Cassel, the Patriots’ franchise player? Is Gisele down with that?


On tonight’s edition of “Inside the NFL” on Showtime (9 p.m.), there’s a look back at the 2008 season that includes a retrospective of those who’ve passed away (Gene Upshaw, Georgia Frontiere and Sammy Baugh, for example), Warren Sapp opining about why the Tampa Bay Bucs floundered at the end and missed the playoffs, and Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth matching wits about the Dallas Cowboys’ choke job.

Then there’s a look ahead as to what may happen in 2009.

Such as, could Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, the former Chatsworth High and USC player who’s now an unrestricted free agent after leading the team to an 11-5 record, end up playing for the New York Jets?

Mike Lombardi, the “Inside” insider, has it figured out this way: “The Patriots are way to smart, and I’ve talked to people in the organization. They are going to franchise Matt Cassel. He’s an asset and they can control their ability to trade him if they franchise him.”

What would a franchise tag (explanation linked here) mean for Cassel? Ron Borges of the Boston Herald writes (linked here) that Cassel would be smart to take the Patriots’ offer if given a franchise-tag opportunity — and, with Tom Brady coming back, probably become the most expensive guy standing back on the sidelines, staying injury free.

The topic comes up after there’s speculation about what the Jets do if Brett Favre walks away.

“The Jets’ quarterback of the future is no where to be found,” says Lombardi. “And that is what makes the Jets’ job not very attractive for potential coaches. Remember with all these jobs opening, the teams have to recruit the coaches as much as the coaches have to recruit the teams.”

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Charles Barkley poses for a new booking photo


Yup, this one’s a keeper.

It’s from the Gilbert, Ariz., po-lice station, after the TNT analyst couldn’t yammer his way out of a drunken driving charge. He was pulled over in Scottsdale’s Old Town area for running a stop sign at 1:30 a.m. and then failed a sobriety test, gave some blood and was let go … read more about it here (linked here).


Compare the photo he took early this morning to the one he posed for in 1997, when he was arrested in Orlando, Fla., and charged with hurling a bar patron through a glass window after the man tossed a glass of ice at him. The case was settled after Barkley was fined and performed community service.

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‘Doc’ Emrick needs no second opinion: He’ll watch NHL game from Wrigley on TV like the rest of us


Mike “Doc” Emick visited his own doctor today, and they agreed — laryngitis will prevent the Hall of Fame broadcaster from doing the play-by-play for NBC on Thursday’s outdoor NHL telecast betweeen the Blackhawks and Red Wings from Wrigley Field.

It’s in Chicago. So call it the Curse of the Silly Throat.

Instead, Dave Strader, the play-by-play man for the Phoenix Coyotes who does regional NHL games for NBC, will fill in on the telecast (Thursday, Channel 4, 10 a.m.)

“Last year’s game (Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Field) was a lifetime memory and I couldn’t wait to call this year’s game at Wrigely,” said Emrick in a statement released by NBC. “I’m extremely disappointed but I know Dave will do a wonderful job.”

Hold on: Emrick can’t talk. So how did he issue that statement?

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They ain’t Eubanks and Edwards


Not that this will matter much to the Southern California TV viewers who’ll automatically look first for Bill Welsh on KTTV-Channel 11 before tuning into the usual coverage of the Rose Parade on KTLA-Channel 5, watching Bob Eubanks and … wait, Stephanie Edwards is back? … call all pedal-by-pedal action.

(It starts at 6 a.m. with the “Backstage” show, followed at 7 a.m. by the “Countdown,” then the actual live parade at 8 a.m, replayed at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., or more times than “Everybody Hates Chris”)

But ABC (via KABC Channel 7) is also covering the floating festival prelude to the USC-Penn State football game. Live as well, starting at 8 a.m.

Hosted by …

Hannah Storm and Josh Elliot. Yes, the Barbie and Ken weekday morning “SportsCenter” anchors. Recruited to banter, albeit mostly scripted, on what kind of mums have been used to create the rosy cheeks on the toy soldiers’ faces, or how that’s real steam coming out of that fire engine (!), or why Monty Montana was thrown off his stallion again at the corner of Colorado and (fill in the blank).

Why this pair of broadcasters? Because … Robin Roberts and Ted McGinley weren’t available?

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Taking another leap of faith

We admit to watching Robbie Maddison try to break his neck on ESPN on last year’s New Year’s Eve TV programming. He didn’t, and we were OK with that.

Still, ESPN knows a good party buzz device when it can profit from it.

The next edition of the “Red Bull: No Limits” stunt tour takes place Wednesday night when Maddison again tries another crazy jump on his motorcycle, plus Rhys Millen tries to do something that he couldn’t last year.

After the warmed-over Chick-Fil-A-Bowl on ESPN — at about 8 p.m. our time — Joe Tessitore will come on live from Las Vegas to introduce this latest stunt stint.

Last year, Maddison jumped the length of a football field — 322 feet, 7.5 inches — in the parking lot of the Rio hotel. This year, he’s going to try to go more than 120 feet high and land on top of the 96-foot Arc de Triomphe replica in front of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. He’ll then freefall 50 feet off the Arc to a ramp.

Then he’ll live to tell about it.

“I had some doubts last year whether or not I could jump a football field,” said Maddison in an ESPN press release. “But as I practiced, I got more and more confident and realized I could pull it off, and I did, twice. This year, the doubts are way bigger; the jump has never been done before, but I’m confident in my ability and I believe that as I start training, the dream that seems impossible will become a reality.”

Millen is going to try to do a back flip off an off-road truck that’s traveling a distance of 80 feet. He overshot his landing last year, injuring himself and had to pull out of the event.

“Last year we attempted what was before then thought impossible,” said Millen. “Laws of physics and vehicle dynamics were pushed to the limits with success, but failure came in one small miscalculation. My body can be broken but my mind cannot. This year, people will witness the first ramp to ramp back flip in an off-road truck – ever!”

In 2007, ESPN’s New Year’s 90-minute telecast did a 3.7 rating for more than 5 million viewers. More info:

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