Terrible trend: Racist label gets thrown around way too much in today’s media world

It really bothers me when somebody in the media is accused of being “a racist.” It’s a horrible label to hang on a person, and it happens too frequently in today’s blog, Twitter-mad world.

To wit, this headline in Deadspin about David Whitley: “Who is this hack who wrote about Colin Kaepernick’s tattoos. And why is he such a racist dicktroll?”

You could say many things about Whitley, but the AOL FanHouse columnist at SportingsNews.com is not a racist.

In an earlier post today, Whitley defended himself in the wake of a column he wrote about Colin Kaepernick’s tattoos. He said: “If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist.”

Indeed, they would.

People who know him know better about Whitley. ESPN’s Jemele Hill said in a tweet:

I worked with Whitley in Orlando. I don’t agree with his column, but he’s a terrific guy. #NotRacist

Whitley pointed out in his response to me that his column wasn’t based on race. There are plenty of white athletes with tattoos, he said.

Isn’t he right? Just look around, folks. White Pitchers, white linebackers, white power forwards, white hockey players, etc.

Whitley’s point is you don’t see many NFL quarterbacks sporting tattoos like Colin Kaepernick.

Was Whitley guilty of stereotyping? Sure. He makes it seems like anyone, white or African-American, who gets a tattoo is one step away from San Quentin.

Whitley is a funny, entertaining fellow, and his columns usually are in the same vein. Perhaps he missed with this one.

Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz said in a tweet:

I’m not going to pile on David Whitley today. We’ve all swung and missed on columns. He’s a terrific writer who missed the mark. It happens.

It’s become fashionable to accuse media people of being a racist. Earlier this year, New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick was called a racist for a column on the Brooklyn Nets. Mushnick might have gone over the line in making a point, but any regular reader of his columns knows it is absurd to call him a racist.

I’m sure some people will say I’m a racist for defending Whitley. I already got a note with this lovely opening: “You are a fuckin idiot….You gotta be kidding….Hypocrytical peice  of trash trying to come to the defense of a blatent closet racist.”

Thanks for writing.

I’m sorry, but calling somebody a racist is too much of a knee-jerk reaction. And it’s about the worst thing you could call somebody. It’s just irresponsible, especially coming from somebody in the media.

Just think about it. How would you like it if somebody hung the racist label on you?

It could happen. Just ask David Whitley.








Sporting News columnist responds; two adopted African-American daughters would be disappointed to learn I’m a racist

David Whitley was out most of yesterday. So he didn’t find out this morning that he is being labeled “a racist” and worse throughout the blog and Twitter world.

This is the first line of a post by Jason McIntyre of Big Lead: “David Whitley, a columnist at AOL Fanhouse – which, I guess, is still a website – is a racist.”

Whitley, a columnist for SportingNews.com, responded in an email this morning:

“If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist.”

To catch everyone up, Whitley is under fire for a column he wrote Wednesday on Colin Kaepernick. He noted that the San Francisco 49ers quarterback has many tatoos, a rarity for players at that position.

Whitley wrote:

San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big-time NFL quarterback. That must make the guys in San Quentin happy.

Approximately 98.7 percent of the inmates at California’s state prison have tattoos. I don’t know that as fact, but I’ve watched enough “Lockup” to know it’s close to accurate.

I’m also pretty sure less than 1.3 percent of NFL quarterbacks have tattoos. There’s a reason for that.

NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.

The response was intense to say the least. AOL even added a tagline: “David Whitley’s opinion is not reflective of the opinion of AOL, Inc.”

I’ve known Whitley for a long time, and he’s a funny guy. You can debate whether he pulled off this column, but calling him a racist is off base. People need to stop throwing around labels like that so freely.

Here is Whitley’s email to me:

The opinion I was trying to reflect was that NFL quarterbacks have been largely tattoo free. Having a humble, hard-working, scandal-free QB potentially would be a breakthrough. And old farts like me who don’t fancy tattoos will just have to sigh and accept it.

