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Exclusive: Dan Patrick on the new season of Undeniable, LeBron, Trump’s kneeling stance and more

Dan Patrick
Dan Patrick takes over Undeniable, which will feature ten amazing interviews with sports icons

A rebooted Undeniable with Dan Patrick is coming to AT&T AUDIENCE Network in early 2019, with Patrick stepping in and taking over for Joe Buck who served as host for five seasons.

Buck’s departure has opened the door for a brand new perspective and energy in the art of the interview, especially when it comes to sports icons and lions of achievement in every sport imaginable rarely heard from.

Patrick understands how to pull a great anecdote or reveal out of an interview subject. His radio show The Dan Patrick Show featuring his four comrades-in-arms The Danettes who are executive producer Paul Pabst (“Paulie”), executive producer Todd Fritz (“Fritzy”), director of operations Patrick O’Connor (“Seton”), and show blogger writer Andrew Perloff (“McLovin”) create a man cave “no holds barred” atmosphere.

Their collective unfiltered and pointed sports talk laced with current events, comedy, and yarns writ large entertain all sorts in the listening audience, even those not keen on sports in general. His guests range from serious sports figures to ribald and rowdy comics like Jim Jefferies and Bill Burr.

Fast on his feet with analysis or a great set-up or comeback, Patrick can hang with the best and verbally wrangle them all. He has an admirable CV roster of TV and film appearances mainly in comedy, making that genre second nature for him to weave into his sports-themed world.

Award-winning journalist Dan Patrick gets it and knows how to marry the two separate worlds of comedy and sports and yet be respectful of the pedigree and history of any game.

He finds the amazing anecdotal stories either rooted in emotion and history or taken to comedic depths and heights in crass or crazy ways, think the extremes of classic sports films like Rudy and Field of Dreams to Eastbound & Down or Arli$$, the collective comedy and tragedy of sports are all ripe for great watching and listening.

Patrick is well-equipped and at the peak time in his career to handle the sports greats booked on Undeniable, as the in-depth interview series will feature ten legends in various sports who will explore their life trajectory with Patrick in front of a studio audience.

Patrick will interview Super Bowl champ Ray Lewis, Olympic gold medal boxer Oscar De La Hoya, Olympic gold medal(s) great track star Carl Lewis, the “Great White Shark” of golf, Greg Norman, baseball World Series champ Jim Palmer, MLB hall of famer George Brett, Boxing legend Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, Olympic gold medalist in basketball, Cheryl Miller, racer Tony Stewart, United States Auto Club Hall of Famer
and Olympian and gold medal(s) Mark Spitz.

The good news for fans of The Dan Patrick Show on radio, is that show will continue uninterrupted.

We spoke with Dan Patrick who is in production right now, filming this series for AT&T AUDIENCE set to air in early 2019. He doesn’t hold back and has strong feelings about politics bleeding into sports, baseball park on-site gambling and asking the tough questions even if they might make his guest flinch.

Monsters and Critics: Your radio show, are you going keep that going while you film Undeniable?

Dan Patrick: Yes. We’re going to continue to do the simulcast. Undeniable is only two weeks out of the year where I’m taping. Ten interviews over a span of a week, twice a year.

M&C: So, you’ve really got them jammed in, production wise. You got these interviews back-to-back, then?

Dan: Yes. It’s two a day starting Sunday. And then, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And then, I fly back to Connecticut to resume my regularly scheduled program.

M&C: Kudos to you for bringing the Danettes to your radio show. A lot of people from an ego standpoint, would not be as generous. Do you know what I’m saying? You let them shine, and they add as a nice dimension to the show.

Dan: Well, I thought America was tired of hearing just my voice. So, why not have them get annoyed with four other voices in there. And I figured, I’ll bring in the Danettes and they’re my friends. And it served as a studio audience when you think of it because they can respond in the moment with something I say or something I do. And I like that immediate reaction.

It’s a chance to have fun, bring out their personalities in. It’s not something original. I stole it from Howard Stern, I think. What Howard was able to do is able to do was make them relevant. He makes them interesting, and that’s what I wanted to do.

I have four guys who have strong personalities, unique personalities, strong points of view, and why not have them, make it all inclusive there, and have more voices instead of just the singular voice.

M&C: Undeniable on Audience on DirecTV is going to have a live studio, and be a more serious show than the radio show. You’re going to do a deep dive on someone’s career. Energetically, how will that differ?

Dan: Well, I think once you start, you get locked in on the person you’re talking to. I think, when there is a reaction, you can play off the reaction. If it’s laughter, or if it’s something that’s a little bit more serious. But I hope to use the audience as not background noise, but something that I could play off of.

And it usually helps if a guest says something that’s funny, and the audience reacts. It, sort of, emboldens them to go a little bit further and have a little bit more fun. And with that element, I think it can only help.

