Weekly media column version 02.28.13 — A modest proposal for those involved in the Dodger-SportsNet L.A. negotiations

Employees of the SportsNet L.A. operations at Time Warner Cable Sports' offices in El Segundo gather in the conference room to watch the channel's launch on Tuesday night. (Photo from SportsNet L.A. via Getty Images)

Employees of the SportsNet L.A. operations, including president David Rone (in blue jacket at table, left), gather in a conference room at Time Warner Cable Sports’ offices in El Segundo to watch the channel’s launch on Tuesday night. (Photo from SportsNet L.A. via Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

What made it into our weekly media roundup of extended paragraphs:
CM3391It’s early in the process for those haves and have-nots in the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel, considering we’re only two games into the exhibition season. Time Warner Cable subscribers, about two million of them in Southern California, are on board. Another two million that include subscribers of DirecTV, Cox, Charter, Dish, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS, aren’t there yet.
But what if a dish or cable operator proposed this scenario: We’ll take the channel, at the price TWC is asking, but only for eight months of the year — when the games are on, between March 1 and Nov. 1. The other four months, we’re not interested.
Would that fly? Maybe we’ll find out. Who’s game?
Other notes include the announcement of the new Larry King show on SportsNet L.A., Colleen Dominguez’s hiring by Fox Sports and Craig James’ beef with Fox Sports.

What didn’t make it into the column and notebook, but are featured here instead:

== Wait, TWC is raising their rates again, because of the fallout with having to carry CBS? It’s called a $2.25 “broadcast TV fee.” How sweet.

== SportsNet L.A. announced Thursday that 75 Dodgers games in Spanish will be made available to those carriers who take the team-owned channel, with a schedule of 150 coming in 2015. Jorge Jarrin, son of Dodgers’ Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrin, will do play-by-play with Manny Mota as the analyst. The first telecast will be April 4, the Dodgers’ home opener against San Francisco, and have its own production team on-site with its own graphics and audio feed. TWC will offer the Spanish-language games on Channel 382 (high def). More information: www.sportsnetla.com at the “espanol” link.

== ICYMI: We did a Q-and-A on the SportsNet L.A. launch that appeared on Tuesday’s debut. And you know how this Dodgers’ radio thing is going to work out, right?

 (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

==The Dodgers-San Francisco game from Dodger Stadium on April 5 will be part of the new Fox Sports 1 MLB package of telecast package that Fox announced Thursday. A combined 52 games will be on Fox’s network (KTTV-Channel 11 in Los Angeles) and FS1, including 20 Saturdays of doubleheaders. The Dodgers-Giants’ 1 p.m. start comes on FS1 after the network carries Minnesota-Cleveland at 10 a.m., which could result in some missed early innings.
Future games taken from the Dodgers’ new SportsNet L.A. schedule — don’t think the folks at DirecTV are making note of this — as well as from the Angels’ coverage on Prime Ticket include a doubleheader on Saturday, April 19 — FS1 has the Angels at Detroit at 10 a.m., followed by the Dodgers hosting Arizona at 5 p.m.
The Dodgers are also locked into FS1 games on Saturday, May 10 (home vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.) and Saturday, July 19 (at St. Louis, 1 p.m.). And so far they will also be part of Fox’s regional broadcast on Saturday, May 31 (home vs. Pittsburgh, 4 p.m.) and Saturday, June 28 (home vs. St. Louis, 4 p.m.).
The Angels are also on FS1 on Saturday, April 26 (at N.Y. Yankees, 10 a.m.) and Saturday, June 21 (home vs. Texas, 7 p.m.), and on Fox’s regional broadcasts on  Saturday, May 24 (vs. Kansas City, 4 p.m.), Saturday, June 14 (at Atlanta, 4 p.m.), and Saturday, July 12 (at Texas, 4 p.m.).
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For that Dodger fan demo of 89-and-older, Larry King gets his own show on SportsNet L.A.

