Posted: Friday August 6, 2004 10:08AM; Updated: Friday August 6, 2004 1:55PM
Psssst, you wanna know a little secret? Sports journalism is often boring. Much of what constitutes being a sports writer/broadcaster, such as the endless, cliche-filled postgame interviews, can be considered an exercise in dullness. How often does anybody veer from their grab bag of canned quotes? Not enough.
But every once in a while, the monotony breaks at one of these pow-wows or -- gasp! -- even during one of those corny live sideline interviews. That's when it gets interesting, when people stop being polite and start getting real. Here are some of our favorite interviews gone wrong (Click here for some of your responses):
Say it ain't so, Joe
Frazier Harrison/Getty Images
On Dec. 20, 2003, the Jets assembled their four-decade team to be honored during a Saturday night game against the Patriots. Joe Namath, one of the honorees, did a sideline interview with ESPN's Suzy Kolber.
Suzy Kolber: Joe, it's been a tough season for Jets fans. What does it mean to you now that the team is struggling?
Joe Namath: I wanna kiss you. I couldn't care less about the team struggling. What we know is we can improve. Chad Pennington, our quarterback, missed the first part of the season, and we struggled. We're looking to next season, we're looking to make a noise now and ... I wanna kiss you!
SK: Thanks Joe! I'll take that as a huge compliment ... [Namath in background: YEAH!!!!] Joe Namath, part of the four-decade team. We'll see these guys at halftime.
Postscript: Shortly after, Namath apologized to Kolber and admitted to having an alcohol problem.
Who you calling Chrissy?
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Jim Rome continuously prodded Jim Everett about his perceived lack of toughness as an NFL signal-caller on the old ESPN show, Talk2, in 1994.
Jim Rome: You may have even been Jim Everett back there [in 1989] but somewhere along the way Jim, you ceased being Jim and you became Chris.
Jim Everett: Well, let me tell you a little secret ... that, you know, we're sitting here right now, and if you guys want to take a station break, you can. But if you call me Chris Everett to my face one more time ...
JR: I already did it twice
JE: You'd better ... if you call it one more time, we'd better take a station break.
JR: Well, its a five-minute segment, on a five-segment show. We've got a long way to go
JE: We do.
JR: We've got a long way to go. I'll get a couple of segments out of you.
JE: It's good to be here with you though ... because you've been talking like this behind my back for a long time now.
JR: But now I've said it right here, so we've got no problems then.
JE: I think that you probably won't say it again.
JR: I'll bet I do
[Everett tosses aside coffee table, pounces on Rome]
Postscript: Everett continued his career with the Saints and Chargers until he retired in 1997 with more than 200 touchdown passes. Notoriety from the incident helped Rome get several of his own shows later on. What we want to know is, did anybody ever apologize to the real Chris Evert?
What does Tommy think?
Allen Steele/Getty Images
On June 4, 1976, Mets slugger Dave Kingman belted three home runs and had eight RBIs in a rout of the Dodgers. After the game, Associated Press radio stringer Paul Olden found himself in the wrong place with the wrong question for L.A. skipper Tommy Lasorda. (Transcript taken from Dodgersblues.com)
Paul Olden: What's your opinion of Kingman's performance?
Tommy Lasorda: What's my opinion of Kingman's performance!? What the BLEEP do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was BLEEPING BLEEP. Put that in, I don't give a BLEEP. Opinion of his performance!!? BLEEP, he beat us with three BLEEPING home runs! What the BLEEP do you mean, "What is my opinion of his performance?" How could you ask me a question like that, "What is my opinion of his performance?" BLEEP, he hit three home runs! BLEEP. I'm BLEEPING pissed off to lose that BLEEPING game. And you ask me my opinion of his performance! BLEEP. That's a tough question to ask me, isn't it? "What is my opinion of his performance?"
PO: Yes, it is. I asked it, and you gave me an answer...
TL: Well, I didn't give you a good answer because I'm mad, but I mean ...
PO: Well, it wasn't a good question ...