But it’s a little bit different when you’re doing something in front of a group of people. I would prefer just an intimate, one on one, but I think they fill in the … you’re looking for a little bit of ambiance there. And I think you’ll get that with these audiences.

M&C: Are you going to ask tough questions? How deep are you going to go on some of the tougher aspects of someone’s career that may be scandalous?

Dan: Well, I think it’s going to be relevant. It’s not to be titillating. We’re not sensationalizing. I think what is relevant to the arch of somebody’s career is what I’m interested in.

Ray Lewis with the double homicide in Atlanta, as it’s suitable. That’s the topic. There are certain ones that are going to come up and then, they know it’s coming up.

But with Oscar [de la Hoya], I’m not going out of my way to try to embarrass somebody, hurt somebody. But if I thought that there was something that needed to be said or asked, then I would. But all of it is relevant to your career.

Ray Lewis was in jail for a week. He didn’t even know what his future was going to be. That is relevant to his career.

M&C: One of the most recent interviews you did was with the MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred. You asked him a very pointed question. You said, “Can fans go to the ballpark and place some bets there?” I felt like it was almost like lawyer speak the way he answered you…

Dan: Well, it probably was. But since it’s a fluid topic, I don’t know if he knows what his answer is yet. And I think with all these other sporting venues, I’m curious if you’re going to be able to bet when you go to the stadium. Will they have a side betting parlor. Where you could go in just to place bets.

That’s something to get you to go to a baseball game if there was something that was unique about it. That’s why I broached the topic with him. But, the NBA is ahead of everybody on this. But everybody else is, sort of, waiting to see what happens with the NBA. And then, they’re going to follow suit. Everybody wants to get their piece to the pie.

And I just don’t know if the commissioner’s formulated his opinion yet because he, sort of, want to see how this all plays out with everybody. I can’t provide the answers. I can only ask the questions. And when I realize that maybe I’m not going to get something, I can’t keep going back at him to try to get that-

There are just times when I’m disappointed where I go, “Maybe you don’t know it, or maybe you don’t want to share it.” But I just want to be on record as asking the question.

M&C: How do you personally feel about betting at the park as someone who has probably attended many a baseball game in your life?

Dan: Well, I think it’s coming. But I think it’s going to be gambling on your phone. I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be gambling at the stadium. I think it’s going to be, “I’m on my phone at the stadium. Or I’m at the stadium, and I’m on my phone, and I can place a bet.”

But I think if you’re looking at somebody 21 years of age, how you’re able to put it on your credit card, or it has to be cash, or whatever those things are. It’s coming our way.

And I think it’s probably going to be how broad can you bet, or how narrow. Can you do prop bets? How interesting is this going to be? And I don’t think we realize this, but that’s how I’m looking at it is, can you bet on balls and strikes?

There’s a game called mountain ball, where if you go to Wrigley [Field], you bet with people your row, if after the third out if the ball ends up on the mound or off the mound.

So, people are going to, by the fifth or sixth pitting, they might be looking for ways to entertain themselves. But I do think that you’re going to have gambling. And gambling, in these arenas and these stadiums, the question is, it’s going to be pitch by pitch or basket by basket, or touchdown by touchdown. Those kinds of things.

But I do think it’s coming. And when it gets here … I don’t think it’s coming in gently.

M&C: You’ve got ten really interesting guests lined up. Who is not on this list that you wish you could’ve shoehorned in for number 11?

Dan: Oh, well. Obviously, Michael Jordan. I had an opportunity to interview him after every championship he won when I was working at ESPN. And I found that he was even competitive in an interview, which I admired, I loved because he had you on your toes

He was challenging you. Ask me a good question, you’re going to get a good answer. But he would be one at the top of the list. But the criteria is, you have to have one at least one championship, one title, and be retired.

Michael, obviously, fits that category. But there are so many other athletes. Kobe, I would love to have, or Bill Walton is somebody who I enjoy … those are just off the top of my head. But the people that we were looking for and kind of zoned in on are the people that we got…

Tony Dungy was somebody I wanted to have … we couldn’t fit it in but we had more people saying yes than we did swats this time around, that’s encouraging.

M&C: It is going to be such a different show than the radio show. The radio show reveals so much of your personality and your humor comes through, which I love. I remember those halcyon days of HBO when you appeared on Arli$$. You’ve had your moments on TV… Will you be in anything that might be of surprise to any fans of yours that follow you, that we can look forward to? Or outside of the sports reporting?

Dan: There’s probably an [Adam] Sandler movie or two in the near future that I’ll make another cameo in. Talking to the folks in American Vandal of doing something with them. Big fans of American Vandal. So, there’s the possibility with that. But I just, sort of, weigh it out if it something that fits who I am or what I want.

A lot of it, I don’t want to be on a show that I love cause I don’t want to screw it up. And so, that can sometimes create a little bit of a problem. But I don’t want to get the reaction Ed Sheeran got when he was on Game of Thrones. We’re like, “What’re you doing? You’re ruining Game of Thrones …” “What’re you … an idiot? Get out!” I don’t want that.

