A version of the blog post we did Thursday about the NFL concussion discussion and how it pertains to former players who work for the media and have had issues in the past.
What could have but didn’t have enough juice behind it:
== The trailer above for the documentary “United States of Football” should hopefully inspire you to find a theater that has managed to squeeze it into marquee this weekend, as it hits national distribution in 140 theaters across the country. It recently finished a week-long run at the Landmark in West L.A. but has time set aside for it at the Regency 8 in Agoura Hills (Saturday, 4:10 p.m.), the Regency 9 in Granada Hills (Saturday, 4 p.m.), the Plant 16 in Van Nuys (Saturday, 4 p.m.) and the Foothill Cinema Stadium 10 in Azusa (Saturday, 4:50 p.m.).
Otherwise, look for it on Video On Demand starting Oct. 6. Pre-orders for the DVD are at the official website: http://theusof.com/ It’s a fascinating evolution of attitude for writer/director Sean Pamphilon as he concerns himself whether to let his son, Alix, now a sophomore in high school, become part of the decision on playing flag football on the junior high level. Pamphilon says he was the dad who enjoyed watching his son play the game on a level he never attained, but now that he knows today about repetitive brain injuries suffered from helmet hits, it’s a whole new discussion.
Pamphilon admits that when he was a 23-year-old getting into the business and cutting highlights at Bristol, Conn., for ESPN shows, he was “told to focus on big plays, bit hits and don’t cheat on the reactions. My job was to make sure fans like you were titillated … and desensitized.” It led to that ESPN “Jacked Up” segment that anchors Chris Berman and Tom Jackson so loved to do the voice over work for, screaming about a player who got a helmet knocked off by a huge hit in particular.
“I said many times this was about as stupid as something I’d ever seen,” Bob Costas says in the film about that ESPN now-defunct segment.
Pamphilon said Thursday in a phone interview that, looking back on his ESPN days, “I was just doing what I was taught. I thought it was awesome. It was far away from what I remember the game as when I was 7, when I was upset that I’d miss a game because of Sunday school, when players were knocked down but there was a gentleman aspect in a brutal game when other players would help them up. Now you just see guys destroying each other, knowing where the cameras are and how to get on TV. I know ESPN changed college basketball — it eliminated the mid-range jumpers (because of the highlights featuring dunks and 3-pointers) — and now with football it eliminated simple tackling. It changed the game, not for the better.” One highlight in particular that still defies logic in Pamphilon’s mind is that hit South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney put on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. That alone seemed to vault Clowney into this year’s Heisman Trophy talk.
“It’s sickening, especially when you listen to the broadcasters in that game sound as if they’re getting erections from seeing it,” said Pamphilon. “It’s staggering to me in a culture where we understand it’s a hit that can cause long-term damage, that doesn’t resonate. That hit was the No. 1 play on ESPN SportsCenter seemingly forever, and it may have even won some ESPY Award.
“I was listening to ESPN Radio on the day the NFL concussion settlement came down, and the discussion was about how this could next transition into the college game. Some of the hosts of the show were talking about when they saw high school tape of Clowney playing, it was ‘like a wildebeest among a bunch of little rabbits.’ I couldn’t believe he said that. These are people with a huge disparity of prowess and talent, kind of like that kid in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’”
In a somewhat Michael Moore kind of dogged pursuit from “Roger and Me,” Pamphilon is also in a 16-month challenge to seek a response from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to talk about the concussion issue with the pointed questions he has about people and families he’s met from the NFL family who continue to haunt him.
The film makes no bones about the fact that the NFL is acting a lot like the tobacco industry in waiting too long and too late before talking about safety. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, representing the 38th district of California (Cerritos-Pico Rivera-Whittier-La Marada-Norwalk area) is also featured for the way she questioned Goodell during a hearing on Capitol Hill about brain injuries.
One quote from best-selling social science author Malcolm Gladwell seems to ring prominently in all this: “What I suspect we will do is we will go to a middle position where we disclose the risks and essentially dare people to play anyway. That’s what the Army does. Football becomes the Army.”
And as for Pamphilon’s son Alix: He’s taken to baseball and playing the guitar. No where near the football field.