TL: That's a tough question to ask me right now, "What is my opinion of his performance?" I mean, you want me to tell you what my opinion of his performance is ...
PO: You just did ...
TL: That's right. BLEEP. Guy hits three home runs against us. BLEEP.
Postscript: Olden went on to broadcast games for several pro teams, including the Jets and Devil Rays, and is the P.A. announcer for the Super Bowl. Lasorda's Kingman tirade is still a favorite clip of smart-alecky radio guys around the country.
Get a job Bleacher Bums!
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Cubs manager Lee Elia erupted in late April, 1983, during a press conference after another early-season loss. The rant mostly consists of dozens of F-bombs strung together. Here's a sample:
Lee Elia: F--- those BLEEP'n fans who come out here and say they're Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you rippin' every BLEEP'n thing you do. I'll tell you one BLEEP'n thing, I hope we get BLEEP'n hotter than BLEEP, just to stuff it up them 3,000 BLEEP'n people that show up every BLEEP'n day, because if they're the real Chicago BLEEP'n fans, they can kiss my BLEEP'n BEEP right downtown and PRINT IT. ... All right, they don't show because we're 5-14... and unfortunately, that's the criteria of them dumb 15 BLEEP'n percent that come out to day baseball. The other 85 percent are earning a living.
Postscript: Luckily for those other 85 percent, the Cubs eventually added lights so they could play night games. Contrary to popular belief, Elia was not fired shortly after the incident. He held on long enough to post a 54-69 record that season before getting run. He only earned one more managing gig, going 111-142 with Philadelphia from 1987-88.
Come clean, Pete
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images
Count Jim Gray as somebody who didn't get too misty-eyed when Pete Rose was allowed to participate in Major League Baseball's All-Century Team celebration at the 2000 All-Star Game in Atlanta.
Jim Gray: Pete, now let me ask you. It seems as though there is an opening, the American public is very forgiving. Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on baseball and make some sort of apology to that effect?
Pete Rose: Not at all, Jim. I'm not going to admit to something that didn't happen. I know you're getting tired of hearing me say that. But I appreciate the ovation. I appreciate the American fans voting me on the All-Century Team. I'm just a small part of a big deal tonight.
JG: With the overwhelming evidence in that report, why not make that step...
PR: No. This is too much of a festive night to worry about that because I don't know what evidence you're talking about. I mean, show it to me...
JG: Pete, those who will hear this tonight will say you have been your own worst enemy and continue to be. How do you respond to that?
PR: In what way are you talking about?
JG: By not acknowledging what seems to be overwhelming evidence.
PR: Yeah, I'm surprised you're bombarding me like this. I mean I'm doing an interview with you on a great night, a great occasion, a great ovation. Everybody seems to be in a good mood. And you're bringing up something that happened 10 years ago ... This is a prosecutor's brief, not an interview, and I'm very surprised at you.
JG: Some would be surprised that you didn't take the opportunity.
Postscript: This ended up becoming an indictment on the American media as much as anything, because Gray was ridiculed by the public and press alike for having the gall to try bring journalistic credibility to a prefabricated, shiny, happy, people event. Rose didn't admit betting on games until his book, My Prison Without Bars, was recently published.
Roy gets rude
Moments after a heartbreaking loss to Syracuse in the 2003 national title game, Kansas head coach Roy Williams was in no mood to address the rampant rumors he was leaving to take the North Carolina job. CBS' Bonnie Bernstein asked Williams about his level of interest, to which he replied he "could give a flip." When Bernstein followed up with the same question Williams lost it.
Bonnie Bernstein: If they offer you the job, though, would you be willing to take it?"
Roy Williams: The guy in your ear that told you that you had to ask that question ... as a journalist, that's fine ... but as a human being, that's not very nice ... and I've got to think that in tough times that people should be more sensitive. I don't give a **** about Carolina right now. I've got 13 kids in that locker room that I love.
Postscript: Williams did take the UNC job, and this interview became more of a hot topic than the game itself.
