Tag Archives: ESPN

Get over the media criticism, will ya White House?

Donald J. Trump’s White House press operation has developed as thin a skin as the boss.

Someone on the media pops off stupidly and the White House gets all over this reporter’s case. Then it launches a dual-front campaign accusing a cable network of practicing a double standard: one for conservative commentators and another one for liberals.

Get over it, White House!

ESPN talking head Jemele Hill popped off the other day about the president, calling him a white supremacist who surrounds himself with other white supremacists. I’ll just state here that Hill’s comments were stupid and had no place coming from someone who has made a name for herself commenting on matters that have nothing to do with the president of the United States and his alleged political tendencies.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is ratcheting up the White House attacks on ESPN. C’mon, young lady. Don’t you know about that First Amendment thing in the U.S. Constitution, the one that protects the media from government pressure? Sanders has said ESPN should have fired Hill. She made the statement while conducting a White House press briefing; her suggestion, thus, becomes something of a government policy statement relating to the conduct of a “free press.”

The president himself takes great joy — or so it seems — in blasting what he keeps calling “fake news” outlets. He calls the media “the enemy of the American people.” He singles out individual reporters at press events, criticizing their character and their organization’s integrity.

Now his press flack has joined that chorus.

I agree that Jemele Hill shouldn’t have said what she said, using her standing as an ESPN talking head to make her point. She has apologized. ESPN said it won’t punish her any further.

The president has much bigger fish to fry than this. I can think of, oh, North Korea, DACA legislation, tax reform … you know, those sorts of things. Media criticism? Set it aside and let other media — and even some bloggers out here in the heartland — take the talking head offenders to task.

ESPN spooked beyond all reason

The executives who run ESPN have been bitten by the bug that gives human beings a case of the heebie-jeebies.

The bite came from that riot that erupted two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Va. Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and assorted white supremacists gathered to march against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park; counter protesters showed up, too, and a clash commenced. A young woman was run down by someone who allegedly has white supremacist sympathies.

How did ESPN react to all of this? It pulled a sportscaster who was scheduled to call a college football game this weekend between the University of Virginia and William & Mary College. Oh, yes, UVa is located in Charlottesville. The sportscaster’s name: Robert Lee.

Good grief, ESPN! Get a grip here.

I consider this to be a serious overreaction. Yes, the issue at hand also is serious. ESPN wants to remove any potential for controversy or conflict. So, it yanked a young man with the name Robert Lee off its broadcast? ESPN issued a statement: “We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”


I have an option for ESPN to ponder: Refer to him on-air as Bob Lee, or Bobby Lee, or Robby Lee. I suppose I also should mention that Lee is of Asian descent.

I believe ESPN has gotten spooked beyond what is reasonable.

What in the world is ‘fantasy football’?

I guess I need to get out more.

I had been listening to the commentators on ESPN2 for the past hour or so and I’m trying to figure out what in the world they’re talking about.

They’re explaining “fantasy football.” For the ever-lovin’ life of me I don’t get it. They talk about “fantasy points” and how certain quarterbacks rank higher than others in this category.

What’s more, the commentators are chatting back and forth as if this stuff really matters, as if they’re talking about actual games involving actual opponents.

I turned the channel off to watch a cable news network tell me about things such as worldwide arrests of terror suspects, the upcoming inauguration of Donald J. Trump and whether he’s going to have any A-list entertainers performing.

Fantasy football has a big following. One of my sons takes part with some of his buddies in assembling fantasy teams and then he follows the athletes on his fantasy teams throughout some sort of “fantasy season.”

I think I’ll have to ask him to explain it to me. He’ll just need to keep it simple.

Ken Starr packs it in at Baylor


Ken Starr’s resignation as chancellor at Baylor University because of a sex scandal might be the biggest non-surprise since, oh, when he helped engineer the impeachment of President Clinton in a case that also involved a sex scandal.

Yes, the irony is rich.

Starr quit as chancellor after the Baylor regents kicked him out of his job as president of the university. The chancellor’s job is a ceremonial one, with no actual administrative duties. The regents’ decision was based on Starr’s role in the university covering up reports of sexual abuse on its campus involving members of the school’s top-tier football team.


Frankly, Starr ought to resign his other job at Baylor, as a law professor. His presence on the campus taints the school.

Former head football coach Art Briles was fired because of this scandal. Athletic Director Ian McCaw resigned after regents put him on probation because of the same scandal.

