle this week is Rudy Martzke. People may not have heard of Rudy unless you were a color commentator or play-by-play announcer for any major professional sport. Rudy had a long career with USA Today as their Sports Media Columnist and it was said that Martzke’s assessment of image-conscious networks could result in upgrades or downgrades of announcer assignments and even firings. Rudy’s columns were saliently placed, on page two or three of the popular sports section, not buried or clustered somewhere toward the end of it. They were almost bullet-point formatted, easy and quick reads.

He was so influential that he was voted one of the top 100 most influential people in sports and even voted higher than Michael Jordan for a few years. Some of his favorite announcers were John Madden, Jim Nantz, and Bob Costas. Rudy was actually the first in the industry to hire Bob Costas. Rudy was the Director of Operations for the Spirit of St. Louis of the ABA in 1974. He also worked for 3 other Pro Basketball organizations.

Rudy has been retired for a few years but after his time with USA Today, he started his own consulting company.  

...welcome everyone to huddle up with Gus. I'm your host, 15 year NFL quarterback Gus For, uh, we're here in the new 16 31 digital news studio. If you wanna learn more or listen to previous shows, you can check us out on our website, huddled up with gus dot com. Or you could listen to us on the new radio dot com app. Wherever you listen to your favorite podcast while in the huddle, our guests describe how sports shaped their life. Now let's join the huddle. Thank everyone. Well, another episode of Huddle Up With Us. I'm your host, Gus for a 15 year NFL quarterback, and I want to thank you for joining us in the 16 31 digital news studio. You can find us wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, and you can also find us now on sounder dot com. So we're joining Sounder will be leaving radio dot com. It's an exciting day. I'm excited Thio join sounder as well, and I want to thank all my team from Terry Show Money and Kiss and My Man Sonar who's running the show today. So today, joining me in the huddle is uh, he's an old columnist for use A today. Uh, I love him because he used to critique the people that critique me. When I played on, he did a fabulous job at it because, you know, they roasted him. They've lambasted him. All these people that would do the same to us when we played on the football field. He would do that to them in the boxes when they were doing our game. So joining us today is, uh, USA Today columnist. I don't know what else Rudy has done lately, but joining us today is Rudy Mart Ski. Rudy, How are you, buddy? Okay, fine. Uh, and, uh, I just want to let you know that I retired about 15 years ago, Okay? But I went in the consulting for sports, and, uh, you know, I was the former, uh, tv, uh, sports editor of USA Today and had a, uh often it was a daily column.

Sometimes it was three times a week. Put on on, you know, sports TV. Well, what an amazing career you had, Rudy, uh, you know, in some of the people that, uh, that you wrote your call about they there was a love hate relationship with with them there. And I think it was, you know, a great column. You did it since 1982. For 23 years. I think you were with U S A. Today. Your you were You know, you grew up with a love of sports. I I feel like it sounds like you grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So tell me about it. Back in the day when Rudy Marty was growing up, how did you fall in love with sports? Well, my dad was a football coach and a former star football player at track and Field guy at, uh, you know, one of those colleges, uh, in Wisconsin, Um, that later joined, Uh, you know, the university Wisconsin system. But he was at Whitewater state and was very good at, you know, he he won a lot of games as a football coach, and I just is. When I was five years old, I decided, Hey, I want to go into sports And I wanted to be a sports writer. So that's, you know, which is blossom from there and, uh, you know, got the U. S. A. Today. Eventually, after but two or three other jobs before that in sports and got as high as, um, you know, it was about sport in the sporty news. Always had a list of the 100 most powerful people in sports annually. Okay. And, uh, I was on that list for 3 to 4 years, and at one time I was rated number 69 most powerful in sports. And Michael Jordan was number 75 he was still plant. Yeah, e Yeah. I mean, there were a lot of people that were...

