It started out of a little spite and opportunism for Suzy Shuster, who always wanted a dog but struggled to convince her husband to jump into pet parentage.
She was stewing at home in California because Rich Eisen, her husband, went to dinner with Roger Goodell and other NFL executives. Shuster, a prominent media member herself, thought she also deserved an invite.
So instead, Shuster found a rescue dog on Petfinder. And when Eisen returned home a tad buzzed – “Rich is the happiest drunk guy you’ve ever met” – Shuster found anagreeable partner. It didn’t matter that Eisen couldn’t remember the conversation in the morning.
“I said, ‘Okay, let's go look at the dog you said we can see,’” Shuster says. “He says, ‘What are you talking about? I said that?’
“I'm like, ‘Oh, yeah. Let’s go.’”
This was around 2003, and we bring it up today because dogs – specifically rescuing dogs – helped connect Shuster and her new podcast partner, former NFL executive Amy Trask.
It’s a shared passion. Along with football, joking and ice cream.
“Most women over 50 in Los Angeles are not allowed to get ice cream because they’ll throw you out of the city,” Shuster jokes. “We kind of bonded over the mutual love of all those things.
“But when I had her on (my television show) for the first time I just realized that we had this easy rapport. Where we could talk about football without sounding like we're throwing out ridiculous jargon like we’re trying to prove that we belong in the room.”
Their show, titled “What the Football,” launched last week with guest Charles Woodson and offers something different to the crowded field of NFL talk: a lighthearted discussion from women with an inside view of the sport for decades.
Trask is the former longtime CEO of the Raiders, having navigated some of the most controversial and memorable years under owner Al Davis. Shuster is an Emmy-winning sportscaster with 25 years in the business.
Despite their vast institutional knowledge, the point of the show is entertainment over analytical information. Her inspiration is the “SmartLess,” a podcast with comedians Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett relying on organic humor to inform listeners about their famous guests and stories. Take, for instance, Shuster’s response to handsome Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo emerging from the health tent unscathed in Week 1.
“His face looks intact,” she says. “That's really what's important.”
“We enjoy talking about football without making it too serious, without making it overcomplicated,” Shuster adds. “We like talking about the stories. I like hearing from her perspective on how she would have handled things as an executive. And she's equally curious about stories on how I would have handled it from the reporter’s perspective. Let's just have fun.”
Trask is fit for the show’s upbeat energy, even if her nickname “Princess of Darkness” and public persona as a Raiders executive suggested otherwise.
“I also think the look on her face for every photograph with Al (Davis), she looks like, ‘Don't bleep with me,’” Shuster says. “You know she did it because she meant business and because when she walked in the room, she was the only woman there. There's a lot of pressure on a woman for that. You have to put out this aura that you're not going to be f—d with and I get that having worked in sports for so long and I kind of appreciate that.
“Meanwhile, I have a bitchy resting face naturally.”
Like her story about the first rescue dog (purebred rescue dogs like Shuster’s are available throughout the country via rescue or petfinder.com), Shuster is open to discussing her homelife on the podcast – including the “bleepshow” experience of watching NFL Sunday with Eisen, the famous NFL Network sportscaster and radio host.
“He’s watching every game on three screens in quadrants and I can't follow it because it's mental gymnastics, and I'm tired,” Shuster says. “And I'm gonna say what it's like trying to watch with my husband. And I officially told him, “I’m never doing this with you again or I will divorce you.’”
No word on who would get the dogs, Dylan and Halo.
Suzy Shuster and I recorded our first What The Football podcast this afternoon - it’ll drop on audio tonight, video tomorrow - could not have been more honored, thrilled and delighted that @CharlesWoodson was our first guest - we toasted him with his magnificent @InterceptWines. pic.twitter.com/Jr8ukKwS9B— Amy Trask (@AmyTrask) September 13, 2023