But I think that’s what’s good about Sandler, always puts me in disguise. So, therefore, nobody’s yelling unnecessarily at me. Unless you know me, and then you’re probably okay that I’m in. I just don’t want somebody to go, “But that dude … he’s ruining it.”
So, those are possibilities. It’s fun.

Thankfully, my livelihood does not hinge on my ability to act, but I have a great appreciation for it. If something’s there, great. If not, I get enough air time every single day.
So, I’m not short on that. Yeah.

M&C: It’s hard to interview comedians. They’re very tricky. And they’re very smart. And a lot of them are depressed. They have some sort of things that they are wrestling with. But you’re very good with them, I’ve noticed that. And conversely, you can do the proper sports talk jam, like with Rockets GM Daryl Morey on who was waxing on about LeBron. First of all, do you think LeBron is the greatest in the NBA? Do you put him at the top of the list? What’s your opinion on that?

Dan: Well, I reserve judgment on it until he’s done. But I do think he’s in the conversation. But I don’t consider him the greatest basketball player of all time. He might be the most talented basketball player of the modern era, but he’s not the best player of all time. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be or he won’t be.

I think yet to be fair to the conversation to the topic, I have to wait until he’s done. And then see, “how many titles do you have? And how many MVP’s do you have?” And then, now we can play the compare and contrast with the other players. But it’s a short list, let’s put it that way. And LeBron’s certainly on that list.

M&C: Who’s your top pick at this moment in time?

Dan: Michael [Jordan]. Michael’s the great player that I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been fortunate to have watched the NBA since 1969. And I’ve got to see pretty much everybody close to their prime. And Michael … there was something about Michael, that he was going win no matter what.

But I also give LeBron credit. We don’t give enough credit to those who make it to a championship game. We look at that as failure. And I think that that’s something that narrows … we should be a little bit more open-minded to …

Tom Brady went to the Super Bowl last year, threw for 500 yards. His team didn’t punt once, and they lost. And that’s going to go down as “Tom Brady lost the Super Bowl.” He didn’t lose the Super Bowl.
His defense lost the Super Bowl. And I think with LeBron, he gets to the NBA finals, and then they go, “Yeah. But he loses more than he wins.”

But I have to give him credit. Michael went to six championships and won all six. Well, what about the other years that he didn’t go? Do I hold it against him?

So, there are different ways to argue it. I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer that placates everybody. But I’ll wait until LeBron’s done. And then, we can tabulate all of this and decide.

M&C: One of the more annoying things today is how politics is woven into sports. And the sports conversation, specifically, the kneeling thing. I know that your show is going be a deep dive on people, their career. How do you feel about this subject and what’s going on right now with sports? With politics, in sort of, bleeding over into it?

Dan: I don’t go out of my way to talk politics because I think there are so many different outlets for people. If they want that, they can get that.

And it’s not that I dodge it because I do think sports allows us to talk about a lot of things. We’ve talked about sexuality, you talked about race, you talked about religion.

There’s a lot that’s woven in, or at least there are threads through sports that allow us to expound upon it where, maybe, otherwise, you wouldn’t talk about it.

If Michael Sam, and you’re talking about a gay player, and did he get drafted because he was gay? And they didn’t want him to go undrafted. We talked about that. Or the kneeling aspect.

We’re so far removed from what, how they could have probably circumvented this, maybe tamped it down a little bit just so it wouldn’t be this disqualifier that we have.

And there are far smarter people than me who haven’t been able to figure this out. But it doesn’t mean I shy away from it. My opinion has always been the same.  I grew up in a household with a father who was a marine and respecting the flag.  I would stand if I was a player in the NFL.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m blind to what their cause is and the reason why they’re taking a knee. Because my world that is great, their world might not be. And that’s what they’re trying to bring out. They’re trying to shine a light on that.

What I always tell the audience, just listen to me, I have no agenda with this. None. I want to give you both sides. And I’m going to give you the truth with it. And it’s how I really feel. I think that this is the truth of what’s going on.

I don’t agree with President Trump when he says, ‘this is about disrespecting the flag.’ It happens during that ceremony, and because that’s the most eyeballs where you can get them to understand that there’s a cause that they want you to understand.

But you know what? People are going to believe that, that’s what it’s about. It’s about disrespecting the anthem. And I don’t believe that. The timing is not good. The visual is not good. But I understand and empathize with what they’re trying to say.

And I have great respect … because we have guys who have given up their careers for it. They put their money where their mouth was. And I have respect for that.

So, it’s a shame because we do focus way too much on that, April. But it is something that when the president has made it a hot button topic, it’s not going go away anytime soon.

Undeniable with Dan Patrick is currently in production and will be airing on the AT&T AUDIENCE Network.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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