It didn’t occur to me that admitting I’m not a fan of body art would be admitting I don’t like African-Americans. I’m pretty sure the middle-aged women at the gym with barbed-wire tats that I referenced are white. So is Jeremy Shockey. If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist.

On the bright side, Tattoo-gate II is apparently good for my social media standing. I’m not much on Twitter, but I picked up about 75 new followers yesterday. I hope they’re not all from San Quentin.







What NFL teams have highest, lowest TV share in their markets? Hint all are recent Super Bowl winners

NFL TV ratings are huge. Period, end of sentence.

However, in some markets, they are bigger than others. The ratings, specifically “share,” provide a good barometer to gauge the fan intensity for the home team.

And the verdict from last week’s games?

No. 1: Saints and Steelers tied.

Bottom of the list: Giants in New York.

Below is a chart sent out by Dan Masonson of the NFL for week 12; it doesn’t include the Philadelphia-Carolina game on Monday. Also, there were blackouts in San Diego and Tampa Bay.

First some Ratings 101 on the terminology from Masonson:

Rating is % of TV homes in that market tuned into the game.

Share is % of TV homes in that market with TV “physically tuned” into the game.


Market size comes into play when determining total viewers for the home team. Again from Masonson:

Giants average 17.7 local rating this season translating to 1.3 million TV homes tuned in per game.

Saints average a league high 47.4 local rating translating to 304,000 TV homes tuned in per game.

New York is the largest market in the U.S.; New Orleans is No. 52. That accounts for the difference in the total number of viewers. Thanks to market size, Masonson says the Giants, Jets and Bears have the highest viewership each week.

For the purpose of this exercise, I’m going to use “share” as the barometer for gauging passion for the home team. It tells me if the home team is playing, what percentage of TVs that are physically turned on are tuned to the game?

In New Orleans and Pittsburgh, each town had an astounding 69 share. That means 7 of 10 TVs in use in those towns watched the Saints and Steelers last Sunday. What were those three other TVs watching?

Denver was right behind with a 68 share.

All told, there were nine markets with a 60 share or above, and that includes Kansas City. Despite a horrid season, the Chiefs still pulled a 60 share. Now that means their fans are either incredibly loyal or gluttons for punishment.

Again, those numbers attest to the amazing popularity of the NFL.

On the low end, the list shows New York did a 28 share for the Giants-Packers game on Sunday night. That means only 3 out of 10 TVs in use in New York saw the Giants chase around Aaron Rodgers.

To me, that number seems low since this was a must game against Green Bay However, New York isn’t a typical market. For starters, loyalties are split between the Giants and Jets, even if Jets fans aren’t showing their allegiances these days. The city doesn’t rally around one team.

Also, New York is so big and diverse, and there are so many things to do. Watching a football game often isn’t high on the priority list.

By contrast, smaller markets tend to identify more with their teams. In Pittsburgh, it’s all about the Steelers, and in New Orleans, life resolves around the Saints.

Anyway, it’s just a one-week snapshot. There’s common denominator: A NFL game ranked first for the most watched program of any kind in each market in week 12.

Week of 11/19-25  





Market Game





New Orleans 49ers at Saints





Milwaukee Packers at Giants





Pittsburgh Steelers at Browns





Baltimore Ravens at Chargers





Indianapolis Bills at Colts





Boston Patriots at Jets





Denver Broncos at Chiefs





Cleveland Steelers at Browns





Kansas City Broncos at Chiefs





Minneapolis Vikings at Bears





Buffalo Bills at Colts





Chicago Vikings at Bears





Seattle Seahawks at Dolphins





Detroit Texans at Lions





Houston Texans at Lions





Dallas Redskins at Cowboys





Atlanta Falcons at Bucs





San Fran-Oakland 49ers at Saints





St. Louis Rams at Cardinals





Washington, DC Redskins at Cowboys





Phoenix Rams at Cardinals





Nashville Titans at Jaguars





New York Packers at Giants





Cincinnati Raiders at Bengals





Charlotte 49ers at Saints





San Diego Texans at Lions





Tampa 49ers at Saints





Philadelphia Texans at Lions





Miami Seahawks at Dolphins





Source: NFL & The Nielsen Company

No for Sosa: Chicago Tribune Hall of Fame voters firmly against former Cubs slugger

The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot came out Wednesday. It will put the focus on the electors, the baseball writers, more than ever before.

