(Credit: Next Up with Adam Brenneman podcast)

Trent Dilfer has a bittersweet relationship with TV.

Now, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers’ head coach, Dilfer, reflected on his time at ESPN, where he signed on as an NFL analyst in July 2008. He was perhaps best known for his “You can not lose games in the NFL and still win” quote and his segment called “Dilfer’s Dimes,” which featured highlight-reel passes each week during the season.

ESPN dismissed Dilfer in a cost-cutting measure in 2017, but he recently expressed gratitude to the network for providing him with a large platform and valuable opportunities. During a recent appearance on the Next Up with Adam Brenneman podcast, Dilfer acknowledged that while he made some mistakes in televised debates, it was primarily a positive experience because he felt more like an educator than a TV personality.

Dilfer said he felt his influence on television in his first five years, but then, it got weird.

“TV got weird, man,” Dilfer told the former Penn State tight end. “It got people telling you what you should be talking about, what was important and what wasn’t important. It wasn’t about football all of a sudden. The politics in the building started determining what people got the chance to say what where. If it was a hot-button topic that Twitter was trending on at the time, then it made the front of the show, whether it was a premiere game or not. All these other things started creeping in…It just got overwhelming.”

Dilfer said his favorite season was when Ray Lewis, Steve Young, and he were on-site for that season of Monday Night Countdown. But ESPN eventually broke up that band, he said.

“The Stuart Scott thing really hurt me,” Dilfer said of the death of the famed ‘SportsCenter’ anchor. “He was a dear friend. I loved working with Stuart. I have more funny memories with Stuart on the road…That was a hard thing to get over.”

So, things started to pile up for Dilfer, and he no longer enjoyed it. It wasn’t all the TV stuff, but it was the lifestyle. Dilfer also admitted to making “really stupid decisions.”

“I got involved in a contract negotiation that I should not have done, looking back at it,” he said. “Which made things weird with my bosses.”

Prior to his layoff, Dilfer reportedly sparred with ESPN NFL producer Seth Markman about his future with the company before eventually returning after he couldn’t get the offer he expected from Fox Sports. Interestingly enough, Markman went to bat for Dilfer during the 2016 NFL season (after that reported confrontation) following his comments about Kaepernick, and bridges appeared to be mended.

Years later, some details about that conversation between Markman and Dilfer have come to light from (of all places) Dan Le Batard. According to Le Batard, Dilfer may have overplayed his hand when negotiating his contract and revealed that he wanted a private plane because Kirk Herbstreit had one.

“It just got funky at the end, and it was better for everybody that I was off TV,” Dilfer added. “And I’m sure the 50 percent that hated me were like, ‘Great, get him off. Put the next bald guy on.’ Really, what they did was trade me out for [Matthew] Hasselback, one of my best friends, and now they’ve traded Hasselback out for Alex Smith, who I mentored in San Francisco…I know it’s a long-winded answer, but I’ve never really had the platform to tell people either.”

What bothers Dilfer the most now is that current analysts — in college football or the NFL — think they’re making a difference.

“It’s the most narcissistic thing out there,” he said. “I watched Fox News, CNN News and ESPN or whatever it is, and these people actually think they’re changing the world. And I’m here to tell you, no, you’re not. Like, nobody really cares. You’re either reinforcing something they believe or telling them something. You’re either pissing them off or making them happy. But you ain’t changing anybody for the better.”

Spoken like a true football coach.

[Next Up with Adam Breneman via Barrett Sports Media]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.