Regents kicked Starr out of his presidency because, as the “captain of the good ship Baylor,” he was ultimately responsible for all that occurs on the campus.

Starr professed “ignorance” regarding the many rape charges that have been filed against students at Baylor. Is that a sufficient defense? Of course not.

So, now he’s gone as chancellor, saying in an interview with ESPN, “We need to put this horrible experience behind us. We need to be honest.”

OK, professor, if honesty is what you want, how about just walking away from the campus altogether?

Doing so would enable himself a chance at a new start. Better still, it would give Baylor University a chance at renewal as well.


Hulkster gets what? $115 million?

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Hulk Hogan is no Erin Andrews.

Yet the two celebrities share something in common. They’ve both received mammoth jury awards after they sued for invasion of privacy.

Andrews’ award has been universally hailed after a jury granted her $55 million in a suit against a hotel chain; she was video recorded in the nude in her hotel room. The ESPN reporter was embarrassed to tears during the trial over the incident — in which the video went viral.

Hogan’s case is quite a bit different.

Gawker.com video recorded Hogan — the well-known former professional wrestler — having sex with his best friend’s wife. That video, too, went viral. Hogan — whose real name is Terry Bollea — sued for invasion of privacy.

A St. Petersburg, Fla., jury today gave the Hulkster $115 million. More than twice the award Erin Andrews got!

I offered a view about Hogan’s suit in an earlier blog.

I backed his lawsuit because his case also seemed to be as legitimate as Andrews’.

However, I just cannot muster up the level of sympathy for the Hulkster as I can for Andrews. I mean, come on! The guy was engaging in some truly disgusting behavior when someone recorded him.

Maybe the St. Pete jury was trying to send some sort of message to would-be stalkers and gawkers. It is that even celebrity pro wrestlers have a level of privacy that shouldn’t be breached.

Whatever the case, I’m not going to cheer this verdict the way I did the earlier one.


Let’s end the Pete Rose campaign for HOF

How about we simply give up trying to debate whether Pete “The Gambler” Rose deserves to be in baseball’s Hall of Fame?

I’ve grown tired of the discussion.

ESPN has aired a segment that revealed pretty conclusive evidence that Rose bet on baseball while he was playing the game, not just managing a team.


Didn’t the man dubbed “Charlie Hustle” deny all those years that he never bet on baseball while he played the game? Didn’t that stand as a possible qualifier that could get him inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Good grief. MLB’s rulebook is as clear as it gets.

Betting on baseball results in a lifetime ban. Pete Rose is still among us, last I saw. That means he doesn’t qualify for the hall.

He at first denied betting on games while he managed the Cincinnati Reds, where he played most of his career. Then he said, well, yeah I bet on games — but not on games involving my teams.

What else might we learn about this guy? He has said all along he didn’t bet while playing the game. That denial now appears headed for the crapper.

I understand fully that Rose got more hits than anyone else in the history of the game. I get that he played his guts out and got the most of the talent he had, which — truth be told — wasn’t as much as many other players of his era. He was a stellar hitter.

He also was a compulsive gambler — who broke one of baseball’s cardinal rules.

I know the Hall of Fame is full of racists, drunks, drug users, womanizers — and even a couple of pitchers known for throwing spitballs.

None of those sins, though, translates to lifetime bans.

Gambling on baseball? That’s the deal breaker.

ESPN to honor Caitlyn Jenner … for what?

Bob Costas is a smart sports journalist who goes far beyond who gets the most hits, scores the most touchdowns or sinks the most three-point field goals.

He’s been known to offer opinions on a wide range of issues beyond the field of competition.

He often is spot on.

I think he’s on target with his assertion that ESPN’s plan to honor Caitlyn Jenner with a special courage award, named after the late tennis great Arthur Ashe, is an attempt to exploit Jenner and boost the network’s ratings.


This likely will be the final thing I’ll say about Jenner, whose sex changed from man to woman. Jenner once was Bruce Jenner, Olympic decathlon champion who turned into a reality TV personality; he married Kris Kardashian and became the foil for his former wife and her daughters.

Then Bruce became Caitlyn.

I’m not sure about the “courage” it took to do such a thing. Jenner always has struck me as someone who craves publicity. She’s getting a ton of it now.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is named after the tennis great who died of AIDS complications in 1993. He announced to the world that had contracted HIV through a tainted blood transfusion. It broke the hearts of a sports nation that had admired him for his talent on the tennis court and his courtly, gentlemanly demeanor.

Caitlyn Jenner earning an award in memory of Arthur Ashe? It just doesn’t feel right.

