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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.)

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email