Off The Pitch Review: Men In Blazers Podcast
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Each week, The18's Mike Smith takes a look at how football is portrayed and covered in the media and popular culture. This week, we review the podcast "Men In Blazers."
Roger Bennett and Michael Davies team up for a positively brilliant podcast called “Men In Blazers.” It is available to download for free once a week on the Grantland network (they also do a Sirius radio show on Mondays and Fridays).
Bennett, an avid Everton fan, is a journalist that covers soccer for ESPN, while Davies, a Chelsea supporter, is the president and CEO of Embassy Row, a production company responsible for shows such as “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Crowd Goes Wild” and “Watch What Happens Live” (among many others). Both gentlemen are English, although their love for everything American shines through during the podcast. While the podcast typically focuses on the Barclays Premier League, the gents also follow the progress of the U.S. Men and Women’s National Teams and have had manager Jürgen Klinsmann, former manager Bob Bradley, and forwards Alex Morgan and Landon Donovan as guests of “the pod." They have also had other, non-soccer celebrities on the podcast to discuss their love of soccer, including Drake, Andrew Luck, and Dirk Nowitzki. The Men In Blazers have also been branching out lately, as they are featured in the newly released EA Sports video game for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
What makes the podcast a must-listen for any fan of the Barclays Premier League is the chemistry between Bennett and Davies. Their banter, especially about Davies’ beloved Chelsea (who Bennett absolutely abhors, especially John Terry), conjures images of two proper English gentlemen alternately arguing and laughing over pints in a pub. Bennett’s pessimism about Everton’s fortunes was so strong that at one point this campaign, when they had won a few matches on the trot, he couldn’t bring himself to refer to the club by name and instead called them “Nigel” so as not to jinx future results. (It didn’t work.)
In contrast, Davies is the epitome of positivity about life in general and Chelsea in particular (he STILL believes Fernando Torres is about to turn it around), which is undoubtedly why his collegiate nickname was “Positive Davies.” It is clear that these two men genuinely enjoy each other's company, and the dichotomy of attitudes brings out the best in both gentlemen. Not coincidentally, it makes for an outstanding listen.
Bennett and Davies are always incredibly informed about every match from the previous weekend’s slate of games, and Bennett is always quick to analogize a player’s performance to the characters of Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, among other, often hilarious references. This leaves Davies as the straight man of the two, a role in which he excels.
The hourlong podcast is one of the highlights of my week and a sure-fire way to keep you laughing on your commute to work. Overall, the podcasts make you feel like you are intimately involved in the conversations between the hosts and after a few minutes of listening to “Rog” and “Davo,” you’ll think of them as your mates and wish that you were in the room with them and able to join in. Men in Blazers represents a unique way to capture the experience of listening to two English gentlemen discuss football at length in a private way here in the “Colonies.”
Men in Blazers airs on SiriuxXM Satellite Radio Mondays & Fridays at 9AM and the podcast is available for download via iTunes or through Grantland on Wednesdays.