"I've changed," says Jim Rome, scheduled to return to TV on Tuesday as host of ESPN's Rome Is Burning, a weekly one-hour talk show featuring interviews with newsmakers as well as Rome's rapid-fire, testosterone-laden opinions on sports. (He famously tells radio callers to "have a take and don't suck, or you will get run.") "I'm married and I have a child now," Rome says. "I'm wiser." Ten years ago, as host of a raucous call-in show on ESPN2, Rome nearly imploded his career. It was on that set that Rams quarterback Jim Everett knocked Rome off his chair after Rome taunted Everett by calling him "Chris," a veiled reference to the passer's reputed lack of toughness. Rome left the network shortly after. "I knew I made a mistake, and I wanted to fix the mistake," says Rome. So he went back to his radio roots to prove he was more than an obnoxious punk. His radio show now airs on 185 stations and has an estimated 2.5 million listeners. The experience he gained there, and the six years (1997-2002) he spent hosting Fox Sports Net's The Last Word, helped Rome mature into an edgy but well-reasoned interviewer. Unlike ESPN's previous personality-driven shows—such as Jay Mohr's spectacularly unappealing Mohr Sports—Rome Is Burning is built around a proven favorite of sports fans. Rome's second go-around with ESPN should have far better results.
Information is hay for horseplayers, which is why we implore NBC to make an addition to its coverage of the Triple Crown races: a real-time tote board on the bottom of the screen that updates the odds for the race. NBC has no qualms about showing the current odds, which were shown seven times during Saturday's 90-minute Kentucky Derby broadcast. The network should go one step further.