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Vinny Cerrato talks George Michael

In what I believe were his first public comments since he resigned/was let go by the Redskins, Vinny Cerrato made a return to the local radio airwaves on Wednesday to discuss George Michael.

The legendary sports broadcaster's memorial service is Thursday, and Cerrato had an extremely close relationship to Michael, talking with him daily and visiting him in the hospital less than 24 hours before he died. Mike Wise invited Cerrato onto his 106.7 The Fan show with the understanding that the questions would be about Michael, and so for a few brief moments, we were all Inside the Red Zone again.

The most interesting thing about the conversation was Cerrato's continued references to Michael as a friend, someone to look to for advice and help. It's not the standard description of the executive-journalist relationship, a fact which Michael never made any bones about.

"I think the biggest thing was I trusted him, and I knew he was a friend, and I knew he wasn't trying to hurt me," Cerrato said, when asked why he would open up for Michael. "It was real, and he cared about me, and he cared about what the conversation would be. So I knew that George was a true friend, and I think that's the biggest thing. It was interesting how we met each other. It was the first day when Dan hired me when Norv was the coach in 99, George came up to me at training camp--because I think Leonard Shapiro wrote an article about me and I don't' know if it was good--and George came up to me and he said 'I've got to tell you, Leonard wrote an article about me when I was in town and it was twice as bad.' "

Wise soon asked why Daniel Snyder would do interviews with Michael, and the answer was much the same. Again, this isn't what you'd learn in Journalism Ethics 101, that's for sure.

"I think same reason as me," Cerrato said. "I think George was a friend and George was somebody you could trust, and you knew George was out for your best interest and would guide you and give you advice, and was not out to get a story on you. George was not out to rip you. George was not out to get dirt. George was out to be your friend, to help you, to advise you, to guide you. I mean, that was George."

Cerrato said something similar about Joe Gibbs, saying the coach would bounce things off Michael and get his advice. Wise said that in some towns, this would be seen as crossing a boundary.

"George was George, and that's the way he was," Cerrato replied. "I know George loved Abe Pollin, and he's tight with Ernie Grunfeld, he's tight with George Mcphee. We would talk about those people all the time, and that was George. People loved him and trusted him and knew that all George wanted to do was help, and George wanted them to win.. He wanted the local teams to win, and he appreciated the local teams."

Cerrato said that during Michael's sickness, he called him every day on the way to work to see how he was feeling. Cerrato's wife--a well-known doctor--would help translate medical jargon into English for Michael and his wife. And Michael would offer Cerrato radio show advice.

"George and I had always talked about doing a radio show together, because I think the people at your station always wanted to hire him," Cerrato told Wise. "He said 'We'll go do a show, me and you, and, we'll be number 1.' I said 'If I'm with The King, we'll definitely be number one.' He used to help me with my radio show all the time. I'd call him like at 7:15 and I'd say, 'All right George, here's what I've got, here's who I've got, what do you think, here's the questions I'm gonna ask, should I ask anything different?'

"And then as soon as my show was over at 10:01, the phone would be ringing and he would critique me. He would rate all the guests and he would rate how I did, or he'd say you got bored, you didn't know too much. He'd say, 'I know you don't like to be critiqued but I'm going to.' I'd say 'No, I want you to, how am I gonna get better if you don't?' So he was my critic, too."

Cerrato also got off a few good one-liners at the end. Wise invited him to come in-studio; "I've got nothing but time," Cerrato cracked. "I'll tell you this, Mike, I'm getting in great shape."

And then, when discussing Colt McCoy, Cerrato said he had addressed the Longhorns prior to the BCS title game.

"Mack had me talk to the team for about 30 minutes," Cerrato said. "Maybe that's why they lost, maybe that's why Alabama beat them. The first day they got together to practice down in Austin, I talked to the team after practice."

One more thing to blame him for, Wise suggested.

