Cerrato's Radio Show Lacks Insight

By Leonard Shapiro
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, October 7, 2008; 11:39 PM

About 90 minutes into Vinny Cerrato's new radio show on ESPN980 Monday morning, George from Montgomery County called in to say he was terribly unhappy with the host's response to a question posed by another listener minutes earlier. The first caller asked Cerrato how the Seattle Seahawks could have allowed longtime assistant coach Jim Zorn to get away and join the Redskins earlier this year.

Cerrato, the Redskins' executive vice president for football operations, had answered that Seattle's president of football operations, Tim Ruskell, "had it in his mind" that he wanted Seahawks assistant head coach Jim Mora Jr., and not Zorn, to replace head coach Mike Holmgren when Holmgren retired.

But that response wasn't good enough for George from Montgomery County, otherwise known as George Michael, the occasionally bombastic former Channel 4 sports anchor. Michael, who actually helped Cerrato launch the show three weeks ago as a guest host, now reminded Cerrato what he had said the day the show made its debut.

"You said the goal was to tell the fans the truth all the time," Michael said with a tone of mock indignity. "You didn't say that Tim Ruskell screwed up royally [and] showed Zorn no respect. The fact is Tim Ruskell screwed up royally."

When Michael added that Holmgren and quarterback Matt Hasselback surely miss Zorn at the moment with the team now 1-3, Cerrato's meek response to Michael was "I would probably say so."

"Someone tell the people that Seattle made a real mistake," Michael continued. "You can't say that, can you?"

"No," Cerrato said. "I can't talk about [college] juniors, I can't talk about officials. There are a lot of places I can't go."

That was clearly obvious over the course of Monday's two-hour show, which also included Cerrato saying, "it's all-access. It's why I did the show. For fans, sometimes you get tired and frustrated by the message put out there. Now you can hear it from the Redskins."

But this is what I heard on Monday, the day after the Redskins' road victory against the Philadelphia Eagles: a radio show that offers listeners hardly any insider insight as to what's really going on with their favorite football team. Instead, listeners heard a lot of nondescript, clich├ęd GM- and coach-speak, lots of talk about momentum and confidence, and Cerrato repeatedly saying he was proud of the players and coaches over two hours of not-so-easy listening.

At the end of it all, I also thought back to the opening show, the day after the Redskins' victory over the Saints in Week 2. That morning, George Michael wasted no time getting to the question many who follow the Redskins as fans, or for a living, want answered.

"Why in the world are you doing a radio show?" Michael asked Cerrato -- a talk show host on the sports talk station owned by Daniel Snyder, the man who also owns the football team that employs Cerrato in one of the two most important jobs in this billion-dollar plus franchise.

Cerrato launched into a lengthy explanation that ended with him insisting that, "if I would not have had the time, I would not have done it. Anything that would have interfered with my Redskins work, I wouldn't have done it. I do have the time."

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