Year in sports media: TMZ, not ESPN, breaks biggest stories; Simmons follies; NBA cashes in

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana looks back at the year in sports media.

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When I first launched Sherman Report in April, 2012, I initially was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough material on sports media to support a regular blog. I soon discovered just the opposite was the case.

There was so much news and content occurring, I had to make an executive decision. I couldn’t be The New York Times and run “all the news that’s fit to print” on sports media. I had to make choices about what I post, and that still covers considerable territory.

One thing is for sure: the world of sports media never is dull. It was another eventful year in 2014.

Here’s what stood out:

TMZ, not ESPN: The two biggest stories in sports in 2014 … Continue Reading

Is Gruden really done with coaching?

Perhaps watching the terrible Jay Cutler validated Jon Gruden’s decision to re-up with ESPN through 2021. Who needs that headache?

Mike Tirico broke the news during halftime of Monday’s game. The deal means Gruden is out of coaching through ESPN’s current contract for “Monday Night Football.”

Technically, that means Gruden can’t coach again until 2022, when he will be 59. By then, he will have been away from the sidelines since 2008.

Sure, Gruden could return after a 14-year absence. Dick Vermeil did it and won a Super Bowl after a long side trip to the booth. But it seems unlikely.

It still seems hard to believe that given Gruden’s passion and intensity for the game, he will have coached his last game at the age of 45. Then again, John Madden called it a career at 41.

Gruden obviously … Continue Reading

How Halas used media to build NFL: ‘I learned editors like superlatives’

A few weeks back in a column on Marshawn Lynch, I mentioned how George Halas used the media to help build the NFL.

In the piece, I had this line: My old colleague Don Pierson said, “The Tribune saved the NFL, maybe even made it.”

Well, Pierson told the rest of the story about Halas and the media in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. You also can access the story via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

Lynch and other media-leery NFL players might want to read the piece to get an appreciation of how the media played a role in making them millionaires. They also could learn a thing or two from Pierson’s insights. Don was a true mentor for me, and one of the most respected NFL writers of all time. There’s a reason why his name is in Canton.

From Pierson’s … Continue Reading

Blackhawks McDonough on uncensored “Road to Winter Classic’ series: This isn’t ‘Lillies of the Field’

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on the upcoming “Road to the Winter Classic” series.

You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

From the column:

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The Blackhawks have participated in behind-the-scenes shows before, but not of this magnitude.

The upcoming “Road to the Winter Classic” series will feature unprecedented volume in terms of its access and scope. And speaking of volume, cover your ears if you are sensitive to salty language because the shows will be uncensored.

The first of the four-part series, chronicling the Blackhawks and Capitals through their outdoor Jan. 1 game at Nationals Park, debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday on EPIX. Previously, the highly-acclaimed series had aired on HBO. EPIX, a premium channel that debuted in 2009, is available in 50 million homes.

However, because EPIX isn’t offered by several carriers, … Continue Reading

Q/A with John Schulian on new best of football writing book: ‘Write like your pants are on fire’

Back in the saddle. My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center is a Q/A with one of my all-time favorites, John Schulian.

From the column:

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Even though John Schulian enjoyed a second, and I imagine, much more lucrative career in Hollywood, he always was a sportswriter to me. In the 1970s through the mid 80s, Schulian influenced a generation of sportswriters as a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and then for the Philadelphia Daily News. He wrote with an uncommon grace and elegance rarely seen before or since. Throw in uncompromising passion, and he was the complete package.

Unfortunately for fans of his work, Schulian gave up press boxes for sound stages at the age of 41. He worked on several hit TV shows and was the co-creator of “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

Yet once a sportswriter, always … Continue Reading

Why Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers still matter; linked again in new NFL Network film, book

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on Bears greats Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, and how the images of their greatness still are vivid after all these years.

You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

From the column:

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With yet another season slipping away, Bears fans probably could use a dose of Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.

It is available in multiple forms. At 9 p.m. Friday, the NFL Network’s “A Football Life” series examines the two Hall of Famers whose careers became intertwined when the Bears selected them third and fourth overall in the first round of the 1965 draft.

Also, a new book, “Football: Great Writing about the National Sport,” edited by former Sun-Times columnist John Schulian, features classic, in-depth profiles of Butkus and Sayers from when they still were in the … Continue Reading

Precedent: Credit Sports Illustrated with assist in ESPN’s as-told-to story with Janay Rice

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana examines the Janay Rice story on ESPN.com.

From the column:

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It is interesting to note that ESPN turned to a competitor to help justify using the as-told-to format for Jemele Hill’sinterview with Janay Rice that ran Friday on ESPN.com.

In an in-house ESPN Front Row piece written by high-ranking network PR exec Josh Krulewitz, Vince Doria, the senior vice-president and director of news, noted as-told-to stories aren’t “uncommon.”

“A notable recent example was LeBron James announcing his return to Cleveland in Sports Illustrated,” Doria said.

Then in an interview conducted via email with Richard Deitsch of SI.com, Hill wrote:

“The partnership was unusual for me because I’d never done it before, but it’s not really unusual in these times. Sports Illustrated has published as-told-to pieces with Jason Collins and LeBron … 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

Tiger Woods vs. Dan Jenkins/Golf Digest: Hardly their finest moments

As much as I admire the work of Dan Jenkins and Golf Digest, I have to admit my initial reaction was negative when I saw his clearly fake interview with Tiger Woods.

As much as anything else, the pictures  went over the line. There was an actor portraying Woods sitting in a Perkins (remember Woods reportedly had an affair with Perkins waitress). There was another shot of the phony Woods polishing his Cadillac Escalade. You know, the one that had an unfortunate collision with a fire hydrant.

Definitely low blows. While the statute of limitations may never expire, more than four years have passed since Woods’ epic fall from grace. Golf Digest was reprising old, tired jokes in running those images.

Here’s another key point. His agent Mark Steinberg asked in a letter to the magazine’s publisher: “Would this story … Continue Reading

Chicago story: Voice of Blackhawks’ journey to Hockey Hall of Fame; BANNERRMANNNN!!!

This is a big day for one of my all-time favorite guys and a Chicago icon. My Chicago Tribune story charts Pat Foley’s journey to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

You also can access the story via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

All Blackhawks fans will recognize Foley’s signature call.

Some excerpts:

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The kid from Glenview, first heard on a Cubs radio broadcast with Jack Quinlan at age 10, is going into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Pat Foley’s long career as the voice of the Blackhawks will reach its pinnacle Monday. Flanked by his family and team representatives, he will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for “outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster” in a ceremony for the media winners in Toronto.

Named after the legendary Canadian announcer, the award is the ultimate honor for a hockey play-by-play … Continue Reading