Get to know Heidi Watney, Laker watchers


Heidi Watney has been turning heads and sparking rumors for awhile in Boston.


Soon, she’ll be showing off for Laker showtime.

Part of NESN’s coverage of the Boston Red Sox coverage since ’08, Watney will join the Time Warner Cable’s Lakers coverage starting in the 2012-13 season, according several Boston-based bloggers who are crying in their clam chowder (linked here).

We’re told she’s a San Diego native and former runner-up for Miss California (linked here and linked here). And she can be so hypnotic, even ESPN’s Erin Andrews has been captured checking her out:

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Lookin’ live at Eugene … with EA trying to track down Barkley for a post-game comment in the snow


Key college football TV games in L.A. for Week 12 (all games Saturday unless deoted by an asterisk):

== USC at Oregon: 5 p.m., Channel 7, with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews
== UCLA vs. Colorado: Rose Bowl, 4:30 p.m., Versus, with Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila
== Cal at Stanford: 7:15 p.m, ESPN, with Carter Blackburn and Brock Huard
== Arizona at Arizona State: 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona with Tim Leander, Adam Archuleta and John Fina
== Washington at Oregon State: 13:30 p.m., FCS Pacific with Tom Glasgow, Steve Preece and Jason Stiles
== Utah at Washington State: 2 p.m., FCS Atlantic with Steve Brown, Mike Norseth and David Locke

== *North Carolina at Virginia Tech: Thursday, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Rece Davis, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Jenn Brown
== *Oklahoma State at Iowa State: Friday, 5 p.m., ESPN with Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore

== Penn State at Ohio State: 12:30 p.m., Channel 7, with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
== Nebraska at Michigan: 9 a.m., ESPN, with Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman, Urban Meyer and Quint Kessenich
== Wisconsin at Illinois: 9 a.m., ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Mike Bellotti
== Indiana at Michigan State: 9 a.m., Big Ten Network, with Eric Collins and Chris Martin
== Iowa at Purdue: 9 a.m., Big Ten Network with Tom Hart and Derek Rackley
== Minnesota at Northwestern: 9 a.m., Big Ten Network, with Wayne Larrivee and Glen Mason

== Mississippi State at Arkansas: 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 with Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson
== LSU at Mississippi: 4 p.m., ESPN with Bob Wischusen and Bob Davie
== SMU at Houston: 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket with Bill Land, Gary Reasons and Emily Jones (ESPN “College GameDay” will be there at 6 a.m. on ESPNU, 7 a.m. on ESPN).
== Kansas State at Texas: 5 p.m., FX with Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster
== Harvard at Yale: 9 a.m., Versus with Randy Moss, Ross Tucker and Carolyn Manno
== Boston College at Notre Dame: 1 p.m., Channel 4 with Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan
== Boise State at San Diego State: 5 p.m. CBS Sports Network with James Bates, Aaron Taylor and Brooke Collins

The NFL TV games in L.A. for Week 11 (all games Sunday unless deoted by an asterisk):

== *5:30 p.m., Thursday, NFL Network: N.Y. Jets at Denver, with Brad Nessler and Mike Maylock
== 10 a.m., Channel 2: Oakland at Minnesota, with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots, instead of Cincinnati-Baltimore, Buffalo-Miami and Jacksonville-Cleveland.
== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Tampa Bay at Green Bay with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (instead of Dallas-Washington and Carolina-Detroit)
== 1:15 p.m., Channel 2: San Diego at Chicago, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (instead of Tennessee-Atlanta. Fox also has Arizona-San Francisco and Seattle-St. Louis in this window not airing)
== 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants, with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya

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Galaxy next L.A. team in line for Time Warner infusion

Time Warner has locked up a substantial local TV rights deal with the Galaxy that will run 10 years at $5.5 million per season, making the MLS team the second franchise in L.A. to go with the upstart cable company’s business plan to compete with Fox Sports for area teams broadcasting deals.

