It’s Out of the Question: Tee up Johnny Football again

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, center with towel, sways with teammates during the school song following Saturday's win over visiting Rice.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, center with towel, sways with teammates during the school song following Saturday’s win over visiting Rice. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Johnny Football sure learned his lesson Saturday afternoon.

College football got schooled as well.

What doubts are there that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had some cash funneled to him – above table, under the table, snapped to him between someone else’s legs – for scribbling his name on a bunch of memorabilia in the months since his Heisman coronation?

And what harm was actually done – aside from sidestepping some archaic NCAA rule — by profiting from someone’s own piece of personalized artwork?

Smart 20-year-old college entrepreneur that he is – his Aggie bio lists him as a “sports management” major — what kind of incriminating paper trail did he leave?

None, as far as the sports’ clownish, contradictory governing body was concerned.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

But for some other unexplained “inadvertent” violation Manziel apparently committed, Texas A&M (that’s short for Advertising and Marketing) was forced to start the first half of its season opener without his electrifying scrambling ability for the good of the team’s point total.

(Note: A lightning storm Thursday suspended South Carolina’s opener against North Carolina for more than an hour – or longer than Manzeil’s suspension).

Manziel (rhymes with “sell”) apparently signed off on the 30-minute punishment, watching the game with a towel wrapped around neck (perhaps to later autograph and auction off) rather than offer up any sort of legal appeal.

But then, what choice did the sophomoric sophomore have? His best move was to take the hand slap, expose the NCAA again for its farcical ways and draw more support for the plight of  the exploited college athlete. Continue reading

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The K.O. Affect(ion): We knew we were missing something, we just didn’t know what it was

Photo: ESPN

Photo: ESPN

The United Statements of Keith Olbermann, otherwise labeled simply “Olbermann” on your ESPN2 run sheet, has predictably become quite a complicated piece of television to consume on a nightly basis in just its first week.

Even setting the DVR and realizing this would involve more than one take at a time in an attempt to chew upon and digest, it can easily induce an Alka Seltzer moment.

This completely ego-driven return of the former ESPN anchor aiming to rewrite how history has looked upon him has managed to kick it into verbiage overdrive pronto.

From New York’s Times Square, Olbermann has produced a greater luminous effect than all the glittering signage in the background that seemed to be there if only to challenge him for visual attention.

The content isn’t really anything unexpected. It’s pure, unadulterated, look-at-me K.O. OK, we get it.

Photo: ESPN

Photo: ESPN

The comparisons to his previous stint as a smuggest political commentator on MSNBC’s “Countdown” were anticipated. You’d love it more if this somehow spurred the creation of a sports-related Steven Colbert-type character on a daily Onion video, one where the guy’s head would literally explode at the end of each segment.

And reading between the lines in everything Olbermann does, even if there are some less-than-subtle jabs at his own company’s policies, is mandatory if anyone plans to stick with it past the some volatile opening monologue and get to the compelling interviews, retro sports highlight commentary and even a re-washing of his “worst people” segments as they relate to the sports world.

“I’m here to calm you down,” joked Wednesday night guest John McEnroe, introduced shortly after Olbermann’s railing against the NCAA’s decision to suspend Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for the first half of Saturday’s opener, a follow-up lambasting from the night before where he created a well-told but refreshingly new spin on how the game Manziel  plays is really “college pro football.”

“You don’t need to be that angry,” McEnroe continued. “You seemed fairly mellow early on, and now you’re coming on strong.”

McEnroe couldn’t be serious. But in a way, he was.

Admitted Olbermann: “I have a lot of pent-up anxiety.” Continue reading

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George Raveling’s perspective 50 years later on Dr. King’s ‘dream’ speech — beyond the fact he can read the original copy whenever the moment strikes him

Last month, George Raveling was joined by CBS’ James Brown on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to recall the Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech given 50 years ago — Aug. 28, 1963. The piece aired recently on “CBS Sunday Morning”:

It was about a year ago when George Raveling found himself in Oregon, sitting through a global sports marketing meeting at Nike’s headquarters.
Raveling, the shoe company’s director of international basketball, was part of a seminar on how make a better group presentation.
The model used as an example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
“The woman explained to us how a speech had to create a clear vision,” the former USC coach recalled. “From a leadership standpoint, you had to present that vision, and then show people how it would unfold – the strategy, the journey, the destination.
“She took us from the beginning of that speech and showed how Dr. King used his voice, his tone, going low at times, and then becoming more boisterous, how he could manipulate the audience’s emotions as he spoke.
“It was all about getting people willing to follow that vision. She demonstrated how Dr. King took everyone to this ‘promised land,’ and showed them what it would look like.”
One of Raveling’s colleagues sitting close by leaned over to him.
“You’re pretty familiar with all this, aren’t you?” he asked.
“Yes,” Raveling responded, “but I’ve never looked at it from this perspective.” Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Aug. 26-Sept. 1 on your sports calendar — Not to Labor Day the point, but college football kicks off for USC, UCLA

