If the phrase opposites attract is true, the new podcast/YouTube show “The Pivot” embraces that sentiment.
To some degree, the only thing Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder, and Fred Taylor share in common is they are all former NFL players.
But their chemistry on the show is palpable. They share laughs, disagreements, debates, but most importantly, the respect of one another. After severing ties with the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Taylor and Crowder linked with Clark to “Pivot” into another direction.
In just four months, the show has welcomed legendary guests, such as Shaquille O’Neal, Caitlyn Jenner, Floyd Mayweather, Charles Barkley and Dana White. The show’s popularity among sports and entertainment fans continues to grow.
The trio explains to Zenger how the locker-room atmosphere is the key to getting guest to be themselves.
Zenger: Was it a collective thought to let the viewers of “The Pivot” know why Channing [Crowder] and Fred [Taylor] left, “I Am Athlete” on the first episode, or was it under consideration to just go right into having the first guest?
Clark: It wasn’t about airing anything or putting anybody out in any sort of way, for us, it was truly: “Hey man, there is going to be an elephant in the room, let’s not make people wait 17 shows to hear it.”
Zenger: Fred, right away you adopted the “OG” role or moniker. Is that the role you serve in real life because it seems to be genuine?
Taylor: 1,000 percent! I can’t change who I am, or what I am. The “OG” part … I don’t know (laughing).
Crowder: He don’t want to be old, bro. He don’t like the word, old.
Zenger: It just means “Offering Game,” Fred.
Taylor: OK, I’m with you on that. I call it, “On God!” It is what it is, right. At this point, you have to embrace it. I do. And this is who I am. I guess from that standpoint, when I step back and really look at it, I’m always offering game as you say. I’m always trying to help people steer clear of any BS and try to put them in the right position.
Zenger: Channing, it seems you are big on vibes and chemistry. Did you sense right away when you and Fred made that pivot that the chemistry would be there? Or did you think it would take some time?
Crowder: Honestly, when me and Fred pivoted … something Fred always says is, “You keep your face clean in the streets.” Me and Fred always been cool, but now when people see me and Fred together, they’re like, “You cool with Fred, you cool with me.” People I don’t even know. Dudes I never played with, and dudes who I never crossed their paths. Me and Fred have always been cool. Me and Ryan and talking to, RC and following his career for so long, meeting him a couple of years back, when we ended up pivoting… people asked me and Fred before, “If it wasn’t Ryan, who was it going to be?”
I always laugh because for me, it was the first and only name on the list when we decided to branch off. I know how he moves. I know how professional he is; he’s in order. I have seen him on other podcasts and ESPN, and I knew that was the guy we had to get. Me and Fred agreed on it, Alicia Zubikowski, we talked about it, and she said, Ryan is amazing.
We chopped it up with Ryan for an hour. I knew it would work. But before, we had to find the right mix to know that it would be successful. Once we did, I knew this would blow!
Zenger: To only be four months into the show, looking at some guests, and how well the numbers are doing, is this where you guys wanted to be, exceeded expectations, or are you still processing it all?
Crowder: They call me “Toxic Positivity,” man. I tell them all the time when things happen, people cancel on it, my saying is: “Don’t worry, everything is going to work out.”
Ryan Clark: He says: “It always works out!”
Crowder: That’s my thing. Through month one, month two, month three, month four, and now heading into month five, everything has worked out for us. I might be getting to them now with my toxic positivity. I always thought things would work out.
Clark: That is not it. We have things to do, this man messes the things up, and it always works out, is his excuse for messing things up.
Crowder: Don’t it work out in the end?
Clark: It does.
Crowder: No, because people want to panic and stress out. Everything will work out, let’s get us some liquor, drink, and have a good time. And then everything works out tomorrow.
Zenger: Do you all read the comments on your YouTube videos?
Crowder: This is a Fred question.
Taylor: I’m not the only one that’s reading comments.
Clark: I read, but I’m not answering.
Taylor: But I like feedback. I don’t always entertain it. I try to give people our vision and our point of view. What we have learned throughout this process is, we have to let the guest dictate the direction of the show. We sort of come in and piggyback them and expound on their thoughts. I think the comments are healthy for the most part. It gives us the good and the bad. We’re always going to remain who we are. We’re going to stay the course no matter what. We’re not going to let anyone dictate our direction. We understand it comes with the territory.
Let me tell you about one comment that was pointed out to me just a few days ago from the Caitlyn [Jenner] episode. Somebody commented on her business partner manager’s page on a post that she posted on all of us. It said, “This is a handsome group of guys, the best interview we have done.” This includes, Vanity Fair, Diane Sawyer… and we are three black men, right.
The comment from a random person was: “I love what you and your partner did, you killed it, but I dislike these three guys.” What do we say to that? Do we listen to this person, or do we listen to Caitlyn and Sophia who were there?
We knew people would come at us, whether it was them not wanting to quote the Bible, or whether they want to say: You’re three heterosexual men, what are you doing? But we chose to pivot, and do it our way. That’s what we have been doing. It’s been working, and we will continue to do it that way.