...dreading reading your column coming out every day, so, you know, because you were you did such a great job of critiquing all those guys. If they flood the play. If they called it wrong, if they talked over each other I mean, there's gotta be somebody that did it. I don't know who does it today. Um, those You know, a lot of people on social media, right? About different announcers and things. So, going back, Rudy, did you play sports as well? What was your favorite sport? Well, I played basketball mainly, um, and I go off somewhat, played some tennis, but was never great at it. and, uh, my, my my son Brett, who's the one in l l A. And I have another one. Michael in in, uh, hey. Bay area out in California. But my my son Brett was quite a bit better athlete than me. So the jeans went right through me, Right? There you go. There you go. So, Rudy, So when you were in high school, I mean, you talk about how you loved writing from the time you were young, you the school editor of the newspaper? Did you just write the sports column? How did you When did you get into writing? Well, I was You know, I I was writing for a long time before I even got to use a today and, uh, in various e was actually with four pro basketball teams. Um, in the seventies and eighties, uh, two of the n ba two of the A B A. I mean, the the NBA teams were buffalo braves, And, uh, that's the, uh, there was, I think you know what was a tour in any A behaviors Miami Floridians and and the spirits of ST Louis that I was general manager of Where did you live in ST Louis. Rudy, What was that? Where did you live? In ST Louis. Okay, well, we lived in, uh, trying to miss her so long ago. Yeah. Southern areas, Southern area of south of the of the...

...main, uh, main, You know, downtown. Yeah. Yeah. So, ST Louis, I lived there for a while while I played for the Rams as well. I lived here for about eight years, So, uh, know it Well, you know, and the other thing about you in ST Louis is also you have kind of the guy who found Bob Costas is? Well, yeah, when I was, uh oh, yeah. You know, I was brought in to be the general manager, and Harry Weltman was was one of the owners. He came out from New York toe be the overseer of the franchise. And, uh, Costas was a friend of one of the guys that there was a goal for work working in and for the team office. And he came up to me one day because I was still trying to find out, you know, take the kind of hiring an announcer, and he says, Hey, I got this friend podcast was in New York when I used to live there. And I'd like to have Is it okay for you? Applies? I said sure. And he was? Yeah. Tremendous act. You know, Announcer became one of the nation's best is, you know, And, uh, so, uh, we had a lot of good times with Bob. Yeah, I heard Bob didn't really announce basketball games. Everybody sent you a basketball game. And he just did one. Yeah. Yeah. Kind of dubbed the recording. Yeah, he told me he was, ah, hockey fan and, you know, broadcast some hockey games Well, in college. And, uh, but then because I was the GM of a basketball team, he, uh he sent me. He went out to, ah, game. You know, an n b a came and did a You know, a tape of it sent me the tape when I was I was quite impressed in brought him back in the, um in the ST Louis and he he shows up, and we didn't realize how small he was,...

Are you know, short, short he was, But you look so young. Yeah, he definitely is the voice of many, many sports now. What an outstanding job that he does, you know, getting back to your your love of sports. So tell me a little bit. You went to the University of Wisconsin? Um, in Madison, I had a lot of guys that I played with their from that Went to school there as well. Um, what was that experience, like, Did you were you just basically taking? Well, what I did was I was a journalism major. Yeah, and I, uh, really, really like the whole town of the city of Madison. I lead came from the Milwaukee area, and, uh, actually, after I think was I was still a freshman. That could have been a software, but I think I went and joined the and worked with with the athletic office, you know, and where the football team basketball team, uh, met a lot of the players coaches and, uh, just worked there for probably at least three years before I graduate. So when you graduated, what was your next step? Like you're leaving college. You got to figure out what to do. You. Now. You're when I graduated, I won. The first things I did was, you know, the Vietnam War was, uh, starting up. And I said, Well, I better go into the reserves. And so I applied with both the, uh, Air Force Reserve and and the Coast Guard reserved, And I was gonna go with which everyone had, uh, called me up first. And it was the Coast Guard. So I spent six months active duty, uh, in in l. A going through boot camp. And that was actually, actually, it was more or less the Bay Area going through boot camp and then being on a training ship for...