“We empowered him by letting him make the decision, taking in all the information,” said Pamphilon. “He values his intelligence. You see stories about kids whose GPA goes from 3.5 to a 2.1 after having football-related headaches, taking years to recover. If a kid is out just two weeks because of a concussions, that’s also two weeks out of the classroom.”
== More to come with a Q and A we did with Kyle Turley, the former New Orleans Saints offensive lineman who is a focal point of “United States of Football” for the way he lives today with a CTE diagnosis and how that scares him living with his wife and two small children.
== While our media column indicates that neither Troy Aikman, John Lynch nor Boomer Esiason have filed lawsuits against the NFL as they continue to work in the media covering the game, the L.A. Times discovered that NFL Network employees Deion Sanders, Brian Baldiger, Willie McGinest, Darren Sharper and Bucky Brooke have pending claims with the California Workers’ Compensation seeking money for their NFL-related concussion-impared condition. The irony pointed out in the story is that Sanders has been vocal on the air criticizing those who could seek financial benefits from injuries. Neither Sanders nor his lawyers would comment on the situation. When we pursued a story last week about the NFL’s settlement with 4,500 plaintiffs seeking concussion-related compensation, McGinest, the former USC star, declined comment. Continue reading →
The cover of the Aug. 27, 1990 Sports Illustrated glories Troy Aikman taking a hit as the Dallas quarterback against the Raiders. Photograph by Peter Read Miller.
Troy Aikman told us he visited a brain health center in Dallas recently and finally got the test results back this week.
“Everything is great,” the 46-year-old said Wednesday. “It’s just an affirmation for me as far as how I feel.”
Getting his head around anything reaffirming as it relates to the latest NFL concussion discussion is another matter.
Is there brainwashing going on with commissioner Roger Goodell, who seems irked with those voicing dissatisfaction over a $765 million out-of-court settlement ruled on last week, an attempt to help more than 20,000 eligible former players and their families who’ve been dealing with quality of life, and death, issues for too long now? With the billions of dollars the league makes in TV right fees and other seemingly endless streams of income, did the NFL truly put in enough resources to resolve this issue?
Then there are the players still alive who may be able to benefit from the decision – starting with the 4,500 who began filing suits against the NFL in July of 2011 in L.A. Superior Court because of their ongoing battles with symptoms of dementia, depression and other dreadful diseases of the mind. They have more trouble understanding why the league will accept no liability for the working conditions created, and why were they kept in the dark about important medical research commissioned over the last few decades.
This storyline will continue to pulsate underneath all the fanfare and fireworks associated with the start of another NFL TV season, launched by tonight’s Baltimore-Denver contest (5:30 p.m., Channel 4).
Depending on how deep they want to get with it, the conversation can stay alive with former players who may have suffered their own physical misfortunes yet continue to keep a high profile as TV analysts, like Aikman for one, and Fox NFL studio host Terry Bradshaw, who has had well documented bouts with depression.
Some may worry about walking a fine line if they attack an entity that helps keeps them gainfully employed these days. Others stay true to telling it as they see it.
It happened in 2006: USC’s Chris Barrett gets a hand on the head of Washington State quarterback Alex Brink during the Trojans’ 28-22. win. (Elaine Thompson, AP)
UCLA takes Week 2 off in the college football schedule, prepping for Nebraska next week. No. 1 Alabama has a week off, prepping for Texas A&M. USC may have a week off as well, but you’ll have to stay up late to find out. At least the Trojans aren’t playing Eastern Washington. How it falls into place (with a NASCAR race on Channel 7 knocking Notre Dame-Michigan to ESPN):
OF LOCAL INTEREST: == Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FS1: USC vs. Washington State, Coliseum (Craig Bolerjack, Joey Harrington, Ryan Nece)
PAC-12 WILLING PARTICIPANTS:
== Thursday,7 p.m., Pac-12 Net: Sacramento State at Arizona State (Ted Robinson, Glen Parker, Drea Avent)
== Saturday, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Net: Weber State at Utah, 2 p.m. (Matt McConnell, Jamal Anderson)
== Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: Oregon at Virginia (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Jeannine Edwards)
== Saturday, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Net: Portland State at California (Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage)
== Saturday, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Net: Hawaii at Oregon State (Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron)
== Saturday,7:30 p.m., CBSSN: Arizona at UNLV (Andrew Catalon, Aaron Taylor, Lauren Gardner).
