Media Circus (cont.)
"One other example: Sometimes when a kid gets suspended or leaves the team for personal reasons, there are times when a coach will confide in us and say, 'Off the record, here is what it is.' There was one where a kid left the team several years ago for severe depression issues. I knew it and I decided not to broadcast this because it was a personal issue for the kid. I don't know whether from a journalistic standpoint I was right or wrong. That's the balancing act you have. Luckily, we are not dealing with state secrets or Pentagon Papers type of stuff where we have to go into court and they'd throw us into jail if we didn't reveal our sources.
"If I criticize Duke when I think it's warranted, I don't particular care whether they like it or not. As long as I am confident in what I say and the judgment I made, I will stick up for what I say. If I am wrong, I will say I'm wrong, and I am wrong on occasion. But because I may know a coach, or played for this guy or I played against this guy, nobody is going to get any favors as a result of relationships when it comes to what we do on the air."
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer delivered the goods this week with his report that the NFL players' association will visit the Browns on Wednesday to investigate coach Eric Mangini's practice methods. "They are absolutely exhausted," Glazer reported of Browns players. "It's not just Jamal Lewis. It's funny Eric Mangini said this week, 'I just practice these guys for two hours.' The players I talked to said, 'Two hours? What practices is he talking about?' He's giving these guys three hours. Sometimes, like this past week, one guy said practice was for three hours and 25 minutes in full pads. They were completely exhausted."
When NBC Sports sideline reporter Andrea Kremer told Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli last Monday that she wanted to track down the 20 living Hall of Fame quarterback to poll them on who was better between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, Gaudelli was blunt: "This will be an uphill putt," said Gaudelli, who conceived the idea. Over the next six days, Kremer and producer Michele Froman went to work, finally landing No. 20 on Saturday when they got an answer from 97-year-old Ace Parker at his home in Portsmouth, Va. The results were presented during the Colts-Patriots broadcast on Sunday night. Manning won with 13.5 votes, Brady received 2.5 votes and there were four abstentions (Dan Marino, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, and Steve Young). Joe Montana was responsible for the half votes, saying he would start Brady in the first half and Manning in the second.
ESPN announced Monday that Jon Gruden had agreed to a multiyear deal. Along with his role on Monday Night Football, where he has injected some healthy enthusiasm and content in his first year, Gruden will appear on the network's NFL draft coverage and as an analyst for ESPN Radio's 2010 Rose Bowl and Bowl Championship Series. For now, given the plum jobs in the marketplace, we'll take such information cautiously, but here's some thoughts from ESPN executive vice president of production Norby Williamson, who spoke with SI.com Monday afternoon:
Finally, I asked Williamson if Gruden will be at ESPN in 2011? "In 2011? Yes, he'll be here, he said. "Absolutely." Clip and save.
On Sunday NFL Countdown, ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson had some harsh words for the Bengals: "I hate to be the guy that spoils the party for the Cincinnati Bengals but I don't think they can seize this moment. It is going to be a little big for them." Final score: Bengals 18, Steelers 12.
In what is likely to be a YouTube favorite in the future, NFL Today analyst Dan Marino appears to drop an s-bomb while describing Miami's win over Tampa Bay.
Sports Media Tweets of the Week
"I thought it was awkward firing four questions at [Tony] Sparano about [Joey] Porter today. Patriots writers have me beat. This is a brutal presser!!!"
"I'm big time, lol! RT @petitiononline: "Fire Jemele Hill " petition has reached 100 signatures!"
"Thumbs-up to the press box popcorn tonight. It's particularly salty and buttery, much more than normal. That's how i like it."
They said it
"I have been around [Bill] Belichick a long time and he has made a lot of great coaching decisions, but this is the worst coaching decision that I've ever seen Bill Belichick make."
The final word
When it comes to pay-per-view boxing on HBO, there can be no criticisms like the ones that laid siege to TBS' Chip Caray during the MLB postseason. The familiar announcing triad of Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and veteran cornerman Emanuel Steward is as seasoned as it gets. And on Saturday night, in calling the Pacquiao-Cotto welterweight title fight, the entire production noticeably used that experience to smartly zero in on one storyline as quickly as it emerged in the fourth round: How long can Miguel Cotto last?
The in-ring cameras focused almost exclusively on Cotto's corner in the timeouts between rounds, whereupon the talk of quitting emerged. We saw shots of Cotto's wife, Melissa, shielding her eyes with the back of her young son's head (and then heard of her leaving the arena before fight's end, which those on press row likely wouldn't have noticed at the time). After the 11th, we heard a bloody Cotto dazedly wonder, "One more round?" as his young trainer, Joe Santiago, 32, stubbornly refused to throw in the towel despite the opinion of Cotto's father. And while broadcasters usually like to gin up an event to keep viewers, it turns out that a perk of paying $54.99 for a bout is that HBO's crew doesn't need to persuade you to stay -- instead, it began the night by eviscerating the soporific undercard and was bluntly honest when it thought the main event was over.
The fight itself was finally stopped in the 12th. And if you had the requisite $54.99 in discretionary spending -- not to mention a tolerance for blood -- it was hard not to appreciate what you saw and heard.