?PLAYMAKER FIRES BACK
Omar Gooding, whose forceful turn as the thuggish, cocaine-addicted running back Demetrius Harris on ESPN's Playmakers is a big part of what rankles the NFL about the show (SI, Nov. 24), says he's shocked by the league's continuing criticism. On Dec. 3 commissioner Paul Tagliabue said on HBO's Inside the NFL that Playmakers "was one-dimensional and traded in racial stereotypes" and then added, "I didn't think that was either appropriate for ESPN or right for our players." As the network weighs whether to renew the highly rated series in the face of the NFL's unhappiness, Gooding, 27, says, "Let [someone] do a documentary on what's really going on [in the NFL]. That would open some eyes. At least with us you can say, 'Well, it's just a TV show.' They could list all the [ NFL players] that have gotten in trouble or get newspaper reports of everybody who has been busted, and that would probably shed a lot more negative light on them than what we're doing."
Citing the desire to be with his family, George Foreman is leaving HBO Sports after 12 years as a boxing commentator. He'll work his last fight in February. "I'm going to dedicate a few years [to his 10 children] before they grow up and make a rap video about me: Daddy Wasn't There," said Foreman. Replacement candidates include trainer Emanuel Steward and boxer Roy Jones Jr., both of whom have worked as analysts.... TNT has told Alonzo Mourning, who retired recently because of ongoing kidney problems, that he has an open invitation to join Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA. Mourning was a guest analyst last year. Says his agent, Jeff Wechsler, "I don't know when he'll be able to do that. We're focusing on getting Alonzo healthy."