== Saturday, 8 p.m. Pac-12 Net: San Jose State at Stanford (Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker, Drea Avent)
It’s not a Halloween costume: Sarah Thomas, a wife, mother and pharmaceutical sales rep from Mississippi trying to become an NFL line judge as she works a Saints-Raiders exhibition game on Aug. 16, will have to watch the league on TV with the rest of us for Week 1 (AP photo/Layne Murdoch)
If you were hoping to get a chance to see the dysfunctional Jets, the befuddled Bills, the sexy Steelers, Andy Reid’s first game with the Chiefs, a Vikings-Lions rivalry game, or Pete Carroll’s swingin’ Seahawks in NFL Week 1, try DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.
== 10 a.m., Channel 2: Oakland at Indianapolis (Marv Albert, Rich Gannon; CBS also has Cincinnati-Chicago with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in this window, as well as New England-Buffalo, Tennessee-Pittsburgh, Miami-Cleveland and Kansas City-Jacksonville)
== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Atlanta at New Orleans (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa; Fox also has Minnesota-Detroit, Tampa Bay-N.Y. Jets and Seattle-Carolina in this window)
== 1 p.m., Channel 11: Green Bay at San Francisco (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver; Fox also has Arizona-St. Louis in this window)
== 5:20 p.m. Channel 4: N.Y. Giants at Dallas (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
== 4 p.m., ESPN: Philadelphia at Washington (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden)
== 7:15 p.m., ESPN: Houston at San Diego (Chris Berman, Trent Dilfer)
After LeBron James won his second NBA championship this year, he talked about the improbability of his journey — ascending to world fame despite growing up with challenge after challenge in the inner city.
LeBron James accepts the award for best male athlete at the ESPY Awards at Nokia Theater last July. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)
Now James plans to explore that theme as part of “Survivor’s Remorse,” a new show he’s developing with Starz. While he won’t star in the half-hour sitcom, he’ll be one of the executive producers of the show, which will explore the lives of two men from the streets who attain fame — one is an NBA star and one is not — and how they deal with friends and families in the wake of that success.
“I think the main thing for me is, first of all, making it out of a place where you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to be a statistic and end up like the rest of the people in the inner city — (and) being one of the few to make it out and everyone looking at you to be the savior,” the Miami Heat star said in a phone interview last week.
“When you make it out, everyone expects for — they automatically think that they made it out and it’s very tough for a young, African-American 18-year-old kid to now hold the responsibility of a whole city, of a whole community. I can relate to that as well,” said James, who was 18 when he came to the NBA and is now a 28-year-old veteran.
James is developing the show with his longtime friend and business partner, Maverick Carter; Tom Werner, the producer behind classic shows like “Roseanne” and “The Cosby Show”; and actor Mike O’Malley, who will be an executive producer and is the show’s writer. Paul Wachter will also be an executive producer. Continue reading →
The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw follows the flight of his single to drive in two runs against the Colorado Rockies in the fifth inning of Monday’s game in Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
One day before the Los Angeles City Council vowed to begin to aggressively address the issue of Time Warner Cable blacking out two local CBS channels, the two battling media companies reached a carriage agreement Monday afternoon restoring the service to more than one million Southern California customers.
More likely, the deal was expedited by the fact that CBS begins coverage of the NFL on opening weekend Sept. 8, and advertisements had aired warning viewers they could miss those games if the dispute hadn’t been resolved.
The two sides had been laboring over the details of the agreement since Aug. 2 before dropping it in the middle of the Labor Day holiday viewing audience.
The agreement was not reached in time for L.A. viewers to see some of the KCBS-Channel 2 morning coverage of the rain-delayed U.S. Open tennis championships in New York. But it was done for many Dodgers fans to see the team’s game at Colorado pop up on their TWC system at 3 p.m. just as Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw drove in two runs with a single to tie the game at 5-5 in the fifth inning.
Monday’s game, as well as the rest of the Dodgers’ three-game series in Colorado this week, are all on KCAL-Channel 9, also owned by CBS.
