March Media Power List
During a vacation in Japan, NFL reporter Rick Maese covered the disaster tragedy
Joe Tait retired after calling 3,670 games as the Cleveland Cavaliers' radio voice
The best thing to come out of Tara Sullivan's incident was the reporter response
1. Rick Maese, NFL reporter, Washington Post: There's an old axiom that reporters, especially great ones, are never on vacation. After touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum last month during a vacation in Japan with his wife, Erin Cox (a reporter for The Capital, an Annapolis-based daily), the couple found themselves at a train station watching video images of houses floating away. A series of massive earthquakes had struck northeast Japan, unleashing tsunamis that swept across the countryside. The next day Maese received a call from his editor: Get to the story. The couple soon journeyed north to the disaster area and started filing reports from evacuation shelters and other sites near the disaster area.
"I still feel immersed in the story," said Maese. "I've watched NHK [Japan's national broadcast network] on my computer, and I read the daily dispatches in the Post and The New York Times. It's very much an ongoing story, and though I'm no longer reporting on it, I find it riveting. One of the hardest things was to board a plane and return to Washington. It's an uneasy feeling for a journalist to think that you're leaving a story behind you. Your instinct is to run to the story, which I guess is why we stayed in the first place."
Maese is once again charged with covering the Redskins, which he admits is surreal given what he covered last month.
"I'm not sure either of us fully understands how we were impacted by our time in Japan," Maese said. "I know we're both changed on some level -- as journalists and as people. I do know that it was difficult to feel like you're writing about life and death and major world news one minute, and then return home and take on stories that can't possibly carry the same weight."
2. Joe Tait, retired basketball broadcaster: The 73-year-old radio voice of the Cavaliers concluded a remarkable 39-year broadcasting run this season. He recently told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that he called 3,670 games during his career, including preseason games, and seven years doing the Rockers [of the WNBA]. Remarkably, Tait worked mostly as a solo act, eschewing the color analyst.
"I've squeezed all the juice out of the lemon that I can," Tait told the newspaper. "Now, I'll just sit back and enjoy the lemonade."
3. James Weiner, NFL Films, senior producer: Weiner was the creative force behind "The Brady 6," a sensational examination of the quarterbacks selected before Tom Brady (No. 199 overall) in the 2000 Draft. The documentary has aired on ESPN this month.
"I've never done a show that has had as much buzz as this one," said Weiner, who has worked at NFL Films since 2001. "I wanted to call the show 'Pick 199 and The Brady 6,' but it was deemed too clunky."
Weiner said a fellow producer at NFL Films (Paul Camarata) came up with the idea as a topic for a 7-to-10-minute piece for another show. The idea eventually morphed into a 48-minute program centered on Brady and the quarterbacks (Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn) selected before him. Brady initially declined an interview because he did not want a bio done on him while he was still playing but eventually relented when promised the program would focus on the draft. (NFL Films President Steve Sabol conducted the interview.) One of the more fascinating parts of the program, along with Brady breaking down on camera, was the revelation that Carmazzi (who declined an on-camera interview) had become a goat farmer.
"I tried for weeks to contact Giovanni," Weiner said. "He occasionally left messages on my voice mail, never agreeing to do an interview, never outright refusing it, either. I was headed to San Francisco anyway to interview Steve Mariucci and Tom Brady's dad, and I had reserved a day to get Carmazzi. I phoned, texted, e-mailed, called his brother, his father. I did everything I could think of to try to pin him down. The day before I planned to shoot him, he texted me that he was sorry for being evasive and we could chat after his yoga session -- which we did for about 30 minutes. He was very smart, articulate and honest, and understood completely what I was after. Every reason I gave for why he should do a quick interview on camera, he gave a better reason why he shouldn't.
"I said, 'Everyone else is going to be in the film and telling the world what they are doing now, what should I tell them about you?' He said, 'Tell them the truth. I'm a yoga-exercising farmer.' The first phone call ended with his saying politely, 'James, I'm about to go to another yoga session. I don't have a single reason to do this show, but maybe I'll think of one. I'll call you when my yoga session is over.' He called me later that night with his final answer. He wasn't interested. His final words were, 'History is for other people. I live in the present.' If he reads this and ever changes his mind, he can call me, and we'll do an update."
4. Tara Sullivan, Bergen (N.J.) Record sports columnist: The best thing to come out of the Masters nonsense involving Sullivan -- a security guard denied the reporter entry into the Augusta National locker room for a post-tournament interview with Rory McIlroy -- was the response of her fellow reporters. Most were universal in smacking around Augusta, which failed miserably in informing its security of the policy regarding reporters. (I agree with SI.com's Joe Posnanski; it's hard to use the word "misunderstanding" at a place where the overriding theme is exclusion.) Twitter played a role here, too, especially in the metabolism of the story. Public relations people in sports must now react in real-time at an event when something breaks involving the media. The Augusta National media relations department, in fact, did a very good job here, apologizing quickly to the reporter and quelling a larger series of stories.
5. Terry Bradshaw, Fox NFL analyst: I've interviewed Bradshaw a number of times, and the one thing I'm always left with is his humanity and candor, even when I disagree with his content. He recently wrote a thoughtful essay for FoxSports.com on his struggles with short-term memory, perhaps from the effects of multiple concussions.
"The memory loss made me jittery at times," he wrote. "It was driving me crazy that I couldn't remember something that I studied the night before. All it did was trigger my anxiety and all of sudden everything would snowball on me. I know I have depression and it's a horrible disease. This memory loss just made my depression worse."
Bradshaw's openness about his depression has probably saved some lives given his fame. A Fox Sports spokesman said Bradshaw's role remains the same next year and that he is "excited as ever" to return to Fox NFL Sunday.
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