Weekly media column version 11.22.13 — JFK and the NFL, 50 years later, on how it was covered, and maybe misremembered

UPDATED: Friday, 10 a.m.:
What made it into this week’s media column:

Dignitaries unveil the John F. Kennedy plaque on the floor of the L.A. Coliseum in 1965, to commemorate his accepting the Democratic Party's presidental nomination in 1960. Attending the ceremony:  (Los Angeles Public Library/Herald Examiner Collection)

Dignitaries unveil the John F. Kennedy plaque on the floor of the L.A. Coliseum in May, 1965, to commemorate his accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1960. Attending the ceremony: Former JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger, L.A. County Board of Supervisors representative Kenneth Hahn, Harriet Dexter and A.E. England. The plaque is affixed to the Coliseum’s peristyle entrance today. (Los Angeles Public Library/Herald-Examiner Collection)

The John F. Kennedy assassination 50 years ago and the legend of why the NFL decided to play its slate of games just 48 hours later is definitely worth revisiting. with a couple of things in mind: Did the media really rail against commissioner Pete Rozelle’s decision to play on? Do those of you who were around back then even remember watching any of those games on TV? What’s real, and what’s held up as myth?

What wasn’t included in the column or notes, but could have:

nfl-jfk-motorcade-800== It must be noted that NFL Films, the NFL Network and NFL.com did a remarkable job combining their efforts for this multifaceted series relating to JFK  stories posted this week online as well as incorporated into the network programming.
Carmen Dukes, the network’s director of digital features, said it “was very cool to gather together on a single vision and come up with something so compelling for the fans. It’s exciting to get this out there.”
Part of what makes this work as well are the succinctness of each segments presented. Not that any of them could have been expanded into their own half-hour special, but their ability to fit within the consumer’s time frame demands probably made them all more accessible.
Brian Lockhart, the coordinating producer for NFL Network Features, said this is “in some ways just sratching the surface in combining our resources without an agenda. It’s robust content out there that we think cuts through, giving us something that we couldn’t have arrived as working individually.”
Writers such as Judy Battista, Mark Kreigel and Steve Cyphers were also instrumental in pulling together themes and offering contextual opinions for the whole series.
Among the gems uncovered to be re-examined: How TV had a parallel influence on both the rise of JFK’s prominence as well as the NFL’s success, and the story about how the Kennedy family had once considered buying the Philadelphia Eagles when they were up for sale in 1962.
To find the series, go to NFL.com, or click on the individual elements:
= The prologue: The day in Dallas
= An introduction to the series: “Jack would say we should play”
= The Dallas Cowboys component
= The Kennedys and their football tradition
= The voices of that time
= The games
= The impact
The NFL Network’s “NFL GameDay First” (starting at 4 a.m. Sunday) will include the Rozelle Decision piece, while “NFL GameDay Morning (6 a.m.) will have “The Kennedys: First Family of Football.”
== Also, our previous blog post this week on how Life magazine had to change on the fly — JFK cover in, Roger Staubach cover out.

9780810887008_p0_v2_s260x420== One of the things that  Michael H. Gavin, author of “Sports in the Aftermath of Tragedy: From Kennedy to Katrina”
discusses in his book is the concept of sports writers using the JFK assassination as a way to mourn — which could have led to taking out their grief on NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and his decision to let the games go on.
The concept of an “elegy” (not to be confused with an eulogy) comes from literary terms, from the Greek word to lament. It is a poem done as a way of mourning, as a way to help a writer recover from the situation.
“In the book, there are many moments of tragedy where people are killed, and the writers provide to their readership some way of coping with it, providing a way of healing,” said Gavin. “In some ways, the writer feels he has a pulse on what he perceives that readers need to feel better about them themselves in these national moments.
“My perception of this is that when Kennedy was assassinated in this Cold War era, the president was a war hero. The Army-Navy game had all the pomp and circumstance as well as athletes associated with the military. So that game, and most games following a national tragedy, allow the media to have material to work with on that analogy. You could make the analogy that the idea comes from Freudian theory, where at a funeral, one takes a rose from a grave to replace the person’s body in memory. You can make that kind of case with sports in the events after Kennedy or 9/11. Sports is the replacement story that can divert our attention as we recover, not having to do with the tragedy itself.”

howiex== Fox has told Howie Long not to worry about coming into the L.A. studios for Sunday’s NFL pregame show. But it’s not as if he won’t be on the festivities.
Long will be joined by his wife, Diane, for a live shot on the program (9-to-10 a.m., Channel 11) as they make their way to St. Louis to watch their boys: Rams defensive end Chris Long against Chicago Bears offensive guard Kyle Long. The third brother, Howie Long, Jr., who is part of the Raiders’ football operations, will also be there. See a story about the Brothers Long at this link.
Joining Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan will be former Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss, who has been getting accustomed to the NFL studio role working on Fox Sports 1′s “Pro Football Daily” show (weekdays, 3 p.m.).
UPDATE: Howie Long reacts to the situation in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via a link from the ShermanReport.com

== UPDATE: Manning-Brady XIV?

