Adding to today’s column of the Dubious Dozen of the Sports Media for 2008 (linked here), we offer these leftovers, some of which, we have no follow-up news to deliver:
The culprit: Danyelle Sargent and Mike Francessa
The crime: Sent by Fox to be a sideline reporter at asked to interview new 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, Sargent bungled a question so badly that it had to be stopped and re-asked. The problem is, the video of that first question, when she asked Singletary if he called the late Bill Walsh upon being hired, was captured on a satellite feed and broadcast on a New York TV show hosted by Francessa, and repeated across the Internet, as well as the Versus show “Sports Soup.”
==A clip of the Francessa clip of Sargent (linked here)
The aftermath: Fox said it would file a protest with the NFL for unauthorized use of the video. Sargent, who once dropped the “F” word during a open mike when she worked on ESPNEWS two years ago, has not been on the Fox NFL telecast since that October day.
After a day when the Internet gave her a migraine and she “stayed in bed for like five hours,” Sargent explained how she asked new Singletary about a phone call to Walsh, who died in July 2007.
On Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show, Sargent said: “I misspoke. What I meant to say is, ‘I heard he was one of the first phone calls that you made when you decided that you wanted to get into coaching.’ . . . I didn’t even realize that I misspoke, and then the producer at the game in my ear says, ‘Wait, stop.’
“I don’t see how anyone could have thought that it was on air because I stopped in the middle of the interview. There was no toss-back. I stopped in the middle of the interview and started talking to my producer. And I’ve never seen anyone do that during a game.”
Said NFL senior VP of media operations Howard Katz: “To use an outtake was unfair. If it had been on the broadcast, it would have been fair game.”
“Obviously a mistake was made,” Francesa told the New York Times. “If we’d known that, we wouldn’t have used it.”
The culprit: ESPN
The crime: In November, an advertisement pitch that was supposedly made to the all-sports network was released to the blog AwfulAnnouncing.com (linked here), and later reported on in USA Today. Anomaly, a New York ad agency, planned an ad campaign for ESPN specifying what it wanted actors to do in portraying students from different colleges who were working in “the ESPN College Basketball Call Center (CBBCC),” people on the phone “to get them to watch more College Basketball. Basically they are selling college basketball.”
But what type of stereotypes did they need to exploit?
The memo said that, for example, a Tennessee co-ed needed to be “slutty” and “crazy.” The “defining characteristic” of the Marquette student is “you don’t really remember her.” Syracuse would need a “Jewish kid” who loves college — “all-you-can-eat buffets in the cafeteria, who knew?” A student from “Perdue” needed to look 14.
The aftermath: ESPN canceled the campaign.
“Our marketing department just learned of this casting call today,” said ESPN’s Mike Soltys. “The language and approach reflected in that document were not approved by us and in no way represent ESPN or the respect we have for the college community.”
The culprit: Ryan McNeil
The crime: The former NFL cornerback started a magazine called OverTime, to help professional athletes manage their money. In January, an investigative report on mediabistro.com showed that McNeil’s company, Maven Media Group, owed thousands of dollars to former staffm free lance writers and vendors.
In response to an email sent to McNeil listing the facts of the story and requesting comment, he wrote: “OT has always met its obligations in the past and we fully intend to do so in the future. We are currently involved in pending litigation and arbitration to enforce our rights and to defend ourselves against claims we consider without merit and will vigorously defend ourselves against any such allegations of wrongdoing. Though we had to overcome some financial hurdles related to the pending litigation and arbitration, we have consistently streamlined our partnerships, processes and procedures to ensure future success.”
The aftermath: The compay continues to put out a magazine (linked here).
The culprit: John Tomase
The crime: The Boston Herald sports writer who who reported in a Feb. 2 story that the New England Patriots taped a pre-Super Bowl walkthrough by the St. Louis Rams in 2002 said he will regret the erroneous story for the rest of his life.
“First and foremost, this is about a writer breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism. I failed to keep challenging what I had been told,” wrote Tomase.
Tomase explained what led up to the story, which appeared one day before the Patriots’ 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The Herald on Wednesday apologized for the story, after former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he did not tape the walkthrough and did not know of anyone who had.
Tomase wrote that he first heard rumors that the walkthrough had been taped during the 2006 season. Those rumors strengthened after the Patriots were caught illegally taping signals by New York Jets’ coaches during the opening game of the 2007 season. Goodell fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 for that incident, and stripped New England of a first-round draft choice.
“I had repeatedly heard that this walkthrough had been taped, and from people I trusted. Eventually I accepted it as fact and stopped questioning the assertion,” Tomase said.
After verifying that a member of the team’s video staff had been setting up a camera at the walkthrough, Tomase said he then made a “devastating leap of logic,” by assuming the camera was rolling.
Tomase said none of his sources told him they had seen a tape.
“I should not have written the story without seeing the tape or getting multiple, firsthand confirmations from members of the organization,” he wrote.
He also conceded that he should have given the Patriots more time to investigate and respond. The team adamantly denied the story.
==The Boston Herald apology (linked here).
==A Deadspin.com account of the story (linked here)
The aftermath: In February, Yahoo! Sports issued an apology to Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan for naming him in a story about cheating in the NFL. A Sept. 13 story had said Shanahan had hired someone to videotape San Diego Chargers practices and that the NFL knew the videotaping had occurred and took no action. “Yahoo! has stringent editorial standards in place to prevent this type of error, and we regret the lapse in our protocol that allowed this to happen,” the apology posted on its site read.