TWC is planning to funnel Galaxy games on its English/Spanish cable channel that it will kick start with the Lakers later in 2012.

Fox declined to match the TWC offer only because of the enormous prices that TWC decided to pay — about $289,000 per game. That’s almost as much as Fox Sports was paying per season for the Galaxy, carrying 19 games.

One industry insider said it would be impossible for TWC to recoup these rights fees with only advertiser dollars, which means it more than likely will pass on the costs to those cable viewers who eventually have the TWC channels on their systems. No carriage deals have been announced.

The new TWC-Galaxy deal is even more expensive than the deal NBC has a three-year, $30 million package coming up that will have the current Versus channel take most of the action.

The official announcement of the TWC-Galaxy deal should come later this week, prior to the Galaxy’s appearance in Sunday’s MLS Cup game at Home Depot Center against Houston. ESPN is covering that game.

Next on TWC’s radar — the Dodgers, whose current deal with Fox’s Prime Ticket runs through 2013.

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Impervious to Playboy’s wishes, Leeann Tweeden goes for it … at age 38


The last issue of Playboy we actually purchased? Can’t recall.

It could have been Leeann Tweeden on the cover back in ’96.

The issue of her on the cover of the Dec., 2011 issue was tucked under L.A. Magazine, and on top of a USA Today when we took it to the counter at Barnes & Noble and had the elderly (mature) woman clerk ring it up for us.

We’ve tried to keep abreast of her career since her time as a sports person in the “Best Damn Sports Show Period” mode of Fox Sports Net some years ago. We met up with her once in Las Vegas to do a story about the new Poker Dome that was built just for televised poker. We didn’t realize she’d been hosting NBC’s “Poker After Dark” show, because we hadn’t watched it.


She’s no stranger to men’s magazine covers (linked here). According to her Facebook page, she’s got her own lingerie store — with her modeling the merchandise (linked here).

She at one time dated Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, about eight years younger than him, and bragged about their sex life in an issue of FHM magazine. That pretty much ended it. She also dated Dale Earnhardt Jr.

According to WikiAnswers, she married an Air Force C130 pilot on the Fourth of July in 2010.

What we learned about her in the new Playboy?

1) Sand seems to stick to her chest.

2) Back in ’96 when she was on the Playboy cover for an Olympic-themed issue, she didn’t do a nude pictorial because she was “prudish.” Now she’s ready to “shake things up.” Except not allowing the camera to shoot much from below the belt.

3) The feature on Herschel Walker as an MMA fighter is a good read.

4) Playboy costs $6.99 now? Jeez.

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You question the NBA lockout? We answer it


(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Kobe Bryant made it to a news conference after a meeting of the players’ union in New York this morning, after the NBA players rejected the league’s latest offer and have begun the process to disband the union.

==Does Monday’s players vote guarantee there’ll be no NBA games this season?

Not exactly. While David Stern won’t be confused with Alex Trebek in saying the season is “in jeopardy,” he specifically means that the window for a Dec. 15 start with a 72-game slate is gone. Back when the 1998-99 labor issue labored past Christmas and lasted 191 days, they were able to get a 50-game season played in early February, one month after the decision was reached. How long of a season would you accept?

== Did the NBA players even vote on this latest proposal?

Nope, just the player reps of each of the 30 teams voted to reject the owners’ latest proposal. Had all 450 players voted, the deal could have been ratified, some predicted.

== When do players start losing paychecks?

Tuesday is the first scheduled payment of the season.

== What’s the sticking point in all this again?

How to divide $4 billion in revenue. The owners want a 50-50 split. The players, who used to get 57 percent, are demanding at least 52 percent this time, claiming the owners’ proposal takes $280 million a year away from them. The owners have threatened to reduce their offer from 50 to 47 in the next session.

== Is this playing out like the recent NFL lockout?

The NBA’s lockout hit day 137 on Monday; the NFL’s went 136 days. However, this is more like the 2004-05 NHL labor clash – which led to the entire season being cancelled. They waited until February, ’05 before pulling the plus, and the players ultimately agreed to a deal far less in their favor when it was all done that July.