No financial settlement was disclosed. Some 1.3 million of the 5.6 million households in L.A. are TWC subscribers. The month-long blackout that started Aug. 2 had affected about 3.2 million customers also in New York and Dallas.
“The NFL is the biggest ratings event in all of television,” said Neal Pilson, founder of Pilson Communications and the former president of CBS Sports, told Fox Business. “NFL football is a pretty important property in those cities. The sports audience is passionate, not passive.”
The retransmission consent deal allowed TWC customers to resume seeing all CBS programming, including the Showtime premium cable channel and, in some areas, CBS Sports Network, which was also airing the U.S. Open tennis championships Monday night.
CBS Sports Net, however, recently aired USC football’s season opening game in Hawaii without a blackout on TWC systems.
Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt said in a statement: “We’re pleased to be able to restore CBS programming for our customers, and appreciate their patience and loyalty throughout the dispute. As in all of our negotiations, we wanted to hold down costs and retain our ability to deliver a great video experience for our customers. While we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted, ultimately we ended up in a much better place than when we started.”
CBS president Les Moonves wrote in a memo to network staff members: “The final agreements with Time Warner Cable deliver to us all the value and terms that we sought in these discussions. We are receiving fair compensation for CBS content and we also have the ability to monetize our content going forward on all the new, developing platforms that are right now transforming the way people watch television.”
Some consumer advocates had been asking the U.S. Congress, currently in recess until next week, and the Federal Communications Commission, without a permanent leader, to intercede and advocate for an agreement between the two multi-billion-dollar companies who had been arguing about whether TWC should receive as much as $2 per subscriber for CBS-related channels.
Three weeks ago, FCC acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said she would take “appropriate action” if the public debate continued.
The L.A. City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee adopted a resolution that backed FCC involvement in any legislation or administrative action in the dispute. The Council had invited reps from TWC and CBS to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
“More than 1 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in the Los Angeles area have lost access to KCBS-TV Channel 2 and such hit series as ‘Under the Dome’ as well as local news and sports, including Dodger games, on KCAL-TV Channel 9,” the commission’s draft resolution read.
It included: “The blackout is coming at a bad time for local advertisers that are promoting back-to-school retail sales and end-of-the-model year car clearance sales.”
Last week, CBS announced a new carriage agreement with Verizon FIOS subscribers.
What’s up on the sports calendar for the week ahead:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NFL WEEK 1: Baltimore at Denver, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Channel 4: N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Channel 4: Green Bay at San Francisco, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11: Oakland at Indianapolis, 10 a.m. Channel 2:
We found out back in March that the NFL didn’t get its way, and the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens wouldn’t be opening the 2013 season at home, breaking a long-held tradition (going back to 2002). The reason: There’s a scheduling conflict with those who are already locked into filling the shared parking lot to attend the Baltimore Orioles’ home game on that Thursday. Well played by Denver to offer up its domain and play host to the embittered Ravens. But be careful what you wish for. The NFL has seemed to also irk the locals by marketing this “Kickoff Game” with large banners around the Broncos’ stadium of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco (not far from the one of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning). Broncos fans have greeted the Flacco signage visible along Interstate 25 with car horns and screaming. One local TV sportscaster did a piece where he drew a Sharpie mustache on a Flacco banner that appeared in downtown Denver. “Who in Denver wants to drive to work in the morning and see a reminder of Joe Flacco?” asked The Denver Post’s Mike Klis. “I know it’s a unique situation where the defending Super Bowl champ opens on the road. But no circumstance will change the fact Denver belongs to the Broncos.” Maybe they just have a hard time forgetting that it was Flacco who killed any Super Bowl hopes for the AFC’s top-seeded Broncos. His 70-yard rainbow TD to Jacoby Jones to tie their Jan. 12 divisional playoff game with 31 seconds remaining set the stage for a 38-35 double OT win by the Ravens. At least those with Time Warner Cable in Baltimore have no fear of a blackout, and the Ravens fans are actually coming to grips with not being able to celebrate the way other teams have been afforded. Consider this twitter response from a ticket holder as published in the Baltimore Sun: “Now that I know the NFL celebrates opening wknd by putting Flacco MVP posters all over Denver, I’m not as upset about opening on the road.”