Archive for the ‘ESPN’ tag
Irony, from the latest issue of ESPN: The Magazine. In a story on tOhio State University President Gordon Gee, you will find this gem:
“At Miami, president Donna Shalala personally hires each coach. She studies the NCAA rulebook and weekly compliance reports. During football games, she scours the sidelines for suspicious guests. ‘I’m on alert all the time,’ she says.”
Yeah. Sure she was. All the time.
Those of you too young to remember when there were, basically, two places on television to get more national sports news than could fit in the three-and-a-half minutes your local TV talking head could give you probably have no idea who Nick Charles – who passed away today at age 64 after a bout with bladder cancer – was.
The polished, yet not exactly slick and never smarmy Charles was the co-host of CNN Sports Tonight from 1980 to 1997. Yes, back then, you had a choice – you could watch ESPN’s Sportscenter or watch Nick and Hick (Fred Hickman) and get a lot of the same information and highlights without feeling like you were watching two guys audition for a gig at The Comedy Store. Before YouTube, Twitter and league websites gave you everything you wanted to know when you wanted to know it, we had 11pm Eastern and clicking back and forth during commercials between CNN and ESPN.
I never met Nick Charles, but I’m sure many who knew and worked with him had stories like Keith Olbermann’s. My only story is one of an aspiring sportscaster watching a guy who seemed to just come to work, do his job, present the day’s sports news, write well and have a laugh from time to time. For that, Nick, I say thank you, and Godspeed.
As you watch countless hours of NFL Draft-related programming over the next three days, just remember not to get too high or too low about whichever players your team selects. History tells us this is far from an exact science and that even people with years of experience in the game sometimes fumble what they think is a good call.
Case in point, the 1998 NFL Draft, whose big drama was “Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?” It’s hard to believe now, given what has happened in the interim, but there was actually a debate on this. And ESPN The Magazine‘s Stephen Rodrick probably wishes he had at least one throw back. In the cover story for the April 20, 1998 issue, Rodrick compared Manning and Leaf and concluded:
“Sorry, Archie. I’m taking Ryan. Maybe it was watching Leaf against Arizona as he implored the coaching staff, ‘Call my number, I’m hot. I’m hot.’ Or Ryan running by Coach Price during his first Washington game after a completion into double coverage and chuckling, ‘Didn’t think I’d get the ball in there.’ He possesses an ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude that has proven essential to Super Bowl quarterbacks from Stabler to McMahon to Favre. Come 2018, Ryan Leaf, not Manning, will be strutting up to a podium in Canton.”
Turns out that ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude wasn’t the boon it was made out to be. Manning’s the guy with the MVP awards, a Super Bowl ring and a date with the Hall of Fame. Who knew? The Colts, for one. Mark Malone, for another, who wrote in that same issue, “you don’t look at (Manning) and wonder if he will reach his potential.”
Ron Jaworski, meanwhile, wrote, “Leaf has the body and the heart to hang in the pocket when a lot of quarterbacks won’t.” Wasn’t it Leaf’s body and heart that turned out to be the real problems, after all?
Inspired by this list of one-sentence reviews of ESPN’s 30 For 30 documentary series, I figured now was as good a time as any to give you my take on the whole thing.
1. King’s Ransom: Peter Berg got to hang out on the golf course with Wayne Gretzky. Isn’t that cool? Look at me!
2. The Band That Wouldn’t Die: Well done. I know the whole Colts-as-Community-Fabric thing has been done to death, but this was good.
3. Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?: Loved the USFL, so I dug this.
4. Muhammad and Larry: Very well done and poignant.
5. Without Bias: Chilling. I did not know half the stuff in this.
6. The Legend of Jimmy the Greek: Very sad.
7. The U: Hate Miami and hate thugs, so I didn’t watch it.
8. Winning Time: I’m actually in this film, very briefly, and covered some of these games, so I loved it.
9. Guru of Go: Missed this one.
10. No Crossover: Iverson proved that sometimes shorter is good. If only the filmmaker had taken that to heart.
11. Silly Little Game: Got through about five minutes of this before I said, “This is a cartoon, not particularly well done, and these people are dopes.”
12. Run Ricky Run: Ricky Williams is a complicated guy. This was a little slow, but still kind of interesting to see someone’s mind work this way.