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

Larry King warns us in this video clip on SportsNetLA.com  that he’ll be launching his own “Larry King At Bat” interview show starting March 18, sure to lure more cable and dish operators beyond Time Warner Cable to sign up for the channel sooner, while King is still alive, rather than later.
In a Dodger press release noting that Kings is a season-seat holder, the former CNN talk-show giant made his pitch:

“I have been a Dodger fan all my life.  I am happy to be a part of SportsNet LA, the new 24/7 Dodgers television network. With my love of sports and my interviewing skills, I think it will be a happy combo.  I am looking forward to a great year!”

There may have been more to King’s statement, but sources say he nodded off after that quote, mumbling something about how Leo Durocher still owed him money.

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So, about the Dodgers’ radio coverage, in the presumed absence of a Vin Scullly call …

e1fba20036610e1333223c5d24972873Somewhat overlooked in the propagandizing process of the Dodgers launching their new TV channel, pulling guys here and there to be part of studio shows, game analysts and reporter types, is who’ll be pulling up a chair to man the radio booth on a daily basis for the 2014 season.

It’s a fluid concept, they tell us. Probably for the better of everyone.

Meaning, on a typical game that’s televised by SportsNet L.A. — about 150 of them, if they’re not taken by ESPN or Fox – Vin Scully does the nine innings on TV, and KLAC-AM (570) simulcasts the first three as usual. Then, the radio team of Charley Steiner and Rick Monday goes the rest of the way.

On games when Scully isn’t involved — roadies beyond the NL West borders — Steiner moves to TV with Orel Hershiser, and Monday moves from analyst to play-by-play on the radio, partnered with Nomar Garciaparra.

However …

There will be some mix-and-match opportunities along the way, sometimes without notice, depending on the need for someone to be at the El Segundo studios for pre- and post-game, at the stadium for pre- and post-game, etc.

So with the exhibition season starting Wednesday, here’s a sample of how KLAC-AM (570) will prepare with a variety of partnerships:

=Wednesday, vs. Arizona in Phoenix, 12:10 p.m.: Steiner and Monday (pregame at 11:30 a.m.)
=Thursday, vs. Arizona in Glendale, Ariz., 12:05 p.m.: Steiner and Monday
=Friday, vs. Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., 12:05 p.m., Monday and Garciaparra
=Saturday, vs. Milwaukee, 12:05 p.m., Monday and Garciaparra
=Sunday, vs. San Diego, 12:05 p.m., Monday and Garciaparra

Monday vs. Oakland, Tuesday vs. Seattle: No radio coverage
=March 5 vs. Cincinnati, 6:05 p.m., Monday and Garciaparra
=March 6 vs. Angels, 12:05 p.m., Monday and Garciaparra
=March 7 vs. Texas, 12:05 p.m., Monday (solo, unless they add someone)
=March 8 vs. Texas (SS), 12:05 p.m., Steiner and Monday
=March 9 vs. San Francisco, 1:05 p.m. (daylight savings kicks in) Monday (solo)

March 10 vs. Oakland, March 11 vs. Kansas City: No radio coverage
=March 12 vs. Arizona: Monday (solo)
=March 13 vs. Cincinnati, March 14 vs. Chicago Cubs, March 15 vs. San Diego: No radio (UCLA involved in Pac-12 basketball tournament)
=March 16 vs. Colorado, 1:05 p.m., Steiner and Monday

March 21 vs. Team Australia, 1 a.m., no radio coverage
*-March 22-23 vs. Arizona in Australia, 1 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Saturday PDT: Steiner and Monday (regular season games)

=March 27-29 vs. Angels, Steiner and Monday

The Dodgers’ Spanish-language partner, KTNQ-AM (1020) has Wednesday’s opener, as well as March 1-2, March 8-9, March 15-16 and March 28.