...three months at the end. But and then I came back Thio Milwaukee. And after I got out and I applied for some jobs and got this job with the metro is journal in, uh, ST Louis ST Louis area. It was on the Illinois side of, uh, the border there, and, uh ah worked there for a year or two, and, uh, and then finally, uh, I went over and joined. I think it was, you know, Yeah, I did some work for the ST Louis Post Dispatch in and the other paper that was in town, and, uh, you know, just that's where I got my start in journalism. E mean, yeah, its's crazy, though. Rudy, you You get a start in journalism, then you become a general manager of of, you know, and you work in the N b A and the a b a. But you came out as a journalist. So tell me about, like, how that all came about. Well, I was wanting to be a journalist. I mean, a sportswriter. And, uh, there were times when thes n b a and a b A jabs opened and friends I had gotten to know called me and said, Hey, we need a The first three teams were, uh you know, that that was the PR director of Of, of the of the Team. And, uh, it was the Miami Floridians in the Abia. And then later on, it was I was the g m of the spirit of ST Louis. But in the meantime, I was Buffalo Braves PR guy in the n b A and, uh, another team in the n b A. So I'm sure when you were in the n b A and the Eva, you made a lot of friends that you connected with, and it seems like when you needed a new job, you were looking for something else that those friends really came in handy for you. Yeah, he did. Um, you know, every time I showed up, let's say at the final Four and...

...basketball or Super Bowl or, you know, you always run into, like, many, many people that I had gotten to know over the years. Yeah. So really, when you finally are looking to, you know, you're out of basketball, What was that step that took you to the U. S. A. Today? Like, how did you who introduced you to them? And what did you have to do to get that job? Well, I had been with the Anay BA team. No, an MBA team in ST Louis, you know, and, um, you know, wanted to go back out east, and, well, I wound up, you know, being a sports writer, and, uh, and and at Buffalo area and Roger, it was actually Rochester and, uh, you know, just kind of, you know, stayed with it, you know, until, uh, till another basketball a job opened up on. That was, of course. So what? The spirit of ST Louis? Yeah. So then you're at the U. S. A. Today. And you know, you're a sports journalist, but what made you go the route of critiquing the announcers, the people that are calling the game? What made you go that route? Well, over the years, I ran into a lot of those guys and got to Norman. And so when I joined U. S A today, I said I'd like to be the TV sports editor and they didn't really have one, So they said, OK, and he was kind of going to the job. Uh, obviously use a today is headquartered in D. C. On, you know, But at the time, I first got to know, you know, U s a today They were, you know, Gannett Company, uh, based in Rochester. And okay, but after morning yeah, and there was a guy named Al Newhart was the head of all. Gannett had had about 80 newspapers in those days. And, uh, of course, one of them...

...was the Rochester paper. Uh, but, uh, you know, I remember. I got selected to be one of the We decided that the team or the headquarters when moved from Rochester Thio, uh, d c area. Okay. And, uh, and I was one of those guys selected the, uh, go down there and and work from there. But it was gonna be a could be a temporary time and that they were going to give it, like, 4 to 6 months to see if it was gonna work down there. And, uh, it did. And so I I stayed there and brought the wife and family down with me and way moved down there. And, uh, it worked for, like you said, like, 23 years with the U. S. A. Today? Yeah. I can always remember writing down into D. C and seeing the buildings on the right. Right before you come into D. C there. Um eso Rudy, tell me about the first time that you wrote a column critiquing an announcer. Do you remember that first column you wrote? I don't remember exactly who it was. I think you know, don't you? What? You asked that question, but, uh, you know, I wrote about guys like Kostas and and Al Michaels. I got to know very well and from a B C at the time. Now he's NBC and the NFL games. Uh, and, uh, but yeah, there was. It was meant many, many, uh, announcers over over the period of types sportscasters. But in the eighties, there was a pretty big name that maybe didn't like you so much. We all know Howard Cosell. Some of the stories I read about two of you were pretty, pretty comical. Well, here's the thing on Cosell. You know, he had a big name, but hmm. You know, when I would watch his his stuff on the air, I You know, I could, you know, take, You...

