Old punter Maguire helps ESPN trio kick into gear

Media Watch

September 25, 1998|By Milton Kent

Sunday's Cincinnati-Ravens game will be a watershed game for the participants, to be sure, but also for the broadcaster, ESPN and the announcers.

We'll get to the import of the contest to ESPN in a bit. But for analyst Paul Maguire, the game's significance lies with its timing as opposed to the combatants.

You see, Sunday's is the eighth broadcast -- four preseason games and four regular-season contests -- that Maguire, Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann will work together, and Maguire, the former Buffalo Bills punter-linebacker, assumed that the newly formed threesome would be clicking by now.

"I told people that if after the fourth game you want to take shots at us, go ahead," Maguire said. "We are there, I think."

Patrick and Theismann, who were paired as a duo for 11 seasons, have had to make room for the witty Maguire, who was in the ESPN studio for a time, as well as in the booth at NBC.

Maguire himself had to adjust to being a third guy in the booth, when he was teamed with Dick Enberg and Phil Simms at NBC. At first blush, Maguire wasn't sure about the wisdom of three men and a telestrator, but he came to like it at NBC and love it at ESPN.

"I think we've done a hell of a job," said Maguire, who had done preseason telecasts for the Ravens' franchise for years going back to its previous incarnation in Cleveland. "You're looking at two guys [Theismann and Patrick] who had never done this before. I was fortunate to work with Enberg and Simms, and these guys have adapted just as well."

Move those chains

When the telecast signs on around 8: 15 p.m. Sunday, ESPN will unveil yet another technological wrinkle: a solid, gold line that will tell viewers where a team has to move the ball to get a first down.

Oddly enough, the advancement will be called "1st and Ten," and you can thank the good people at a new company called SporTVision for coming up with the system. The makers say the line will not be intrusive, but helpful.

"In my mind, it will be like the [constant] clock and score," SporTVision CEO Bill Squadron said. "The first time you thought, 'That's going to be weird,' but now, it makes sense. It's a nice addition."

Here's how it works: A computer will read the output of ESPN's three main game cameras, filter out what isn't the field and electronically lay down where the first-down line should be. The line will remain in place at all times, but, contingent on how tightly the director calls the shot, may not be present on-screen.

Rest assured, ESPN got the approval of the NFL, which made sure that its officials won't be second-guessed by the presence of the line.

"We're not going out and saying this is the definitive line," said Fred Gaudelli, ESPN's senior coordinating football producer. "We're not using it for measurements. The league is supporting us."

ESPN's signal will also air on Channel 2, which will produce its own pre-game show at 7 p.m.

Did he say that?

After reading a story about injured Redskins quarterback Jeff Hostetler on yesterday's overnight "SportsCenter," ESPN's Stuart Scott actually made a transition into an item on the Baltimore quarterback choices by calling the Ravens "another D.C.-area team."

Oh, really? So, who starts the collection to send a map to our friend Stu, who was actually in the Ravens' stadium press box for the season opener?

Around the dial

City residents who are wired for cable should keep an eye out for "Sports View," a new weekly magazine show launching this week on cable channel 21, with various air times before new episodes air each Wednesday. The debut program, with features on the Poly football team and interviews with Morgan State football coach Stump Mitchell and Ravens receiver Jermaine Lewis, is a solid first try, and host Robyn Marks presides with a nice brand of enthusiasm.

Also, we've been derelict in not reporting the return of the always amusing "Braase, Donovan and Fans," featuring former Colts Ordell Braase and Art Donovan, with Tom Davis as ringleader. The television program airs at 7 p.m. Sundays on Home Team Sports, while WCBM (680 AM) carries the radio counterpart at 6 p.m. on Mondays.

Tomorrow's Orioles-Boston game has been selected as a Fox "Game of the Week," but the Orioles already have reached their limit of nine appearances, so the 1 p.m. game will not be seen on Channel 45. However, the Orioles' television crew will carry the game on Channel 54, as well as Sunday's season finale. Baltimore viewers will get to see Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs make a playoff run against Houston at 4 p.m. tomorrow, with cut-ins to Mark McGwire at-bats during the game.

Tomorrow's "Page One with Nick Charles" (CNN, 11 a.m.) will feature chats with all-time home-run king Hank Aaron and all-time durability king Cal Ripken. On the Sunday pre-game shows, CNN's Jim Huber has a profile at 10 a.m. on Chicago Bears fullback Robert Chancey, a second-year NFL starter who skipped college football, going directly from his Alabama high school to the Orioles' farm system in 1992. Fox's Terry Bradshaw will take a look at rookie quarterbacks Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning, coincidentally during a week when they'll each be playing on the network (Channel 45, noon)

Finally, HBO will present a WBC heavyweight title fight tomorrow, pitting champion Lennox Lewis (33-1, 27 KOs) against Croatian challenger Zeljko Mavrovic (27-0, 22 KOs) from Uncasville, Conn., at 10 p.m.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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