McEnroe, Moon under microscope

ON THE AIR

July 24, 1995|By MILTON KENT

On the surface, there isn't very much to link John McEnroe and Warren Moon other than their athletic accomplishments and their status as network commentators.

But recent accusations of anti-social behavior against both do unite them and perhaps force their respective networks, NBC, CBS and TNT, to re-consider how prominently these men should be featured, if, at all.

Moon -- who joined Turner in March as a reporter for NBA coverage as well as acting as a special correspondent on TNT's NFL coverage even as he continues as a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings -- allegedly, according to police, struck his wife, Felicia, in the head and choked her to the point where she nearly passed out during an argument in their home in suburban Houston last Tuesday.

Felicia Moon declined to file charges immediately against her husband, though police said Warren Moon could be charged with misdemeanor assault.

Meanwhile, a 61-year-old Manhattan woman accused McEnroe of physically and verbally abusing her in their apartment building, during an argument over use of the elevator.

"I was afraid for my life," Eleanor Weinstein told the New York Daily News. "He was wild. He was absolutely out of control. I was so frightened of this raging maniac."

It should be stressed that both cases involve allegations, not convictions. Both men should be given every reasonable opportunity to explain their sides of the stories.

However, both men have troubling histories that make the allegations more than a little disturbing. McEnroe, who was, to be kind, boorish, in his days as a top-ranked tennis player, has not commented on the matter, while Moon, who settled a sexual harassment case with a former Vikings cheerleader last May out of court, told a Houston television station that his was "not a case of domestic violence. It was a domestic dispute."

Turner officials have said they will speak with Moon "to find out the facts." Here's hoping NBC and CBS officials will have similar chats with McEnroe as well.

Open and shut for ABC

To pilfer from a couple of movie critics, here's a hearty thumbs-up for ABC's coverage of the British Open, particularly yesterday's final round.

The pictures, especially of Italian pro Constantine Rocca's face-down-on-the-green reaction after sinking a miraculous putt in regulation on the 18th to force a playoff, as well as the utter disappointment on eventual winner John Daly's face, were priceless.

Jack Nicklaus was a star, making points with force, as he criticized Daly for using a driver on the 16th and 17th holes, finally allowing, "He's in the playoff. I'm not." Even the usually intolerable Brent Musburger was restrained and his occasional ventures into hype were warranted.

And here's to the network for bringing in LPGA veteran Judy Rankin as a course reporter. ABC has long had a good reputation for giving women important roles in their telecasts and for shunning the maxim that women can't commentate on men's athletic events. It's a reputation that's well deserved.

Splitting hairs over the Series

Never let it be said that networks don't keep an eye on the bottom line, even in times of cooperation.

The example is the announcement of the divided World Series telecast schedule last week. ABC will take games 1, 4 and 5, and NBC has games 2, 3 and 6, an arrangement forced by last year's strike and the abandonment of the Baseball Network concept by the two networks at the end of the season.

The schedule is willy-nilly for a couple of reasons. First, neither network, but especially ABC, had any interest in carrying a game on a Monday night, when they play this little weekly football game you might have heard of, so that will be a day off.

Then, each network was interested in protecting its best prime-time night, which for ABC is Tuesday (read: "Home Improvement"), while NBC's is Thursday (read: "Friends" and "Seinfeld), so NBC will have Game 3 on Tuesday, Oct. 24, and xTC ABC gets Game 5 two nights later.

Cooperation, of course, has its limits. No one could figure a way to divvy Game 7, which could be the one baseball game worth watching this year. The negotiations for that could resemble the Versailles peace talks.

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