Grace to jail: Former Arizona analyst receives four month for DUI

Sad story for a player who was beloved in Chicago and Arizona

The AP report:

Former Arizona Diamondbacks television analyst Mark Grace was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty Thursday to felony endangerment and misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol.

A Maricopa County Superior Court spokesman says Grace will be allowed out of jail for work while he serves the sentence beginning Feb. 10.

Court spokesman Vincent Funari says the sentence also includes two years of probation.

The 48-year-old former first baseman with the Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs was fired after he was arrested last August in Scottsdale – his second drunken driving arrest in 15 months.

Grace had pleaded not guilty in October to four felony counts of aggravated DUI and was scheduled to go on trial March 19.

Sage Enberg advice to Nantz: Less is more at the Super Bowl

Jim Nantz is hardly a kid. At 53, he will be calling his third Super Bowl Sunday for CBS.

Nantz, though, has tremendous reverence for the broadcasters who helped paved the way for him and others. He never misses an opportunity to learn from the great ones.

Last week in San Diego, Nantz had dinner with Dick Enberg. Now 78, the broadcast legend called eight Super Bowls for NBC.

Nantz said Enberg gave him some advice on calling the big game.

“He told the story of doing the Super Bowl in 1983,” Nantz said. “He (and analyst Merlin Olsen) were getting feedback in their headsets the whole first quarter. He couldn’t get to the third or fourth word before it was coming back. It created confusion for them. So they talked in that first quarter in short. clipped phrases.

“Eventually, the problem was fixed, but they walked out of the booth at game’s end all upset because they felt like they got off to a rough start in the first quarter.

“They went back to a party they were hosting after the game. Everyone said, ‘You guys never sounded better. That first quarter was amazing. Everything was just jumping off the screen. The energy, it was awesome the way you guys played against that crowd noise.’

“Dick passed that on to me as a teaching point. It’s one of those games where the old phrase, ‘less is more’ is probably very appropriate.”

CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus then chimed in, “So Jim, we’ve made a note for our audio team. Put feedback in Jim’s headset.”

Nantz added: “In a Super Bowl broadcast, you do the things you’ve always done. We are there to do a football game. Often we don’t have the luxury of going to even a second or third sentence. It’s highlights and on to the next play.”



Dorsett on Costas Tonight: Infuriates me that they would put me back out there in harm’s way

The latest edition of Costas Tonight (NBC Sports Network, 9 p.m. ET) literally tackles the elephant in the room: Player health and safety in the NFL.

Here is Tony Dorsett blasting the league, saying officials knew the concussion dangers back when he was playing.

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Here’s Rodney Harrison with some frank talk about his experience in the 90s. He said he was given two Advils and then went back out and played. After suffering more than 20 concussions, he is afraid for his future.

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

The important details from NBC Sports Network:

NEW YORK – Jan. 30, 2013 – Bob Costas, a 24-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and one of America’s preeminent interviewers, welcomed NFL players and executives to Costas Tonight to discuss the current state of the NFL. Costas Tonight: State of the NFL will examine major topics including: player health and safety; the Rooney Rule; and a preview of Super Bowl XLVII.

Costas Tonight: State of the NFL, which was recorded on Tuesday, is the first show to originate from Studio 3 at NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn. It airs tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Costas was joined in studio by NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, and former RB Thomas Jones, who recently revealed he will donate his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute to be studied for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In addition to his interview with current and former players, Costas spoke with NFL executive vice president of football operations, Ray Anderson about player safety, the Rooney Rule and proposed changes to the rules of the game.

Football Night in America’s Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison joined Costas to discuss the state of the league and look ahead to Super Bowl XLVII.

Costas also interviewed noted psychiatrist and leading expert in the field of brain science, Dr. Daniel Amen.

Additional content from the show can be see online at when the show debuts.

Costas spoke with Dorsett, Fitzgerald and Jones about the current gun culture in the league and the number of players who own or carry handguns.

