Irvin sits for not piping up

ON MEDIA

December 02, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

If there is a song to be played as backdrop to the Michael Irvin saga, try this one from Weezer: "You've got your problems ... I've got my hash pipe."

Or maybe not his hash pipe.

ESPN yesterday suspended Irvin from the NFL studio shows coming up Sunday and Monday. He will return Dec. 11, a network spokesman said.

On Friday, police in Texas found a drug pipe in Irvin's car during a traffic stop. He had been pulled over for speeding, but he also had an outstanding warrant for an unpaid speeding ticket. Possessing the drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor. Irvin, a former Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, maintains he took the pipe from a friend with an addiction problem and neglected to discard it.

Irvin - whose history of drug use includes pleading no contest to a cocaine possession charge in 1996 - didn't tell ESPN about the incident Friday, and the network reportedly didn't learn of it until Sunday, when contacted by other media covering the story.

Though not saying so officially, ESPN apparently is sitting Irvin down not because of the drug paraphernalia charge, but because he didn't tell the network about it.

In a statement, Irvin said: "I understand I was wrong for not divulging the information on Friday. I accept ESPN's decision and look forward to returning to my teammates next week."

And so goes the tale of The Playmaker that could be right out of ESPN's Playmakers.

Saluting the game

If you could pick any announcer to call Army-Navy, why not a guy named Eagle?

Ian Eagle will do play-by-play tomorrow on CBS' telecast (2:30 p.m., WJZ/Channel 13 and WUSA/Channel 9), joined by Boomer Esiason. This will be Eagle's fourth Army-Navy game.

"It's as important an assignment as I have," Eagle said yesterday from Annapolis, where he was meeting with Navy's team. "[The game] has captivated viewers all over the world. It has far-reaching implications."

And it's quite a contrast from the NFL games Eagle regularly works.

"It's a true student-athlete," he said. "They're doing this for their love of football and their commitment to country. ...

"It's just a different scene entirely. There's something else in the air when you prepare for this game."

Duck, Johnny

Johnny Holliday has been calling Maryland basketball games on radio for 27 years, but Wednesday night marked a first.

Holliday drew a charging foul.

The Terps' D.J. Strawberry, chasing a loose ball, went flying over Holliday's courtside table, knocking the announcer to the floor.

"I saw D.J. coming for the ball," Holliday said, "and next thing I know, I'm looking up and he's looking down, saying, `Mr. Holliday, are you OK?'"

Except for some bumps and bruises and a possible broken finger, Holliday - who's 5 feet 8, 160 pounds to Strawberry's 6-5, 201 - said yesterday that he's doing fine.

Holliday said he could recall only one other similar incident - a near-miss during the Maui tournament when Joe Smith jumped over him.

Buddy buddy

The former players and coaches who populate the airwaves can provide expertise, drawing on their experience. They can have connections that give them access to the otherwise inaccessible athlete.

On the other hand, their ties to the game can result in something like what we saw on the past Fox NFL Sunday. Host James Brown asked Terry Bradshaw to opine on whether Steve Mariucci would lose the Detroit Lions coaching job. Bradshaw hemmed and hawed and wouldn't answer, citing his friendship with Mariucci, who did end up fired by the Lions this week.

So what did we have? An analyst who wouldn't analyze.

Radio daze

I don't get to hear much of the Bill Rohland-Chad Dukes afternoon talk show on WJFK (1300 AM). In fact, while driving around Wednesday, I probably had my first sustained listen. Now, perhaps what I heard in about a half-hour wasn't representative, but still, it didn't encourage me to tune in again.

One of the hosts saying "vilified" when he meant "vindicated."

The 1972 Miami Dolphins' undefeated season being called not as big a deal at the time because the NFL had had unbeaten teams in recent years leading up to it. That's only if you count 1934 as recently.

One of the few exchanges with a caller essentially being a reading of the top of the AFC North standings.

Next time, I'll pop in that Impressions tape a colleague made for me. ray.frager@baltsun.com

TV highlights

College basketball: CBS' season begins tomorrow at noon (WJZ/Channel 13 and

WUSA/Channel 9), with No. 10 Kentucky vs. North Carolina. For those who find ESPN's analyst crew to have too much personality, Billy Packer will call the game with play-by-play man Craig Bolerjack.

Skiing: Become an instant skiing expert by watching the World Cup downhill event from Beaver Creek, Colo., tomorrow (3 p.m., WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4). Bode Miller is scheduled to compete, perhaps having to dodge drug testers all the way down the course.

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