As tough as it is to pick out one of Jim Mora's classic meltdowns (remember "diddly poo?"), we have to go with the one that forever turned the word "playoffs" into a question. It occurred after a 40-21 loss to San Francisco on Nov. 25, 2001, dropped the Colts to 4-6.
Jim Mora: Let me start out saying this: Do NOT blame that game on the defense, OK? I don't care who you play, whether it's a high school team, a junior college team, a college team, much less an NFL team, when you turn the ball over five times . . . you ain't gonna beat anybody. That was a disgraceful performance. ... We gave it away. We gave them the frigging game. In my opinion, that sucked.
You can't turn it over five times. Holy crap. I don't know who the hell we think we are when we do something like that ... We've thrown [five] interceptions returned for touchdowns. That might be a league record. And we've still got six games left, so there's no telling how many we'll have. I mean, it's absolutely pitiful to play like that . . . Horrible. Just horrible. Horrible.
Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I'm just hoping we can win a game, another game.
Postscript: The Colts did win another game -- two, in fact -- to finish 6-10. Mora was replaced by Tony Dungy as season's end.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
UConn head coach Jim Calhoun couldn't take it anymore. In the past, he had been as polite as possible when asked why Providence star Ryan Gomes wasn't a Husky despite being a Waterbury, Conn., native. But when Gomes scored 26 points against the Huskies in a Friars' victory last January, it wasn't the right time to bring up the subject again, but that didn't stop Dave Solomon of the New Haven Register.
Dave Solomon: Jim, recruiting is hardly an exact science. What does Gomes do now that blows you away?
Jim Calhoun: That's the dumbest [expletive] question I've ever heard. I've explained it a thousand times. I BLEEPed up. I didn't take Ryan Gomes. Does that make you happy? It took Wayne Simone [Gomes' AAU coach] 18 months to convince [Friars coach] Tim Welsh to take the kid. I don't know what else you want me to say. I BLEEPed up. Write it. I BLEEPed up, for the fifth time ... It has been written about. It has been talked about; don't shake your [expletive] head, you asked a question. I'm telling you how I feel about it. I took Emeka Okafor and Caron Butler. They're not bad. I can't get everyone.
Postscript: Indeed, Calhoun didn't need Gomes. His Huskies won the national title without Gomes' services.
Just walk away
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
With 40 seconds left in the first half of its annual grudgematch with Ohio State on Nov. 22, Michigan had the ball on its own 30-yard line with a 21-7 lead. Even though the Wolverines had two timeouts remaining, head coach Lloyd Carr decided to run out the clock. As they headed into the tunnel, ABC's Todd Harris asked Carr why he didn't try to do more with that last possession.
The Wolverines coach gave the sideline reporter an icy stare before saying, "Why would you ask a dumb question like that?" and walking away.
Postscript: Michigan went on to win the game, 35-21, but not before a late Ohio State rally brought the Buckeyes within a touchdown. Carr later apologized for the incident and the two had a more cordial go of it at the Rose Bowl, when they wished each other a Happy New Year at the conclusion of an interview. Quipped Keith Jackson: "For those of you who remember their last conversation, this was considerably more docile."
Costas vs. McMahon
Tom Hauck/Getty Images
Bob Costas didn't pull any punches when interviewing Vince McMahon on his HBO show, On the Record, in March, 2001. Costas set out to get McMahon to admit the XFL was "low-rent" television, and as the interview grew more heated, McMahon turned up the intimidation tactics on the diminutive Costas, often advising him to shut up. When Costas asked him if he would fix XFL games, McMahon was incredulous.
Vince McMahon: Would I fix ... What a ridiculous statement.
Bob Costas: It's not a statement, it's a question.
VM: It's a question. I beg your pardon, it's a question. No, it's either football or it's not. Now if it's entertainment, then it's no different than what I did a long time ago, you know, when my predecessors tried to pawn off that wrestling was sport years ago. You know, I mean, that's absurd.
Postscript: McMahon ended up coming back on the show a year later, when they had a more civil conversation.