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:

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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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DVR alert: NFL Network examines complicated short life of Lyle Alzado

The life of Lyle Alzado is a perfect subject for the “A Football Life” series on NFL Network.

Alzado was a larger-than-life character. Yet he paid a huge price.

Here is a link to the trailer.

The rundown from NFL Network.

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After a 15-year NFL career and a Super Bowl championship, defensive end Lyle Alzado is still remembered for his incredible talent on the field and larger than life persona off it.

NFL Network’s series A Football Life continues Friday, November 21 at 9:00 PM ET with a profile of Alzado – nicknamed Darth Raider – a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end with the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Raiders, who played with an intimidating style and relentless drive to get after the opposing quarterback. The one-hour, NFL Films-produced documentary focuses on Alzado’s professional football career, but also gives insight to his personal … Continue Reading

How hard is it to talk? Stiffing the media costs Marshawn Lynch $100,000

Here’s the NFL’s rule on its media policy:

“Star players, or other players with unusually heavy media demands, must be available to the media that regularly cover their teams at least once during the practice week in addition to their required postgame media availability.”

According Ed Werder’s story on ESPN.com, Marshawn Lynch, who doesn’t like dealing with the media, had been warned his wallet could be a bit lighter if he blew off the press again.

Lynch was warned by league officials last week that he was subject to the fine if he didn’t talk to the media after Sunday’s game. It is Lynch’s third fine for violations of the media policy.

And there was this:

Lynch also was asked about the team setting the franchise rushing record two weeks ago (350 yards against the New York Giants),

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Young Al Michaels had a good role model: Vin Scully

Well, I finally received Al Michaels’ new autobiography yesterday. Given all the interviews he’s already done, I feel like I was the last sports media writer to get my copy. Oh well.

The book is officially out for all, and even before reading it, I know it will be good. Few people in the last 50 years have witnessed more sports history than Michaels.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News did a Q/A with Michaels. After being born in Brooklyn, Michaels’ family moved to Los Angeles in his early teens. That exposed the budding broadcaster to one of the all-time greats.

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Q: What were the pros and maybe cons about growing up in L.A. listening to Vin Scully? When you finally get your first play-by-play job in Hawaii doing minor-league baseball, you write that all you Continue Reading