Analyzing coverage of Chiefs' tragedy and more (cont.)
4. I only listened for 15 minutes, but what I heard from SiriusXM NFL Radio on Saturday afternoon was thoughtful commentary on the Chiefs' story from co-hosts Vic Carucci and Dan Leberfeld. Longtime media reporter Staci D. Kramer, the former editor of Paid Content and a practitioner I trust, listened to the channel's "Press Coverage" show all morning (Alex Marvez and Amani Toomer had the early shift) and described the coverage as "careful, respected but news oriented."
4a. Using the prism of the murder-suicide as a launching point, NBC's Bob Costas caused an uproar among the gun lobby with his halftime essay during the Cowboys-Eagles game on Sunday Night Football. Tweeted commentator Lou Dobbs: "The Media Left at Halftime: Bob Costas pushing gun control, quoting...who else?... a sports writer on ridding the country of the 2nd Amendment." Here's the video essay from Costas. One thing is certain: I don't think any other NBC Sports employee would have been granted the editorial freedom on such a hot-button topic.
5. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III calls the Travel Channel's upcoming 'NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns' a "soft version of Hard Knocks." The Browns have partnered with the Travel Channel, NFL Films and RIVR Media for an eight-episode series promising an inside look at how an NFL team travels on the road during the regular season. The first episode airs Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. "It's based a little more on the travel aspect of an NFL team, but you do see us practice and you do see time with the players and coaches," said Haslam, who purchased the Browns for more than $1 billion in October "So I call it a softer version of Hard Knocks."
Haslam said the cameras have been with the Browns for the last couple of weeks and will be around for the next month. "I think everybody was a little nervous at first, myself included," Haslam said. "And obviously, particularly, the coaches. But I think we did a nice job of laying out the ground rules in terms of when the cameras would be present and when they would not. I think all of us have gotten used to it as the process has gone on."
The owner's nerves were somewhat mitigated by the involvement of his wife, Dee, who runs the production company, RIVR Media. "When we got involved with the Browns, we felt like it was an underdeveloped brand and I think this is a great way to develop what we think is a tremendous brand," Haslam said. "Let's face it, we have a very young team and we have struggled this season, but we have played almost every game tough. We are 3-8 [now 4-8] but we could easily be 6-5 or 5-6. We lost a couple of games right at the end. We just hope it continues to raise the awareness of the Cleveland Browns."
5a. Strong words from Bradshaw on the future of Jets coach Rex Ryan: "Any organization needs to be held accountable. Mike Tannenbaum is responsible for putting the talent together for the Jets. Someone's head is going to be chopped off after this season and I have a feeling it's not going to be Rex Ryan. Rex is safe but I think Tannenbaum is going to have to go."
6. Newsday's ace reporter Neil Best recently interviewed Jamie Horowitz, an ESPN VP of original programming and the Bristol executive who oversees First Take, and the intersection produced a quote worthy of The Onion. Said Horowitz: "The only rule at First Take is you must be authentic." Let's forget for a moment that Horowitz employs the ultimate sports monorail salesman in Skip Bayless. The show's producers map out a preshow rundown geared toward producing disagreement. That's the exact opposite of authentic. After you read this fawning piece in the Los Angeles Times, which backs that up, read this takedown by Tommy Craggs of Deadspin on the idea that Bayless and his flock are authentic.
6a. I'll say this about Horowitz: The producers who have worked with him say he's a talented guy. I just wish he'd use those talents for something meaningful. Speaking of flotsam, the First Take-ization of ESPN will expand to Saturday as Awful Announcing reported the carnival barking has been expanded.
7. Really liked this inventive use of storytelling by the Grantland Network. The producers of Pardon The Interruption culled footage from the last 10 years of the show on a single subject: LeBron James. It was fascinating to see the opinions of hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon in 2002 compared to today. Also impressive is the fashion makeover of Wilbon as he morphed from writer to television personality.
7a. Among the memorable sports pieces this week:
ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski reflected on the life of Rick Majerus.
The Classical has a terrific piece from former European pro Flinder Boyd on what it's like to play against Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio.
Los Angeles Daily News media writer Tom Hoffarth revealed his 2012 "dubious dozen" from the sports media.
7c. On the opposite side, this piece on Colin Kaepernick, correlating tattoos to leadership, is one of the most misguided and out-of-touch columns I've read in some time. But bravo to Robert Klemko of USA Today, who tracked down Kaepernick's parents to give an actual report on the subject.
8. CBS's coverage of the SEC Championship game averaged an overnight household rating of 10.0, matching last weekend's Notre Dame-USC game as the highest-rated college football game of 2012 in the metered markets.
8a. I'd be happy to report some information about Michelle Beadle's upcoming NBC Sports Network show (scheduled to debut in January) but the fine folks at NBC Sports are treating it like Area 51. Said a spokesperson: "We'll have more details in December." Maybe I'll be interested then. Maybe not. I'll have more details on it in December.
8b. According to Sports Business Journal ratings editor Austin Karp, MLS had its best regular-season ratings on cable TV since the league's inception, in 1996. Karp reported ESPN and ESPN2 averaged 311,000 viewers for its games, up 6.5 percent from 292,000 last year. The NBC Sports Network aired 38 MLS regular-season games and averaged 122,000 viewers. That figure was up 79 percent from Fox Soccer's package of games last season (68,000 viewers).
9. According to the armada of publicists at the National Football League, the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football is averaging 6.4 million viewers this season and is on pace to be the highest-rated and most-watched Thursday Night Football season ever.
9b. ESPN's PR blog (aka ESPN Pravda) isn't exactly the place to go for journalism, but this video piece by staffer Allison Stoneberg highlighted the many behind-the-scenes staffers who tireless work on Monday Night Football. It's worth the look.
9c. The NBC Sports Network will air Still Standing: The Earl Campbell Story on Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET. The documentary examines the life of the former Oilers running back.
9d. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma dropped a very memorable tweet this weekend regarding his appearance at an appeals hearing last Friday.
10. Sirius XM sports talk host Steve Phillips -- the former Mets GM and ESPN Baseball Tonight host -- is doing seven hours of live radio from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville between his Sirius XM morning show and a second show airing in the evening on Sirius's MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels.
10a. The MLB Network will also be live from Nashville, with a variety of daily programming.
10b. Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow has been diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Said the 35-year-old Barlow to Baltimore's WMAR-TV: "I'm not going to let it define my life." Read about her brave fight here.