...know, uh, times when I didn't like it. And I felt, you know, in my column I could write what I wanted a raga for if there was criticism, Okay. And, uh, there was, you know, it comes l he got offset. But hey would tell me off. And, uh, but you know it. Finally, near the end, he was around for about 7 to 10 years when I was doing it doing a Chris doing a column, and he called one day and, uh oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. A noces stint. A woman who called me and said Hold for Howard Cosell. Oh, man. Because I was calling me. So, um, you know, he gets on and he says, Rudy, I just wanted you to know that tomorrow will be my last, uh, day at, uh, you know, doing my, uh, my radio show. And and really, he had He had a daily radio show, and he was around 5 p.m. Six p. M. And, uh, he says, and I wanna tell you that just enjoyed me. He he was about friendly, enjoyed meeting and working along side, uh, somewhat with you and and you know, So he he patched it all up. And when he when he said he was retiring. Yeah. So how did you you know, there's something like during the during the weekend. If you're watching football, there's multiple football games on the basketball. There's multiple basketball and baseball. So did you just kind of pick a group of guys like that? Were the top announcers like those were the games you were gonna watch and and critique those? Well, I, uh I tell you, I worked probably easily six days a week because, you know, I had a column usually Monday, Wednesday, Friday. So I had to watch on the weekends. You know that? Uh, you know, Syria And Sunday, uh, easily those games or in the afternoons, But somewhere at night. And, uh, but I...

...always got my weekend column in right around seven o'clock at night. Uh, on Sunday night and, uh, you know, I I picked out what I thought would have the better games. And, you know, usually those better announces around here. You know, Jim Nance, all of these guys. Right. Um, So I gotta ask you this because I think a lot of people one of their favorite announcer football, obviously, I was a football guy. He gave me a turkey leg. One year was Madden, and they used to do the games in there because I think it was, like, more of a performance than it was more of announcing the game. Yeah. Can you hear me? Ring? I can I can hear you. But there was a little e couldn't Yeah, I was just I was just saying with Madden, you know, the Tea lady was performance, and it was just announcing the game. And did you kind of laugh when you would watch it? Well, I got to know maddened very well. Uh, spent a lot of time with him, and, uh, he was always, you know, what was interesting was, um, first time I met him, uh, trying to remember if I met him in New York or if I met him somewhere else at a game site. But he said, let's go in a bar here. And, you know, I haven't, you know, meat in there and and talking, you know, I was going to interview him and, uh, here. I always thought of him Aziz guy that drank a lot of beer or something like that. But he didn't. At that time, he had given up some of his his drinks, and, you know, we just got to know each other well on Duh. Every time I go to the West Coast, I've kind of looked him up and doing that. Our interview with him, But I could get him on the phone easily to you. Did you ever get to ride the bus with them? Oh, yeah. Yeah. For about three or four years, I went across country with him, you know, after like wherever the Super Bowl was played, um, I'd be there, covering covering that, uh, and, uh, and then John would the next day he...

...would, like, hop on his bus. Um, and he you know, if I wanted to go west, he'd take me with him and, uh, wait, have a great time. E got one story on on on, man. You know, he we got in the Arkansas at one time, you know, going from the east of the west. And, uh, he says, This is one of my This is a town with one of my favorite you like the Mexican restaurants And, uh so he says, Let's let's let's let's stop here. Okay? So bus driver actually had to bus drivers so you could go 24 hours, you know, one of them sleeping, and but he said, Let's let's let's go in here. And so I I'm first off the bus and he says, Where you going? And I said, Well, I'm going in the restaurant here. He says, No, no. What do you mean? He says, Wait. First of all, walk a lap around the bus and then going, he had all these little things that he that he did, Yeah, a man that's crazy. So I'm sure you have plenty of stories. One of the best ones I was reading about was when all those people that you critique for all those years roasted you down in Mississippi. Yeah. What was that? Did you learn that you maybe had some little thicker skin or little thinner skin after that? Well, well, now these were all guys that I let know that I was getting roasted by a couple of guys and, uh, yeah, Black Sea Mississippi. Okay, but, uh, so I let these guys know and I said that if you want to come and roast me, uh, fine. And 15 guys showed up. You know Brent Musburger? He came in from Montana, and, um, you had a lot of that. My board right here just got the list on that bull ravaged. It was. And here's the guys that among those that Rosa, Tim Brando, Cris Collinsworth, Lee Corso, Randy Cross, mussburger Billy Packer,...

