A comment about a square helped solidify a close-knit circle.
“The Pivot” podcast, the rapidly-growing show by former NFL stars Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder, made waves last month when Crowder called Russell Wilson a “square” on one of its episodes.
“If Russell didn’t have that bread [his wife] Ciara wouldn’t be with him,” Crowder said. “Ciara, she has a good situation.
“You don’t leave [Ciara’s ex-fiance] Future and get with Russell Wilson. It’s a type. Everybody has a type… and I love him on the field but he’s f–king square.”
The joke immediately made headlines and went viral online, taking on a life of its own as shortened clips of the interaction circulated. Wilson’s former teammate, D.K. Metcalf, came publicly to Wilson’s defense. A conversation emerged among fans – of both Wilson and Ciara – surrounding their pairing, and relationships in general.
Crowder barely thought twice about the remark. But amid a few innocent exchanges, they had sparked a debate.
“People pick and choose,” Taylor said, as the three relaxed in an exclusive interview with The Post at Brasserie SAINT Marc in the East Village. “In that very exact same moment, there were two of us [Clark and himself] that said ‘women don’t like toxicity, women want peace.’ But they chose, this was the hard hitting part, it’s Russ, and it’s Ciara, and it’s an amazing relationship in the eye of the public. You can’t interfere with that, especially coming from a black perspective, you can’t interfere with black love. Or what looked like black love. Russ will be protected at all costs. He’s an amazing person and Channing has acknowledged that, several times.”
Among the discourse, Crowder’s jibe grew criticism and pushback.
He saw his name trend and his motivation for the remark questioned. He second-guessed his decision amid the repercussions. He confided in friends about how he should respond.
And then one of his guests offered a different viewpoint.
“I thought I just said something that everybody knew,” Crowder said with a grin. “But it blew up and I was like ‘people didn’t know this?’ I have a lot of OG’s I called, a lot of dudes that I respect and all. One of them is Shaquille O’Neal — we had Shaq afterwards [as a guest on another show], it came right after the Russ thing and it was blowing up, I was like ‘I got in some trouble.’ And Shaq was like ‘You got fired? Did you get divorced? Did you lose money? What kind of trouble are you talking about?’ And it kind of made me change my perspective.
“Like you know what, people are upset at me, cussing me out, all that stuff. And I don’t really care. You’re talking about it, it went on every damn show, every platform, the people are still talking about it. Where at? Oh, at ‘The Pivot.’”
Before Shaq’s enlightenment, the experience helped a new group and company pass a litmus test of what they hope to be.
“The behind the scenes, the great thing that happened with that thing was we got to see that we all rocked with each other,” Clark said. “When the flack came, we had the discussions about what was the next move? The conversation was very simple: ‘Hey man, whatever the hell you do, I’m with that.’ My biggest point with it was, don’t you make a decision based on us. I’m very comfortable with who you are, I’m very comfortable with what you said, I’m rocking with you…
“I’m never gonna come out and be like ‘I disagree with this.’ No. I will give my point. Which I did. I was like ‘I get it. You might be mad about the way [Crowder] presented it at first.’ But in the end, he’s square. And that’s life. But I think that was a moment, and I’m sure we’ll have more as this thing goes along, we fricken’ eat together every day and we spend a lot of time together, but that was an opportunity we got to kind of see what was gonna happen when the rubber met the road, business-wise. What was gonna happen to the friendship. What I felt like happened was we walked out of that like ‘Nah, we’re all in this together,’ and I thought that was cool.”
The moment was spontaneous. In Nashville to take pictures, they decided on an impromptu show about NFL free agency.
“To be honest, when we shot that episode, it was kind of a throw-away episode,” Crowder said.
“Honestly, bro, we didn’t talk about that episode afterwards,” Clark said. “And then all of a sudden a week and a half later, I was like ‘why is everybody talking about me laughing at Channing, I was wrong. I said ‘Ohhh, I forgot that even happened!’ Like we legit forgot it happened.”
A forgettable remark at the time, it provided the bedrock of one of the fastest-growing shows in sports.