The way it’ll work this spring on the SportsNet L.A. TV coverage: Scully does Wednesday and Thursday’s games. He’s also back for Sunday, March 9 and Sunday, March 16. Then he’s in Australia for the two regular-season games against Arizona, and back for the March 27-29 series against the Angels. When he’s away, Steiner and Hershiser do the TV broadcasts.

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If you don’t have your Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel by Tuesday’s launch, is your provider out to lunch?

on-offIf you’re remotely interested in being part of the Dodgers’ new SportsNet L.A. channel launch, you’ve got to have your remote control ready, aimed and firing.

But depending on whom you’re beholden to as a program carrier, you could get as tripped up in the process as a hitter might be trying to react to a Clayton Kershaw changeup.

The Dodgers-owned channel that goes live at 7 p.m. Tuesday night is only available for now in Southern California to the two million or so who are a Time Warner Cable subscriber. Another handful who have Bright House in Bakersfield are in as well.

The rest are to be determined. And, perhaps, undermined.

Just understand that for Wednesday’s first exhibition game against Arizona at 12:10 p.m., there’s no more Prime Ticket, and no more KCAL Channel 9 – and it could be that way for a few more weeks, or months, or . . .

Let’s look at this it this way:

BeryDjGCMAAC2wCQ: What is the sticking point causing everyone else but TWC to be there from the start?
The subscriber price of the channel, which most claim to be not at high as the $5 reported recently but more in the $4.50 range. But that is the price negotiated between distributor and the carrier, not what is ultimately passed on fully to the customer. However, as monthly bills rise, and surcharges are added, it’s pretty simple math as to what’s propelling it. Sports channels like SportsNet L.A., coming 18 months after the launch of the Laker-heavy TWC SportsNet and TWC Deportes, weigh heavily in this equation. So Cal systems also continue to carry Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket (despite the loss of the Dodgers and Lakers) at a nominal fee. Some also have also added the Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports 1 to the mix.
“We’re at a different time in the industry since the Lakers’ channels launched,” said Ed Desser, head of the Santa Monica-based Desser Sports Media, Inc., and a consultant to the Lakers in their hook up with  TWC. “We’ve had a Time Warner and Comcast arrangement take place, Dish Network deciding it didn’t want the Lakers, both telecos (AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS) expanding their distribution, DirecTV becoming a more mature business without the benefit of a data service augmenting its video service.
“With all these things converging at the same time come into play when you’re thinking about how each service will serve its constituents on Wall Street, its shareholders and its subscribers, and also worry about maintaining its cost structures. It’s a very interesting puzzle for each to figure out.”

Q: How invested is Time Warner Cable? Continue reading

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Play it Forward: Feb. 24 to March 2 — It’s only the start to an exhibition schedule, but Dodgers and Angels fans exhibit enthusiasm for it


Yasiel Puig gets some help before he leaves the Camelback Ranch locker room to start workouts recently. (L.A. Dodgers/Jon SooHoo)

Yasiel Puig gets some help before he leaves the Camelback Ranch locker room to start workouts recently. (L.A. Dodgers/Jon SooHoo)

Details/TV: At Phoenix, Wednesday at 12:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.

Yasiel PuigSo the skinny on Yasiel Puig is he’s put on a few pounds – he’s gone beyond the 250 mark upon entering the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz. He’s already been held out a couple of days’ worth of drills because of swelling above his right knee, the result of fouling a ball of his leg in batting practice. He has also been told to cut back on his long throws from the outfield after mentioning some shoulder soreness – coincidentally, as Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax voiced the opinion that the kid should dial it back a bit this early in the year.
Yasiel PuigThen there’s a video up on Sports Illustrated’s website off the Dodgers’ Vine account showing Puig drilling a pitch from teammate Kenley Jansen that must have landed somewhere by the In-N-Out beyond the Agua Fria Freeway. With all that’s going on around the 23-year-old, maybe he deserves to have his own cable channel, just to make sure we don’t miss anything on the daily run sheet.
In a way, such a thing exists. As the Dodgers launch their own SportsNet L.A. channel this week, just in time for the exhibition season to start, Puig’s every questionable move can be watched.