For the first time, the eligible class includes juicers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.

Sosa got an indication today that he shouldn’t make any summer plans to be in Cooperstown. The former Cub will get as many votes from the seven voters at the hometown Chicago Tribune as Royce Clayton, who incredibly is on the ballot.

In a story by Paul Sullivan, the Tribune voters weigh in with their opinions.

Phil Hersh (in a Tweet): “Oh, the joy I will have snubbing Sosa, Bonds and Clemens (plus McGwire and Palmeiro, natch) on my HoF ballot.”

Phil Rogers:  “I covered Sammy Sosa’s first big-league game, when the skinny, athletic kid played center field and batted leadoff for the Rangers. The thought then was he might win a batting title one day, and 609 home runs later he is going onto the Hall of Fame ballot as one of the flashiest sluggers in history. He was beloved in Chicago for a long time but he won’t get my vote as he never knocked down the New York Times report. Sammy had quite a journey, even if it stops at the gate to Cooperstown.”

Mark Gonzales: “If Sammy wants to come out and refute the Times story, then I’m all for listening. Until then, it’s a firm ‘no.'”

Teddy Greenstein: “You were a product of the times — an awesome product at that — but not an all-time great without the artificial help.”



Danielson on Heisman: Up on Johnny Football, down on Manti Te’o; interesting take on SEC coach openings

CBS’ Gary Danielson was in Manti Te’o’s camp for the Heisman Trophy. He thought the Notre Dame linebacker was worthy of the award.

Then he watched Saturday’s Irish-USC game.

“I was all prepared to say Manti Te’o until I watched Saturday’s game,” said the CBS analyst on teleconference earlier this week. “Notre Dame wouldn’t be undefeated without him. But I watched the game, and he went 10-15 minutes without his name being mentioned on TV. That doesn’t happen when you’re a star running back or quarterback. That’s why it is so difficult for a defensive player to win because you don’t get mentioned.”

As for Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Danielson doesn’t think the freshman thing should be counted against him.

“In modern sports, we’ve been able to toss out age as the biggest qualifier,” Danielson said. “Even though, he is listed as a freshman, he is in his second year of eligibility. He’s the same as Tebow (who won the Heisman as a sophomore). Tebow basically was doing quarterback sneaks his freshman year. I don’t see where (Manziel) has any less experience. I don’t think he should be disqualified because of his age.”

Danielson’s partner, Verne Lundquist, also thinks Manziel has a good shot to win the Heisman.

“I would not be surprised if he won,” Lundquist said. “He’s probably earned it.”


Danielson had an interesting take on the SEC coach openings at Auburn, Tennessee, and Arkansas. He thinks prospective candidates should have “second thoughts” before diving into those programs.

“It’s because of the expectations,” Danielson said. “At Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas, people are expecting you to at least compete for a national title every year. If you’re going to leave a cozy job, you better know what you’re getting into.

“They all have unique problems. Tennessee doesn’t have a lot of football players around them. Auburn is in the shadow of the best recruiting program in the country. Arkansas, because of where they are situated, there’s a big challenge.”


Lundquist: Yes, there is a SEC fatigue

Give credit to Verne Lundquist. Nobody ever will accuse him of spouting the company line.

“Yes, absolutely there’s a SEC fatigue,” Lundquist said.

Now keep in mind Lundquist makes a living calling SEC games for CBS. Outside of the SEC region, most of the rest of the country is tired of seeing Alabama, LSU, Florida, Auburn, and more Alabama dominate college football. As an Illinois alum, whose school just went 0-8 in the Big Ten, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Illini dominate anyone, even at the Division III level.

After Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M, it looked for a minute that we might be saved from seeing a SEC team go for a seventh straight national title in the BCS title game. But then Kansas State and Oregon lost within a few minutes of each other.

Voila, the winner of Saturday’s SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia earns a spot in the national championship game. And either team will be favorite over Notre Dame.

Lundquist and Gary Danielson will be at their posts for Saturday’s game. During a conference call this week, the subject of SEC fatigue came up. Lundquist showed his head isn’t buried in the SEC sand.

“The level of excellence displayed by the SEC is to be admired,” Lundquist said. “But I’m not so much of a participant in the telecasts of the SEC as to not understand the desire for many people to have a little variety, to have something different. I do understand the feelings from many parts of the country. Let’s have some raspberry after all of the vanilla.”

At least the country will be spared from watching an all-SEC finale, as was the case last year between Alabama and LSU. The presence of Notre Dame will give the game a much different feel.

“The Notre Dame story is the best thing that can happen for college football,” Danielson said. “It’s great for our sport.”

The championship game, though, could present another dilemma for Notre Dame haters. Rooting against the Irish means rooting for the SEC to win another title.

As for the SEC, Danielson also is objective. He questions how strong the league is from top to bottom.

“There’s a large disparity in the conference,” Danielson said. “The top teams are 30-0 against the bottom teams. That raises some questions about the validity of the SEC and just how powerful they are.

“However, I think the ACC will want to vote for them after last weekend. Until somebody beats them, everyone should shut up.”

Check back later for Danielson’s thoughts on the Heisman race and a frank assessment of SEC coaching vacancies.


Tell me your story: What is it like on the job market for sports journalists?

Last week, Malcolm Moran made a provocative statement in an interview with me.

“For the first time in the history of the industry, a 20-something journalist could have an advantage over a 40-something candidate,” said Moran, who will take over as the new head of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana in January.

Moran’s comment struck a chord. Several journalists weighed in with their views.

I thought it would be interesting to accumulate some stories and post them on this site. What are your experiences in the job market as a sports journalist? What is it like for recent graduates? Do 40-somethings really find themselves at a disadvantage?

I would like to use this site as a forum to share experiences in the industry. I think it would be valuable to one and all.

If you have a story to tell, please send me an email at ed@shermanreport.com. Or leave a comment on this post and I will get back to you.

Look forward to hearing from you.





New Grantland video short: Entertaining look at the Arnold Palmer drink

A fun, entertaining, and dare we say, refreshing look at the drink inspired by Arnold Palmer.

Props to ESPN and director Bryan Gordon for this short video. It is well worth your time. Here is the link.

From ESPN:

The next installment in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 Shorts series premieres today on Grantland.com. The Arnold Palmer is an exploration into the history, mystery and industry surrounding The Arnold Palmer, the lemonade-and-iced tea beverage that has become a piece of Americana.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer, in his own words, tells of how the drink mixture came to be and quickly gained popularity. The short is directed by TV and film producer, writer and director Bryan Gordon (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office) and features comedian and actor Will Arnett as well as golf pros Peter Jacobsen, Fuzzy Zoeller, Jim Thorpe, Fred Funk and Brad Faxon.

Are Vitale, Berman, Reilly Hall of Famers? Nominees for NSSA’s top honors

Some interesting names on the upcoming ballot for the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Beginning Dec. 1, members will vote on Hall of Fame honors for sportscaster and sportswriter and national sportscaster and sportswriter of the year. Also, voting will take place for top sportscaster and sportswriter in individual states.

Last year, Bob Costas and John Feinstein were named to the Hall in their respective categories. Below are this year’s nominees.

In the sportscaster category, Dick Vitale and Chris Berman’s names stand out. Vitale is getting to the point in his career where he is accumulating Hall of Fame plaques. Considering how polarizing Berman has become, it probably will be a while before he gets into the Hall.

Even though he has no chance, it still is great to see Dan Kelly’s name on the list. What a great hockey announcer. I still remember listening to those Blues games on KMOX as a kid.