Ray Anderson on football being fundamentally dangerous no matter what type of changes the league makes to the rules of the game: “It is a very physical game and that is part of what the appeal is and it always has been. Players go out there with the understanding that they are going to subject themselves to some physical play. Our job is to make sure it’s not unnecessarily physical or unnecessarily dangerous play. It’s naïve to think that football will have its appeal if all the physicality is taken out.”

Anderson on minority hiring and the Rooney Rule: “We were not pleased with the results. I believe there is some tweaking of the Rooney Rule that we need to look into. We need to do more appropriate development and training, so that our pipeline for African-American coaches, in particular, is more robust. The Rooney Rule has a place, we have a real need for it, we have to do better. The results this time around were a disappointment and we have some work to do.”

Tony Dungy on the Rooney Rule and none of the open positions in the NFL going to minorities: “I think the system is broken. Not just looking at it from a minority standpoint, but I can tell you from head coaching standpoint. What we are doing now is not working. Twenty-one head coaching changes in the last three years. In 2009, there were 11 new head coaches hired and only two of them made it through three years. So we are not picking the best candidates. I think the owners are feeling the pressure to hire that rock star candidate and they are under pressure to move very, very quickly.”

Fitzgerald on whether he thinks he lost his only opportunity to win a Super Bowl: “No, I’m always optimistic. We play every single season and our goal is always the same, which is to hoist that Lombardi Trophy. Every year I step on that field I feel like I have the opportunity to go out there and do it against all odds. I always feel that way and that is never going to change.”

Fitzgerald’s Super Bowl pick: “I think the Ravens are going to win the football game …the Ravens are battle tested. Year in and year out they are knocking on the door, and they are extremely well coached… I think the Ravens are going to come out victorious.”

Fitzgerald on his upcoming season for the Arizona Cardinals: “There’s always questions leading into a season. We have a fresh new coaching staff. I know coach (Bruce) Arians is bringing in a great staff, and I’m looking forward to what he’s bringing to the table.”

Jones on donating his brain to be studied: “The game is something that we love; it’s the number one sport in the country. But, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are human beings. To see all these guys take their lives because of CTE and the concussion situation that’s been a big issue, it doesn’t mean I can’t do something in support of research to help kids or players after me. This is the part of the game that people don’t want to address.”

Jones on whether he would have preferred his Bears defensive teammates to have legally hit Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl: “I would rather the teammate legally splatter him. Why? Because, number one, it’s a mentality. Now he’s going to worry about getting hit the next time and he may throw an interception.  He may overthrow the ball, he may under throw it. The game is 75% mental, as well, so it’s an intimidation factor. The aggression can also cause players not to play up to their level because they are scared of being knocked out. We come up together we worked as hard as we could to make it to this level of football so you’re not trying to end someone’s career. But in between those white lines, nobody’s safe. I think every player can say that.”

Fitzgerald on Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan not benching Robert Griffin III: “That’s part of the decision process that the head coach has to make, but as a player, you never want to come out of the game. Regardless of what the situation is, you understand your teammates are counting on you. You put in a lot of time and preparation to go out there and perform at the highest ability. You know injuries are going to happen. You know that’s just part of the game and you got to push through. I understand why RGIII didn’t want to come out of the game, or any other player.”

Dr. Amen on a study he did on 135 players: “Even people who reported no concussions at all had significant trauma in their brain.”

Amen on the NFL’s improved response to the concussion issue since Roger Goodell was named commissioner of the NFL: “No question… In front of Congress he (Goodell) said that the league was studying the issue. Two months later, they completely changed their position, in larger part because of their own study. Now there are concussion posters in every major locker room in the NFL. I have seen a shift and I have been very pleased about the shift.”

Dorsett on Dr. Amen’s interview: “I’m glad to see that the NFL, the owners in particular, have owned up to the (fact) that there is a concussion problem.”

