What they said in 2012: Quotes tell tale of year in sports media

Part 1:

I’m a big quote guy, as evidenced by the quote I run at the top of this site.

While going through my review of sports media in 2012, I came across so many relevant quotes from my reporting and elsewhere, I decided to share them. Some are insightful; some are funny; some are just plain stupid. Yet they all tell a tale of what occurred on this beat.

I had so many, I decided to split them into two posts. Part 1 covers the beginning of the site in April through early August.

Frank Deford on current state of sportswriting: “Unfortunately, we’ve gotten swamped by the numbers. People have gotten buried under the numbers. Statistics. That has become everything. Pitch count is more interesting than what the guy is made of. I think that’s a shame because so much of sports is drama.”

Keith Continue Reading

Top newsmakers for 2012: No denying that everyone talked about Skip Bayless

When I launched ShermanReport on April 16, I had some initial concerns that there might not be enough fresh content to do a daily site.

Couldn’t have been more wrong.

There’s so much territory to cover, it can be overwhelming at times. For a solo performer, it is a challenge to keep up. It’s never dull, that’s for sure.

As 2012 nears a close, I’m going to reflect on the year in sports media this week. Today, I begin with newsmakers. My criteria is people who were interesting, intriguing, controversial, and generally seemed to be in the news cycle, for better or worse.

Here we go:

Skip Bayless: Yes, Skip Bayless. I can see your eyes rolling, but name me someone who has generated more sports media talk?

I know he is extremely polarizing, and he routinely gets obliterated from the critics. Twitter … Continue Reading

NFL TV experience still doesn’t compare to being at a game

I took the family to a Bears game a few weeks ago. I froze despite wearing long underwear; I had limited perspective with seats in the endzone; and somebody forgot to put the chocolate in the hot chocolate I ordered at the concession stand.

And I loved being there.

There has been some concern of late that the TV production quality for NFL games is so superior that people will choose the comforts of their couch over popping for those high-priced tickets. None other than commish Roger Goodell said: “One of our biggest challenges is the fan experience at home. HD is only going to get better.”

ESPN’s Outside the Lines dedicated Sunday’s show to the issue with a report from Darren Rovell. ESPN.com’s Rick Reilly gave more reasons to skip the drive to the stadium. He writes:

7) The yellow first down line.

8)

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Can he do Berman? ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown signs on Caliendo

Frank Caliendo wasn’t on the NFL sidelines for long. I would love to see him do Ditka in front of Ditka.

From ESPN:

With a single move, ESPN has added more than 100 new voices to its roster.

Comedian and impressionist Frank Caliendo is joining ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown as a contributor.

His first appearance is this Sunday, Oct. 14 (10 a.m. ET) when he joins Chris Berman and company at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn.

“As a sports fan, ESPN has always been the place to be,” Caliendo said. “This network is why I graduated (from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) with a broadcasting degree in the first place — and now I finally get to use my degree!”

Caliendo will make a handful of other appearances on the three-hour pregame show during the regular season and playoffs,

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Q/A with Rich Eisen: His on-camera emotions about Sabol; progress of NFL Network; the Real Deion

First of two parts:

Rich Eisen tried stand up comedy in a former life. Humor is a big part of his repertoire as the signature host of NFL Network.

Viewers, though, saw another side of Eisen last Tuesday. Eisen was visibly emotional in announcing the death of NFL Network President Steve Sabol. Here’s the link.

Eisen knows how much Sabol meant to his life. Without Sabol, he said, there would be no NFL Network.

Eisen has been there from Day 1 in 2003. He brought the channel on the air, saying “Your dreams have come true.”

Nine years later, it has become a dream job for Eisen, who took a considerable risk by leaving a fairly great gig at ESPN. In addition to his hosting duties on NFL Network, he also has a popular podcast that allows him to hang with stars … Continue Reading

SportsCenter at 50,000 shows: Immense impact; Is it less personality driven now?

ESPN loves to mark milestones and anniversaries. I imagine they go through a lot of birthday cakes in Bristol.