I have several friends and long-time colleagues on the sportswriting side. Rick Reilly has won a zillion sportswriter of the year awards. So you figure at some point he’ll get in.

Dick “Hoops” Weiss of the New York Daily News has enjoyed an extraordinary career as a college football and basketball reporter. And anyone who has been around the great Art Spander from San Francisco knows how much the award would mean to him. It would be quite a speech.

As for the best of the year category, the usual suspects are there for top national sportscasters. There’s considerable talent on the writers side. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports deserves recognition for his piercing accounts of the Penn State saga.


Dick Vitale, ESPN/.ABC

Ken Squier, CBS Auto Racing

Skip Caray, Atlanta Braves TV

Woody Durham, Unv. of North Carolina Radio Network

John Ward, Univ. of Tennessee Radio Network

Chris Economaki, ABC Auto Racing

Chris Berman, ESPN

Milo Hamilton, Astros, Braves Radio

Al McCoy, Phoenix Suns Radio/TV

Dan Kelly, NHL on CBS, St. Louis Blues


Art Spander, Oakland Tribune/The Sporting News

Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated, ESPN

Dick Weiss, Philadelphia Daily News/New York Daily News

Hal McCoy, Dayton Daily News

Joe Gilmartin, Phoenix Republic/Gazette

Sam Lacy, Baltimore Afro-American newspaper

Lesley Visser, Boston Globe/Sports Illustrated

Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press/Author

Wendell Smith, Pittsburgh Courier newspaper

Thomas Boswell, Washington Post


Al Michaels, NBC

Bob Costas, NBC/MLB Network

Dan Patrick, NBC/”The Dan Patrick Show”

Dan Shulman, ESPN

Brad Nessler, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network

Jim Nantz, CBS

Joe Buck, Fox

Mike Tirico, ESPN/ABC

Mike Emrick, NBC

Kevin Harlan, CBS/TNT


Peter King, Sports Illustrated

Bob Ryan, Boston Globe

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Pat Forde, Yahoo Sports

Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

Bill Simmons, ESPN.com/Grantland

Rick Reilly, ESPN.com

Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated

Mike Lopresti, USA Today

Dodgers new mega TV deal: No salary cap means gap widens even more

The eulogies flowed for Marvin Miller Tuesday, and rightfully so. Nobody impacted baseball more than he did during the last 50 years.

Miller clobbered the owners back then, and his successors have done a pretty good job ever since. They have been able to avoid the one thing that the unions in the other sports couldn’t: Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap.

The impact now becomes more acute in the wake of the recent local TV rights deals being signed by teams. The Dodgers are set to cash in on a ridiculous $280 million per year deal from Fox in Los Angeles. That’s $1.73 million per game, or almost as much as the Miami Marlins’ current payroll for 2013.

The Dodgers’ haul makes recent TV deals by the Angels and Texas Rangers (both in the $3 billion range) seem like petty cash. And both of those teams were more than pleased with what they got.

With the regional TV market exploding, the key now is to have a local deal that is set to expire in the next couple of years. The Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners are among the teams on deck for the big TV money upgrade.

The Atlanta Braves, meanwhile, are stuck with a 25-year deal with their local outlet that pays in the $12 million range. Let’s see: $280 million compared to $12 million. How are the Braves supposed to compete with that?

Answer: They won’t.

The TV disparity wouldn’t be as dramatic if there was a salary cap in place, much like the NFL, NBA, and NHL (whenever they resolve their dispute). But baseball is cap-less, meaning almost anything goes.

I know, I know. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig will point to the low budget Oakland A’s winning the AL West this year, and the Tampa Bay Rays have been competitive with a minimal payroll. Money isn’t everything. Just ask the Cubs and Mets, big spenders and big losers.

Still, it helps to have some cash on hand to not only get players, but also to be able to keep your stars in the fold. Clearly, without a salary cap, teams aren’t competing on a level playing field.

The Dodgers now will have a huge advantage thanks to their TV deal. And the other teams with new local packages in upcoming years also will have more to spend.

Yet another reason for players to give thanks to Marvin Miller.