There. I’m out.


Yes, Brady should have been at the White House

Tom Brady is taking some heat for missing a ceremony honoring the pro football team of which he is a member.

You’ve heard of Brady? Sure. He’s the quarterback of the New England Patriots, who won this year’s Super Bowl in stunning fashion against the Seattle Seahawks. He’s also the face of the team. He’s its field leader. He’s the Main Man of the offense.


Stephen A. Smith, an ESPN commentator, has taken serious umbrage over Brady’s absence from the ceremony, which is a tradition at the White House. Presidents long have honored NFL champs, World Series champs, NBA champs and even occasionally NHL champions, if the franchise that wins the hockey title is based in the United States.

I don’t buy Smith’s tirade that Brady “disrespected” the president, or that he skipped out because of political reasons. Then again, Smith is a blowhard and a grandstander who often says things that have little basis in reality.

I do agree, though, that Brady should have been there.

He’s a member of a team comprising 53 men that won the Big Game — as a team.

The writer of the essay attached to this blog notes that in previous post-Super Bowl ceremonies at the White House, Brady was single and that now he’s married, with children — and that maybe he couldn’t fit the event into his busy schedule.


Brady knew for many weeks the event was coming up. Brady had ample time to schedule this appearance. Heck, he’s got a secretary who could have taken care of the details. Brady could have taken some time away from his kids’ activities and his super-model wife to attend a light-hearted event at the White House.

My sense is that Brady’s absence from this event suggests he thinks of himself as bigger than the game and more important than his team.

The young man would be sadly mistaken on both counts.


Did one team just 'quit' tonight?

First things first. I’ll stipulate up front that I am no expert on college football. I’m just a fan who likes to cheer for my favorite teams.

The Oregon Ducks currently are my favorite team and they did not disappoint this big-time fan with a 59-20 demolition of the Florida State Seminoles. The Ducks are Rose Bowl champs for the second time in four years.

It’s a huge deal. Now they’ll await the winner of the next football playoff semifinal game between Alabama and Ohio State. I have zero preference in that game.

I think the most stunning thing said tonight by the ESPN announcing crew came late in the game when Kirk Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback, accused FSU of quitting. He said it twice after the Ducks went up 52-20.

I know that Herbstreit is an expert on football. Again, I am not. I’m betting that once the fellow’s statement finds its way to FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher’s ears that the coach and the announcer are going to have a few four-letter words.

It’s hard for me to put myself in the minds and hearts of dedicated athletes who’ve just been blown apart by a superior foe on the field. Did the Seminoles quit? Did they lie down and give up? Or was that defensive unit just plain exhausted after trying — mostly in vain — to stop the Oregon offense led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.

It might be that Florida State simply had nothing left.

Do I pity the Seminoles? Hardly. It’s tough to feel sympathy for a team in which 75 percent of its members walk off the field after a game without congratulating the winners, which the FSU players did tonight after the Ducks put that serious beat-down on them. You need to win and lose with class.

Still, to call them quitters? That’s a very tough thing to say. Kirk Herbstreit had better be ready to defend himself.

But … what the heck. My team won tonight — huge! One more game is left to play.

Go Ducks!


Hey, Mr. Lewis: Do not speak about criminal cover-up

Ray Lewis was one heck of a football player. He’ll probably be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.

He also managed to dodge a serious crime involving a homicide. So, when the subject of another pro athlete getting into trouble with the law, my advice to Lewis is simple: Recuse yourself from any discussion about this issue. Button it up, young man.


Lewis was speaking on ESPN about Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL after a video surfaced showing him cold-cocking his then-fiancée. Here’s Lewis: “When you watch this video, you see that somewhere this young man, some leadership was lost. He got out there … and started doing his own thing and what happens is what’s in the dark is going to come to light.”

He might regret saying anything at all about this case. Why?

Well, in 2000 Lewis was involved in the death of two men at a Super Bowl party. He was charged initially with murder and aggravated assault when the men were stabbed to death. He testified against two other men who also were involved. The murder charges were dropped and Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of — here it comes — obstruction of justice.

Oh, brother.

So now this guy pops off about another out-of-control pro athlete doing something “in the dark” that “is going to come to light.”

Social media went crazy over this little bit of wisdom from someone formerly accused of murder.

ESPN perhaps ought to have known better than to open this discussion in Ray Lewis’s presence. As for Lewis, I believe when the subject comes up again he needs to wave his hands in the air and say, “No mas.”