== What happens next?

The two sides may still talk, but the ball appears to be in the judges’ courts rather than on the hardwood courts. The league filed unfair labor practices charges and started litigation in federal court, claiming the players aren’t bargaining in “good faith.” The players say they’re going to file a class action suit against the league as well as an anti-trust suit, claiming their monopoly is preventing them from being employed as they’re locked out. Meanwhile, check local listings for college games in your area.

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How UCLA could win the Pac-12 title, or go without a bowl game, in one easy step


The Pac-12 sent out a release today laying out its tie-breaking proceedures — and making it known that, in fact, UCLA will “control its own destiny.”

But really, does anyone really have that power?

The Pac-12 north is pretty straight forward: Either Oregon or Stanford will host the conference title game. Oregon just has to win one of its last two, either against USC this Saturday or Oregon State later. Stanford can only win this division if it beats Cal on Saturday and Oregon loses its last two.

In the South, if UCLA wins its last two games against Colorado and USC, it makes it in. Incredibly.

If the Bruins win one and lose one, they could still be there — if ASU and Utah lose one more game in its last two.

Ridiculously, UCLA could also lose its last two and be the representative if ASU and Utah also lose their last two. UCLA owns the tie-breaker with ASU.

ASU wins the South if it wins its last two and UCLA loses one of its last two. If ASU wins one of its last two, it advances if UCLA loses both its two games. ASU has a tie breaker against Utah.

Utah could just as easily advance by winning its last two — against Washington State and Colorado — while ASU and UCLA finish the season with a loss during their final two games. Utah holds a tie breaker over UCLA.

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Play It Forward: Nov. 14-20 on your sports calendar


Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:


Soccer: MLS Cup: Galaxy vs. Houston, Home Depot Center, Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN:


Where in the world is the Phillip F. Anschutz MLS Cup Trophy? Not yet the Galaxy’s possession. Before the week’s over, it’ll have been dragged by former Galaxy stars Alexi Lalas and Mauricio Cienfuegos for display at the Santa Monica pier, over to a couple of tire stores in Long Beach and Norwalk, at a sporting goods store in El Segundo, and then dodging soccer moms at shopping malls in Woodland Hills, Century City, Arcadia and Santa Ana. It eventually parks itself in Carson, handed over to the team deemed to be the American Champions of Professional Kickball. For the fourth time in the last nine seasons, the award named after reclusive man from Denver will be handed out at the stadium he owns to one of the teams he owns. How’s that for an episode of “Modern Family?”


But even more of a DNA consequence: Will David Beckham’s family tell him this is his last game in L.A.? He’s been said to be interested in playing for the French club Paris St. Germain. Or some other English teams. Where are his loyalties? “Right now I don’t know what I am going to do at the end of the season because physically I need to see how I am,” he said. “Obviously there is a few things to look at. Is my family happy? Which they are. In the five years we have had great experiences as a family. Everyone has treated us so unbelievably well, but physically I still need to see where I am at the end of the season. Then I will decide.” He made more than $6 million a year here, so it couldn’t have been that painful. He also appeared in an MLS career-best 26 of the Galaxy’s 34 regular season games, scoring twice and adding 15 assists (seven of the game-winners). If anything, he’ll share the spotlight for this one with Landon Donovan, MLS defender of the year Omar Gonzalez and MLS Best IX pick Todd Dunivant as the Galaxy take on the Dynamos’ team led by midfielder Brad Davis. The Galaxy hasn’t lost a game all year at Home Depot Center, which includes a 1-0 win over Houston on May 25 (a penalty kick goal by Donovan; Beckham wasn’t there). Houston clinched second place in the East with a 3-1 win over the reserve-filled Galaxy in their season finale on Oct. 23, as Galaxy coach Bruce Arenas was resting players for the upcoming postseason.