The culprit: Josh Booty
The crime: The former LSU quarterback, and former USC quarterback John David Booty’s older brother, was listed as a “Fox Sportscaster” when a story in February came out that he had been tased by Orange County Sheriffs after a DUI arrest. TMZ had it all there (linked here)
The culprit: ESPN
The crime: In August, it realized that it needed to ask local affiliates to stop running an advertisement for AshleyMadison.com, a website that that connects would-be cheaters with potential mates. Noel Biderman, the president of the company, learned of ESPN’s decision from an ABCNews.com reporter and said he felt that “a double standard” had been applied, since ESPN is “inundated” with advertisements for alcohol, a product “responsible for health issues and ultimately death … Somehow I’m immoral and everything else is OK?” The 35-second commercial shows an unhappy-looking man lying in bed alongside a snoring woman. As he gets up and leaves the bedroom, a narrator’s voice declares, “Most of us can recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman, but not when it’s every night for the rest of our lives. Isn’t it time for AshleyMadison.com?”
The ad had run on ESPN’s “Sports Center.”
The culprit: Jeff Pearlman
The crime: In January, the former Sports Illustrated writer issued an apology to the city of Florence, South Carolina for the way he described it in a piece about the upbringing of NFL player Clayton Holmes, who played for three Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys teams in the 1990s but ended up out of the league after five drug suspensions.
Pearlman wrote: “The east side of Florence, a downtrodden section of a downtrodden city littered by double-wide trailers, wayward drug dealers and the shattered Budweiser bottles, used condoms, McDonald’s wrappers and crumpled newspapers that seem to pock each dirt road and cement walkway.”
Hundreds emailed to complain, many fom people who disagreed with his depiction of Florence as “a city long ago deserted by hope.”
“The important thing to me was that the guy almost instantaneously said I’m sorry,” said Mayor Frank Willis, who added he’d also like to see an apology from ESPN.
The culprits: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
The crime: The Fox Sports No. 1 NFL team decided to accept a proposal to pimp popcorn.
The Dale and Thomas Popcorn company in New Jersey hired the two to join its “top secret kitchen in its headquarters” (according to the press release) to help sell its product leading into Fox’s coverage of the Super Bowl in Feburary.
Buck supposedly “created” the Dark Fudge Drizzlecorn with Praline Almonds, while Aikman invented Halftime Chili and Sour Cream popcorn.
The copmany also sold a collectable glass popcorn bowl, with the “signatures of special guest chefs Mr. Aikman and Mr. Buck. This bowl will become a keepsake for football and popcorn lovers alike, and a staple forany football watching party. Most excitingly ten of these limited edition boxes will contain anauthentic signed letter from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman that will entitle the recipient to an autographed football from these two football greats.”
Buck, a “football great”?
The aftermath: We tried to find the 2008 Limited Edition Troy Aikman and Joe Buck Big Game Collectible Party Box at http://www.daleandthomas.com for $42, but couldn’t. A customer rep named Lushiryl Thomas emailed us back to say it’s no longer available, but if we had more questions, don’t hesistate to pick up the phone and call 1-800-POPCORN.
The culprit: ESPN
The crime: In March, the NCAA handed the University of Connecticut a secondary violation reprimand for arranging a private tour of the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., to one of its prized recruits, Maya Moore, back in 2005.
ESPN (surprise) first reported on the story, saying (and absolving itself) that UConn’s women’s basketball office solicited the tour.
The aftermath: Wrote Richard Sandomir of the New York Times about the story: “A television network — no, a sports media empire of unmatched power — as an enabler for an NCAA violation? Marvelous. (Would someone remind the Fighting Irish football team not to book the NBC studio tour to see where Tina Fey works.)”
==An addition to No. 11 in today’s Dubious Dozen list, about the Boston Globe all ready to sell a book called “19-0” to celebrate the New England Patriots’ perfect season that didn’t happen:
In August, freelance writer Aaron Kaplowitz did a piece for the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine about a trip he took to find the “19-0” hats and T-shirts that Reebok had made before Super Bowl XLII. They were given to a Christian charity group to distribute to people in need in nearly inaccessible places in Central America. Kaplowitz found them in San Gregorio, Nicaragua. But he never uncovered the book.
The story (linked here).
And one more entry for “FOOT, MEET MOUTH”:
== Charles Barkley: Prior to the NBA season in October, the TNT analyst was with a group of reporters about the New York Knicks’ prospects and new coach Mike D’Antoni: “I think they have a better coach. This coach probably won’t try to kill himself.” The reference was to a story a day earlier about former Knicks coach Isiah Thomas allegedly taken to a hospital because of an overdose of sleeping pills. Barkley apologized.
== Chet Coppock: In February, the Chicago sports-talk host was suspended two weeks. It stemmed from Coppock’s partner, Finfer, asking him to spell “Jewish.” Coppock replied: “M-O-N-E-Y.” He and the station apologized.
== Tony Kornheiser: During an ESPN “Monday Night Football” game in September, after Dallas returned a kickoff for a touchdown, the telecast used replay with a Spanish-language audio. Kornheiser said: “I took high school Spanish and that either means, ‘Nobody is going to touch him’ or ‘Could you pick up my dry cleaning in the morning?’ It’s one of those two.” Before the game ended, the commentator issued an apology.