"Oz The Mentalist" (Oz Pearlman) performing for the Green Bay Packers. “Oz The Mentalist” (Oz Pearlman) performing for the Green Bay Packers. (Adam Schefter on Twitter.)

Celebrities and sports have long been intertwined, and it’s always been interesting to see how sports media handle that intersection. And there have been a lot of different approaches to that over the years.

Sometimes, that’s just showing prominent celebrities on game broadcasts, something we’ve seen with everyone from Spike Lee to Jack Nicholson to now Taylor Swift. Sometimes, that involves featuring those celebrities on pregame or postgame coverage, as we’ve seen with a variety of College GameDay guest pickers and with Kevin Hart around the Philadelphia Eagles. And sometimes, that’s about showing celebrity interactions with teams, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter did with a video of “Oz the Mentalist” (Oz Pearlman) performing for the Green Bay Packers Sunday:

As many have noted, that’s far from new for Schefter or for ESPN. Schefter has tweeted about eight of Pearlman’s performances for football teams over the past two years, seven of those with NFL teams and one with the Michigan Wolverines (Pearlman’s alma mater). One of those was on HBO/NFL Films’ Hard Knocks with the Miami Dolphins, so it didn’t come with a video clip, but the other six did. And Schefter had Pearlman on his own podcast to discuss his work with NFL teams last year:

But it’s not just Schefter (also a Michigan graduate) sharing clips of Pearlman. ESPN’s YouTube channel has posted at least 11 of those over the past five years. And while some of those are his appearances with teams (including a pre-playoff one with Michigan that Schefter didn’t tweet about), Pearlman went through a full ESPN “car wash” of studio show appearances in March 2018, producing clips across SportsCenterGet Up, and more:

It’s also not just ESPN that promotes Pearlman. His own YouTube channel has clips from his appearances on CNBC and Fox Business, as well as from NFL Network. And it seems unlikely that this many teams would keep bringing him in just to get ESPN some clips. They’re seemingly finding some value from it, and some of the players’ reactions in these clips seem pretty positive.

But it is interesting that ESPN in general and Schefter in particular seem to pump up Pearlman’s appearances with teams more than anyone else does. That’s absolutely their right; Schefter can choose what to tweet about, and ESPN can choose what video clips to post. And, from a strict viewership standpoint, promoting him doesn’t seem like a terrible call.

Schefter’s tweet of Pearlman’s Packers’ performance drew more than 500 retweets and more than 4,400 likes in its first two hours. Those are numbers ahead of or similar to all the news and analysis posts he made Sunday morning. And on the YouTube side, the three clips ESPN posted of Pearlman speaking to NFL teams this fall all have more than 100,000 views so far, with the Dallas Cowboys one having more than 200,000 views.

The Michigan clip from five days ago only has 18,000 views so far, which is low for ESPN’s YouTube channel overall. But the NFL ones have performed better than their average piece of content (albeit nowhere near some of their best-performing studio show clips). So it’s somewhat understandable why they keep doing this. (And from Pearlman’s standpoint, getting these clips promoting his appearances for teams out there via ESPN and Schefter would seem to make a lot of sense for him. And he does have sports connections himself, including setting a record for the most miles run in New York City’s Central Park last year, doing so as a fundraiser for Ukrainian citizens affected by that war.)

There would seem to be potential viewer fatigue with one network and one personality regularly pushing out this specific kind of sports-adjacent content, though. Some of Schefter’s tweets here are definitely drawing “Why are you promoting this guy again?” responses. And we’ll see if he and ESPN continue to feature Pearlman as much going forward, and if so, if that continues to draw the engagement they’re looking for or not.

[Adam Schefter on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.