College basketball: USC vs. Nebraska, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Maurice Jones proved to be the go-to guy for USC in their opener against Cal State Northridge, scoring eight of the team’s final 12 points in a seven-point home win. USC lost to Nebraska last year by a basket having once led by 20 points.

NFL: Minnesota at Green Bay, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

The 8-0 Packers toppled the Vikings, 33-27, just two weeks ago in Minneapolis, which is right around their NFL-high 34.4 points per game average this season They’ve won 14 in a row going back to the postseason (and including the Super Bowl title) and 10 in a row at home. The Vikings (2-6) are actually coming off a victory over Carolina.



College basketball: UCLA vs. Middle Tennessee State, L.A. Sports Arena, 8 p.m., Prime:

Bring on the hula girls and the beach umbrellas: This is the opening game of the Maui Invitational before the Bruins actually fly off to the islands. Maybe they’ll ware down the Blue Raiders with the Ware twins better than what happened in their opening loss to Loyola Marymount — which lost to MTS on Sunday.

College basketball: Duke vs. Michigan State, 4 p.m., and Kansas vs. Kentucky, 6 p.m., ESPN:

The State Farm Champions Classic in New York brings in four marquee names, without forcing them to play on the deck of an aircraft carrier. This is actually part of the ESPN annual 24 hours of hoops live coverage, where 19 men’s and two women’s games are carried on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. It starts at 9 p.m. Monday (Washington State at Gonzaga, ESPN) and ends with a NIT Season Tip-Off game from Stanford (tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPNU). Also included in this mess: Cal State Northridge at Hawaii, 1 a.m., ESPN; San Diego State at Baylor, 11 a.m., ESPN; and Long Beach State at Pitt, 4 p.m., ESPN3.



NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Fast facts about the first Freeway Face-off of the season: The Ducks have won the last three in a row, four of the six and hold a 46-45-11 edge since ’93-94. After this, they go to Anaheim on Thursday (7 p.m., FSW, Prime). Another fact of life: Current King and former Duck Dustin Penner will miss this with an injury.

Golf: President’s Cup, first day, 6 p.m., Golf Channel:

If Fred Couples did the right thing and invited Tiger Woods to be part of the U.S. team for this once-every-two-year event, we should find out early. Meaning, while it’s Thursday in Australia at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, it’ll still be Wednesday night here when the first day’s events take place.


Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee said the controversy around Woods’ selection is only a slice of what makes this feel like a heavyweight championship fight. “When you step back and look at this Presidents Cup — the controversy surrounding Tiger’s pick; (international captain Greg) Norman’s comments about that pick; Freddie’s rebuttal to Norman’s comments; the fact that Tiger Woods has stolen Dustin Johnson’s caddie and fired his or he defected to Adam Scott and then the terrible racist comments of Stevie Williams and the potential pairing and the site of the only U.S. loss …. it’s almost like Don King has been hired to promote this thing.” The U.S. Team retained the Cup during the last go-around in San Francisco in ’09, winning 19-1/2 to 14-1/2. The Americas hold a 6-1-1 dominance in the event — but the International Team’s lone victory came in 1998 when it was back at Royal Melbourne. Golf Channel goes live Thursday (4:30-to-11 p.m.), Friday (noon to 11 p.m.) and Saturday (3:30-to-9:30 p.m.), while NBC comes back with delayed coverage on the weekend (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday) as an alternative to football. aturday (3:30 to 9:30 p.m.). NBC jumps in with delayed coverage on the weekend



NFL: N.Y. Jets at Denver, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:

An extremely short week for the Jets, coming off their Sunday nighter against New England and then having to head West on the Tebow Express. So expect the excuses to come early and frequent.

College basketball: USC at San Diego State, 7 p.m., Mountain West Sports Network:

These Aztecs probably have better post-season potential than these Trojans.



High school football: CIF Southern Section first-round game: Lakewood at San Clemente, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

The prep post-season starts. The website also will stream Huntington Beach vs. Loyola, St. John Bosco vs. Alemany, Yucaipa vs. J.W. North and Palmdale vs. Canyon at 7:30 p.m.