Mike Patrick and about this guy who snuck in there Kenny Stabler. Okay, This'll was in, you know, right near where Kenny lived, you know? So he came into and almost all of them paid their own way to come in there is no funds toe. Bring them. It wasn't a company that was bringing a very it was 2000 year, 2000 and June 25th. So that was That was that was That was a big time. Yeah. So it sounds like you guys had a lot of fun that night. Oh, yeah, we did. You know, except, you know, a couple of guys got up and took shots at me. But that's okay, E guess that's what a roast is, right? I think it was. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it was Oh, yeah, Lee Corso that said, you know, let's face it, we're afraid of Rudy. Yeah, way. Think he's going, You know, we gotta be a double nice to him so he doesn't rip us, right? Remember that you were one of the top 100 influencers in sports for many, many years. Yeah, we're about three or four years. I was I was on that list and, um felt pretty good about it. But, you know, I was surprised when I made it the first time. I didn't know that he even had that list, but I was always, like anywhere from number 45 or 52 like number 60 something or 70. So when you were living in Washington, D. C. Did you go to many, uh, you know, their former name was the Redskins, But many of the Washington football team's games Yes, well, there were the Redskins, and we can call him the Redskins. E don't understand right now, I they took the whole off season and then even the season and never came up with a new nickname. I don't know. Well, I think that, but we all the owner may not be. He's trying to probably make a decision. That's best. But, you know, he's apparently we should have made a lot of good decisions lately. Right? Right. Uh, way. So you've been that the U. S. A.

Today for 14 years, and all of a sudden this, uh, maybe 12 years in this 1994 this quarterback comes in from Tulsa. What do you think of that guy? Wait from Tulsa, OK? Yeah. What you're talking about, You're talking toe. Oh, yeah. I got to, you know No, you're pretty Well, because you know your list. It was pretty good. It was It was quite an experience being going through the whole situation. I went through with his Schuler and then being in Washington, D. C as well on, you know, being close to the U. S. A. Today be close to the Washington Post. Known the people that you know, there's a company called a O L. Starting up there, which I lived right by out in Ashburn. So it was It was a great time. Yeah. Yeah. We lived out, uh, in the Ashburn area. That's what we lived. And, uh, but it was It was I liked the town, and, uh, you know, I thought when I when we moved there, I'd be going to a lot of these, you know, big time parties with politicians, and it never really happened. I was just doing sports. Well, that's a That's a big different. Yeah, Yeah. I mean, it's a different place than obviously New York Rochester. I think it was Rochester writer with the Syracuse. You're in. No, it was Rochester. Yes. So you're coming from. But it also was. It was It was in Buffalo. I was in Buffalo too. So I was in Buffalo and Rochester and right, right, So you know, you had amazing career. You met a lot of people. You created a ton of friendship. So at the end, when you're getting ready to say Okay, this is it. We all wonder when that time is coming. Right? For me, For you, for everyone When you're getting ready. Thio kind of put up the pen for the last time. What was that feeling like for you? Well, here's what I was,...

...uh, this was now 15 and plus years ago because we're now in 2021 but it was still 2005, uh, somewhere in the middle of the year, I can't remember exactly which, which month, but I was just feeling like, Hey, you know, I've been doing this so long and kind of wearing out. And so I called the this office in the U S. A. Today to say, Look, if I My, um you know, if I quit now, am I gonna get credit for this? Uh, this whole year, there was something that they said, Yeah, it's okay. And so I did and, you know, kind of stunned. The editor sports editor. Uh, they said no, I'm just gonna They had a party for me. You know the office. Did you know there the head guy? You know the president. So they had to be Oh, yeah, you know, a little goodbye party. So So, Rudy, Um um, you know, I just want to say so when you're done and it's you're kind of out of the U. S A. Today. What was your next step? You just like I'm gonna be because a lot of football players go through that What happened was that a couple of people had dealt with, like, the head of CBS or the head of ah similar, you know, broadcasting company. Uh, they got ahold of me or bumped into me and said, Hey, how about being a consultant for us? And I said, Okay, so that's, uh, CBS was one of them, and there was another one, too. But I can't even recall because I think it was just a another type of company. There was sports related E thing was Oh, yeah, Uh, yeah, auto racing had to do it auto racing, cause I I had covered a lot of Indy five hundreds and take tone of 500...

