By: John Molori
April 19, 2005

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Devin McCourty not disappointed in Tom Brady


- TD for NBC and ESPN
- A Matter of Taste
- Rising Stars, Falling Stars: Who's hot and not in Boston sports media?

NFL scores deals with NBC and ESPN; ABC takes loss

It's the end of an era for ABC, the renewal of a tradition for NBC and another feather in the cap for ESPN. The NFL has signaled a new age in broadcasting by inking a Sunday night package with NBC and handing Monday Night Football (MNF) over to ESPN. ABC, ESPN's sister network, ends their 36-year NFL run.

The Monday agreement with ESPN runs from 2006 to 2013 and includes an 8:40 p.m. kickoff time. ESPN's wildly popular "NFL Countdown” show will precede the MNF games at 7:00 p.m.

According to the NFL, NBC's deal also begins in 2006 and runs through 2011. It includes sixteen Sunday night games, the Thursday night season-opener, two playoff games on Wild Card Weekend and three prime-time preseason games.

The league reports that NBC will devote its entire Sunday night sc hedule to the NFL. The Sunday night games will start at 8:15 p.m. and include the long-debated flexible scheduling for the final seven weeks of the season. In addition, Super Bowl XLIII, Super Bowl XLVI and two AFC-NFC Pro Bowls go to NBC.

The new deals clinch that the league will remain on free TV at least through 2011. However, the NFL is looking into possible late-season cable or satellite game coverage for 2006.

In a Monday conference call, several of the main dealmakers chimed in with their views on the new NFL deal:

NBC bosses Dick Ebersol and Bob Wright were equally ebullient. "A great deal with the NFL is as good a deal as you can get in all of television. And we feel very strongly we have this with both NBC and GE being in this deal,” said Ebersol.

Wright added, "Our (NFL) connections go back 66 years to 1939 when NBC became the first network to televise an NFL game, the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers. This is an opportunity to produce an extraordinarily exciting Sunday culminating in our game of the week. We're just very happy to be back in the NFL."

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told reporters, "These agreements improve our television arrangements for fans. They underscore our unique commitment to broadcast television and our tradition of delivering our games to the widest possible audience.

"NBC's Sunday night programming devoted to the NFL, and flexible scheduling for Sunday night are all positive changes. ESPN will continue to do a tremendous job of reaching a wide audience on basic cable with Monday Night Football."

Worldwide leader

With the acquisition of "Monday Night Football,” ESPN has truly attained the jewel of their multi-media sports crown. The network's "Sunday Night Football” has been a ratings giant, dominating the competition since its 1987 debut.

ESPN boss George Bodenheimer says, "We are thrilled to have the excitement and energy of Monday Night Football on ESPN and I am confident that we will continue the excellence that has been the hallmark of ABC's coverage for the last 35 years.”

This weekend, ESPN and ESPN2 will have full coverage of the NFL Draft, Saturday at Noon and Sunday at 11:00 a.m. In addition, Radio will have live coverage from Pats' draft headquarters in Foxboro including Bill Belichick's press conferences and pertinent data on every selection. also has draft coverage featuring real-time draft blogs and commentary from Gil Brandt, Vic Carrucci, Pat Kirwan and Adam Schefter. Emmitt Smith, Marc Bulger, Wayne Chrebet and Eli Manning will provide draft day memori es and a host of 2005 draftees will be on hand for interviews.

Comcast and The NFL Network are joining forces to provide info on top 2005 draft picks On Demand. According to the agreement, Comcast Digital Cable customers with On Demand can watch profiles of the top draft hopefuls through May 7. The NFL Network produced the profiles, which include game highlights, workouts and stats. Just go to On Demand and click on "Sports & Fitness.”

The NFL Network will blanket the NFL Draft providing mock drafts, live draft weekend coverage and post-draft analysis.

WEEI Double-take

Sports Radio 850 WEEI's Glenn Ordway is a great sports talk show host and a student of television and radio. Add one more title to his business card: Musical Genius. I am assuming that somewhere in his office, Ordway has a diploma from Juilliard given the way he bludgeoned and bullied singer-songwriter Terry Cashman's appearance at the Red Sox home opener last Monday.

At the team's request, Cashman performed an original Red Sox-themed song as the 2004 Championship banner was raised in centerfield. Ludwig Van Ordway trashed the song saying that it was "cheesy” and that all of Cashman's songs sound the same. When Cashman called "The Big Show” to discuss his performance, Ordway was rude and boorish.

I guess I must have missed all of Ordway's trips to the podium at the Grammy Awards over the years. Is he Glenn Ordway or Glenn Miller, Glenn Ordway or Glen Campbell? Ordway certainly has a right to his views, and they were echoed by 7NBC's Wendi Nix and others, but where does he get off calling anyone cheesy or questioning someone's originality?

Ordway's "Whiner Line” is responsible for more cheese than the state of Wisconsin. The Bob Neumeier impersonator? Butchy from Beyond the Grave? These bits are funny, but I wouldn't start waiting in line for their exhibition at the Louvre.

Originality? I believe "The Big Show” was the nickname of Dan Patrick' s and Keith Olbermann's ESPN "SportsCenter” long before "The Big O” came along. And what about "The Big O?” Oscar Robertson beat you to the punch on that one, Glenn. The next time Ordway wants to browbeat a performer in the name of art and originality, he ought to start with himself.

Speaking of "The Big Show,” one of the program's bits recently spurred some in-house controversy. A parody of the film "Fever Pitch” included some sexual overtones and suggestive wording. I found the bit to be somewhat amusing and hardly a source of controversy, but WEEI host Larry Johnson thought otherwise.

Johnson called WEEI programming chief Jason Wolfe and left a message complaining about the content of the bit, implying that it was immature and beneath the station. Ordway and his producers played the tape of Johnson's private call to Wolfe on the air.

Says Johnson, "Playing the message didn't bother me. What bothered me was my lack of judgment in how I handled the situation. I love the guys at the station and my first intent would always be to watch their back. Some people don't like when I talk religion, so I have to understand that it is not my job to force my morality or views on others when they play bits that maybe I feel uncomfortable with.”

Rising Stars

Gary DiSarcina, NESN- The ex-Angel infielder looked uncomfortable in his NESN debut, but has really picked up his game quickly. Plus, how can you pan a guy who changed his uniform number to 33 when Larry Bird retired?

Ryen Russillo, AM 1510- Fabulous job dissecting the NBA on "The Diehards” and as a guest on Fox Sports Net. His ongoing defense of Paul Pierce is on the money. It'd be media's loss, but Russillo should follow his dream of being an NBA executive.

Mike Ratte, WB56- Often overlooked, but always prepared and energetic. Ratte fails only in a lack of self-promotion. He is a solid anchor whose " SportsZone” show is a weekend must-see.

Falling Stars

Chris House- Red Sox fan who provoked Yankee Gary Sheffield got his fifteen minutes of fame and lost his season tickets for 2005. Typical fan with an exaggerated self-image. You are a spectator. Get out of the way.

John Tomase, WEEI- Said the Sheffield incident was "blown out of proportion” and that it was merely a "one time thing.” It's this type of lax reaction that leads to a Pacers-Pistons caliber debacle.

Sports Bloggers- You are not simply "New Media” as Dave "Scott's Shots" Scott has called you. You are not "living in mom's basement” as Glenn Ordway has opined. You are provocative, viable and growing, so stop the "us against the world” paranoia and keep rocking the boat.

John Molori's columns are 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, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal,,, and Email John at [email protected]