Thanksgiving flashback: No. 1 Nebraska vs. No. 2 Oklahoma in 1971; Best Turkey Day game ever

As we prepare to settle in for too much football and way too much food, I thought I would flash back to the best Thanksgiving Day football game ever. And it didn’t come courtesy of the NFL.

On Thanksgiving Day 1971, No. 1 Nebraska played No. 2 Oklahoma in what also might have been the best college football game ever. Definitely in the top 5. Check in around the 1:10 mark for Johnny Rodgers’ sensational punt return.

And it always is good to hear the voice of Chris Schenkel, one of the all-time greats.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Also, since this is a big week for rivalries, Richard Rothschild of selects the best showdowns of the last 50 years.… Continue Reading

Former ESPN Magazine writer worked as clubhouse attendant; other laid-off sportswriters share their stories

Jeff BradleyAn excerpt of my latest column for Poynter:


For the bulk of his professional life, Jeff Bradley has spent his summers at a Major League ballpark. He had high-profile beats covering baseball for ESPN The Magazine and the Newark Star-Ledger.

But last summer was different. Struggling to make ends meet ever since being let go by the Star-Ledger in Jan., 2013, Bradley worked as a clubhouse attendant at a country club near his home in New Jersey. He shined shoes, vacuumed the carpet and kept the bathrooms clean.

Bradley likely is the only clubhouse attendant who also has written about Derek Jeter for national publications. A few times, Bradley was mistaken for being a member. On other occasions, he ran into people who knew him as “the sportswriter,” prompting the inevitable questions of what happened?

“Sure, it was embarrassing … Continue Reading


Sport Media Friday: ‘Brave’ vision for ESPN’s Undefeated; Play bad, ratings up for NFL

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports media:

Kevin Merida discusses his plans for ESPN’s The Undefeated with Richard Deitsch.

RD: What is your vision about what this site should be?

KM: The Undefeated should be vibrant, soulful, smart, cool. And brave. Not predictable, not ideological, and never boring. The subject material is certainly there. Sports/race/culture is a rich mix that will keep on giving. We talk about The Undefeated as a site. But I see it as more than ‘a site,’ which is really a desktop concept in a mobile age of sharing content and discussing it online. We want to do the work that people will talk about and remember and share with their friends—long form, short form, provocative, engaging commentary, visually driven journalism, revelatory reporting, and all the rest. But ultimately we want

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MLB liked my idea: Sunday afternoon openers on tap for ESPN

MLB logoYes, I am taking credit for this one.

In March, I did a column asking why MLB didn’t take advantage of the Sunday in between the Final Four semis on Saturday and the national championship game on Monday.

I wrote:

MLB has scheduled 14 openers on Monday, and all but three are at night. Many of those fans will be working or commuting home during those games. It never made sense to me that this glorious day always is on a weekday.

Here’s a way to remedy the situation: MLB should schedule a grand Opening Day festival on the Sunday between the NCAA Final Four semifinals on Saturday and the title game on the following Monday. Start with noon games in the East and go through ESPN’s Sunday night telecast.

Technically, there will be an opener on Sunday night, as … Continue Reading

My reviews of Carlton Fisk, Nick Saban biographies; Posnanski book on Watson-Nicklaus

Carlton FiskAn excerpt of my sports book roundup for the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row book section.


Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk by Doug Wilson, Thomas Dunne, 358 pages, $26.99

Carlton Fisk takes center stage every fall. During baseball’s postseason, there are multiple replays of his iconic homer in the sixth game of the 1975 World Series. It ranks as one of the game’s most memorable blows and was Fisk’s defining moment. Yet there was much more to Fisk’s Hall of Fame career. Doug Wilson’s book details how the catcher seemed to defy age, still squatting behind the plate at 46. He writes how it started with an old-school New England work ethic that he brought to the Midwest when he came to the Chicago White Sox in 1981. As was the case with Fisk’s career, the book is … Continue Reading

Chris Dufresne, Bill Dwyre among those taking buyouts at LA Times

Best wishes to a couple good guys and excellent journalists.