(AP Photos/Paul Sancya)

(AP Photos/Paul Sancya)

Kind of like that baby monitor you’ve hooked up to make sure all’s good in the crib when it’s out of view. In less than three weeks, selected members of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will fly thousands of miles south of Arizona, and play two regular-season games in Australia to officially start the 2014 Major League Baseball season, and then come back wondering why they really agreed to do all that. Since the two teams were allowed to start spring training earlier than the other 28, it’s only proper these budding NL West rivals have the first exhibition game of the Grapefruit Season. Vin Scully will call it. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch in it. Perhaps Puig will play in it. And references to “The Wild Horse” Version 2.0 will be game ready.
If only the Angels could figure out a way to do the same kind of 24/7 coverage of that Mike Trout character …

puig-ddtThe rest of the Dodgers’ exhibition week:
vs. Arizona in Glendale, Ariz., Thursday at 12:10 p.m.
vs. Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., Friday at 12:10 p.m.
vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix, Saturday at 12:10 p.m.
vs. San Diego at Glendale, Ariz., Sunday at 12:10 p.m.

Getty Images

Getty Images

The Angels’ exhibition schedule begins with:
vs. Chicago Cubs in Tempe, Ariz., Friday at 12:05 p.m., FSWest
vs. Seattle in Peoria, Ariz., Saturday at 12:05 p.m., Prime Ticket
vs. Oakland in Tempe, Ariz., Sunday at 12:05 p.m., FSWest


THE BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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Q-and-A: The payoff for David Kopay is watching Michael Sam accepted as the NFL player he deserves to be

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Saturday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Saturday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam found himself standing before a packed room of reporters Saturday afternoon at the NFL’s combine in Indianapolis.

“Heck yeah, I wish you guys would tell me, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going?’” the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year admitted. “I would love for you to ask me that question, but it is what it is.

“I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam, the football player, instead of Michael Sam, the gay football player.”

25_12_Jock_Talk_46_LRGDavid Kopay listened and paused when he heard that quote.

“I wish I had that opportunity,” the 71-year-old said.

The events of Saturday were already weighing on Kopay’s mind.

A bruising running back during his nine-year NFL career out of the University of Washington and Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, Kopay was trying to process some disturbing information he had gathered earlier in the day from a symposium in San Francisco. It was about the issues of long-term cognitive impairment caused by concussions, something he has been coming to terms with in his own life.

He was also en route to visiting his 99-year-old mother, Marguerite, who lives north of Sacramento. “I haven’t had the best of patience with her,” he said with a forced laugh.

But then there was Sam, someone who gives him some hope that things are getting better.

91n1RBeKVKLIn 1977, Kopay wrote a ground-breaking autobiography that expanded on the moment in December, 1975 when he outed himself in a Washington Star newspaper story. The years between 1964 and ’72 he spent with the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers may have come during the counterculture, sexual revolution period in America, but he hardly felt liberated as a professional athlete.

“I had to battle everything,” Kopay said Saturday. “I’m just glad I survived. Survived to see all this happen.”

This fall, after all the maneuvering done during the NFL Draft in May, Sam will become the first openly-gay active player in any of the four North American major professional sports leagues. That is, unless some NBA team decides to pick up center Jason Collins, the former Harvard Westlake High standout, to help them during the second half of this season.

Kopay, who lives in Eagle Rock near Occidental College, actually found out that Sam’s coming-out announcement on Feb. 8, the day before it happened. Kopay was invited to a dinner at the home of Los Angeles publicist Howard Bragman, where former NFL player Wade Davis (who came out in 2012) and former Loyola Marymount University and Dodgers outfielder Billy Bean (who came out in 1999) were present. Also there was former NFL and UCLA standouts Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo, whose pro careers may have ended prematurely because of their pro gay-rights issues stance.

