Kirby Lee | USA TODAY Sports

The sponsored interview is a time-honored tradition. An athlete or celebrity is paid handsomely by a company to hawk its product. The company then lines up a series of media interviews. Reporters ask a few questions about things people actually care about, then humor the subject as they blabber about the product.

The reporter gets to report, the athlete gets to promote, the company gets exposure. Everyone wins.

Which brings us to Rams star Aaron Donald. The defensive tackle caused a stir when he was swinging an opponent’s helmet as a weapon during a joint practice brawl with the Bengals last week. And on Wednesday, he was making the rounds to push Dr. Teal’s bath products. His handler got him booked on Zach Gelb’s national program on CBS Sports Radio. And then mayhem ensued.

The cliff notes if you cannot/did not watch: Gelb asked about the helmet-swinging incident. Donald offered an answer. Not a great one, but enough of one. Gelb then asked two follow-ups. Donald answered the first one and was beginning to answer the second when the PR flak interrupted the interview, more or less begged Gelb to ask about the product and then said there were two minutes left. Gelb then asked again about the fight, and Donald smoothly pivoted to evangelizing about bath bombs.


Gelb did a good job here. So did Donald, for the most part. Yes, he should take a bit more accountability about the situation. But he was professional, if not enthused, in answering the questions. And he got his pitch in. And that was obviously a clown move by the PR person.

Anyway, it has always amazed me how many athletes and celebrities do these media tours. I know, money, duh. But is the money that good? I would just imagine at some point the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Could I bag up all of our bottles and cans and turn them in for some coins next time I’m visiting my in-laws in Connecticut? Sure. Would I get enough back to pay for a few 12-packs of seltzer? Yes. Is it worth the effort? Probably not. And I would argue the same goes for Donald yapping about the magic of Dr. Teal’s.

Semi-related tangent: My all-time favorite sponsored media event was on Radio Row at Super Bowl LI (Patriots-Falcons) in Houston. Like 200 Papa John’s people descended to build a temporary pizza kitchen. And then a clearly-laboring Archie Manning — he would later reveal he had several surgeries, including two back fusion, around that time — showed up.

And after Darren Rovell held up the event while trying to interview Papa John Schnatter on Periscope (it was 2017), Manning made pizzas on stage with the now-disgraced pizza king and — you can’t make this up — then-NFL draft prospect Deshaun Watson.

The Mannings have amazingly not had the footage destroyed. Also, watch this video and then try to buy the Giants’ claims that Eli Manning did not bail on his weekly audience with Mike Francesa because he knew he’d get benched during the 2019 season. Come on. The Mannings do not turn down free money. You really think Eli is going to pass on a six-figure check to answer the same five boring questions from the big guy every Monday at 5:05 p.m. without a reason?

More on ESNY:
How New York legend Regis Philbin befuddled McDonald’s employees
Craig Carton’s new FS1 show has name, start date
Should Giants have kept Tom Coughlin? Mike Francesa weighs in
Stephen A. Smith says Knicks’ ‘soft’ Leon Rose is ‘scared’ of media
Mike Francesa has well-timed thoughts on ‘guy talk’ vs. ‘sports talk’

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JamesKratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.