Showtime dumps Sapp from Inside the NFL

Troubles continue to mount for Warren Sapp.

The former Tampa Bay star will not be back on Showtime’s Inside the NFL in 2012. His contract wasn’t renewed, according to Will Brinson of CBSSports.com.

As for his future, Brinson reports:

Sapp’s name has been in the news a lot recently — on Twitter he accused Jeremy Shockey of being a “snitch” in the Saints bounty scandal. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell later refuted that claim (as did CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman) and though the NFL Network said he “clearly crossed the line,” they did not fire him for his comments.
It is not yet known whether or not Sapp’s contract with the NFL Network will be renewed when it reportedly expires in August.

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Sunday bookshelf: Ozzie’s School of Management; Kruk teaches him art of F-word

In Rick Morrissey’s new book, Ozzie’s School of Management, the most used word begins with F; second is a word that begins with “mother.”

The Chicago Sun-Times columnist, and my former colleague at the Chicago Tribune, chronicles the unique management style of Ozzie Guillen. The book focuses on Guillen’s tumultuous final season in Chicago and lays the foundation for his first year in Miami. It foreshadows the eventual controversy that erupted following Guillen’s comments about Fidel Castro.

It’s a fascinating read, and I’m going to have more on the book in a future interview with Morrissey. Last Sunday, the Sun-Times ran an excerpt. It details how John Kruk taught Guillen the art of swearing when both were young players in the San Diego farm system. At the time, Guillen, a native of Venezuela, knew little English. Thanks to Kruk, two words … Continue Reading

Kerr, Miller preview OK City-San Antonio: Two contrasting styles

TNT’s analysts Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller did a conference call earlier this week previewing the West finals. Here are some of the highlights.

Miller on Oklahoma City Thunder Sixth Man of the Year James Harden: “People underestimate his size, his ability to get to the rim and finish plays…once he gets to the lane off the pick-and-roll, he explodes like how [former NBA player] Detlef Schrempf used to. He’s so strong with the ball and entices you to try to strip him [of the ball] and that gets him the ‘and-one’ [foul shots]…You can definitely see his growth throughout his early NBA career.”

Kerr on James Harden: “He’s really their best passer, by far, and that’s why he’s such a great complement to [Russell] Westbrook and [Kevin] Durant. Those guys are thinking first and foremost about scoring … Continue Reading

A first for sports TV: NBC’s Sunday Night Football first in primetime

This news is all you need to know about the power of sports on television these days:

With the conclusion of the 2011-12 television season this week, NBC’s Sunday Night Football topped all primetime entertainment programming to become the first sports series to finish the full fall-spring TV season as the most-watched show in primetime, according to The Nielsen Company.

Sunday Night Football averaged 21.5 million viewers and 20.9 million viewers for its games during the official TV season which ran from Sept. 19, 2011 through May 23, 2012. American Idol ranked second.  Sunday Night Football was also the top-ranked primetime program for the television season in household rating, and all key adult and male demographics.

Additional TV highlights from the 2011 NFL season:

  • Super Bowl XLVI on NBC was the most-watched program in U.S. television history.
  • The
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Saturday flashback: ’79 Indianapolis 500 with Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart

Back when, even if you weren’t a fan of auto racing, you tuned into the Indianapolis 500. Perhaps it had to do with the presence of Jim McKay.

In this video, the great one and Jackie Stewart broadcast the 1979 race. Just listen to how McKay opens the telecast and sets up the storylines. I got chills when I heard him say, “They’re racing at Indianapolis!”

Stewart also was excellent as an analyst. I remember him saying, “They call that drafting…” in that wonderful British accent.

Also, look at all the legendary drivers vying for the title. Rick Mears defeated A.J. Foyt.

Another time, another place for the Indianapolis 500.… Continue Reading

USA Today sports editor on changes; Expanding, not cutting

It’s never fun to let go of employees, and it’s even less fun being portrayed as the bad guy on Twitter and elsewhere.

“It’s a difficult process. I’m not getting around it,” said Dave Morgan, the editor-in-chief for USA Today’s sports group in an interview Friday morning.

A total of 15 sports staffers were trimmed this week, including Michael McCarthy, who wrote on sports media, Tom Weir, Tom Pedulla and Mike Dodd.

Morgan said the moves were made as part of a reorganization of the USA Today sports group among its many platforms, and that includes a dramatic upcoming renovation and upgrade of its website.

“This is about us resetting our priorities and redefining our roles going forward,” he said.

Among key points, Morgan stressed, “This isn’t a cost-cutting exercise. We’re probably adding 20 positions over where we started.”

He said this … Continue Reading

Will basketball fans tune into Oklahoma City-San Antonio series?

This is a long way (as in light years) from Yankees-Red Sox. Or Lakers-Celtics for that matter.

The Western Conference final between Oklahoma City and San Antonio (game 1, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) should provide a good barometer for the growth of the NBA. This is a highly regional match-up, although it’s not even close on the passion meter as Texas-Oklahoma in college football.

San Antonio is the nation’s 36th largest market, while Oklahoma City is 44th. San Antonio has the Alamo and a great River Walk. Not sure what Oklahoma City has, but from listening to a Bill Simmons podcast with SNL’s Bill Hader, an OK City native, it doesn’t sound like much.

As far as star power, San Antonio, with four NBA titles, continues to mysteriously fly under the radar. Tim Duncan easily is the most under hyped … Continue Reading

USA Today needs to update Game On! page-topper; Still features dismissed reporters

Michael McCarthy and Tom Weir may be out at USA Today, but their images lives on–at least for now.

Both reporters still are pictured at the top of the Game On! blog. Their biographies, though, have been eliminated.

Weir, meanwhile, has updated his bio on Twitter. It now says:

Used to blog at USA Today/Game On; liberated now

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Fired USA Today sportswriter: Never got face-to-face interview to keep job of 31 years

Update: USA Today editor explains why staffers weren’t retained and changes to sports media group. Here’s the link.

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Tom Pedulla had been at USA Today since 1995 and worked with Gannett newspapers for 31 years. So when he had to re-interview for a job he already had, he took it as a good sign that both of them were conducted over the phone.

“I thought they were comfortable with what I was doing,” Pedulla said.

It turns out Pedulla was wrong. Yesterday, Pedulla was among the sports staffers who were let go by USA Today. Others include Michael McCarthy and Tom Weir. The layoffs were part of USA Today restructuring its sports group.

Pedulla was stunned, especially at the timing. As the paper’s horse racing writer since 1998, he was looking forward to covering I’ll Have Another’s bid for the Triple … Continue Reading

Breaking hot dog news: ESPN extends pact for excessive eating contest

ESPN just sent out a release that states:

ESPN has reached an agreement with Major League Eating, in conjunction with Nathan’s Famous, Inc., that provides the network exclusive rights to televise a live, one-hour show of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest each year through 2017.

Seriously.

You know why this is a big deal? According to the release:

The event consistently generates powerful ratings and has become a holiday viewing tradition for millions of Americans. Last year’s July 4th telecast set a viewership record with 1.95 million live viewers and nearly nine million viewers total on July 4, including two re-airs.

Seriously? Perhaps ESPN is using the number of people who eat hot dogs on the Fourth? Really, we don’t have anything better to do than watch people gorge themselves with hot dogs?… Continue Reading