tom jones' two cents
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at a weekend of televised sports.
Fox was the go-to place for the Sunday pregame shows because NFL insider Jay Glazer scored the biggest coup of the season, landing the first in-depth interview with Richie Incognito, the suspended Dolphins player accused of bullying teammate Jonathan Martin.
Glazer (above left) scored the interview because he has a prior working relationship with Incognito. Glazer trains athletes in mixed martial arts, and Incognito was a former client. To his credit, Glazer disclosed that relationship right up front.
For the most part, Glazer handled the interview well. He asked Incognito about using the n-word on Martin's voice mail. He questioned whether Incognito is a racist and a bully and a bad guy. He asked about the details in his dealings with Martin. And he even questioned Incognito's "checkered past," which included problems in college and a recent allegation of inappropriate contact with a woman at a charity golf tournament.
I would have liked to have seen Glazer press Incognito on the details of that golf incident, but it's my guess that Incognito's representatives made that off-limits. If so, Glazer should have said that. And if there were no off-limit topics, Glazer should have reported that, too. Still, overall, Glazer did a respectable job.
Meantime, it's clear that Incognito was well-trained by smart public relations people before the interview. Dare I say, he was even likable in the interview. That is, until you remember all the despicable things he has done.
One of the aspects of this Dolphins story is that the NFL locker room is — and, many claim, should be — devoid of what is considered respectful and decent workplace conditions. For starters, I'm tired of those who insist that if you've never been in a locker room then you don't understand what goes on there, as if we're not intelligent enough to comprehend such things as eighth-grade humor. (Why, yes, that is sarcasm in my voice.)
But ESPN analyst Cris Carter, who played in three decades, including the 2000s, made the best point of all:
"The general public is starting to get the perception that in the NFL locker room you are free to do whatever you want," Carter said. "This is not typical of what happens in NFL locker rooms. … I talked to NFL players this week. What is going on in Miami is extraordinary; it is nothing normal. So all these ideas that in the locker room you can do this, that is not true. In the NFL locker room you are not allowed to act like an animal and a savage."
Look, it's apparent that we don't know everything about this whole Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin case. There are still more facts to come. But no voice has been stronger on the Sunday morning pregame shows than that of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst Tom Jackson. Over the past week, the conversation has shifted from Incognito's behavior to Martin's culpability in this case — a shift that bothers Jackson.
"The locker room went to great lengths in Miami to shift this conversation from a guy being bullied to a guy being a coward," Jackson said. "As I watched it, it was so upsetting because they are trying to hold Jonathan Martin equally culpable to what was done to him — 'It was done to him because we had to do it; we needed to toughen this guy up,' — as opposed to the fact that this intelligent young man whose parents are third-generation Harvard graduates. 'He is not quite as "black" as is Richie Incognito.' This is insane."
Regardless of how you feel about the Dolphins' Jonathan Martin, who allegedly was bullied by teammate Richie Incognito, one of the ugliest things to come out of this mess was a report that some African-American players on the Dolphins considered Incognito, who is white, to be an "honorary" black man, and that they gave him the license to use the n-word.
James Brown, who is black and hosts CBS's NFL Today, said: "No one has the right or license to renegotiate what's right and wrong. And shame on those black ballplayers if they gave him license for that, because that's not their responsibility. … They're devoid of understanding of all that's been said."
Well, that didn't take long. Just two days after his Oregon Ducks were upset at Stanford, Nike co-founder and chair Phil Knight was on the Alabama sideline Saturday night, all decked out in Crimson Tide gear. Someone get this guy Florida State gear, stat, just in case the Tide loses somewhere along the line.
Sun Sports cut away from the end of Saturday's Florida-Vanderbilt game with 26 seconds left to go to some reality show about North Carolina State football. (I'm being serious about the N.C. State thing.) Anyway, the outcome of the Gator game was already decided, but I wanted to see the reaction of Florida coach Will Muschamp as he walked off the field with a 4-5 record. And I wanted to hear the reaction of those who bothered to stick around for the end.
Shortest dead air
I like steak. I like ice cream. But I don't want both together.
I guess that's how I feel about ESPN college football analysts David Pollack and Jesse Palmer. Both are very good. Separately.
But when they work together in a three-man booth on Thursday night games with announcer Rece Davis, it's just too much.
The two never shut up. During Thursday's showdown between Oregon and Stanford, it's like the two have a bet to see who can use the most words.
Sometimes a broadcast needs to breathe a little. Every second doesn't have to be filled, and that's the biggest flaw of a three-person booth.
In fact, most three-announcer booths don't work, which is why the networks have gone away from them. It's why ESPN abandoned the three-man Monday Night Football booth in favor of a two-man setup.
Again, Pollack and Palmer have good thoughts, but it's hard to digest their comments when you're always taking another bite.
Exactly how many shots did CBS need to show of the girlfriend (model Katherine Webb) and the mom of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron? Everyone went bonkers when ESPN's Brent Musburger made a comment about Webb during last year's national championship game, and CBS announcer Verne Lundquist even took a playful jab Saturday at Musburger by saying he wasn't going to say anything more about the two, adding: "I don't work for that four-letter network. Discretion."
Apparently the director didn't get that memo as we saw several more shots of the two, including one shot that appeared to be a replay.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Don't you get the feeling that if the Bucs can't win tonight against a dysfunctional mess like the Dolphins, they won't be able to beat anyone?
2. I'm starting to think this Lightning start isn't a fluke. Starting to think. Sorry. I fell for last year's fools' gold and don't want to get caught again.
3. For those who believe Alabama could give the Jaguars or the Bucs a run for their money, you're crazy. I'd give you Alabama and five touchdowns and wouldn't be the least bit concerned about losing the bet. The Crimson Tide, or any college team playing an NFL team, would get destroyed.