...so on. Yeah, you've been You've covered a lot of different sports, that's for sure. So, uh, so, Rudy, you've been retired now for a while. You living down in Florida? Um, how are you enjoying it? Well, very much. We're in the Greater Orlando area, and, uh, wife and I Her name is Mouse See? Replacing my nickname. Remember her name? My dad. Oh, yeah. My dad was Rudy was my dad's nickname because his real name was Clarence. He didn't like, so he came up with Rudy, and, uh, when I went to college, I kinda kept that name because we had a bunch of kids that that, uh, for a while there for about a year or two, we started calling each other by our father's name. It's not stuff like a little bit stuff like that, but I just kept ready when I got cat to Madison. Because I like it. You know, Bruce is my given bruises like, given name, but Bruce Lee right there. Bruce Lee. Every time I'm flying, which is not lately, you know these, uh, you know, people at the airport to check in. They see the name Bruce Lee on there and start even imitating Bruce Lee, right? Yeah. Like no poem guy. Yeah. Um So, Rudy, before I let Ugo, I wanna ask you a couple things of what you thought, Um, maybe for the kind of a best and worst scenario, um, if you're okay with that. Well, let's see. Oh, all right. So who was the best announcer you think there was for football? Well, for a play by play, I thought it was like a tie between Al Michaels and Jim Nance. Yeah, yeah. And And Madden was clearly the number one candidate, you know, for being the analyst. But they had a lot of analysts to Chris Kami. Thing is, is...

...a great Yeah. So for the worst, though, but I want to preface it by saying the most famous worst worst. Right? So you had a lot of people that came out of football to try and be announcers, right? That had big names, right? These companies wanted to be announcers, but who do you think was like the absolute like warts that you've seen come out that had a famous name? Football. Yeah, having trouble thinking about I tell you there was ah guy named Gary. He was from NBC. Can't think of his last name right now, but he was a play by play guy. I thought he made a few mistakes and wrote about, um and, uh, he called me one time and told me off a four e off 55 or six. Well, definitely. In that industry, you can't have thin skin. I guess so. Yeah. Yeah. You know, um, it's kind of funny to get payback for all those guys. You know that They love to talk about us when we're out in the field and say all these things. And I like the guys who were very even kill. Just call the game. Don't say much about all the situations that are happening. So, um and, you know, you did such a great job over your whole career writing about that. Well, thanks. Thanks, guys. Well, Rudy, is there anything, uh, last thing you want to say to our fans about what you're doing now or how they can follow? You are what I was that after I retired, I spent about 10 years being that TV consultant, you know, for either networks or companies and, uh But now I'm just play some golf way. Did travel a lot, but not now. And, uh, eso you know, we've got a really nice subdivision were in here and called Solo Vita. And, uh uh, you know, So we enjoy. We got a lot of friends and, uh,...

...several clubs. We belong to my wife and I mouse and I and and so, Yeah, we're enjoying this later Life. Yeah, well, I'm glad you are. Well, it was good to catch up with you, Rudy. And I appreciate you spending a little bit of time with us on how to up with gusts. And And, you know, if anybody you know that sees this, hopefully they could like and share it. And if you're listening out there, please subscribe. Goto, huddle up with gus dot com. And, uh, you know, you can find all of our previous podcasts and our great one today with Rudy Mart Ski. So, Rudy, thank you. Get so much for joining us on. How to all the best. Hi, This is Gus Farhod, former NFL quarterback and current host of Huddle Up With Gusts Sports and Entertainment Show. We're excited to announce our new partnership with 16 31 digital news. Check out our interviews with former and current athletes, celebrities in the world of entertainment and so much more by logging on to 16 31 digital news dot com. EMP The multi format network is here to help create, produce, distribute and sell your content from, or information. Send a message to info at a m p dot TV. That's info at double a m p dot TV.

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