Shooting from the lip/Dec. 6th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
I haven't mentioned ESPN's Outside the Lines in a while, but that's not because the show hasn't been outstanding. Outside the Lines continues to produce some of the best journalism and discussion on television. Sunday's show looked at the 30th anniversary of the shooting death of John Lennon. Those alive when the former Beatle was shot on Dec. 8, 1980, remember that most Americans first learned of the tragedy when Howard Cosell announced it on Monday Night Football. Remember, this was well before CNN, other 24-hour news stations and the Internet. The most interesting part of the OTL feature was a never-heard-before, off-air conversation between Cosell and broadcast partner Frank Gifford. After getting confirmation that Lennon was dead, Cosell initially wasn't sure if such startling news could be dropped into a football game. It was Gifford who told Cosell that, absolutely, it had to be passed on to the public. Cosell listened to Gifford and delivered the news in chilling and stunning fashion.
Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy is highly praised for his work on NBC's Football Night in America and deservedly so. He's intelligent and measured in his remarks, and has, in many ways, become the conscience of the NFL. But Tom Jackson, the longtime veteran of ESPN’s Sunday Morning Countdown, might be the best analyst on any of the NFL pregame shows, and he's definitely the most underrated. Like Dungy, Jackson, applies a high moral code to his frank comments.
Jackson, the former Broncos linebacker, said this when asked if Denver coach Josh McDaniels was in over his head: "The defensive coordinator really responsible for that 6-0 start (last season) is now in Miami. Now you have (quarterback) Brady Quinn, I don't know if he can play pro football. You've got the greatest collegiate player in history in Tim Tebow, I don't know if he can play pro football. And you got caught cheating in the last two weeks. You tell me if he's over his head.''
Look at how Jackson did that. He didn't just blast McDaniels by saying he didn’t like the guy or his coaching style. He didn't call him an idiot or a jerk. He simply laid out the facts of everything McDaniels has done (or hasn't done) and, in doing so, showed clearly why he thought McDaniels was in over his head. Outstanding.
Most interesting comments
Don Cherry, the dynamic analyst on Hockey Night in Canada, has long been a proponent of fighting in hockey and added these thoughts to his latest diatribe about it: "You think people in Florida are (watching a game and) saying, 'Oh, what a lovely pass?' Come on!''
Most frustrating rule
The NFL has some of the strangest rules regarding television. Two of them criss-crossed each other Sunday afternoon and became frustrating for local fans watching Fox a little after 4 p.m. Fox switched over for the end of the Saints-Bengals game. The Saints had just gone ahead 34-30 on a touchdown with 31 seconds left. The Bengals returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 49, completed a pass to the Saints 37 with eight seconds left and called timeout to set up for one last Hail Mary . But, because of "NFL rules,'' Fox had to leave the game at exactly 4:10 p.m. to go to our regularly scheduled game: Colts vs. Cowboys. The only reason we were getting that game was because the Bucs game was blacked out.
It's understandable that local fans don't want to miss the local game, and that's why the rules are put in place. But in this circumstance, when we're not getting the local team, doesn't it make sense for the NFL to allow fans to see the dramatic ending of one game instead of the opening moments of another? Why wouldn't you want your fans seeing the most exciting moments of your product?
Quick random thoughts
* Angela Jacobs, Ch. 10's sports anchor, filled in as sideline reporter on Saturday night's Lightning-Avalanche game on Sun Sports and did a solid job, especially with the intermission player interviews.
* When the Jon Gruden-to-Miami rumors cropped up last week, we sports media types wondered who would replace Gruden on Monday Night Football if he did leave. The best guess: Matt Millen. Many don't trust Millen's analysis after he made such a mess of the Lions when he was president, but he's an excellent broadcaster and should be doing more than calling second-tier college games for ESPN, Thursday night games on the NFL Network and pregame and postgame work on Monday Night Football.
* Ever notice how often Keyshawn Johnson, an analyst on ESPN's Sunday Morning Countdown, reads off his resume before he says something? Before making his point, he's always telling us how many coaches he has played for, how many teams he was with, how he played with that quarterback or that coach. Just make your point, Keyshawn. You wouldn't be on the panel if you didn't have experience in the game.
* Great decision by the Bucs radio broadcast to include the halftime ceremony of John McKay’s induction into the Ring of Honor even if listeners couldn't see the video presentation. It still was effective enough to reminisce and enjoy.
Most depressing feeling
The Yankees re-sign Derek Jeter and are going after pitcher Cliff Lee and, seemingly, every other free agent out there. The Red Sox have met with free agent Carl Crawford and are trying to pry Adrian Gonzalez out of San Diego. Meantime, the Rays are saying goodbye to Crawford and are talking about trading away shortstop Jason Bartlett, and, perhaps, a starting pitcher. The Royals are thinking about dealing ace Zack Greinke. How can commissioner Bud Selig and the rest of those who run Major League Baseball look at this and not think baseball is messed up?
Most interesting rumor
There's quite the buzz that former Lightning center Brad Richards could wind up playing for his old coach, John Tortorella. The Stars have at least entertained the thought of trading Richards, who will be a free agent after the season. The team that might be most interested is Tortorella's Rangers.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Here's what I’m tired of: Fans complaining that the Bucs or some local company is not stepping up to buy the remaining unsold tickets to guarantee the Bucs will not be blacked out on TV when they play at home. Do you realize how much money it would cost to buy up even 10,000 tickets? I don't blame fans for not going if they can't afford it or don't want to spend their money that way. But I also don't blame anyone for not burning their own money just so the rest of us can stay home and watch the game.
2. Based on how badly Florida State got thumped by Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, wouldn't it have been better if the Seminoles had not backed into the game and had ended their regular season 9-3?
3. How ridiculous that Oregon and Auburn will go 37 days from Saturday’s conference championship games until they meet for the BCS national championship. I like the BCS system except for this excruciatingly long delay.