Dorsett on his last concussion:  “One of the last concussions that I had; it was against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ray Ellis. I didn’t see him and it was like a freight train hitting a Volkswagen, he blew me up. And yet, I go to the sideline and they go in at halftime, they check my eyes, but they throw me back out on the field. As a football player that’s the culture we grew up in. I was taught and the way I always felt was that if I can walk I’m going to play. But if I knew some of the things that I know now, I would have had a different attitude about all that. But the owners knew about that.”

Costas: “So you think they (owners) did know then even when you were playing? You think they knew?”

Dorsett: “Absolutely. And that infuriates me that they would put me back out there in harm’s way.”

Rodney Harrison on his post-NFL career and fears about his injuries long term: “I’m 40 years old. I’m scared to death what may happen to me 10-15 years from now.”

Rich Eisen My First Job: From stand-up comic to Redding Calif. to Super Bowl

It doesn’t get any bigger for Rich Eisen Sunday than being the lead horse for the NFL Network’s coverage of the Super Bowl. He will host an 8 1/2-hour pregame show surrounded by current and future Hall of Famers. All in all, not a bad gig.

Yet once upon a time, Eisen was a raw anchor trying to make a name for himself in Redding, Calif.

In a Super Bowl edition of My First Job, Eisen recalls a particularly rough night when he was just breaking into the business. And I’m sure he will be delighted that I found a Youtube clip of him delivering the sports in 1995. His hairstyle, like mine, definitely has changed.

Here’s Eisen on his first job, which led to an eventual call from ESPN:


When I was in college, I did stand-up at the student union at Michigan once a month. It has made everything else I’ve done in my career very easy. Nothing comes close to the intensity and nerves of doing stand-up comedy. Going on the road–anybody who does that for a living has my utmost respect.

I decided maybe I could combine the things I love, which is sports and comedy, and get on SportsCenter.

I started in Redding, Calif., KRCR, the ABC-affiliate on election night of ’94. It’s about 3 1/2 hours north of Sacramento. It was like an episode of Northern Exposure, a Jew in the mountain community.

On Saturdays in a small outfit, there’s just me, the news anchor and one person working the tapes. One night, nothing went right. Tapes were going to black and sound bites weren’t working and the graphics were brutal. At one point, I looked at the camera and said, ‘I’m broiling in my own sweat.’ It was one of those boom-goes-the-dynamite moments. I decided to talk about the elephant in the room.

How soon did you get to ESPN?

I was in Redding for 1 1/2 years. I sent a tape to a head hunter in ’95. Al Jaffe of ESPN called me and said he saw my tape and wanted to interview me. That was five minutes after an agent from William Morris called me and said he heard I was an up-and-coming sportscasters.

I said, “OK, if you say so, I’m about to drive 60 miles to cover a volleyball game. I’m not feeling hot at all.”

I called my brother and said, “You’re not going to believe what’s happening…”

I get off the phone and the phone rings again. The guy said it was Al Jaffe.

I’m thinking to myself, ‘It’s not Al Jaffe. My brother called my friends in Staten Island and told them to call me.’

It really was Al Jaffe. So I almost carpet F-bombed Al Jaffe the first time I talked to him. Luckily, I didn’t.


Eisen went to ESPN in 1996 and stayed in Bristol until 2003. Then he made the big move, jumping the WWL to become the voice of the NFL’s new start-up network in 2003.



Favre to join NFL Network studio crew Sunday; Does this signal possible comeback–as an analyst?

Remember the good old days when the daily Brett Favre updates entertained us before Tebow mania?

Well, Brett’s back. Sort of.

This is an interesting get for NFL Network (details below). Besides those Wrangler ads (“Nice job, Dale”), we haven’t seen much of the Brettster since he finally couldn’t play anymore after the 2010 season. I’ll check him out Sunday.

The NFL Network likely got Favre for Sunday since he lives near New Orleans. Doubt you’ll see him at next year’s Super Bowl in New York.

Then again, maybe Favre wants to try out this analyst thing. Perhaps he’s tired of hunting and playing golf in Mississippi? The networks would fall over themselves to get him.

Yes, more Brett Favre speculation.