They all raised a glass to toast Sam’s decision.

Kopay explains more: Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 02.21.14 — Do you really need the Dodgers channel? Want it? Demand it? Tired of hearing about how long it will take to get it?

demanddodgersThis week’s weekly media column as posted on the website:

SportsNet L.A. anchor John Hartung, center, works with senior producer Stuart Mitchell at the TWC Sports studios in El Segundo, prior to the Dodgers' channel launch on Tuesday. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

SportsNet L.A. anchor John Hartung, center, works with senior producer Stuart Mitchell at the TWC Sports studios in El Segundo, prior to the Dodgers’ channel launch on Tuesday. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

The Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. cable channel, a 24/7 production coming out of Time Warner Cable Sports’ offices in El Segundo, has a launch set for 7 p.m. Tuesday. The two million TWC subscribers will see it. The two million DirecTV customers in the Dodgers’ territory, for now, won’t, as well as thousands more from Dish, Charter, Cox, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS, unless they hammer out an agreement. What happens if when the regular season starts March 20 with the games in Australia, and there still isn’t full carriage? We’ve been down this road before, and it can get nasty.
Some photos from the studios in El Segundo, along with anchor John Hartung.
Also, there are more notes on NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage, Fox preps for the Daytona 500, and HBO goes off course for a “Real Sports” feature on children and guns that seems a bit off the mark.

What didn’t make it into the column or notes, but certainly could have:

== If we do get inspired to drag out the carcass of the annual best/worst rankings of L.A. sportscasters — it’s been a 20-year project that may not even be worthy of the kids’ menu any longer — we’ll give deep consideration to KABC-Channel 7 rookie Jimmy Kimmel.
A sub in for Rob Fukuzaki on Monday afternoon’s newscast, Kimmel may have sounded like he was warming up for his monologue, but when done right, it’s what every L.A. sportscasters should be aspiring to achieve.
His President’s Day report included in the video above:
“There are reports that former Laker, Clipper and Kardashian, Lamar Odom, is about launch a comeback. Not in the NBA, Lamar is on the verge of signing with a team in Spain. Which is good, send Lamar to Spain, Dennis Rodman to North Korea, and Dr. Drew can take a few weeks off, maybe concentrate on Justin Beiber full time.”
Next, Kimmel might consider reviving “Win Ben Stein’s Money” so he could do a stock market report.

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NBC wants to know: What are you doing for lunch Friday? Uh … maybe asking what happened to the US-Canada men’s puck game?

boy-eating-breakfastNot that we really see any kind of blatant East Coast bias in how the Winter Olympics are presented to us left-coasters. Or, to the rest of America for that matter.

But then, when they start messing with our eating habits …

NBC Olympics said today it will roll out a “special one-day marketing campaign” to let people know its coverage of the U.S.-Canada men’s hockey semifinal game will be on NBC Sports Net starting at 9 a.m. PDT/noon EDT on Friday.

The pitch will be called “What are you doing for lunch Friday?”

“There aren’t many midday, weekday sporting events of this magnitude, and we want to alert viewers where they can see the game, whether it be television, the web or app,” said NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller. “This brief, less-than-24-hour campaign encourages those at work to take in the game during their lunch break. And with our television, web and mobile offerings, they can.”

And to that, how does a person in Los Angeles respond? By throwing a spoonful of soggy Lucky Charms at the nimrod asking the question, reminding him not everyone operates on New York time?

The 15-second promos will appear in tonight’s NBC tape-delayed prime-time programming.

This, from the same network that for years asked us to join them for “Breakfast at Wimbledon” before the sun came up. Then, ESPN took over.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire have the call on U.S.-Canada on Friday. Dave Strader will be with Olczyk and McGuire on the Finland-Sweeden semifinal (4 a.m., NBC Sports Net).

