The following post comes from Temple student Andrew Lecointe:
Many athletes in the four major sports make the transition from athlete to television analyst seem so simple. When we tune into ESPN, most of the analysts are retired players talking about their respective sport. Whether these athletes are deserving of analyst gigs is another topic for another day. The case could be made that some of them don’t. For instance, Keyshawn Johnson went through his whole career running his mouth and bad-mouthing coaches. Now, he’s an analyst criticizing people who bad-mouth their coaches. What a shame! Deion Sanders left CBS to join the NFL Network because they wouldn’t pay him $2 million a year, instead offering $1.3 million, as if he hadn’t made enough money already. Garry Cobb, on the other hand, takes his journalistic endeavors far beyond the Keyshawn Johnsons and the Deion Sanders, who are analysts on major networks.
Cobb is a former NFL star, playing 10 seasons at the linebacker position for several teams throughout his career. Cobb started out as a star linebacker for the USC Trojans back in the 1970s, where he won a national title with Pro Football Hall-of-Famers Marcus Allen, Anthony Munoz, and Ronnie Lott. From 1979 to 1989 in the NFL, Cobb played for the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys. He was traded from the Lions to the Eagles for Wilbert Montgomery, who was a beloved running back in Philadelphia. Cobb played on a defensive unit on the Eagles that would include the late Hall-of-Famer Reggie White and the late Jerome Brown. His brief stint with the Cowboys also saw him play with Hall-of-Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin.
After retirement, Cobb entered the journalism industry, telling me he had gigs on Philadelphia’s CBS3 for sports and worked for Philadelphia’s radio station WIP, in which he still works for actually. Cobb has a daily morning show on WIP. Cobb played for the Eagles for three seasons, but has remained in Philadelphia for the most part after retirement and stays involved with the Eagles, whether it’s being a fan or providing honest commentary. In 2006, Cobb decided to launch his own site, which would be devoted to everything involving the Eagles. Cobb didn’t exactly know how it was going to turn out when he decided to start writing content on the site. All he knew was his interest in the Eagles were enough to draw him into creating the site.
In addition to Cobb, there are six writers who contribute to the site. Cobb tells me that the site is still growing, and he always has new visions for his site. While the site was supposed to be about the Eagles, it expanded into a site that covered the three other major sports in the city, in addition to high school and college sports. If you took a look at the site however, there are many determining factors that indicate the site is mainly about the Eagles. First and foremost, the logo of the website is a “G” in a football. Of course, the “G” represents Garry, but the logo looks like the logo of the Green Bay Packers. While I noticed this, I didn’t ask Garry if there were any legal aspects in regard to the logo. Also, the stories on the main page of the site seem to be mostly about the Eagles. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be much coverage of the 76ers, even though the basketball season is underway and the 76ers seem to be struggling right now.
When Cobb spoke to me, he told me his goal was building the site into being a better site, in hopes of selling it. That was the most interesting aspect of the conversation for numerous reasons. For one, Cobb has only had the site for four years. He hasn’t had the site long enough to establish it as a well recognized site. Also, he has a ton of content on his site, particularly about the Eagles, so it would seem that he needs another platform to write and express his opinions about them. However, this is a business decision that he can benefit from. While he told me he plans to sell the site, he didn’t tell me what would happen to the other writers, including his son. The site looks well enough to sell right now, depending on the buyer. It also helps that Cobb has legitimate advertisers on his site.
The exposure and advertisements Cobb gets for his website is different than most entrepreneurial journalists. Cobb has had the benefit of playing a solid ten seasons in the NFL. He also transitioned into the media world after retirement, so that became another benefit for him. The spaces on the site are filled for the most part, so it certainly isn’t an amateur website. The advertisements he has on his site are prominent advertisers as well. Cobb was able to get Chase Freedom to advertise on his site, which brings in big bucks, in exchange for an event in which Chase Freedom wanted him to be a part of. He also has Yardbarker advertise on his site, which is affiliated with Fox Sports website. James Dillion, a business student, said what Cobb mentioned to me also; he benefits from being a former pro football player.
Dillion states that it’s hard to get advertisers as big as Chase on a site with Cobb for several reasons. For one, Cobb’s site isn’t marketed as much as the major sites on national levels like ESPN’s website and others. With that being said however, Cobb gets a lot of traffic. Cobb said he averages about 60,000 visitors per month, and in the past month, he got an astounding 2.3 million hits. When asked why that was so, the answer was simple. “It’s football season,” Cobb quickly answers. He says he gets the most visitors and comments during football season and the months of March, when it starts becoming clear who college prospects will become high draft picks, and in April, when the draft actually occurs. The other months, which coincides with baseball, basketball and hockey seasons, don’t get anywhere close to the amount of traffic generated during football season.
Another reason for the amount of hits on the site is promotion. Cobb makes sure he promotes his site at events and other appearances he makes. He’s well known in the city because of his playing days and his media work after his career. He promotes his site on his morning show as well, so that is another reason for the amount of traffic. Cobb also said he hopes to include guest writers to his site in the near future, to add the voices of the fans in Philadelphia. He also wants to get into technology more, getting the IPhone involved, in addition to Facebook and You Tube. His ultimate goal is to generate a lot of activity on the site, to keep visitors to the site on a daily basis and for the site to ultimately be the site for news and opinions of Philly sports fans.
The main competitors of gcobb.com are the eagles.com, philly.com, the 700 level, and csnphilly.com. Cobb told me that he has a big vision for his site because he has seen the others blossom into a much bigger site. For instance, he says when he started gcobb.com back in 2006, philly.com looked closer to an amateur site than it does now. Four years later, philly.com is the primary source of news for Philadelphians, while the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News are having a hard time selling hard copies of their newspapers. If you look at the philly.com site today, there is constant activity. The latest news and breaking news are being posted every half-hour to an hour, which makes it reliable for visitors every day. Cobb wants to generate that kind of activity where an abundance of visitors to his site will be a constant.
One thing Cobb would like to improve personally are the comments that are put by people. Most big websites like ESPN have comment sections at the end of each page and people write ridiculous and abusive comments on the page. Cobb says he has seen those comments, sometimes racial, on his site as well. His articles are basically raw with opinions, as he stated, and he says he has received negative criticism quite often. He doesn’t mind it, however, because he simply stated, “That comes with the territory.” When it’s all said and done, Cobb has a unique product in which he has a deep passion for. While he may rely on his fame a little bit for help with his product, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s done a great job with the site. It has a ton of content, and Cobb is still learning how to make it better, so I’d expect that it will only get better with more knowledge.
* Both images come from GCobb.com.