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    November 09, 2004
Media Blitz 11/9
By:  John Molori
PatsFans.com Fan Columnist

THIS WEEK:

- T.O. is all about ME
- Gridiron Gabbers
- Sly as a Fox

Fall clean-up, sports media style

TNT’s Charles Barkley eloquently described Kobe Bryant on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” last week. Barkley stated that Bryant is not a great player, but merely a great scorer. Sir Charles’ reason was that, unlike Jason Kidd and Tim Duncan, Bryant’s play does not make anyone around him better. Kudos to Barkley for telling it like it truly is.

Steve Young and Tom Jackson of ESPN and Fox’s Terry Bradshaw teed off on Terrell Owens this past weekend with good reason. Young said that Owens is not the same likeable person he was when he broke in with San Francisco several years ago. Jackson stated that unless the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl, T.O.’s antics are detrimental, and Bradshaw said that Owens just doesn’t get it. They are correct. Owens is a selfish jerk with no respect for anyone but himself. That’s why he has never won anything.

Most overblown story of 2004: Kevin Millar’s Fox Sports Net declaration that the Red Sox did shots of Jack Daniels before a crucial ALCS game. Millar may or may not have been kidding, but regardless, is it really news that ballplayers drink? What’s next, an expose on jock strap perspiration?

On Sunday, Sportsradio 850 WEEI’s Steve Nelson picked Adam Vinatieri as his predicted playmaker before the Patriots-Rams tilt. Nelson was mocked by his WEEI cohosts for choosing a kicker, but with Vinatieri starring with both his foot and his arm, the ex-Patriot linebacker once again proved that he is a step ahead of his fellow radio gabbers.

If you have DirecTV or Comcast cable, do yourself a favor and check out The NFL Network. Ex-players Terell Davis, Rod Woodson, Solomon Wilcots and Glenn Parker talk circles around the likes of ESPN’s Michael Irvin, HBO’s Dan Marino and CBS’ Boomer Esiason. They are articulate, prepared and interesting.

Is there any national football personality you’d rather talk football and have a beer with than Fox’s Howie Long? I don’t think so.

A John Kerry campaign official told Media Blitz that Curt Schilling’s appearance in Ohio on behalf of George W. Bush cost John Kerry some key ground in the hotly contested state. It shows the true power of sports in our culture.

Fox Sports Net’s “New England Tailgate” is an entertaining program, but last week’s political sermons by Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas were unnecessary. DeOssie denounced John Kerry saying that that people should not vote for a candidate simply because he has a plethora of celebrity supporters. DeOssie, an avowed George W. Bush supporter, is a very intelligent guy, but he should be reminded that the President had the likes of Joe Gibbs and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on his side. Are these celebrities any better than Jon Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen?

Speaking of “New England Tailgate,” can we please eliminate the video game commercial masked as an actual show segment. Obviously, the program gets revenue from the video game company, but the segment itself is just plain stupid. Shoot a commercial and run it during a break. Stop trying to disguise a paid advertisement as sports content.

I enjoyed Fox’s Terry Bradshaw-Ben Roethlisberger interview almost as much as I detested ESPN’s Michael Irvin-Warren Sapp interview.

The best player-turned-broadcaster in the business, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, broke the story that Duce Staley would not play for the Steelers vs. Philadelphia this past weekend. Like his finned namesake, “Jaws” continues to eat up his broadcasting brethren.

If you are in the market for a great football book, eschew the temptation to buy Michael Holley’s over-hyped “Patriot Reign” and instead check out “Tales from the Patriots Sideline” by Michael Felger and “Sunday Morning Quarterback” by Phil Simms. Both books are fun, insightful and chock full of data and stories I bet you didn’t know.

I tuned into NESN’s replay of a 1991 Bruins-Nordiques game last week and realized how much I miss the poetry that was Fred Cusick and Derek Sanderson. With all due respect to the likes of Dale Arnold, Dave Shea, Gord Kluzak and Andy Brickley, Cusick and Sanderson set a hockey broadcasting standard that may never be approached.

I also miss Rejean Lemelin, Cam Neely, the Nordiques’ exquisite blue uniforms and the helmet-less Guy Lafleur adroitly zipping across the ice.

Earlier this year, I wrote that CBS’ Jim Nantz was a bit on the boring side. In response to the column, I received an email from CBS Sports president Sean McManus questioning my criticism. McManus was a good sport, as I shall be here. The truth is that Nantz has surprised me. His game call is accurate, on the money and understated enough to give partner Phil Simms all the talking space he needs. Nantz deserves credit for a seamless move from the studio to the booth.

Fox Sports Net’s Celtics broadcasters Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn openly admit that they want the Celtics to win every game, but Heinsohn’s partisan vitriol is getting a bit tiresome. This past weekend against the Knicks, Paul Pierce missed two easy lay-ups, finally converting on a third attempt. For this, Heinsohn gave Pierce a Tommy Point for a job well done. Huh? If not for the fact that the Knicks rebound just slightly worse than Billy Barty, Pierce would have been a laughingstock. Ease up on the hyperbole, Tommy!

On the flip side, Fox Sports Net’s “I am a Celtic.” ad campaign is fantastic as is their “Legend of Red” biography. This excellent Red Auerbach chronicle replays Wednesday at 10:45 p.m. Prior to Wednesday’s Celtics tip-off at 7:00 p.m., Tyngsboro’s Sheryl Gauntlett, FSN’s latest FanCaster winner, will tape an introduction to the Celtics “Heroes Among Us” award. Her intro will air immediately following the game.

As a man and as a fan, I really like Fox’s Jillian Barberie. Her pregame weather forecasts have just the right blend of sass, sex appeal and sincerity. However, I must question her wardrobe. Lately, Barberie looks like a tacky hybrid of Debbie Gibson, RuPaul and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Come on, Jillian!

On Monday, WEEI’s Gerry Callahan questioned why someone like Jason Varitek would leave the security and comforts of Boston to go to another team simply for more money. In July of 2002, WWZN AM 1510 offered Callahan a high six-figure, multi-media package including the morning drive time slot and a television deal with Fox25. Callahan elected to stay at WEEI for continuity and security. In hindsight, it was a great move. Some commentators claim to know what the players are facing. Callahan, himself, has faced it.

The National Football League will stay on free TV at least until 2011. The league has agreed to six-year extensions of its Sunday afternoon television packages with both CBS and FOX. The NFL also signed a five-year extension with DirecTV for “NFL Sunday Ticket.” CBS and Fox will televise two Super Bowls each during the term of their agreements. CBS will carry Super Bowl XLI in 2007, while FOX will air Super Bowl XLII in 2008. The other Super Bowls for CBS and FOX will be assigned at a later date.

John Molori’s Media Blitz column is published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, PatsFans.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, RedSoxNation.net and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.

 John Molori
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