Journalism dilemma: Notre Dame beat writer, Chicago Tribune make decision about Heisman vote

Rule of journalism: Reporters don’t make news. Reporters cover the news.

The line gets blurred when sportswriters participate in things like college football polls, Major League Baseball awards, and Hall of Fame elections. Their votes become the news that they later have to cover and critique. Conflicts are inherent in such a process.

Brian Hamilton, the Notre Dame beat writer for the Chicago Tribune, felt uneasy about having a Heisman Trophy ballot this year. The question of possible bias because of Irish linebacker Manti Te’o resulted in the Tribune using an internal staff poll to determine Hamilton’s vote.

The section revealed the quandary in a story in Sunday’s paper. He wrote:

We’re in the business of creating as little question as possible — preferably none — about how we conduct our business as journalists. And the Notre Dame beat writer

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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.’s Rick Reilly gave more reasons to skip the drive to the stadium. He writes:

7) The

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The rise and fall of Eddie DeBartolo: New NFL Network documentary looks at former 49ers owner

Check out the latest edition for A Football Life on Eddie DeBartolo (NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET). A fascinating look at an owner who had an incredible run. And then it all ended.

Here’s the link to the preview.

NFL Films senior producer Peter Frank talked about the documentary in an interview with Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily:

Q: Was DeBartolo receptive to the idea of profiling him, or was he hesitant?
Frank: It was hard at first. He and his people were reluctant. I just gather that they’ve been approached by other people about doing his story, too. I think they knew us from his time as an owner and that certainly helped that there are actually people in this building here who know him and who know some of the other 49ers front office folks.

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Q/A with Mike Tirico: On busy schedule; critics of Gruden; overrated impact of announcers

I tell Mike Tirico he needs to work harder.

“Joe Buck is working two games in one day,” I said. “What’s wrong with you? You’re slacking off.”

Tirico laughed. “I sent Joe a text. I told him it must have been awesome to have been a part of that,” Tirico said.

Seriously, Tirico doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone with his schedule. Actually, October is a slow month for him. He only has Monday Night Football as far as play-by-play is concerned.

Starting in November, he will pick up weekly NBA games. His calendar includes Big Ten college basketball games in the winter and three of the four golf majors in the spring and summer. He also does weekly radio shows and podcasts for ESPN.

For all I know, Tirico calls sandlot games in his spare time.… Continue Reading

Q/A with producer: NFL Network documentary examines complicated life of Steve McNair

You’re missing out if you’re not watching the A Football Life series on NFL Network. These documentaries, which air every Wednesday night this fall, are among the best ever produced by NFL Films, and you know that’s saying something.

The next A Football Life focuses on the complicated life of Steve McNair (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET). The former Tennessee Titans quarterback was a valiant warrior on the field, and was considered a role model off the field.

Yet the tragic end of his life–murdered by his mistress–muddied the portrait of a man who died too young.

Here’s a link to the trailer.

NFL Films producer Chip Swain does a nice job of showing the strong ties McNair had with his family and friends and their emotions about his shocking death. You see it all through the eyes of his mother, … Continue Reading

Q/A with Andrea Kremer: Why NFL Network hired her to cover league’s most controversial issue: player safety

The biggest threat to the future of the NFL is the repercussions of increasingly bigger players banging into each other at increasingly higher speeds.

Not to be a doom and gloomer, but if something truly catastrophic happens during a game, it will cause the country to re-examine this thing called football.

So it’s big news that the league-owned NFL Network just hired Andrea Kremer to cover the one issue that threatens the entire sport.

Sunday, Kremer made her debut on the network as the new “health and safety” correspondent. She did a story (here’s the link) on Oakland receiver Darrius Heywood-Bey, who recently had to be carted off the field after a concussion. Heywood-Bay talked openly about what happened, and Kremer’s interview with a doctor at Cleveland Clinic showed with graphics what happened to Bey’s brain. Sobering stuff, to … Continue Reading

Fearsome Foursome: George Allen’s daughter narrates new NFL Network documentary

The NFL Network looks at arguably the greatest defensive line in NFL history tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

The nickname, Fearsome Foursome, really says it all. Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, Roosevelt Grier, and Lamar Lundy.

Here’s a link to the preview. Just to show how times have changed, not one of those guys weighed more than 285 pounds. At 260 pounds, Jones might be a quarterback in today’s game.

George Allen’s daughter, Jennifer, wrote and narrated the documentary. In an interview with Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, she said:

“This project was the most fulfilling endeavor. I grew up respecting these men as both players and as men.  Deacon Jones is like a great uncle to me.  It was a pleasure to be able to talk with Susan Olsen and Phil Olsen, Merlin’s brother who played

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NFL Network hires Andrea Kremer to cover health and safety issues

This is an interesting development. Is the league really going to turn the spotlight on itself with its own network? Or is this just a token effort to show that the NFL is “serious” about its biggest problem.

Hope to have some answers soon. Meanwhile, here’s the release from the NFL Network:

NFL Network has added veteran sports journalist Andrea Kremer to its ranks, it was announced today. Kremer will be the chief correspondent in a newly-formed unit dedicated to covering NFL player health and safety issues. She will also contribute other reports and features on major topics across NFL Network programming.

“Andrea’s journalistic credentials, particularly in regards to reporting on the NFL, speak for themselves and we’re thrilled to add her talents to NFL Network,” said NFL Network Executive Producer Eric Weinberger. “Reporting on player health and safety

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A little perspective: Videos show regular NFL refs also blew plenty of calls

Heck, NFL Network even dedicated one of their Top 10 shows to “The Most Controversial Calls” of all time.

Remember the Tom Brady and the “Tuck Rule”? Jamie Dukes called “one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against a team.”

And how about the official who screwed up the coin toss? Imagine if that happened to a replacement ref.

This video below also includes the controversy over the “Music City Miracle.”

And No. 1 on the list was Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception.” Back in those days, a pass couldn’t be tipped from one player to the next. Imagine if replacement refs were on the call for that one.

Since I was a Steeler fan, I’m glad they made that call.

Sunday, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote:

If you scroll back to roughly this time four

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Replacement refs cost ESPN viewers on Monday night

Normally, ESPN would be celebrating over its rating for Monday night’s Denver-Atlanta game. The network did a 10 rating, with more than 15 million viewers tuning in. It marked the fourth highest audience on cable for 2012.

Yet it could have been better.

The inept replacement referees brought the game to a screeching halt in the first half. It took nearly an hour to play the first quarter. Nothing like watching confused officials trying to figure out what they’re doing.

The second half didn’t begin until nearly 11 p.m. ET. By that time, I’m guessing many fans, numbed by the inactivity, were ready for bed.

The end result had ESPN leaving money, as in ratings, at the table.

As I have written earlier, pace is of huge importance during a sports telecast. When things start to drag, viewers reach for … Continue Reading