Some, though, mean more than others. Thursday at 6 p.m. ET, ESPN will mark the 50,000th airing of SportsCenter.

That’s fairly significant. In this video, George Grande, who hosted the first show in 1979, looks back.

ESPN actually is going low-key with this milestone. It will mark the event with Chris Berman doing a tribute to late SportCenter anchor Tom Mees, who died much too young. Here is the link to Berman’s piece on ESPN Front Row.

SportsCenter definitely has been the franchise for ESPN. I remember in the late 80s, my apartment building in Chicago was extremely slow in getting wired for cable. When I finally got connected, I recall being thrilled at being able watch SportsCenter.

Imagine … Continue Reading

Berman could go all the way…to becoming the most polarizing announcer in sports

Go away for a couple of days, and what do they do? ESPN lets Chris Berman call an NFL game.

Reaction was intense yesterday with the news that Berman will do play-by-play for the San Diego-Oakland game on the Sept. 10, the second game of ESPN’s opening Monday night doubleheader.

Fortunately, ESPN didn’t name Skip Bayless as the analyst for that game. Twitter might have exploded. Instead, Trent Dilfer will be working with Boomer.

Coming off the heels of Berman’s agonizing presence at the U.S. Open, the idea that he actually will call an NFL game did not meet with universal approval to say the least.

Here’s a sample of the outrage.

awfulannouncing Reactions to the ChrisBerman MNF announcement range from “why why why” to “Dear God why?” to “GOD NOOOOO!!!”

BobVorwald Honey, you can have the TV all night

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ESPN exec responds to criticism about Berman: We recognize that his work will never be praised universally

The Chris Berman detractors came out in full force again last week after his performance in the U.S. Open. Giving him such an extensive role on Thursday and Friday is wrong on so many levels, and it just magnifies all of his excesses that the critics hate.

Dan Levy of the Bleacher Report wrote a piece with this opener:

Chris Berman has lost his fastball.

Once the ace of the ESPN announcing crew, Berman—who has been with ESPN since the network first went on the air in 1979—has become the TV equivalent of a junk-ball pitcher, throwing the same stuff at audiences for years in hopes that something still works.

I say he hasn’t lost his fastball as much as he can’t control it. He goes too over the top with too much of his schtick.

John Wildhack, Executive Vice President of Production … Continue Reading

A no-no: Berman links his situation to Ted Williams

I winced when I saw the quote and I’m sure the ESPN PR folks did too.

In Michael Hiestand’s column about the NFL draft in USA Today, ESPN’s Chris Berman is asked about his critics. This is his response:

 ”I just talk to people everyday walking down the street,” he says. “That’s what I care about. That’s good enough for me. They didn’t like Ted Williams either. Now, I’m not Ted Williams.”

Yes Chris, you’re not Ted Williams, but you just compared your situation to that of Ted Williams. Not good.

It’s totally, totally different. If Williams was a good guy and had a good relationship with the press, much like Ernie Banks in Chicago, he doesn’t hear boos in Boston. Williams, though, could be quite nasty, and it took him longer to be beloved.

Berman receives criticism because there are people out there … Continue Reading

Saturday flashback: ESPN’s rough coverage of ’81 NFL draft; Questioning why Giants took LT

I’m going to offer a blast from the past on the weekends. It could be an old video, a print interview or profile of a famous newsmaker, or a classic story.

Given that the NFL draft is next week, I thought it would be appropriate to show a clip from ESPN’s coverage in 1981.

The draft was held at the New York Sheraton in a cramped ballroom. They probably had a Bar Mitzvah in it the week before.

My goodness, was this rough from all angles. It looks like a basement-like amateur production compared to the extravaganza you see today.

Check out the crude NFL banner hanging behind Pete Rozelle. Somebody then had to turn on his microphone.

New Orleans selected George Rogers No. 1, and a few minutes later, he stood awkwardly at the podium, unsure of what to say to the crowd.

The coverage was hosted by George Grande with analysis … Continue Reading