College football: Oklahoma State at Iowa State, 5 p.m., ESPN:

You roll up 66 points and win by 60 against Texas Tech, and the computers will give the advantage to the BCS No. 2 Cowboys.



College football: USC at Oregon, 5 p.m., Channel 7:

Who made the rule that USC can’t play in the Pac-12 title game? You mean if Oregon wins out in the Pac-12 North, and USC squeezes out the best record in the Pac-12 South, instead of a rematch of this game, it’s possible that a Utah team that finished .500 in conference will be the only one eligible to face the Ducks?

College football: UCLA vs. Colorado, Rose Bowl, 4:30 p.m., Versus:

No snow predicted for Pasadena in the extended weather forecast. It would probably favor the Buffaloes anyway, who finally won a conference game last week against Arizona. A team that the Bruins, of course, was once embarrassed against.

College football: Cal at Stanford, 5 p.m., Channel 7; 7:30 p.m., ESPN; Arizona at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona; Harvard at Yale, 9 a.m., Versus; Boston College at Notre Dame, 1 p.m., Channel 4; Boise State at San Diego State, 5 p.m., CBS Sports Network:

A weekend of games that rivals nothing else in the game.

NHL: Kings vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW:

The Red Wings, fourth in the league in goals against average at 2.2 a game, won four in a row coming into this week, but they’re 2-3 on the road so far.

College basketball: USC vs. Cal Poly, Galen Center, 1 p.m.:

The opening game of the Las Vegas Invitational is here (as is the next one against Mongan State next week) until they actually go to Vegas to play Vegas.



NASCAR: Ford 400 Sprint Cup, Chase for the Cup: noon, ESPN

The finale at Homestead, Fla., outside Miami, officially marks the end of Jimmie Johnson’s five-year reign as the Sprint Cup champion. By the way, does Kyle Busch have a shot at the title? He should.

NFL: Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4; San Diego at Chicago, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2:

The Chargers can’t afford a repeat performance from their game last week against Oakland. Nor can the 3-6 Eagles. “Just because they have a bunch of Pro Bowlers doesn’t guarantee success,” NFL on Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson said before Sunday’s 21-17 loss to St. Louis. “You’ve got to have good players that don’t make mistakes. Philadelphia will probably win big today and they’ll probably win about eight games. However, Philadelphia for the playoffs, I’m sticking a fork in them! They’re not going to make the playoffs.” Heck, they didn’t even make Johnson’s prediction right.

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From Gehrig to Bing to Kurt to Matt: A bat, and the story that went with it


It must have been a scene somehow cut from “Pride of the Yankees.”


Lou Gehrig, in what would be his last spring training with the New York Yankees, is playing in a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Norfolk, Va.

His muscles are weakening. He can’t keep his balance. But somehow, he hits two home runs in the game, the second of which just clears the short right-field fence.

As Gehrig arrives at home plate, the Yankees batboy named Timmy hands him the Louisville Slugger that he just used.

Gehrig carries into the dugout, looks around, and without much ceremony, gives it to 12-year-old Bing Russell.

Gehrig retired eight games into the regular season at age 36, and died two years later.


That bat was something Russell cherished forever. It became a family heirloom amidst a generational clan that would include his son, actor Kurt Russell, and his grandson, big-league player Matt Franco.

And now it’s up for auction.

Estimates by SCP Auction, which is handling the sale that ends Nov. 19, put the value north of a half million dollars.

It should be priceless.

The story behind it sure is.

Bing Russell grew up hanging around the New York Yankees’ spring training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in the 1930s and ’40s because his dad ran a float plane service nearby.

He told the tale of how he and some other kids were fighting over a foul ball once, and Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez admired Bing’s spunk. He picked Bing up out of the scuffle, grabbed him by the collar and said, “Kid, you’ll never have to fight for a ball for the rest of your life.”

