Fox Sports Radio is taking a different approach to the sports radio wars. It’s poised to debut a new weekly show featuring three former NFL stars — with no traditional host.
Fox will name LaVar Arrington, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Plaxico Burress as the three co-stars of “Up On Game,” a new weekend talk show and podcast.
Launching Dec. 5, the new show will broadcast live from 1-3 p.m. ET across 400 radio stations nationwide. It will also stream live via the Fox Sports Radio channel on iHeart Radio and be available as a weekly podcast.
Every week, the show will dig in on the latest big issues for athletes. But “Up On Game” won’t necessarily stick to sports.
When asked about the big guest “gets” he wants for his new show, Arrington had suggestions from actor Jamie Foxx and wrestler Booker T to the NFL’s Tom Brady and Sean Payton.
“It’s all related. If you have the right group of people speaking on these topics it turns into magic,” Arrington said.
The 42-year old Arrington’s media profile has been growing thanks to his frequent TV contributions to FS1’s national “Speak for Yourself” TV show, as well as his previous work on NFL Network and radio shows in Washington D.C.
Houshmandzadeh, a former Pro Bowl wide receiver, joined Fox Sports Radio as a weekend personality in 2018. He also contributes to Fox Sports’ “Speak For Yourself.”
Burress, the former wideout best-known for catching the winning pass in Super Bowl XLII, rounds out the trio.
Most sports talks shows have a host who plays traffic cop for ex-athletes now turned analysts.
ESPN Radio, for example, tapped “SportsCenter” anchor Zubin Mehenti to host “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” with ex-NFL wideout Keyshawn Johnson and former Duke basketball star Jay Williams. Their morning radio show replaced “Golic and Wingo” after Mike Golic’s 22-year run ended this summer.
But Arrington, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, said he’ll be the one driving the conversation on “Up On Game.” He’s been working in TV/radio for eight years and is looking forward to leading the discussion.
“I’ve learned quite a few good lessons to take on the role of traffic cop during the course of the show,” he said.
Arrington praised Scott Shapiro, vice president of sports programming for Fox Sports Radio, for thinking outside the box with his casting. Shapiro likes that all three of his stars have strong points of view.
“LaVar, TJ, and Plaxico have such unique perspectives, which will make for a truly unique and entertaining listen,” Shapiro said in a statement. “This is not going to sound like any other talk show.”
Arrington noted his two new on-air partners have very different personalities. Their “fire and ice” combination should make for smart, entertaining sports radio, he predicted.
While known for his football career, Houshmandzadeh is a “sports geek,” who speaks expertly about boxing, basketball, and other sports, Arrington said. “He’s such a straightforward dude. It’s just really cool listening to him speak on sports issues.”
Burress, meanwhile, grew up in the tough Tidewater section of Virginia that has produced other sports stars such as Allen Iverson and Moses Malone.
The former New York Giants wideout has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. He helped upset Tom Brady’s previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl — only to accidentally shoot himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub. Burress ended up serving nearly two years in prison. His NFL career was never the same.
Said Arrington: “[Burress] brings such a cool, calm collected approach to how he speaks on topics. I just thought you got fire and ice. Both have been through so much in their lives.”
Arrington believes the unique approach of three partners will help them stand out in a crowded sports radio market. Forget forced, phony “embrace debate” arguments. The trio will use their real-life sports experiences to hold smart sports conversations about the real issues facing athletes, he said.
Arrington also wants to avoid much of the “negativity” and “derogatory” discussion he hears on sports radio.
“Our approach to this is: We’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve experienced it. We want to bring more of an empowered, solution-driven conversation in terms of what these guys are going through.”