As usual, world on edge of seat, waiting for latest Super scoop

Media Watch

January 22, 1998|By Milton Kent

Midway through a conference call yesterday, former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Sean Jones, in San Diego for this weekend's Super Bowl, issued an apology to the assembled media on the line.

"I didn't realize how badly you guys are treated," said Jones, now a TNT football analyst. "I have a much deeper respect for what you guys go through. I don't think you guys have enough time to enjoy what's going on."

Oh, dear Sean, you couldn't be more wrong. The problem with the Super Bowl is that we have too much time to gorge ourselves at the table of hype and overkill.

It's been said in this space before, but it bears repeating, that there's something fundamentally wrong with the way we in the media, in particular, and American society, in general, approach this game.

How can anything -- the last "Seinfeld", a televised execution, an episode of the "Jerry Springer Show" -- possibly live up to the hype that's annually laid at the feet of one January football game, even if it is for the CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE GALAXIES?

The answer is that nothing can, but that doesn't stop networks and newspapers and the like from dispatching thousands of poor, unfortunate souls to some site in search of such indispensable information as whether the Denver offensive line is talking to reporters, or if Green Bay's linemen had to run extra drills at the end of practice, as was breathlessly reported on "SportsCenter" this week.

It's all done under the usual media line of drivel that you, the public, really wants to know what time the team curfew is or how many cheeseburgers Packers lineman Gilbert Brown will down before kickoff Sunday or what new sneaker will be featured in the hot new commercial of the day.

If those assumptions are true, then P.T. Barnum's assertion about a sucker being born every minute was more right than he ever could have guessed.

Calling it like it is

Three cheers to Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy for a well-rounded piece Sunday on the occasion of the retiring of ex-Celtics center Robert Parish's jersey.

Shaughnessy, who once covered the Orioles for the Evening Sun, called Parish a "wonderful player," but also rapped him for alleged spousal abuse, marijuana possession and for holding out in 1983 while he was already under contract.

Journalistic balance requires that the portrait we paint of our athletic stars reflects the shading as well as the brightness. Shaughnessy did just that.

Hold on there

The rumors out of New York have it that CBS is looking to make Greg Gumbel its No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer, to be teamed with Phil Simms on its just-acquired AFC package next season.

Gumbel, who is currently the No. 2 NBA announcer on NBC, has hosted NFL pre-game shows on both CBS and NBC, as well as the Olympics, for both networks and would be a solid choice. But the feeling here is that Verne Lundquist would be a better one.

Lundquist, who does the NBA and the NFL for Turner, was with CBS until it lost the NFL four years ago and will be the lead voice on the network's figure-skating coverage during next month's Winter Olympics.

Lundquist is a talented, literate professional who is on top of the action and makes every analyst he works with, regardless of the sport, better. As proof, when Terry Bradshaw was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he chose Lundquist to be his presenter, in part because of their friendship, but also because Lundquist had helped to make him a better broadcaster.

If Simms were smart, he'd make Lundquist's hiring a condition of the deal.

Around the dial

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's annual spin session, known as his "State of the NFL" address, airs tomorrow at noon on ESPN, as well as ESPNEWS and CNN/SI, if your satellite dish is so inclined, and while Tags may not have much to say about the dearth of black head coaches in the NFL, Nick Charles' new "Page One" will tackle that subject Saturday at 11 a.m.

NBC (Channel 11) will have two NBA games this weekend, but they won't be bundled together as a doubleheader. Instead, the network will air a rare pre-playoff Saturday game, with the Detroit Pistons hosting the New York Knicks at 3 p.m. On Sunday, last season's championship series combatants, Utah and Chicago, will meet, with pre-game coverage coming at 12: 30 p.m.

Finally, we should note that the region's best sports talker, Phil Wood, will do an hour each Friday at 6 p.m. from the Barn on WCBM (680 AM).

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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