Here’s the info for Sunday from the NFL Network:

Twenty-year NFL veteran and three-time league MVP, Brett Favre will join NFL Network’s 8.5-hour edition of NFL GameDay Morning (Sunday, 9:00 AM ET) live from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome prior to Super Bowl XLVII.

Favre will join host Rich Eisen along with his former coach Steve Mariucci, and Super Bowl champions Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Warren Sapp, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders and Brian Billick to discuss his thoughts on the 2012 NFL season, the Super Bowl XLVII matchup, and his life away from the field.

In 1997, Favre led the Green Bay Packers to a 35-21 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI in game played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the same field where Favre will provide analysis prior Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.

Favre’s appearance on NFL GameDay Morning is part of NFL Network’s more than 140 total hours – 85 live – of programming from 11 sets across New Orleans featuring a roster of 35 on-air personalities with a combined 17 Super Bowl rings. Super Bowl XLVII is the 10th Super Bowl NFL Network has covered since the network was started in 2003.

 “There aren’t too many retired athletes who continue to attract the attention and draw that Brett Favre does, and NFL Network is thrilled to have him on NFL GameDay Morning leading up to Super Bowl XLVII,” said Eric Weinberger, Executive Producer of NFL Network. “Surrounded by a former mentor in Steve Mariucci and players he competed against over the years such as Deion Sanders and Warren Sapp, and from the field where he guided the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI, Brett should give our viewers some unique insight and analysis into the game and his life away from the field.”


CNN/Turner Sports set to unveil Bleacher Report branded programming

Turner Broadcasting spent nearly $200 million to purchase Bleacher Report last summer. With that kind of investment, you definitely want to get your money’s worth.

Hence today’s announcement, outlining a new initiative. To me, the most interesting part will be the sports presence on CNN.

From Turner:

Turner Sports and CNN will partner to produce Bleacher Report branded sports programming including long-form specials and daily sports updates that will air on CNN and HLN, it was announced today by Lenny Daniels, executive vice president/chief operating officer for Turner Sports, and Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN/U.S.  
  The first of the programming collaborations will be Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN-Bleacher Report Special, a live one-hour show on CNN to be televised Saturday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. ET. And, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5, CNN will air Bleacher Report sports updates daily as cut-in segments throughout morning broadcasts on CNN, as well as throughout the day on HLN. With information on the latest topics affecting sports teams and fans, these 3-4 minute segments will combine CNN newsgathering resources with the unique perspective of Bleacher Report to offer a comprehensive overview of sports news and information.
  Originating from New Orleans, the Super Bowl XLVII host city, Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN-Bleacher Report Special, will include a series of features, interviews and profiles that capture the excitement the marquee event brings to the city. The show will be co-hosted by Ernie Johnson, host of TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA, and Rachel Nichols, the newly-hired veteran sports reporter for CNN and Turner Sports.
  Show elements include:
 Guest appearances by NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth and Fox Sports analyst Howie Long, both contributors to Behind the Mic on Bleacher Report, to preview the game.  Interview with Archie Manning, former NFL quarterback with the New Orleans Saints and father of two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, Peyton and Eli.  Bleacher Report elements including highlights and notable performances from past Super Bowls, game perspective and more presented by Turner Sports host Jared Greenberg.  A fan’s guide to New Orleans presented by former New Orleans Saints standout Deuce McAllister and SI swimsuit model Demaris Lewis.  Interview with nine-year-old pee-wee football star and YouTube sensation Sam Gordon, along with a presentation of her video highlights and telestrated analysis of her play.  Vignettes featuring New Orleans natives such as Troy Andrews (a.k.a. Trombone Shorty), a renowned trombone and trumpet player.
“Leveraging the strength and expertise of CNN and the unique perspective of Bleacher Report allows us to extend the Turner Sports portfolio through coverage of marquee events such as the Super Bowl and the development of consistent sports programming on CNN/US and HLN,” said Daniels. “This strategic integration of Bleacher Report with the leading brands in our portfolio will continue to drive growth and revenue opportunities for our audiences, advertisers and businesses.”
  “Bringing together Bleacher Report and Rachel Nichols in a co-production with Turner Sports is a win-win for CNN viewers,” said Jautz. “We could not ask for better partners as we increase sports coverage on CNN.”
About Bleacher Report   Bleacher Report (B/R), a division of Turner Sports, is a leading publisher of original and entertaining sports content and one of the fastest growing sports media Web sites in the U.S.  Since launching in 2008, B/R’s Web site has grown to an audience of more than 11 million monthly unique visitors.  The company’s distinguished editorial team leads more than 2,000 contributors, and directs Bleacher Report’s unique data-driven approach to creating and programming content.  The result is first-rate sports commentary that gives B/R’s audience the stories they want to read in real-time around the teams and topics they are most passionate about. In addition, more than 2.5 million users have installed B/R’s leading Team Stream™ mobile and tablet app, which provide a comprehensive mix of content that engages a broad array of sports fans at the team and topic level.
  About Turner Sports   Turner Sports, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is an industry leader in televised and multimedia sports content, airing championship-level sporting events on TBS, TNT and truTV, and managing some of the most popular digital sports brands. Turner Sports’ television lineup includes the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, NASCAR and professional golf. The company’s digital portfolio includes Bleacher Report, and March Madness Live, and, as well as an accompanying collection of mobile websites and connected device apps. Turner Sports and the NBA also jointly manage NBA Digital, which includes NBA TV,, NBA LEAGUE PASS, NBA Mobile, the NBA Game Time App, and