Zenger: I’m not sure who is doing the bookings, but you guys have had some very special guests on the show. Is there any bucket list guest you want?
Clark: President Obama.
Crowder: Samuel L. Jackson would be mine. My personality is 50 percent based on him. He is my favorite actor. I love Denzel [Washington]. I would love to have him on.
Clark: That would be hilarious.
Taylor: I would love to have Halle Berry on the show. I would like Webster.
Crowder: I’m a shoot (try to talk to her).
Clark: Little Webster?
Crowder: We ain’t talked about this, Big Homie Percy. Fred, you said, Webster?
Taylor: Nah… Halle Berry. I was kidding. Michael Jordan. We have to be real and say it would be an honor to get LeBron [James], Tiger [Woods], or Tom Brady. All of those guys, so it’s wide open for me.
Crowder: Tell Samuel L. Jackson that I am created by his personality.
Zenger: When we conduct these interviews, we could only hope that we get the honesty that Shaquille O’Neal gave you guys, and the raw emotion that Michael Beasley showed you guys. How special were those episodes?
Crowder: It’s something RC always says, we know the opening angle, and then all three of us adjust from there. We all do our research and look into things, but we know the start of the conversation. From there, it’s just natural conversation. We just start talking.
With Beasley, when he walked in, we kind of felt that energy, and we had to recalibrate a bit. Most dudes come in, and they are charismatic, jumping around and bouncing around, “Preciate ya’ll boys having me on.” Beasley was kind of reserved. We all adjusted to where he was at, so we asked the same questions and the interview started slow. Then, once we got to what he wanted to talk about, it matriculated to what it became.
With Shaq, we talked to him for about 30 minutes before the interview started. So, we got a rapport with Shaq. He called me, “Lil Ugly Ass Boy!” Even that back and forth between me and him happened before the cameras turned on. We already had that old-school roast session beforehand. That locker-room environment, whether it’s deep like a Beasley or life like a Shaq… we can get into Shaq and his divorce from Shaunie. That question was just like, “Man, you got divorced, it takes two people to get divorced, what happened there?” It was a light question and he…
Clark: (Cutting in) That wasn’t light, man. You tried to blame that man’s ex-wife.
Crowder: I was trying to see who was at fault.
Clark: That man said it was his fault at first, and you tried to blame the man, woman the same way you tried to blame Russell Wilson.
Crowder: (Cutting in) I’ll blame Russ too, because he’s a square. Bro, from the Beasley thing that got real deep, to the Shaq thing that started like boys in the locker room. I think our entire appeal and approach to get people to open up is, it’s really the locker room. Like you said, you got Freddy T, The OG, he ain’t going to talk every time, but when he talks, everyone shuts up. You got Ryan. He’s the auditor. He’s going to make sure everything keeps moving and keeps going.
Clark: I do not talk like that.
Crowder: And then you got your wildcard in me. We know our places, and we laugh about it and have a good time. That’s the locker-room environment. When you get in the locker room with 50-plus, grown ass, rich ass men, everybody has their own angle, and you have to deal with so many personalities. People open up to us because they get that locker-room feel.
Zenger: What are the short-term goals or expectations for “The Pivot”?
Taylor: Short-term goal, book the next guest. We never really know how that goes. You asked earlier, we don’t have a booking agent. It’s been all us going through our phone books and making connections. People actually starting to reach out. PR people are reaching out because their clients want to come on the show, which is good because we try to provide a safe space.
Truthfully, I don’t think any of us have thought about any short-term goals. We want to make sure we engage more sponsorship opportunities, so we can pay these bills, so we can continue moving like we’re moving. We’re making sacrifices when we made a commitment to be with each other, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to continue to grow this thing. The only short-term goal is to keep this thing moving. We pivot as we go!
Zenger: Ryan, you have, “DC & RC,” “The Pivot,” and many other sports-related things. Have you found a balance to everything you have going on?
Clark: The thing that’s been cool for me is just finding my place in everything. I’m a former NFL player that does a podcast in a very… for lack of a better word, white sport in UFC. When you’re not a former fighter, they’re not very welcoming. If you go in my DM’s, there are probably hundreds of conversations that started with people telling me to not do the UFC. I have a conversation with them and tell them how I love it, how long I’ve watched it, how I’ve trained in it.
I’m not trying to be Daniel Cormier analyzing it. The thing that’s happened with “The Pivot” is, I’ve found my place — and I’m comfortable in it. The biggest thing with me is, I don’t have any ego in this. What you want after every show is to feel like, WE, capital W capital E, put out the best show possible. We’ve had shows where I thought Fred absolutely led the entire show and was the star. We’ve had shows where I thought Channing led the entire show and was the star. And it was never one of those nights where I felt like I didn’t get enough. Because I knew at the end of the night, that was the way the show was supposed to go, and that was the best show we could do.
Edited by Fern Siegel and Matthew Hall.