Jerry Smith: High praise for NFL Network documentary on life of gay Washington great

The NFL Network didn’t have to go here with its acclaimed A Football Life series. Examining the life of a gay football player isn’t what you would necessarily expect from a generally conservative league.

Yet few NFL players had a more interesting and complicated life than Jerry Smith. This series would have been incomplete without him.

The latest installment (tonight, 9 p.m. ET) is on the star Washington tight end, who kept his homosexuality a secret until he was diagnosed with AIDs in the early 80s.

It is well-told story, shining a light on what it was like to be a gay athlete in the 60s and 70s. Highly recommended.

Here is the link to the preview. And more from NFL Network.

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From 1965-77, Jerry Smith was a two-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Washington Redskins. At … Continue Reading

Break from secrecy? Pro Football Hall of Fame to allow cameras at selection meeting; voters not pleased

The selection meeting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame always has been shrouded in secrecy. The voters (here are the 46 this year) are told, “What is said in this room, stays in this room.”

It is much like the cardinals’ selection of a Pope, although without the plume of smoke. Rest assured, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is working on that.

So it came as a huge surprise to the voters that cameras will be in the room for next week’s HOF meeting in New York. Footage then will be used by the NFL Network during its Hall of Fame announcement show that evening.

I managed to get hold of a confidential memo sent out by the Hall’s Joe Horrigan to the group, many of whom are upset about the new development.

It reads in part:

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In an … Continue Reading

NFL players really don’t like playing on Thursday nights; Nobody will like tonight’s game

Perhaps never before in NFL history will a game featuring teams like 2-10 Houston at 3-9 Jacksonville get more coverage by a network.

NFL Network will bring its entire vast traveling show to Jacksonville, blanketing the game with pregame and postgame analysis. Count on several moments of humor from Rich Eisen, who will undoubtedly poke fun at the match-up.

The rules mandate that every team plays on a Thursday. Hence, tonight’s game. Yet even with the horrible match-up, viewers still will tune in. Hey, it’s the NFL.

The prospect of even more Thursday night games in the future won’t go down well with the players who have to play in them. Robert Klemko at MMQB talked to several players who voiced their complaints about these mid-week games.

Klemko writes:

Duane Brown is not one of these players.

“It’s dangerous,” says

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Rich Eisen podcast with Twitter CEO: Huge possibilities for sports

If you have a few minutes during the holiday week, check out Rich Eisen’s podcast with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

Among other things, you learn that if Costolo had been a better stand-up comic, the world may never get Twitter. After graduating Michigan, he joined a Second City training program in Chicago that included a young fellow named Steve Carell. Wonder what ever happened to him?

Thankfully for Tweeters everywhere, Costolo’s life took another course. Now your life isn’t the same.

The rundown from Eisen’s site:

It’s a special late-week edition of The Rich Eisen Podcast featuring the CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo. Eisen and his fellow University of Michigan alumnus discuss all things Twitter and the incredible impact that it has had not only in sports, but in our daily lives over the past few years. The hour

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Flex to rescue again: NBC wins with Carolina-New Orleans moved to Sunday night on Dec. 8

Ah yes, it is good to be NBC.

On Dec. 8, the schedule called for the network to air Atlanta at Green Bay. What looked to be an attractive game before the season now is largely forgettable thanks to the Falcons’ disaster at 2-9.

However, don’t despair NBC, it’s flex scheduling to the rescue. Last night while NBC was pulling in what is sure to be a huge rating for Denver-New England, the NFL announced it will move Carolina-New Orleans to Sunday night on Dec. 8. Atlanta-Green Bay gets thrown back to Fox.

How great is this for NBC? The game in the Superdome should be a battle for first place in the NFC South with Drew Brees facing Cam Newton and the upstart Panthers.

Fox and CBS are allowed to protect a certain number of games, but Carolina-New Orleans … Continue Reading

Long on watching his sons Sunday in Bears-Rams game; ‘It’s exciting. It’s scary’

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports how Sunday will be a vastly different day for Howie Long:

Howie Long spends his fall Sundays in the Fox Sports compound in Los Angeles, working as an analyst on the network’s NFL studio show.

But this Sunday, he plans to be about 1,800 miles to the east, in St. Louis for an interesting football family reunion. Long, who had a Hall of Fame career as a defensive end with the Raiders, will be in town to watch the first matchup in the pros between sons Chris and Kyle. Chris is in his sixth year as a defensive end for the Rams. Kyle is a rookie offensive guard for the Chicago Bears, who face the Rams at noon.

Dad sees his sons play in person when they have a weeknight game, and

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NFL Network documentary: Tracing forward pass from Rockne to Marcia Brady

The latest A Football Life on NFL Network examines the history of the forward pass (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET, NFL Network). Here’s a link to the preview.

Since the NFL Network won’t allow embeds of it previews (Why, I don’t know), here’s the famous clip of Marcia Brady’s contribution to the forward pass.

The rundown from NFL Network:

What do Teddy Roosevelt, Knute Rockne, George Carlin, the Atomic Bomb, the Hail Mary Prayer, Marcia Brady’s broken nose and “American Pie” all have in common? The Forward Pass.

As ubiquitous as it is now, throwing the football was once unimaginable. For the first four decades of football’s existence, the Forward Pass was illegal. However, with rising safety concerns surrounding the game of football, President Roosevelt intervened. It was his demand that rules makers open up the game by legalizing the Forward … Continue Reading

10 years later: Home of growing NFL Network, but still no team for Los Angeles

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News notes the irony of the NFL Network originating out of Los Angeles, which remarkably still doesn’t have a home team.

Hoffarth writes:

It’s 10 years after the fact, and the NFL Network’s now-sprawling Culver City compound continues to remain the only tangible evidence the league has any sort of interest in being part of Los Angeles.

As an entertainment platform, for sure.

As a franchise homestead? From one righteously profitable move does not another logically follow.

Months before the NFL Network officially launched Nov. 4, 2003, league officials scouted locations in Burbank, Hollywood and Manhattan Beach before deciding to plop down on a commercial lot and use about 28,000 square feet of combined space for Studio A and Suite 100 on an eclectic stretch of Washington Boulevard, next to an Islamic mosque,

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Coming Sunday: Andrea Kremer’s exclusive interview with Johnny Jolly; ‘I could’ve been dead’

Andrea Kremer has a terrific piece on the fall and comeback of the Packers’ Johnny Jolly. It will air during NFL Gameday Morning Sunday on NFL Network.

Here is the link to video of Kremer discussing the interview and an excerpt from Jolly. And the rundown from NFL Network:

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Andrea Kremer with an exclusive feature on Jonny Jolly who is back with the Packers after fighting an addiction to codeine which resulted in jail time and a ban from the NFL.

Jolly explains to Kremer how his addiction to codeine almost cost him his career and, even worse, his life.

Kremer first interviewed Jolly in 2012 when he was in prison – the only interview he conducted while incarcerated – and then a few weeks into the 2013 season after Jolly made the Packers’ 53-man roster. The achievement was … Continue Reading