tom jones' two cents
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
The story of the weekend was the tragedy in Kansas City, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shooting and killing the mother of his child and then driving to Arrowhead Stadium and killing himself.
The NFL made the decision to play Sunday's Chiefs-Panthers game as scheduled, and it appears the league took its cue from the Chiefs, who wanted to go forward with the game.
Was it the right call? Personally, I don't think so. This is bigger than the Chiefs. Out of respect for Kasandra Perkins, the 22-year-old woman killed, as well as sending a message that some things should take precedence over football, I think the league should have postponed the game until a later date.
Then again, I'm not a Kansas City player, and I didn't lose anyone close to me Saturday.
Many analysts weighed in on the topic Sunday, but no one was more compelling that ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst and former player Cris Carter:
"One of my best friends, my roommate Jerome Brown, died in a car accident (in 1992). Philadelphia Eagle, great player, great person. … I was in the league (for) 9/11, and I didn't think we should play. And we didn't play.
"Then I also had Korey Stringer, who got dressed in a locker next to me, went on the practice field and died (with the Vikings in 2001). And I didn't think we could play. My football team went from the NFC championship to … 5-11.
"So at some point, something has to happen where life is bigger than football. And I don't think they should play today because I don't think the guys emotionally know what they're dealing with. … When they get off that football field, that problem is still there."
Turns out, the David Beckham experiment was a success.
When the international soccer star came to the United States to play Major League Soccer for the L.A. Galaxy six years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about the impact he could have. Well, as he leaves after six years, soccer still comes nowhere close to matching the popularity in this country of the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, and it never will. But there's no question Major League Soccer is more popular now than before Beckham's arrival. The television ratings on ESPN/ESPN2 this year were the best in the league's history.
Meantime, ESPN pointed out these numbers:
The number of MLS teams increased from 12 to 19 during Beckham's time. The number of soccer-only stadiums went from four to 13. The average salary of an MLS player went from about $85,000 to $179,000, and the average attendance for MLS games went from 15,904 to 18,807.
Most attractive team
NBC's Sunday Night Football had a chance to flex out of Sunday night's game between the Eagles and Cowboys but decided to stick with the game, even though both teams had a losing record.
Why didn't NBC switch? Because it was the Cowboys.
NBC's Al Michaels told the Dallas Morning News, "The Cowboys are a brand like no other,'' and CBS's Jim Nantz said, "If I could pick one team today to play in our Super Bowl at the end of the season, from a business perspective, it would still be the Cowboys."
After Saturday's SEC Championship Game, Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked if he had any response to those who think Richt and quarterback Aaron Murray don't rise to the occasion in big games.
Richt acted as if he didn't understand the question. The question was repeated, Richt again dodged it, and the news conference ended. Richt left but then returned to the stage and said anybody who didn't think Murray and the Bulldogs didn't play hard was "crazy.''
For starters, the question had nothing to do with Georgia's effort. It was about Georgia's inability to win big games. And you know what? Richt knows that.
Richt then closed his quick rant by saying, "That's unbelievable somebody would even bring that up.''
That clip was shown on ESPN, and anchor John Buccigross said at its end, "I agree.''
I almost fell out of my chair. I can't believe Buccigross, as a supposed journalist, would have an issue with someone asking a question that was on everyone's mind. And just a few moments earlier, Buccigross' on-air partner, Rod Gilmore, had mentioned Georgia's struggles in signature games.
I've always been a fan of Buccigross, but for him to say he agreed with Richt was not only outside of his role as an objective anchor, it was the opposite of what a credible journalist should have done.
Not only was the question of Richt legitimate, it was commendable.
I find it annoying that the Spurs and their followers complain that they and their coach, Gregg Popovich, never get enough credit for being a marquee team and then Popovich last week sits the Spurs' three big stars for a marquee game against the defending NBA champs.
First, does Popovich expect us to believe a coach as skilled as he is can't figure out a way to rest his stars over the next five months? He can't rest them for practices and instead thinks they need a game off in November? Really?
And one more thing involving this idea the Spurs don't get enough attention: Maybe they would get more if Popovich didn't act like a horse's rear every time someone tries to interview him.
Worst pregame decision
What in the world was CBS thinking by waiting five minutes into its NFL Today pregame show Sunday before bringing up the murder-suicide involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher? Worse, the tragedy didn't come up until after CBS plugged a sponsor that makes GPS devices and the cast of analysts talked about the playoff picture. It was about as bad of an opening five minutes I can remember on an NFL pregame show.
Three things that popped into my head
1. USF's football program is a mess, and the Big East has become a second-tier conference. If I'm a young, up-and-coming coach, I'm not sure I'm interested in being the next head coach of the Bulls. What's worse: If I'm a hot shot high school star, I'm not sure I'm interested in playing at USF for the same reasons.
2. Did you see Georgia Tech's offense against FSU in Saturday night's ACC Championship Game? How, in this day and age of college football, can a program be so completely incapable of a forward pass?
3. I expected the NFL Network to have much more coverage Saturday of the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide. If such a thing happened in baseball, the MLB Network likely would have gone to round-the-clock coverage. That's why ESPN and ESPNews were the places for information Saturday.