- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Withey also questioned the validity of the NFLPA poll on grounds that barely 40% of all NFL players responded. "That's not very good," he said. "If you got another 20 to 30 percent, the figures could be different." But then, the Times wound up interviewing only 49% of the league's players—some of the others having heeded the NFLPA's urging that players not respond. Providing scant help to those who wonder whether there will be a 1982 NFL season, Withey said, "With responses of less than 50 percent, neither poll is conclusive. Each could have got a different half. You can't tell if either poll should be taken as valid as to how the players really feel."
Try to stage a tire-screeching, engine-roaring Formula I auto race at the same time that you hold a convention of 4,000 librarians who are accustomed to silence, and what have you got? Answer: a situation that worries the Special Libraries Association, which five years ago arranged to hold its 1982 convention in Detroit from June 4 to 10. But that was before Motown civic leaders decided to schedule time trials for the first Detroit Grand Prix on June 4 and 5, and the race itself on June 6. The racecourse runs practically past the doorsteps of both Cobo Hall and the Westin Hotel, the convention sites.
Doreen McPhail, a spokeswoman for the organization promoting the race, tries to put the conflict with the Grand Prix in a positive light by saying cheerily, "We think most of the librarians will enjoy the added benefit of being in Detroit during an international event." But association officials are providently trying to move meetings into rooms that they hope will be more insulated from the din outside. They've also printed up bumper stickers that they plan to distribute to the race drivers. The stickers read: I BRAKE FOR LIBRARIANS.
THE NCAA SQUEEZES THE TUBE
A two-part series in TV Guide last December cast a harsh light on the unholy alliance between television and big-time sports. The magazine suggested that the NFL used its scheduling powers and the footage that its subsidiary, NFL Films, provides to the networks as levers to ensure favorable TV coverage. It said that baseball used films produced by Major League Baseball Productions to the same advantage. But TV Guide concluded that such pressure was most blatantly exerted by the NCAA, which routinely screened all college football telecasts and instructed ABC-TV on how its announcers could improve their performance, letting it be known, for example, when Jim Lampley was found to be "too judgmental." Another example of the NCAA's over-involvement: ABC had wanted to use Fran Tarkenton to provide color on college games, but meekly backed off after the NCAA objected.
Last week came news that the NCAA had thrown its considerable weight around again by vetoing a decision by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. to use Pepper Rodgers and Paul Hornung as announcers on the 19 college football games Turner has contracted to telecast this season. The action, authorized under the NCAA's contract with Turner, was taken by the NCAA's powerful football television committee, whose chairman, Pac-10 Executive Director Wiles. Hallock, said that neither Rodgers nor Hornung had the proper "image" for the job. He said that Rodgers, who did color commentary on a couple of NCAA regional telecasts last season, was too controversial, in no small part because of a $331,000 breach-of-contract suit he has filed against the Georgia Tech Athletic Association as a consequence of his sacking as the Yellow Jackets' coach in 1979. Hornung was unacceptable, Hallock continued, because of the "shadow" cast on him by his 1963 suspension from the NFL for betting on games and because he has come to be "identified with pro football more than college football." That was the same objection the NCAA raised in regard to Tarkenton.
With all due respect for Hallock's committee, it's difficult to see how the presence of Rodgers and Hornung on college football telecasts could further damage the image of a sport already sullied, with the rest of college athletics, by lax admission requirements for athletes, transcript abuses, failure of athletes to graduate and widespread recruiting transgressions. It also seems strange that as a possible alternative to Rodgers or Hornung, the NCAA acknowledged that it was looking with favor on Turner Broadcasting's courtship of Irv Cross, who played eight seasons in the NFL and has anchored CBS' NFL Today for seven years, an association with professional football that is every bit as conspicuous as Hornung's. Beyond that, one wonders why an organization representing institutions of higher learning supposedly committed to the spirit of inquiry and, yes, to controversy would go to such lengths to censor and sanitize football telecasts. No less puzzling is the willingness of TV networks to sell their journalistic birthright to the promoters of events they purport to "cover." That birthright seems to mean precious little to Robert Wussler, executive vice-president of Turner Broadcasting System. When asked about the fact that Rodgers wouldn't be announcing games for the network after all, Wussler replied, "I have no comment. We have nothing to do with it. It is strictly between the NCAA and Pepper Rodgers."