The week ahead on the sports calendar, here and afar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

ncf_u_bretthundley_cmg_600COLLEGE FOOTBALL:
USC at HAWAII, 8 p.m. Thursday, CBS Sports Network:
UCLA vs. NEVADA, Rose Bowl, 7 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Network:
“The city is different now,” UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was saying. “Just walking around, everybody knows you for that game. You hear, ‘Oh, you’re the quarterback that beat SC. You beat SC.’ It’s so cool.” As a freshman last season, Hundley facilitated in the rainy 38-28 win over USC at the Rose Bowl. Junior Anthony Barr punctuated it by effectively ending Matt Barkley’s college career with an emphatic sack. Flash forward nine months.
moraldeThe fact both Hundley and Barr return to coach Jim Mora’s squad that has been to the Pac-12 title game two seasons in a row as the South champion turns the expectations up a notch in the pre-season polls. And the fact that USC beleaguered coach Lane Kiffin is without Barkley has no clear-cut starter at quarterback says more about the state of the Trojans’ program . Is there a way Marquis Lee can take snaps out of the shotgun and the just decide himself which way to attack the defense? Mora says that playing the opener in the Rose Bowl may feel like a bowl-game atmosphere, even if the opponent is the Wolf Pack. “What you find the first time you walk into the Rose Bowl is that adrenaline just takes over,” said Mora. “We saw that in the spring game, and then you get tired real easy. So, we’re going to try to create that on Saturday night so that when we come out against Nevada, we’re maybe a tad more relaxed and used to the environment. There will still be a heightened sense of anxiety (on game day).”
LanKifCU_APIf USC’s season, and Kiffin’s future, hangs in the balance of what bowl game the team ends up, at least they’ll start things off with a bowl-type feeling traveling to Honolulu for their opener. USC’s last two trips to Hawaii produced victories of 49-36 (in 2010) and 63-17 (in 2005). USC officials confirm that in neither of those trips did Snoop Dogg pick them up at the airport.

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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20 years after Little League fame, Sean Burroughs knows “it’s not how far you fall, it’s how you get back up”

Sean Burroughs will turn 33 in September, 20 years removed from his Long Beach Little League championship season (Photo by Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Sean Burroughs will turn 33 in September, 20 years removed from his Long Beach Little League championship season (Photo by Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Sean Burroughs shouldn’t be defined as simply the answer to a Little League trivia question.
It just so happened his name came up during the annual Williamsport, Pa., tournament last week, after 13-year-old Grant Holman of Chula Vista threw a no-hitter in his team’s opening game of the Little League World Series against Grosse Point, Mich.
ESPN’s research department was quick to tweet out: The last California pitcher to record such a feat happened to be “future major leaguer” Burroughs.
“No, I missed that,” Burroughs admitted with a chuckle the other day, sitting in the clubhouse of the Dodgers’ Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, waiting out a rain delay that eventually postponed his team’s game against the visiting Jacksonville Suns.
This is one of those moments in time when memories mesh, actions are reassessed, deep breaths are taken, and smiles hopefully emerge.
Now is supposed to be a time to celebrate – it’s been 20 years since Burroughs and his pals from Stearns Park made history at the Little League World Series, clinching their second straight championship as the U.S. West Regional representatives from Long Beach.
This was the only time they really got to jump around on the field and bask in the spotlight after a 3-2 triumph over Panama, which came after Jeremy Hess’ bases-loaded, game-winning blast. The previous title in 1992 was unceremoniously handed over to Long Beach after it was determined that their opponent from the Philippines used over-aged players and were thus stripped of the crown. Continue reading

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It’s Out of the Question: A win-Vin situation, version 65.0

Vin Scully discusses his decision to stay for the 2014 season (LADodgers Twitter account)

Vin Scully discusses his decision to stay for the 2014 season (LADodgers Twitter account)

You didn’t think Vin Scully was going to just pull the chair out from under everyone once next season started, did you?

Veni, vidi, Vinnie.

He came, he saw, and we’ve got him back.

“I’ve always felt that I’m an ordinary man that was given an extraordinary opportunity,” he explained today during his official announcement at Dodger Stadium.

So now that all that’s settled, and he’s been given his wife’s blessings to make 2014 his 65th season with the team, we humbly suggest we try to sweeten things up before that.