"Just go ahead and pile it on, Mike," Cerrato said. "I've got thick skin."

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 20, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  | Tags: Daniel Snyder, George Michael, Mike Wise, Redskins, Vinny Cerrato  
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Please do not try to humanize Vinny Cerrato; it destroys my world view.

Thanks for your assistance.

Posted by: wahoo2x | January 20, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

That was absolutely brutal, listening to the good buddy network in action, the name dropping, and worst of all that cackling laugh of Cerrato. I made my skin crawl just hearing it again. Never. Again.

Posted by: innocentbystander | January 20, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Good interview. Really what a shocker to hear about Len Shapiro writing negative article and personal attacks about people, since he NEVER does anything like that! Shapiro is the king of all hacks.

I wonder how many people were checking in on George Michael in his dying days. Cerrato is a good man. A shame people in this town are convinced otherwise. A lot of people just can't grasp the difference between not being very good at your job and not being a good person.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 20, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

you know, for someone who claims to appreciate critique, and who apparently believes that he then changes his behavior to improve based on that critique, he made a spectacularly contradictory statement through his actions this past year...

Posted by: bacaje | January 20, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

It's funny to hear the Post address journalistic ethics when it's obvious they sat on (covered up is another way to put it) one of the Arenas gun story -- one of the biggest scandals in DC sports history.

Posted by: nativedc | January 20, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

This sounds like worthless name dropping by Cerrato. He's a fraud.

Posted by: peterandmeredith | January 20, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It's funny to hear the Post address journalistic ethics when it's obvious they sat on (covered up is another way to put it) one of the Arenas gun story -- one of the biggest scandals in DC sports history.

Posted by: nativedc | January 20, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

If you have any evidence to support this claim, we're all ears.

On the other hand, I've been wondering for 3 weeks how this story got out in the first place. But NO ONE seems the slightest bit curious about that.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 20, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but I call BS on that Texas story. There is absolutely no way Mack Brown forced his team to listen to 30 minutes of hogwash from a football failure like Vincenzo Cerrato before the biggest games of their lives. And if by some chance it's not complete hogwash, Brown should be fired yesterday.

Posted by: thediesel | January 20, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Nice to get a feel for how much time Vinny was putting into the radio show. Prep time, reviews, etc. Though didn't he have another job, beside that radio gig?

Posted by: zcezcest1 | January 20, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

This article did nothing to change my opinion of Vinny Cerrato. I still loathe the dude, though on some level I envy the childlike state of blissful obliviousness in which he apparently spends his days.

Did Vinny mention to the Longhorns how many rings he has?

I wish there were some way we could be assured that he won't someday rise up like a phoenix and resume his place aside Danny running the Skins. You can just picture Snyder saying to himself, when Shanahan leaves, "Man, it was so much better when I had Vinny here... I miss that feeling of absolute control, of being told yes to everything my heart desired..."

Posted by: NateinthePDX | January 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Did Vinny mention to the Longhorns how many rings he has?

Posted by: NateinthePDX | January 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Implication being that he has zero rings...

Nate, you're usually pretty knowledgeable, which is why the above comment surprised me. You do know that Vinny has a Super Bowl ring and a National Championship ring, right? You know he was an integral part of the SF winning teams of the 90s? And you know he was the recruiting coordinator for Notre Dame during which they won the National Championship, right?

I mean, we've come to expect complete and total ignorance on the part of commenters like the guy above, thediesel, but not from you Nate. You're usually better than that.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 20, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Barno1, I know that.

The lame joke I was attempting to make was in reference to Vinny's repeated bragging about the number of rings he has. I find that bragging objectionable in and of itself. And I am among those who believe that he earned those rings while working at rather low levels in those programs/organizations. Unless I've missed something, the teams on which he has served in a high level role have not, as yet, won any championships.

I was guessing that if Vinny addressed the Texas team on the verge of its championship game (to wit, their chance to get rings) he might find that a plum opportunity to brag on his own collection of rings.