Bing somehow became a Yankees’ mascot for the next eight years. Gomez and Joe DiMaggio befriended him the most, maybe because Bing’s primary job was to smuggle peanuts and hot dogs to the Yankees players in defiance of manager Joe McCarthy’s rules against having food in the dugout.

Flash forward a decade or two.

After Bing’s attempt at a baseball career ended with an injury, he turned to acting. He moved his young family to Thousand Oaks, and landed roles in dozens of TV and movies in a 40-year career, projects such as “Rio Bravo” and “The Magnificent Seven,” as well as “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.”


Baseball never left him. His son, Kurt, while launching his own acting career with a Disney contract, played for the Thousand Oaks Little League, which Bing helped start.

Bing even bought the independent Single-A Portland Mavericks, while Kurt’s minor-league career ended in Double-A.

From Kurt’s older sister, Jill Franco, came Matt, who starred at Westlake High and would play for the Cubs, Mets and Braves as a utility specialist – eight years in the bigs (’95 to ’03), plus three more years in Japan.

But prior to that, during Matt’s minor-league tour, Bing was always nearby.

“He’d bring my grandma and they’d get an apartment where ever I was playing, follow the buses, drive hundreds of thousands of miles, and didn’t miss a game from my second year all the way through Triple A,” Franco remembered the other day. “If I played 1,500 games in the minors, they probably saw 1,400.

“Finally when I got to the big leagues, they said they could see the games better on TV.”


That Gehrig bat sat in Bing’s closet, then in an umbrella stand. Franco would visit “Pops” and pick up the Gehrig stick, marveling at its size. His mom ended up with the prized possession after Bing decided one day to divvy up some of his belongings. He died in 2003.

The stories that Bing used to tell his family about his days with the Yankees haven’t died. They’re being retold now that the bat’s out there.

“He had hundreds of stories, and we could have heard them a thousand times,” said Franco, living these days in Simi Valley with his wife and two small kids. “He could hold court. Baseball was his pride and joy.”

Now it’s time, Jill Franco decided, with the blessing of Kurt and Matt, to put the Gehrig bat in a safer place.

“Once we realized what it was worth, and finding out that the collectors who buy these kinds of things know how to display them and protect them, we felt comfortable to go ahead and auction it,” Franco said.

And with it, tell the story all over again about Bing Russell.

“It’s really cool, isn’t it?” Franco said of the story. “Unbelievable.”

He said it.

== The SCP Auction site with the Gehrig bat sale update: Lot 620 (linked here)
== Two more Bing Russell bats are part of this auction as well: One that belonged to Joe DiMaggio and is signed by the 1941 Yankees: Lot 621 (linked here), and another owned by Babe Dalghren, who replaced Gehrig at first base with the Yankees in 1939: Lot 622 (linked here).


== Bing Russell’s Internet Movie Data Base entry (linked here)
== Kurt Russell’s Internet Movie Data Base entry (linked here)
== Matt Franco’s big-league career (linked here)

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Weekly media column version 11.11.11

We’ve been waiting for this moment since the beginning of dawn.

Maybe even longer. Before Stonehedge was even built.

At least, since the early ’80s.

Any loyal follower of the painfully loud heavy metal group Spinal Tap will tell you this was designated Nigel Tufnel Day long before it was of any value to the rest of society. Read this piece in today’s Guardian (linked here) for more background on all you need to get you though this important day in our existence.


We needed that “extra push over the cliff” today in cranking out the weekly media offering (linked here), which focuses on Larry Kahn’s 10th season of NFL games on his own Sports USA radio network — next year, he gets it to 11 — plus media coverage of the Joe Paterno caper, and more on the Fox-UFC deal with the devil being carried out Saturday.

What’s not included in today’s media column: A Wall Street Journal blog post that somehow finds a way to link Paterno, Vin Scully and Hugh Hefner in the same chart (linked here). Connect the liver spots.

And Daniel Tosh take on “Tebowing” from his “Tosh.O” show this week (please don’t watch it with anyone from work, or younger than 16 in the vicinity):

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