Jeff Bradley writes about getting laid off from Newark Star-Ledger: “I’m losing my job?”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Patrick Stevens, a college sports reporter who was laid off by the Washington Times. I thought it was important to attach a name and voice to the endless stories of newspaper layoffs.

Unfortunately, there was a round of layoffs recently at the Newark Star-Ledger. Jeff Bradley learned he no longer was the paper’s baseball/Yankees writer.

Bradley wrote about the experience on his blog. This is his story.

He talks of getting the phone call in the morning.

Fast forward 27 years to last Wednesday morning around 9 a.m. My home phone rings and the caller ID says “Newark.” On the other end of the line is my boss, Kevin Whitmer, the editor of the Star-Ledger. I don’t want to misquote Kevin here, but he said something like, “This is not the type of phone call I enjoy making…you need to come to Human Resources tonight at 5:45 and there’s a story on that will shed some light…”

“I’m losing my job?” I asked.

“Legally, I’m not allowed to tell you anything more,” Kevin said. “Read”

And then, I addressed my boss in a way I’d never address a boss. “See ya later, brother,” I said.

I read the story about 34 layoffs at the Star-Ledger, including 18 in the newsroom.

I texted my wife, a schoolteacher and typed, “I just got laid off.”

Bradley wrote about having to take over the Yankees beat in August:

The Ledger’s financial issues were very public at that point, so I knew what was going to happen, and it did. I was told “another writer is not walking through the door” and so I was no longer a columnist, I was the Yankee beat writer.

I was not happy. I have two teenage sons who like having a dad to make them breakfast in the morning. I have a wife who works full-time.

When I was the columnist, I’d often walk through the door after 2 a.m. after covering a game in the Bronx or Flushing. But at least I’d be home. A baseball beat writer spends about 150-170 nights per year in a hotel room between the months of February and October.

Had the Ledger been looking for a Yankee beat writer when I was on my way out at ESPN The Magazine, I would not have even filled out an application. I wouldn’t have done that to my family.

But now, I knew I had no choice but to accept the job-switch because the alternative was to be unemployed. So I went on the beat and, really, the rest is a blur.

Bradley concludes:

As I walked into the streets of Newark, packet in hand, I did not feel any anger or sadness. I’m not sure what I felt, probably because I’d never felt unemployment before.

I realize I’m not alone. So many friends from my past have reached out and told me how they handled unemployment. By taking on projects around the house. By committing to a crazy workout routine. By cooking dinner for the family every night.