13. The 16th Man: I knew nothing whatsoever of this story and it was absolutely captivating.
14. Straight Outta LA: Ice Cube is a filmmaker like Elvis was a black belt. Also, Al Davis passed away sometime around 1997 and his reanimated corpse features prominently in this film.
15. June 17, 1994: The storytelling technique was refreshing. But I didn’t care about Arnold Palmer then and don’t now.
16. The Two Escobars: Absolutely the best of the bunch. Gripping, compelling, masterpiece.
17. The Birth of Big Air: I would rather have a broken glass enema than watch this.
18. Jordan Rides the Bus: Ron Shelton could have done so much more with this.
19. Little Big Men: This was interesting and well done, but a little long.
20. One Night in Vegas: Missed it.
21. Unmatched: I always liked Evert and came away understanding more about and liking Martina more than I ever did. But the constant “Here we are in the car just talking to each other” technique wore on me.
22. The House of Steinbrenner: Crap. Couldn’t watch the whole thing. YES Network couldn’t have been more pro-Yankee than this.
23. Into the Wind: Slow and sad, but inspirational. I (like most Americans, probably) didn’t know the story.
24. Four Days in October: Don’t know how I missed this one.
25. Once Brothers: I’ve heard it’s good, but haven’t seen it yet.
26. Tim Richmond: This one looks interesting, but I haven’t watched it yet.
27. Fernando Nation: Well done. Fernando’s an interesting guy.
28. Marion Jones: Marion Jones should be hit with a shovel, so I had no interest in watching this.
29. The Best That Never Was: Was really, really good at two hours. Would have been fantastic at 90 or 60 minutes.
30. Pony Exce$$: They tell me this one is really good, too, but I haven’t had time to watch it yet.
So I have a few left to watch yet. I welcome your thoughts on this series, which, overall, was really good and worthy of whatever accolades it receives.
Here’s what I fear will happen, though: ESPN will get away from the one thing that really made this work – staying the hell out of the way of the filmmakers and just aiding, not controlling, the process. They say they’re going to do more documentaries under the “30 For 30 Presents” banner, which is great, but I have a suspicion the ESPN suits, having seen that this can be lucrative, will grab onto it and bastardize it and do what they do to everything. They’ll suffocate it and make it into ESPN instead of just recreating what made this so successful this time around. I hope I’m wrong, but ESPN would have to totally go against what’s in its corporate DNA to not screw this up going forward.
Nenad Krstic of the Oklahoma City Thunder fears he’ll be suspended by FIFA because of a bench-clearing brawl between Serbia and Greece? Wow. Krstic doesn’t even play soccer.
UPDATE: Awww, they fixed it.
I’m not a huge fan of ESPN or Sportscenter and I think these promos largely jumped the shark years ago, but this one made me chuckle, and Landon Donovan did a nice job with it.
That’s much better than Donovan’s Mexican Lottery spot, though not as unintentionally comedic.
It’s DC United players getting their kits off for ESPN Mag’s The Body Issue. Cheese Boy has the story here.
Just for eyebleach, also from that issue, MMA fighter Gina Carano:
ESPN has been the most powerful – but not always the most benevolent – force in sports media in this country for probably the last 15-20 years. Proving it can use its powers for good rather than for shameless self-promotion and the pursuit of the almighty dollar evil Its “30 For 30″ series of documentaries, which begins tomorrow night with “A King’s Ransom,” looks like one of the coolest things they’ve ever done. Here’s an excerpt from the first installment:
Old and busted, July 21, 2009: “(ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz) said the network has decided not to cover the (Erin Andrews nude peephole video) issue as a news story, ‘particularly since it has no bearing on her role as an on-air reporter.’”
New hotness, September 1, 2009: “Andrews-Winfrey talk to air Sept. 11,” says headline on ESPN.com.
ESPN Radio revamps lineup (again) to showcase Tirico (From the Jacksonville Albany Times-Union)
“On the TV side, added to Tirico’s plate (which includes MNF, NBA, Masters and the NFL Draft) will be ‘a prominent role’ in the network’s coverage of U.S. Open tennis, World Cup soccer and BCS football games.
Wow. I wonder if it’s just a hosting role on the World Cup coverage (a duty filled by Brent Musburger last time out). Brent, by the way, will be 70 one week from today.