NORMAN — Less than 10 minutes remained until the afternoon drive time show kicked off. Dusty Dvoracek and Teddy Lehman, former OU stars and talk show hosts for KREF-AM 1400, were nowhere to be seen.
Chris Joseph, the radio show host who taught them how to transition from breaks, set down a pair of headphones.
“I feel like Yoda,” Joseph said, followed by the sound of the famous Star Wars master. “But seriously these guys are like two German shepherds who still think they're lap dogs.”
The door to Auto Accessories Unlimited in Norman opened. Lehman smiled as he walked in, followed by Dvoracek, who was on his iPhone. Lehman began texting on his phone. The two fairly new radio hosts of “The Rush” were trying to set up a discussion about the NFC North with players from the division for that afternoon.
After spending every summer since they were in middle school in shoulder pads and helmets under the hot August sun, the two former OU and NFL players decided to hang up their cleats and grab some microphones after the 2011 season. Since their playing days at Oklahoma, they worked out together in the offseason in Norman, so they decided there was no better place to find a post-football job than back home.
Just one week after Lehman ended his UFL career in Las Vegas last November, they pitched the idea of their show to the local radio station manager.
“He said, ‘No, thanks. But do you want to come in this Saturday for a one-hour postgame show?'” Dvoracek said.
“That was the Saturday against A&M,” Lehman added.
A month later, Dvoracek and Lehman had a 10 a.m.-1 p.m. show. By the middle of April, they were moved to drive time from 2-6 p.m.
Intensity on the air
Dvoracek and Lehman both hung up their phones from calls to players they were planning to put on the air in just a few hours.
The clock read 2:01.
“Always putting things off to the last second — that's why we're called ‘The Rush,'” Dvoracek said. “We both sent about 700 text messages and got like three replies each.”
By 2:04, the commercial break ended, and Dvoracek was starting the first of four one-hour segments. They talked about Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, the U.S. Olympic hoops game against Brazil and — Dvoracek's favorite — “Big Brother.”
They brought intensity to the air just like they did to the field in their playing days. During a break at 2:32, the off-air discussion turned immediately to football: Wisconsin football, to be specific. As they talked, they dropped their deep voices even lower to mimic the Badgers, and then laughed.
“Right now, it's nice to take a break from football, but we'll miss it,” Lehman said. “I started missing it last night watching sports.”
Talk eventually turned to their pro careers. They both played in the NFC North — Dvoracek for the Chicago Bears and Lehman for the Detroit Lions — before going on to UFL careers.
Lehman held his left hand up to shield his mouth as he whispered, “I'm undefeated. 2-0.” He meant during their NFL days.
Then he continued, “In UFL, you were 0-4 against me.”
“2-for-2,” Dvoracek argued back.
No, it doesn't count. You were on IR.
I was on the team.
It does not count.
Lehman clapped together the earphones he held to emphasize those last three words. A second later, Dvoracek kicked off from the break.
The other side of the mic
It's been eight or 10 years since they played together at Gaylord Family—Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, so long that neither can remember the exact time, but now they're on the other side. Now they are pointing the microphone at guys they've sweat with, guys they've bled with.
“We know what it means to go through and be in the battle,” Dvoracek said. “Former athletes go out of their way more than another athlete who hasn't been in their shoes.
“What we are looking most forward to is being able to get on radio and maybe for the first chance in a while, to be able to give a perspective what's really going on. … We want to give people the why instead of just ‘This is what you saw happen.'”
And who better to know what is going on in Bob Stoops' locker room than guys who played, well, for Stoops.
“It's one part of this job that's going to be somewhat tough on us because you're not going to find two bigger fans of Bob Stoops than these two guys sitting right here,” Dvoracek said. “We think he walks on water. It's going to be hard to be subjective all the time. I know you have to be to do this job, but I think we're always going to be OU and Bob Stoops-slanted.”
“He's the reason we're sitting here,” Lehman said.
“Right, I wouldn't have the opportunity to do any of the things I've done if it weren't for him,” Dvoracek continued. “To a certain extent, you have to call it how it is, but there's ways to do it without fully ripping someone.
“Basically, Teddy and I have been doing this for like three or four years now and not getting paid for it.”
“The only difference is we might have had a Bud Light in front of us and an NCAA football game on the TV but it was still the same arguments, same conversation,” Lehman said.
Their discussions can be listened to on the car radio or online at SportsTalk1400.com. As each day passes, they learn a little more about the rush of information and that now they really are on the other side of the line.
“Bugging people for interviews,” Lehman said. “It's the worst part. They look at us as teammates, as guys in their locker room. As a player, you look at media in a different way. It's a fine line to dance. But now, we're just plain old media guys.”