Former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum is building a media collective of NFL coaches and decision-makers, hoping to provide fans, fantasy players and league insiders with insights directly from people who have run boardrooms or player meetings.
The group, called The 33rd Team, is backed by Tannenbaum, with assistance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s sport management program. It formally launched Thursday with a network of creators who are recognizable to NFL fans, including former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner and former coaches Eric Mangini, Ken Whisenhunt and Wade Phillips.
In its first major programming initiative, The 33rd Team is aligning with SiriusXM to create a weekly Thursday fantasy football show and a weekly Friday NFL show. The company, which calls itself a “football think tank,” has a website and newsletter, and plans to release content through both its own distributions channels, and others. The 33rd Team also does private work for teams and universities, assessing anything from practice schedules to injury rates.
“Our core mission is to put out information based on people’s real experiences,” Tannenbaum said in an interview. “We know that people at teams and agents all read our content, so we want to keep putting it out, and see where it goes from there.”
The 33rd Team’s launch comes as sports media companies large and small work harder to give fans more behind-the-scenes perspectives. Earlier this week ESPN debuted an alternative broadcast of Monday Night Football, featuring retired quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning breaking down the game from a player’s view. ESPN has also used NCAA coaches on an alternative broadcast during the College Football Playoff championship.
Tannenbaum spent more than two decades in various NFL front offices, including stints with the Jets and Miami Dolphins. He’s worked with ESPN as an NFL insider, and recently joined Bruin Capital as a senior adviser.
The idea for The 33rd Team came after Tannenbaum hired a group of UMass Amherst sport management students to help him prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft while at ESPN. The experience was fruitful, and Tannenbaum later formalized the partnership with the school, allowing students to work directly with a growing group of former NFL decision-makers. (Tannenbaum is an alum and his family started a scholarship within the program).
The 33rd Team soft launched late last year, and currently has more than 50,000 newsletter subscribers. The content is free, with revenue so far coming from sponsors, which to date have all been universities and academic institutions.