Jim Nantz believes NFL’s Thursday slate is working; ‘Would sign up again in heartbeat’

My latest Chicago Tribune column, which ran yesterday, is on Jim Nantz discussing the issues of NFL games on Thursdays.

You also can access the column via @Sherman_Report.

From the column:


The quality of Thursday games has been a controversial subject for the NFL this year. But don’t expect to hear any complaints from Jim Nantz.

Nantz and Phil Simms will be on the call for the Bears’ back-to-back Thursday encounters: Thanksgiving Day against the Lions on CBS and Dec. 5 against the Cowboys in Soldier Field on NFL Network.

Thanks to his Thursday-Sunday assignments, Nantz is in a stretch during which he will be working five games in 15 days. And the 55-year-old play-by-play voice is doing it with the challenge of traveling to five cities with his wife, Courtney, and their 8-month-old girl, Finley.

Nantz’s double-duty … Continue Reading

DVR alert: CBS documentary on Verne Lundquist’s terrific career

Great announcer, great guy. Has stood the test of time.

The rundown from CBS:


CBS Sports debuts IN YOUR LIFE, a one-hour documentary celebrating Verne Lundquist’s 50 years in broadcasting, this Saturday, Nov. 29 (1:30 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.

The documentary follows Verne over the past year, his 50th as a broadcaster.  Verne has witnessed and called some of the greatest moments in sports history, from Jack Nicklaus’ birdie at the 1986 Masters® toChristian Laettner’s last-second shot to beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. IN YOUR LIFE relives these indelible moments with Verne as the storyteller, and takes you through his incredible career.

To view a clip from the documentary where Verne recalls broadcasting Laettner’s buzzer beater, click here: http://on.fb.me/1xSlAYM

The documentary features interviews with those who were … Continue Reading

Richard Sherman was off base mocking NFL’s media, endorsement policies

As I wrote for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana, the Pro Football Writers Association of America hands out the annual Pete Rozelle Award to the league’s best public relations operation.

Somehow, I suspect the Seattle Seahawks won’t be winning the award this year. Things are getting out of hand in the Great Northwest.

Richard Sherman, with some help from Doug Baldwin, used his weekly press conference yesterday to mock the NFL’s fine of $100,000 to Marshawn Lynch for not talking to the media. And he protested some other NFL policies.

From Terry Blount of ESPN.com:

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and receiver Doug Baldwin did a parody in front of reporters Tuesday, making a point of criticizing the NFL over fining teammate Marshawn Lynch $100,000 for not talking to the media.

Sherman and Baldwin’s little comedy routine focused

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Giving Thanks: Best slate of NFL Turkey day games in years

A good menu, no?

12:30 p.m. ET: Chicago at Detroit, CBS

4:30 p.m. ET: Philadelphia at Dallas, Fox.

8:30 p.m. ET: Seattle at San Francisco, NBC

It helps that Thanksgiving fixtures Detroit and Dallas have good teams. Especially the Lions after all those dismal Matt Millen turkeys.

However, the NFL also is carrying over the inner-division match-up concept for the Thursday night games to Thanksgiving Day. As a result, CBS doesn’t have an AFC team playing against the Lions. Instead, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be on the call for an important game between two old rivals in the NFC North.

“I was thrilled when I saw this game on our schedule,” said Nantz, who will be calling his 11th Thanksgiving game. “We benefit by not having a crossover game (an AFC team playing against Detroit). We have … Continue Reading

Jerk Mode: Marshawn Lynch and why athletes need to talk to media

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is Marshawn Lynch and his non-dealings with the media.

From the column:


Marshawn Lynch is fairly clueless, so the meaning of this story probably will be lost on him. But it needs to be told to give a little perspective about the NFL and the media.

Long before the league became a behemoth, it struggled to get coverage from the newspapers in its early days. As a long-time staffer at the Chicago Tribune, I heard many tales of George Halas, the NFL’s founder, showing up in the newsroom with write-ups about the Bears. He also would leave some tickets so the guys in the sports department could take in a game or two to get a taste of this pro football.

Imagine a Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft … Continue Reading

NBC finally gets good Sunday night game; Denver-Miami, Manning deliver for CBS

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth probably had to go back into their memory bank to recall how to call a close game. It had been that long.

Dallas’ 31-28 victory over the Giants broke a remarkable nine-game streak of routs (closest victory margin was 18 points) on Sunday night. A compelling game obviously helped the ratings. NBC did a 14 overnight rating, up from the 11.9 final rating for New England’s 42-20 victory over Indianapolis the previous week.

Meanwhile, the highest-rated game of the week was Denver-Miami on CBS. The game did a 17.4 overnight rating, its second best of the season.



 … Continue Reading

Marshawn Lynch, are you a jerk? Yeah

Well, apparently Marshawn Lynch has his price. Rather than risk another $100,000 fine for not talking to the media, he made himself available after Sunday’s game.

In the process, the Seattle running back only moved up a few more notches on the jerk meter. As you can see below, he mocked the session by responding “yeah” to almost every question.

 … Continue Reading

Remembering an extraordinary college hoops blogger; kept writing despite suffering from cystic fibrosis

I was not familiar with the work of Thad Novak, but many people were. His college basketball blog at Bleacher Report registered more than 10 million page views.

What makes that number extraordinary is that Novak continued to write despite suffering from the debilitating effects of cystic fibrosis. Sadly, the disease recently claimed his life at the age of 34.

Jay Levin of NorthJersey.com writes:

Thad cranked out 1,257 columns — some of them from hospital rooms while he was being treated for complications of cystic fibrosis.

The genetic disorder damages the lungs and is typically fatal within 40 years. “When he was born, it was not expected he’d live too long, but we had our hopes,” Thad’s mother, Janet King, said. “But he did really well with it.”

Cystic fibrosis never defined Thaddeus E. Novak.

“His goal was to

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Chicago news: Why the plug was pulled on The Game

Nothing is guaranteed in this life.

However, giving the folks at The Game only nine months to establish a new sports station on an obscure FM outlet seems like a why-bother scenario. The Game never had a chance under those circumstances.

Robert Channick of the Tribune talked to WGN honcho Jimmy de Castro on why the plug was pulled abruptly Thursday.

The decision to pull the plug on FM sports talk radio station The Game on Thursday after nine months on the air was not an easy one for WGN-AM 720 president Jimmy de Castro.

It was even harder on staffers, including at least one who found out while on the air, venting his frustration to listeners.

But with Chicago radio revenues declining this year and WGWG-LP 87.7 unable to turn a profit, de Castro said WGN Radio needed to

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