As for Emrick, after calling the Canadian overtime victory over the Americans in the women’s gold-medal today, he noted the shot of the U.S. players tearing up as they awaited the medal ceremony and said: “It is a hard, hard time. Emotions all over. And in particular — maybe it’s just a man thing, when a woman cries, we don’t know what to say, and sometimes it’s best if it’s nothing.”

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That’s the ticket: Redondo Beach Cafe offers Sunday morning watch party for Olympic hockey gold-medal game

Fans jam into the Redondo Beach Cafe to watch Canada’s 3-2 overtime win over U.S. in the Feb. 28, 2010 gold medal game at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

With either the U.S. or Canada men’s hockey team poised to advance to 2014 Winter Olympics gold-medal game on Sunday morning — they meet in Friday morning’s 9 a.m. semifinal to determine that — the Redondo Beach Cafe is braced for a patriotic wave of fans who want to see it either way in a loud, communal setting.

The nationally-known, hockey-crazy restaurant owned by Montreal natives Chris and Kosta Tsangaris, which became a hub of activity during the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup summer run, has started selling $20 admission tickets to its Sunday 4 a.m. viewing party.

Tickets are limited to the first 100 buyers — and the event will only take place if all 100 tickets are sold. No walk-up tickets are offered.

The open-seating ticket purchase includes Tim Horton’s coffee, bottled water and cold snacks. And no alcohol.

Tickets have to be purchased before Friday night’s 10:30 p.m. closing. If the event does not take place, tickets can be used as a gift certificate at the restaurant or the money will be reimbursed. The restaurant says it will notify customers about the event via Facebook and Twitter.

Doors will open at 3:30 a.m. and close after 4:30 a.m.

NBC-Channel 4 will show the gold medal game live Sunday morning. No. 4-seeded Finland plays top-seeded Sweden in one semifinal Friday, with the winner going to the gold-medal game against either the U.S. or Canada IFriday, 9 a.m.).

The cafe will be open as well for those who watch a group watch that U.S.-Canada men’s game — Drew Doughty vs. Jonathan Quick, perhaps – as well as the women’s hockey gold medal game — U.S. vs. Canada, Thursday at 9 a.m. — and the men’s hockey bronze-medal game (Saturday, 7 a.m.)

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CBS shakes up NFL pregame: Marino, Sharpe out, Tony Gonzalez in

Tony-Gonzalez-Wallpapers-picture-photos.5Future Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez will join CBS’ “The NFL Today” show starting this fall, joining James Brown, Boomer Esiason and Bill Cowher — and without Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe, the network announced today.

“While we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe who have contributed greatly to the success of ‘The NFL Today’ for more than a decade,” said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus in a statement. “Dan and Shannon are true Hall of Famers on the field and in front of the camera. As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank them for their hard work and dedication and wish them nothing but the best.”

Industry insiders are saying CBS decided not to renew the contracts of Marino and Sharpe, instead of the two former NFL stars deciding they wanted to leave. TheBigLead.com reported that the moves were likely to happen last month.

Sharpe said on his Twitter account:” I will not be a part of the Nfl today on CBS this fall. Although sadden and disappointed, I’m grateful of 10 yrs I was.”

Marino had been with the show for 12 years.

Esiason had talked about on his sports radio show recently about an apparent feud going between Marino and Sharpe.

Gonzalez, a Huntington Beach resident, ended his NFL career after 17 seasons, the league’s all-leader in touchdowns and yards by a tight end. He will also do work with the “Inside the NFL” for Showtime as well as CBS Sports Network’s “That Other Pregame Show.”

Gonzalez has shown his media savvy in plenty of interview and TV appearances over the years. One of his latest comments about Atlanta Falcons quarter Matt Ryan.

“Having just stepped off the playing field, Tony brings a fresh and insightful perspective,” said McManus.
McManus also told the Sports Business Daily that the network will likely hire one more analyst for the NFL pregame show.
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