== UPDATE: As for our final note in the column about Fox switching from the Philadelphia-Washington game to the Pittsburgh-Detroit game, we weren’t the only ones curious: Ask Ken Schott from the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette.

sc-page-types-scores-249x426== ESPN Digital Media launched a new “SportsCenter” app for iPhone and Android handsets, updating the “ScoreCenter” free app that already has been downloaded a ridiculous 43 million times. ESPN reports last September, it had 72.7 million unique users on its digital platform, meaning more consumed ESPN content via mobile devices than online computers for the first time.
ESPN Digital properties also include Grantland.com and fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver’s analytics site that this week announced five new major staff hirings. One is managing editor Mike Wilson, who most recently was managing editor of the Tampa Bay Times.“ ESPN’s fivethirtyeight.com will relaunch early next year.
Said Silver in a press release: “We’re building our own Moneyball team — an All-Star roster of the best data journalists from best news organizations, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Tampa Bay Times, and The Guardian. While the site will take many different approaches toward data journalism, ranging from rigorous number crunching to stellar original reporting, it’s all within the site’s mandate of uncovering meaning and truth amid the sea of data.”

== Grantland.com,  by the way, has the latest “30 for 30 Shorts” documentary called “The Great Imposter,” devoted to Barry Bremen and his ability, from 1979 to 1986, to get into events as an MLB player, NBA player, PGA golfer, NFL player and NHL referee. Even as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

51MijjrV0iL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_== Three sports media-related books recently released worth checking out::
= “You Herd Me!: I’ll Say It If Nobody Else Will,” by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd
= “Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, & Doris from Rego Park: The Groundbreaking History of WFAN,” by Associated Press writer Tim Sullivan and WFAN late-night host Steve Somers, who some may remember as a former L.A. TV sportscaster.

518haiBi8nL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_== And, on one of our favorite subjects, with a great cover: “Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic,” by Ken Korach, the current play-by-play man for the Oakland A’s, on his former broadcast partner, who once graced the Coliseum press box calling L.A. Raiders games.

== One vote for Vin Scully for Sports Illustrated 2013 Sportsman of the Year.

== Another cautionary tale as to why it’s not really wise to have a beat writer cast a vote that involves a team you’re covering (i.e.: National League MVP voter will find it a little awkward next time he’s in the D’backs locker room).

== Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy have the Lakers-Golden State game Friday night from Staples Center for ESPN at 7:30 p.m. if you’re not interested in the TWC SportsNet version.

== ESPN’s Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman and Monica Gonzales cover the second leg of the MLS’ Western Conference championship series between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake on Sunday at 6 p.m. Alexi Lalas is also at the contest in Portland as a studio analyst. NBC Sports Net’s John Strong, Kyle Martino and Russ Thaler have the Eastern Conference championship conclusion between Houston and Kansas City (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.), leading to the MLS Cup 2013 on ESPN on Dec. 7.

== Previous blog posts this week on Dan Dierdorf deciding when done is done, why NBC finally decided to pick Bob Costas as its Winter Games 2014 host, Week 13 of your college football (with broadcast pairings for the USC-Colorado and UCLA-Arizona State games) and Week 12 of your NFL games (with the Fox doubleheader).

== Time Warner Cable SportsNet will use Steve Quis on play-by-play and A.C. Green as the analyst on coverage of 22 Los Angeles D-Fenders home games this season. The amount of games carried is twice from a year ago. Some will be carried on delay, starting with Saturday’s opener against Rio Grande Valley airing Sunday at 2 p.m. Luke Walton, the former Laker and TWC SportsNet studio contributor, has been hired by the D-Fenders as a player development coach.

Bryant Gumbel, right, with NBC's Matt Laurer (James Devaney/WireImage)

Bryant Gumbel, right, with NBC’s Matt Laurer (James Devaney/WireImage)

== Bryant Gumbel said it during his closing remarks on the 200th edition of HBO’s “Real Sports” (which has re-airs Friday at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m.):  “Between the NFL’s locker room flap in Miami and the tweets of the NBA’s Matt Barnes, the use of the ‘N-word’ seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. So for jocks of all colors I’d like to offer a few guidelines or personal truths gleaned from over 40 years in locker rooms and 65 years of being black. …. No matter what color you are, no one else can give you a pass to say the word. Not once, not ever. … Using the ‘N-word’ says a lot about you and none of it is good. It just advertises your ignorance. … Pronouncing it with an ‘a’ after the double-g in the word because you’re with your boys makes you no more with it than the clown that pronounces it with the ‘er’.”

nhlstadiumseries== Earlier this month, the NHL announced it was moving the Chicago Blackhawks-Pittsburgh Penguins game set to be outdoors at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, March 1, 2014, from cable partner NBCSN to the NBC network with a prime-time 5 p.m. faceoff. It marks the first time since NBC re-acquired NHL rights in 2006 to stage a prime-time game for NBC — all the Jan. 1 outdoor games have been afternoon affairs.
The Blackhawks-Penguins game is also the last of the five outdoor games during 2014, after the Kings-Ducks from Dodger Stadium (Jan. 25, 7 p.m., NBCSN), N.Y. Rangers-New Jersey from Yankee Stadium (Jan. 26, 10 a.m., Channel 4) and N.Y. Rangers-N.Y. Islanders from Yankee Stadium (Jan. 29, 4 p.m., NBCSN)
2014-NHL-Winter-Classic-LogoThis is after Toronto faces Detroit in the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., (Channel 4, 10 a.m.)
This week, the league also announced it would expand its coverage of the event with a seven-part series called “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other” that starts on NBCSN on Jan. 22. The Kings’ Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown are among the players to be featured in the series, which also covers relationships of teammates who will eventually have to play against each other representing their countries in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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