Media Power Rankings (cont.)
Posted: Friday February 23, 2007 12:42AM; Updated: Friday February 23, 2007 1:43AM
6. Tiki Barber, NBC: Barber flirted with a number of networks before signing with NBC as both a news and sports anchor. The expectations for him are sky-high. Will he succeed? I'm hopeful. On a conference call to announce his hiring (there's probably a joke somewhere about the number of NBC heads it takes to introduce Tiki Barber), the ex-Giant was asked about his reputation for being frank with the media. "It's easy to give the standard answer in sports," he said. "You kind of know the questions before they [reporters] ask it and if you shut your mind off, you get the standard answer. But having worked in media for seven years, I understood how hard it was to do the job that those guys were coming in to do. I would have been doing a disservice not only to the profession I wanted to get into, but I think to the listeners who really want truth. For me it was easy to give a real opinion about what was going on as opposed to what people wanted to hear."
7. Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, ESPN Radio: When bloggers in 2030 rank the best sports broadcasting duos of the past 100 years -- assuming President Bill Simmons doesn't lead us into war with China beforehand -- these first-rate broadcasters will rank high on the list. Few sports-talk shows are more literate. Equally impressive is the promotion of each other's activities during the daily one-hour segment on Patrick's radio show. For those old enough to drink legally, here's a fun game to play the next time you listen in: Every time Olbermann makes a reference to his MSNBC "Countdown" show or either anchor promotes an event involving themselves, take a sip. And take a half-sip every time Patrick calls Olbermann "KO."
8. NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, ESPN: If ESPN is going to air a sporting event featuring Bow Wow, Carrot Top, and James Denton, we'd prefer it to be something involving mixed martial arts. I did, however, enjoy this tasty Q&A with celebrity game participant Bobby Flay.
9. Michael Irvin, unattached: The news that Irvin was jettisoned by ESPN was surprising given they had supported him through his every misstep on and off the air. (How awkward will those NFL Hall of Fame festivities be later this year?) Irvin smartly took the high road following his dismissal but it will be tough for him to jump back at any of the major players that cover football. A rep for CBS told SI.com "its talent roster is full" while a well-placed source at Fox Sports said "there is no interest in bringing him back here." NBC declined specific comment on Irvin but it's clear the network isn't interested. And regarding the conjecture of Irvin going to the NFL Network, it's not on the agenda at the moment. "We respect Mr. Irvin's talents, but do not plan to pursue an opportunity for him to work with us," said NFL spokesperson Seth Palansky.
10. ESPN News: It's consistently the best of the ESPN channels but we can't emphasize enough the importance of staying longer with live press conferences. Case in point: On Feb. 8 ESPN News aired Cowboys coach Wade Phillips being introduced to the assembled media. The network stuck with Jerry Jones through his opening remarks. Then Phillips came on. All good so far. ESPN stayed with Phillips for his initial comments, went to a quick commercial, and returned to the press conference. Still good. The network then abruptly abandoned the press conference so analyst John Clayton could comment on what Phillips said as Phillips was still saying it. One problem: They missed the seminal quote of the press conference when Phillips referenced former coach Bill Parcells' inability to call Terrell Owens by anything other than the "player." ("Terrell Owens," Phillips said, smiling. "I did say his name.") Indeed, he did. Next time, I'm actually hoping to hear it live on ESPN News.