If these Dodgers process all the way to the World Series in the coming weeks, shouldn’t those who beat the drum for the Vin Scully Marching and Chowder Society finally be able to hear him calling national broadcasts again during Fox’s coverage?

We’ve been down this pot-holed road before, with petitions, columns, hemming and hawing, worried that egos don’t get stepped on.

In the grand scheme of things, if he joined the Dodgers along for the ride into October 25 years after he captioned Gibson’s World Series homer and punctuated their last championship during Hershiser’s final strikeout, who would it really be hurting?

Joe Buck has already said in the past he’d be more than willing to step aside.

“Personally, I’d love it,” he told us two years ago. “There’s no one like Vin, or close to Vin. I’d happy step aside to hear his voice. I would not fight that at all.”

This year, make it happen. Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 08.23.13 — Scully says he wants to come back, with announcement expected Friday

4438f520f39611e1a98b22000a1e879e_7As reports start to surface that Vin Scully will announce Friday his plans of wanting to return for the 2014 season with the Dodgers — not unexpected, but now more official –, what made it into this week’s sports media column:
fox-sports-1-erin-andrews-petros
First impressions may not be lasting ones for those who’ve forced themselves to watch as much as Fox Sports 1 as humanly (and humanely) possible. But we tried it anyway.

What didn’t make it: Continue reading

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How NFL Films, like the NCAA, faces a potentially costly image problem

roman-gabriel_130808_blogFrom the Associated Press:

MACKTen former NFL players — including the L.A. Rams’ Roman Gabriel and Tom Mack, one-time L.A. Raiders tight end Dave Casper and ex-USC star lineman Ron Yary — have filed a lawsuit to reclaim money they feel they are owed by NFL Films for use of their images without their consent.

The suit filed a lawsuit in New Jersey seeks payment for the use of their names, images and likenesses from film footage they say was used on NFL Network and to promote the league without their.

John Riggins, the former Washington Redskins Hall of Famer, is also part of the suit, with Curley Culp, Mike Bass, Willie Buchanon, Joe Kapp and Phil Villapiano are also part of the lawsuit. This suit, in addition to the 10 named, also asks that former players who have opted out of the Fred Dryer v. NFL lawsuit, their heirs and assigns be included in this case.

Jon King, an attorney for the players, compared the lawsuit filed on Tuesday to the one from former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon against the NCAA because they deal with “individuals’ rights to control the use of their image.”

The NCAA, and video game company Electronic Arts, are facing similar suits that may determine if EA Sports could use First Amendment protections to defend its actions.

“In the EA case, it had to do with computer graphics depictions of players,” King said. “As technology increases, it becomes more lifelike and realistic. In the NFL Films case, it’s the players’ images, but committed to film for DVD and really, more these days, for distribution on the NFL Network.”

“NFL Films has never obtained authorization from retired players to use their images to be, as NFL Films puts it, the ‘backbone’ of the NFL Network,” according to the 81-page filing obtained by The Associated Press. “NFL Films’ conduct goes far beyond simply use of images without consent. It continues to this day to strike licensing business deals, in New Jersey, affirmatively, and falsely, misrepresenting that it has obtained all former players’ consent to appear in its promotional materials. The NFL does likewise.”

There was a $50 million settlement in April between the NFL and a group of retired players seeking publicity rights. The NFL said Wednesday that settlement was “fair and reasonable” and should be enough to placate this group of players. Continue reading

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Why Bill Lee, at age 66, still has the right stuff for baseball

lee_H2S0489A year ago, Bill Lee made some history by pitching a complete game for the independent minor league San Rafael Pacifics at age 65.

He’s about to top it this year.

Not only will the left-hander more famously known as “Spaceman” during his 14-year big-league career with the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos pitch again for the Pacific on Wednesday — his goal is to play all nine positions, finishing up on the mound.

Tonight, the San Rafael resident is the designated hitter for the Pacifics in their game against the Maui Na Koa Ikaika — swinging wooden bats that he made himself.

leeexLee told The Marin Independent Journal that the all-nine-positions feat is a tribute to former major leaguers Bert Campaneris and Cesar Tovar, who did the same thing with their teams in the 1960s.

“They’re two of my great friends and idols,” Lee said. “I thought someone from California ought to do it.

“That’s what I do, I’m just a traveling ballplayer. If I wake up every morning and there’s a ballgame and they invite me to play I’m going to show up.”

Thursday, the Pacifics, who already clinched the first-half championship and enter the playoffs this weekend, are giving out a Bill Lee Bobblehead.

The Pacifics are part of the Pacific Association, which has former Dodgers outfielder Mike Marshall as its commissioner. Marshall’s wife, Mary, is the Pacifics’ vice president and assistant general manager.

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