I’ve also heard from some talented (and I don’t just throw that word around) writers who are also looking for work. It’s so humbling. These are hard times in the only business I’ve ever known.

It’s too early to say what I’m going to do. It’s only been a week.

Today, if someone were to say, “How about Thursday?” I don’t know what I’d do.

Tough, tough business.




Major takedown of Boston sports media: Stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards.

These are cranky times in Boston. The Red Sox were terrible; the Patriots got knocked out; and Rajon Rondo is gone for a long time.

Now add to the mix this piece in Boston Magazine. Writer Alan Siegel basically torches the folks who normally do the torching. Note: This is one of the unflattering photo-illustrations that ran with the piece.

Siegel writes:

To put it bluntly, “The Lodge”—as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city’s clubby, self-important media establishment—is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. Their canned “hot sports takes” have found a home on local television and talk radio, but do little but suck the fun out of a topic that’s supposed to be just that. And we haven’t even gotten to Dan Shaughnessy yet.

I don’t live in Boston and don’t follow the sports coverage on a daily basis. I know many of the writers from sitting next to them in the press boxes through the years. They are some of the best in the business.

However, Siegal’s piece implies the coverage has become lazy. He cites national media beating Boston beat writers on stories on their beats. It also has become predictable.

Siegel writes:

As forward-thinking as that sounds, the newspaper’s core approach to sports coverage—which still relies on boilerplate game recaps, columns, and weekly “notebooks” offering bullet-point takes on the happenings from the various sports leagues—hasn’t changed much over the years. In fact, not much in the Boston sports media has—not even the photos on the wall.

Siegel concludes:

Were the Globe to stop publishing sports tomorrow, how much loss would readers feel? Certainly some, but much less than even a decade ago. That’s because Boston fans have gotten increasingly used to following the ups and downs of their favorite teams in national outlets rather than local ones.

The message to The Lodge is clear: Change, or die the death of utter irrelevance.

Joe Posnanski leaves Sports on Earth for NBC

Joe Posnanski’s wild ride continues.

According to Jason McIntyre of Big Lead, Posnanski is leaving Sports on Earth to join NBC Sports.

From the post:

I spoke with Posnanski Monday by phone as he struggled with the decision to stay or go, and he tells me via text message this morning, “Rough call … yes, going to NBC. Sad to leave, excited about the opportunity.”

Posnanski told McIntyre he will be “a digital voice” for NBC.

Why did Posnanski leave Sports on Earth so quickly? He was the signature hire for the new site founded by USA Today and MLB. For that matter, why did he leave Sports Illustrated? I still think the magazine gave him the best platform to do what he does best: write.

More answers to come, I guess.

Within the last year, Posnanski has left SI; published a controversial book on Joe Paterno; and is on the move again.

Quite a year for a sportswriter.


Costas to Jon Stewart: There may be something irreconcilable and unreformable about football

I stayed up late last night (at least late for me) when I heard Bob Costas would appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. With the Super Bowl coming up Sunday, I looked forward to what Costas would have to say about football and the game.

However, in the segment that aired on the show, Stewart spent the entire time discussing Costas’ halftime commentary on the gun issue. Even though Costas gave reasoned answers, I’m sure the gun community was incensed. Not that the gun community watches Jon Stewart.

However, I was disappointed since Costas’ gun stance is old territory for me. I wanted to hear him talk about sports. Time, though, ran out, and Stewart said to check the Daily Show site for more of his interview with Costas. Sorry Jon, but I’m going to bed.

I did check the site this morning and saw Costas did give some pointed views about the future of football. At one point, he even mocked the NFL’s health and safety ads, saying, “In the mean time, half of us won’t remember what the day of the week it is by the time we’re 45.”

Even though his network, NBC, has committed billions in right fees to the NFL, Costas is to be commended for going strong on the largest issue facing the sport. Check out what he has to say.

In this clip, Costas recalls the humanity of Stan Musial.