As you have no doubt guessed, my take on this is colored by my utter distaste for Vinny Cerrato and my gladness that the Redskins are shut of him.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | January 20, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

All i gotta say, 'Let's GOTO the video TAPE'!!!! that back ground music they had for all the highlights and replays of sports (NFL Games ESPECIALLY) on Sports Machine. I remember him showing LT highlights and making that explosion sound. I remember on some nights, I would be too tired to stay awake during the last 10 mins of the show when the highlights were showing and doze off to that music. He will be missed!!!

Posted by: doeshin | January 20, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

And lest it be misconstrued, I don't mean to imply that Vinny didn't earn those rings he brags about. I'm sure each of those organizations had criteria for who got a ring and who didn't, and they decided that his contribution in whatever role had sufficed to earn him a ring.

I am simply choosing not to believe that Vinny was foremost among those responsible for the championships won by those teams. That if you ranked the people responsible for those titles, Vinny's name would be pretty far down the list.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | January 20, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Barno1, the media elites are to blame for making everyone think cerrato is a bad person. one word comes to mind when i read your posts, and it rhymes with couch. (portland pronunciation).

Posted by: BMACattack | January 20, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Gotcha Nate. I know you're no Vinny fan, very few people are.

I guess it depends on your definition of low level though. If Recruiting Coordinator at Notre Dame, Director of Player Personnel while with the 49ers (and earlier Director of College Scouting) are all considered low level, well I guess you'd be right then.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 20, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

BMAC, media elites or not, certainly the Washington Post had a little something to do with how Vinny Cerrato was viewed in this town. As many people at the Post will tell you, former Skins beat writer Jason La Canfora's animosity with Cerrato (they did not speak for 3 years) was one just crazy. The Post, specifically La Canfora but others as well, absolutely ripped and mocked Cerrato at every opportunity. Objective journalism it was not.

SO yes, in some ways, I guess you could say the media elites had something to do with "making everyone think cerrato is a bad person"

Posted by: Barno1 | January 20, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

the only one responsible for cerRATo┬┤s reputation in this town was cerRATo himself ... no words or articles in any newspaper or sports blog could ever convince anyone more than his actual on the job performance, which as we all know was abysmal

Posted by: bestmick1 | January 21, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe Barno is still defending Vinny. I will never understand their love affair. Yuo realize the Skins finished in last place the last two years under Vinny's watch? Also, he hired someone in mid-season to effectively castrate the head coach, not to mention that dude was previously calling B-I-N-G-O.

And Vinny was his name-O.

Posted by: jpfterps | January 21, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

All you need to know about Vinny is that the year he was fired by Marty, only ESPN would hire him. No other NFL team wanted him. And I wouldn't expect any NFL team to be beating his door down now either.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 21, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

To think that a GM would spend that much time working for his radio show is unbelievable. What a tool! Good riddance!

Posted by: tc2003 | January 21, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Jp, I'm not defending Vinny as GM... 'm defending him as not being a bad human being. If you have some specific evidence that he's a bad person, let's hear it. Otherwise, I stand by my statement that a lot of people--you apparently included--seem to not being able to distinguish between someone not being good at their job and someone not being a good person.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 21, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

wow look at barno naming names. Vinny can be Mother Theresa for all I care; I don't know him and never expect to. I know he was an awful GM and thus I want him out of my Redskin life.

Just keep the second half nba bets coming and all is well name-namer.

Posted by: jpfterps | January 22, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I didn't name any names, I just shortened your handle barno. And yes, Barno just called you a barno.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 22, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, been making a living off the 2nd half nba bets lately. Thank you vegas for inventing 2nd half spreads.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 22, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Even though he is ( from what i've heard) a good guy, he image will forever be tarnished for his quite frankly stupid handling of redskins gm.

Posted by: Dlewis10 | January 24, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

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