Here is Chris Dufresne’s Facebook post:


Well, my dream of being paid by the LA Times on June 17, 2016, will come true. That date will be the 40th anniversary of my hiring on June 17, 1976, just a week after high school graduation. There was one short interruption in 1981, where I left transportation for a “real” job at the Fullerton Trib before getting hired back in same calendar year, as you see from my start date in Editorial on Dec. 29, 1981. I was awarded continuous service which is why I will be leaving with five more years than Bill “Kid” Dwyre.

My five years on the loading docks were fantastic, even the bundles that fell on my head. At lunch I would sneak up to … Continue Reading

Reporter on covering Steve Kerr: Not many coaches can discuss Arabic dialects and motion offense

Enjoyed this observation in Richard Deitsch’s post on today. He asked beat reporters what it is like to cover the Golden State Warriors.

Not surprisingly, Steve Kerr, a former member of the media, gets it. But it goes even deeper according to Ethan Strauss, who covers the Warriors for ESPN.

Praising Kerr might sound like an affront to journalistic objectivity, but I think he’s objectively great to deal with. There aren’t many coaches with whom you can discuss Arabic dialects one second, and motion offense the next. Kerr was raised by academics, so he’s inclined to share and educate — more than most coaches, I think. Kerr’s a Popovich disciple, but his public persona stands in contrast to Pop’s opacity. That’s the difference between an academic background and a military background, I suppose.

And here’s another observation from Strauss … Continue Reading

Sports Media Friday: Gumbel rips coverage of sports; Yours truly on Sports-Casters; Skipper on shutting down Grantland

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports media:

Not sure what got into Bryant Gumbel, but he did a takedown of sports coverage in an interview with Neil Best of Newsday.

“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” was viewed when it premiered on HBO 20 years ago as a vital addition to the mostly barren landscape of sports journalism on television.

All these years later, with so many more outlets for such work available, is Gumbel pleased with how the genre has evolved?

Sports media

Um, no.

“I wish I could say, boy, there’s a lot of folks doing it now and we’ve really taken a serious look, but I’d be lying,” Gumbel said Wednesday at a dinner in Manhattan to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. (It premiered on April 2, 1995.)

“I still think so much

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Cubs aiming to launch their own TV network in 2020

Cubs logoAs expected, the Cubs officially announced WSCR-AM 670 as their new radio outlet for 2016 yesterday.

However, during an appearance on the station, Crane Kenney, the Cubs’ president of business operations, dropped a bombshell. He said the Cubs will launch their own TV network in 2020.

“2019 is our last year with Comcast, so we’ll move over and launch our own channel in 2020,” Kenney said on the “Mully & Hanley” morning show.

Now there had been plenty of speculation that the Cubs would go this route after their deal with Comcast SportsNet expires in 2019. But this marked the first time that the Cubs said definitely that they will air their own games.

At the GM meetings, Theo Epstein even hinted at the possibility that the Cubs could launch sooner than 2020. It likely would mean them getting out … Continue Reading

DVR alert: Zeroing in on Mike Singletary’s eyes in NFL Network’s ‘A Football Life’

Looking forward to watching this documentary on one of my favorite athletes to cover. Even in an interview, you could feel Mike Singletary’s intensity. Of course, he had perhaps the most famous set of eyes in football.

Check out the trailer.

The write-up from NFL Network:


Mike Singletary: A Football Life premieres Thursday, November 12 following Thursday Night Football on NFL Network with a look at the playing and coaching career of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary. Mike Singletary: A Football Life re-airs Friday, November 13 at 9:00 PM ET. The one-hour documentary produced by NFL Films features interviews with Singletary, his family, former teammates and coaches, business partners and more.

Singletary was selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft out of Baylor University. While many teams considered the … Continue Reading

Now available in paperback: My book on Babe Ruth’s Called Shot

Called Shot paper backTime for a little pluggorama:

Just in time for the holidays: My book, “Babe Ruth’s Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery of Baseball’s Greatest Home Run,” now is out in paperback. Here is the link on Amazon.

Frankly, I can’t think of a better gift for your favorite sports fan.

The book, which came out in 2014, examines all the angles of The Called Shot. It begins with an interview with former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who was 12 when he attended the legendary Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field.

Much of whether The Called Shot is true is left up to interpretation. When people ask me, I always reply it isn’t as simple as a yes-no, black-white answer. There is much gray area in there. Obviously, I have my own views. You’ll have … Continue Reading