I've done it all and seen it all as a sportswriter. I've been to the Penn Relays, high school football games, $5,000 claiming races at Suffolk Downs, Jos� Cuervo beach volleyball championships and Putt-Putt tournaments. I've watched the pro bowlers' tour on TV. I've led several publications to innumerable journalistic world titles, and I've been named Sportswriter of the Year by my family a record 14 times. But now I'm thinking it might be time to walk away from it all, to sidestep the constant deadline pressure and just kick back for a little while.
Naturally, I've contacted NBC Sports for a studio job. I figure I can be an on-air sports-writing analyst, stay current with the field and then, if the interest is there, maybe return to a nice sportswriting job.
That's the way it's done these days, right?
Here's the current NBC scorecard: Bill Parcells just completed his first season as an NFL studio analyst/coach-in-waiting. Bill Walsh just completed his third season as an NFL game analyst/genius-in-waiting. Bob Ferry just began his second season as an NBA studio analyst/executive-in-waiting. Previously, Bobby Beathard spent one season as an NFL studio analyst/executive-in-waiting, and Pat Riley spent one season as an NBA studio analyst/coach-in-waiting.
"This is pretty much a standard routine at NBC," Bob Costas said, only half jesting, on NBA Showtime recently, after NBA game analyst/coach-in-waiting Mike Fratello was asked by broadcast partner Marv Albert if he had been contacted by the New Jersey Nets. Fratello said he had not been.
Of course, Parcells said on NFL Live he hadn't been contacted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then admitted on a later show that he had lied because of a "gentlemen's agreement of confidentiality" with Buc owner Hugh Culverhouse.
So when exactly are we to believe Parcells on anything?
(Incidentally, contrary to several press reports, I have not been contacted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or Weekly Reader regarding a writing position. Also, I stand by my refusal to work for any Gannett newspaper. However, I have contacted USA Today and asked that it change the colors on its weather map.)
The truth of the matter is that the truth of the matter is impossible to decipher anymore. NBC Sports executive producer Terry O'Neil collects high-profile ex-coaches who act as news gatherers and newsmakers. These former and future coaches bring a lot of baggage, a hidden agenda—and a desire to work again on the sideline. How can you trust the opinions of anyone who is positioning himself for a job in the industry that he is assessing?
For fellows like Parcells and Walsh, TV work serves as a video r�sum�.