LATEST NEWS

Why wasn’t this done sooner? ESPN lobbies for playoff semifinals to be on Jan. 2

John Ourand and Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily have a story about ESPN and next year’s College Football Playoff.

Next season’s semifinals at the Capital One Orange Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl are scheduled for Dec. 31 but ESPN is pushing the CFP to move those games to Jan. 2, 2016, a Saturday with relatively little competition on TV. The NFL’s regular season concludes that Sunday, Jan. 3, and the league hasn’t had a Saturday game during the final week of its regular season since 2007.

Sources say that senior network executives as high up as ESPN President John Skipper are pushing for the change as a way to get better television ratings, but the CFP is unwilling to make such a move because it is committed to the original plan to hold tripleheader bowl games, including the semifinals,

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Memories of Ernie: The day I showed Mr. Cub his picture file at Tribune

Our town lost one of the faces on its sports Mt. Rushmore yesterday with the passing of Ernie Banks.

In listening to the tributes last night, what struck me was how everyone had a personal memory of being with Ernie. I can’t imagine a more accessible superstar ever. The platitudes were more about the person than the player, and man, he could play.

Luckily, I was fortunate to have a few encounters with Ernie. I’m going to share a few of them here.

My first meeting occurred during the 1994 baseball strike at a golf outing. To fill the massive space void in the Chicago Tribune with both the White Sox and Cubs not playing, we decided to run a classic games series, complete with box scores and old photos.

One of those games happened to be from a Mr. … Continue Reading

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NFL is everywhere: New league channel debuts on youtube

The NFL’s domination of all things media now has extended to Youtube.

The league announced the launched this morning of youtube.com/NFL, an official channel on the platform. this partnership will enable fans to engage with NFL video content on PCs, tablets, and mobile phones.

More details from the NFL’s official release:

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Located at YouTube.com/NFL, the NFL’s official channel on YouTube allows viewers to access a uniquely packaged, seven-day-a-week NFL content programming schedule. Content posted to the NFL’s official channel on YouTube will include game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice, and other select content from NFL Network and NFL.com.

Additionally, official NFL game highlights and content will be available through Google Search. A simple Google search will display official NFL video along with related news and information all … Continue Reading

Bulls Paxson takes issue with Van Gundy’s comments; “Pretty pathetic”

It seems like we have nice feud brewing between the Bulls and Jeff Van Gundy.

On Saturday, I did a post in the Chicago Tribune about Van Gundy’s comments during Friday’s Bulls-Dallas game.

Jeff Van Gundy came down on the media Friday, claiming some members “are in the hip pocket” with Bulls management. He alleges the Bulls are leaking stories to “undermine” Tom Thibodeau.

Van Gundy’s comments came in a strongly-worded defense of the Bulls coach during ESPN’s telecast of the Bulls-Dallas game. Thibodeau was a former assistant coach for Van Gundy and they are close friends.

“I read every Chicago story,” Van Gundy said. “There is no doubt the Bulls organization has the media, with a few exceptions, in their hip pocket. For whatever reasons, they have set their sights on Thibodeau when all he’s done is deliver greatness

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Other Miracle on Ice: Riveting new film captures tells story of great Soviet team; Hockey ballet on ice

My latest column for the Chicago Tribune is on a new film by Chicago-area native Gabe Polsky, who tells the complete story of the great Soviet hockey team.

The film, which opens in theaters this week, is terrific. Highly recommended.

From the column:

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Naturally, Gabe Polsky remembers all three goals he scored during his college hockey days at Yale. He also has vivid memories of what happened after he bagged two goals in the opener of his sophomore season.

“I wasn’t in the lineup for the next game,” Polsky said. “Welcome to college hockey.”

While the Glencoe native’s aspirations of a pro hockey career soon vanished, his sense of unfinished business with the game never dissipated. Polsky, 35, believes he finally has filled the void with the famed Soviet Union hockey team.

Polsky’s new documentary, “Red Army,” tells the … Continue Reading

Let’s play 36: Mr. Cub loved golf and Tiger

In 1997, I covered my first tournament as the Tribune’s new golf writer. It just happened to be the Masters when Tiger Woods made history.

While walking the course during the final round, who do I happen to see? Ernie Banks.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I just had to be here to see this,” Banks replied.

Of course, the man who was mentored by Jackie Robinson as the first African-American player for the Cubs had to be a witness to an epic moment in golf. Watching on TV wasn’t going to cut it.

Naturally, I included Banks’ comments in my story on the historical significance of Woods’ victory. In a subsequent interview, he recalled:

“I played with Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe, Jim Dent, all of them. When Tiger won, I thought about those … Continue Reading

Thankfully, Stuart Scott’s voice will be heard again with new book

Stuart Scott left us a great gift.

Scott, who died Jan. 4 at the age of 49, details his battle with cancer in a new book “Every Day I Fight.” The official publication date is March 10.

ESPN.com ran an excerpt this week. He talks about his zealous determination to not let cancer take him down.

From the excerpt:

“I can’t tell you how important it felt to go from the chemo infusion center to the gym. There were patients at the infusion center who were gaunt and too weak to walk. I wanted to hug them. I wanted to work out for them. It took about fifteen minutes to get to the gym from the infusion center, but I felt like I was traveling a great distance: from the land of the sick to the land of the

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Who lands exclusive interview with Patriots ball boy?

If you really want to get to the heart of Deflate-gate, go find the New England Patriots ball boy who had to be in on the scam. Here’s a clue: Look for a ball boy who is driving a new Mercedes.

You would have to think there is a Patriots ball boy who knows exactly what went down last Sunday. You also would have to think the Patriots are paying him well to keep quiet. Who knows, he might be relaxing on his new private island in the Caribbean, courtesy of Tom Brady.

Then again, maybe the payoff is yet to come. How much would this story be worth to TMZ?

Also, just wondering if the ball is deflated in this classic Patriots logo.

Oh man, it is going to be a feeding frenzy at the Super Bowl next week.… Continue Reading

NFL on Google? Could be on agenda in the 2020s

Get ready people because the TV revolution truly is just around the corner.

The notion of watching the NFL via Google isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

In an interview with Peter King of MMQB, Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice-president for media, acknowledged the platforms likely will be much different in the next decade.

“(People ask) ‘when is Google going to carry a game package?’” Rolapp said. “I think the answer is once an Internet player can sustain 30 million users at the level and the quality that they expect to get on television. Five years ago, we were like, We don’t see that. Now? That might be possible as we sit with the Google guys.”

Rolapp explained how the set-up might work.

“Our broadcast contracts go through 2022,” he said. “We’ve made our bed. And in 2023? I don’t … Continue Reading

Special men: Meet writers and photographers who have covered all 48 Super Bowls

Worth your attention on the four photographers and three writers who have covered every Super Bowl.

Friday at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN will air “Keepers of the Streak.” The film (link to trailer) is directed by sports photographer Neil Leifer and chronicles the decades-long journey of veteran shooters John Biever, Walter Iooss, Mickey Palmer and Tony Tomsic. It features a great ending about Sports Illustrated’s cover for last year’s Super Bowl.

Also, you get the inside story of how Iooss landed the famous Joe Namath picture from Super Bowl III.

Meanwhile, Richard Deitsch at SI.com wrote a terrific piece on three writers who have covered every Super Bowl: Jerry Green, Jerry Izenberg, and Dave Klein.

How was back then:

Their memories of the first game — Green Bay’s 35-10 romp over Kansas City — remain sharp. Izenberg recalled

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