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Shooting from the lip: Jameis Winston report not up to Outside the Lines standards

Most disappointing show

Just last week I sang the praises of ESPN's outstanding Outside the Lines. Then it comes out with one of its weakest efforts. Sunday's show was dedicated to whether or not the Bucs should draft Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and make him the face of their franchise despite questions about Winston's character.

Worthy topic, poorly executed.

OTL reviewed all of Winston's off-field issues, not shedding new light on any of them. It then seemed to build a case that the Bucs would be wise to stay away from Winston by talking to two former NFL executives: former Bears director of scouting Greg Gabriel and former Eagles president Joe Banner. Both said they would be wary of Winston. Fair enough, although it was laughable that Banner said, "I'm a purist about character and from what I know today, I would not pick him.''

A purist about character? Wait, wasn't Banner in charge of the Eagles when they signed convicted felon Michael Vick? That's a point that should have been challenged by OTL.

OTL tried to balance the story by talking to FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher and baseball coach Mike Martin.

The biggest problem with the piece was OTL talked to no one with more specific knowledge of the Bucs. It's easy for those outside Tampa Bay to say they would not take Winston. But what about those who truly know what this decision means specifically for the Bucs?

Rightly or wrongly, trust Winston or not, that's a perspective that must be addressed and was sorely lacking in the OTL story. It's one that someone local, such as a media member, could have addressed.

Even in the panel discussion after the piece, ESPN turned to three out-of-town ESPN analysts who aren't as familiar with the Bucs as someone locally.

Look, there's no question Winston's character is and should be a topic. But the OTL segment seemed like it just wanted to stir it up without really working hard to do it. The show from start to finish seemed mailed in, and that program has built up too much of a great reputation for such a half-hearted effort.

Worst behavior

I'm stunned that ESPN suspended and did not fire reporter Britt McHenry (right) for her rude and childish outburst toward a tow-company employee. In a videotape that did appear edited but in no way altered what McHenry said, McHenry verbally attacked a female employee by criticizing her weight, education, social class and teeth. Most of all, she made it clear that she was more important than the tow-truck employee because she was on television.

Even ABC News' Cokie Roberts spoke out, saying, "Now that's pathetic.''

It also strikes at the heart of this issue. If there's one stereotype that female sports reporters on television must constantly fight it's that they're only on TV because of their looks. And here's a female sports reporter on TV saying she is better than the person she is talking to because the other person is not as attractive. At one point, McHenry demeaningly says, "Lose some weight, baby girl.''

I don't see how McHenry gets past this. It's one thing to put your foot in your mouth. It's also understandable that she grew frustrated by having her car towed. We've all been there, angered about standing in line at the DMV or the airport. It can be tempting to take out our frustrations on those on the other side of the counter.

But McHenry's behavior seemed like more than just a bad day. It seemed like a deep-seeded attitude to those she deems less important than her. And that would be everybody who is not beautiful and is not on television. Doesn't that include pretty much everyone who watches ESPN?

Viewers can overlook a lot and forgive just about anything. Contempt for the viewer and an air of superiority is not among them.

Biggest hire

Fox has hired Pete Rose (above) as a baseball analyst. Rose will work in studio and bring what many people believe could be a Charles Barkley-like perspective to the game. If that's true, if Rose really does speak his mind and can be critical in a humorous way, this hire could be a home run.

But there is a danger in that kind of analysis, too. Rose could come off as a crotchety old man, talking about how everything was better in the old days. No one wants to hear that. Barkley thrives because he mixes humor with his spot-on analysis. And he's an announcer who understands today's player. He also knows the league. I'm waiting to see if Rose has kept up on all of today's players.

The other curious part of Fox hiring Rose is that he is 74 and hasn't played since 1986. At a time when you're trying to attract younger viewers, it seems odd to hire someone who most people under the age of 40 don't remember as a player.

Taking a break

Not long after the NFL draft, the NFL Network morning show, NFL AM, is going on hiatus. This is according to Sports Business Daily. The website reports that the four-hour show will return during the NFL preseason. In the meantime, the network will review the show and decide what changes might need to be made. The show debuted in July 2012 and has run each weekday morning since then.

Worst parting

I was sad to hear ESPN was parting ways with college football studio analyst Lou Holtz. Sports Illustrated reported that it was a mutual decision. Holtz is 78 and had become a staple on the network with his TV nemesis Mark May. The two would teasingly (and sometimes not-so-teasingly) battle back and forth. I found it amusing and entertaining, and I also felt Holtz brought a strong coach's perspective to his analysis. However, the feeling among many, including ESPN it would seem, is the Holtz-May act had become a little stale.

ESPN could now revamp the Saturday afternoon/evening studio shows. Personally, I'd turn to Tim Tebow (if he doesn't make the Eagles), but ESPN might be looking for someone a little more outspoken.

Check it out

HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel has a strong show set to debut Tuesday at 10 p.m. Among the topics: Jim Harbaugh's move from coach of the 49ers to the University of Michigan, chewing tobacco in baseball, actor Chris Rock talking about blacks in baseball, and a profile of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (left).

The Wilson piece is done by Gumbel himself and, of course, goes over the now infamous late-game interception that allowed the Patriots to beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The feature also looks at Wilson's close relationship with his father, Harrison, who died in 2010 at the age 55 after a long battle with diabetes a day after Wilson was drafted by the Colorado Rockies. "It was the biggest high and then my biggest low, so quickly,'' Wilson said. "I carry him with me everywhere I go."

Three things that popped into my head

1. How about those poor Buffalo Sabres. They tanked the last half of the season to help their chances of getting the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft and Edmonton ends up winning the lottery.

2. NBCSN averaged 349,000 viewers for its 91 NHL broadcasts this past season. That's a bit down from the 351,000 from last season. The three markets that watched the most: Buffalo, Boston and Pittsburgh. Not surprising. Seems like Boston and Pittsburgh were on all the time and what the heck else is there to do in Buffalo on winter nights?

3. Win a few, lose a few. Good series followed by a bad one. That's the Rays. I said this at the start and I stick with it now: a .500 season.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.