The plan for Sunday’s weekly media column:
We came out of a screening for the movie “Concussion” on Wednesday night with not just our brain spinning, but also our heart pounding.
There are plenty of benefits in consuming a just-the-facts PBS documentary like “League of Denial” from a year ago, or watching it discussed on an HBO “Real Sports” segment.
But here’s a new layer of heart-felt reaction that will come from seeing this Will Smith portrait of forensic Dr. Bennet Omalu, who appears not to be as anti-NFL as some may want to label him, but very interested, as a scientist, in finding truth and avoiding future autopsies that discover another CTE patient.
The issue is complex, along with all the politics and business pulling at it from different directions.
This isn’t a Hollywood-ized presentation.
Our intent is seek some answers from Merril Hoge, the former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate for several players whose eventual CTE diagnosis was what Omalu discovered in a Pittsburgh morgue. Hoge left the NFL more than 20 years ago after several bad concussions and continues to move forward as an ESPN NFL studio analyst.
Also, ESPN’s Sunday edition of “Outside the Lines” has a special profile on Omalu (6 a.m., ESPN2).
“I wish someone else could have described CTE before me,” Omalu, who has had his own personal battles with depression, insomnia and high blood pressure, says in this piece. “I really wish honestly, my life would have been much, much smoother.”
What’s worth dishing out at this point in time:
== By all weights, measures, decrees and soothsayers, Sunday’s Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium against Miami has a more-than-marginal chance of being the franchise’s final game in San Diego.
The Chargers are on the road for the final two weeks, basically kicked out of the city that is preparing to hold two college bowl games.
Yet, Sunday after Sunday, the L.A. market has had to accept these now 3-10 Chargers, as part of the extortion package that diagrams a San Diego territorial TV map. We’ve in some ways become accustomed to this, and in other ways resentful, especially when early games that go into OT are cut away from to get to the start of an afternoon Chargers kickoff “due to league rules.”
Listen, if the team is eventually going to relocate to L.A., let’s at least try to size them up if we’re going to be required to make a fair catch.
So now what do the NFL TV Gods do to us this Sunday? It won’t give us the courtesy of watching the Chargers final home game of the 2015 season.
CBS has a Sunday doubleheader on Week 15, but the network confirmed that L.A. will get the Denver-Pittsburgh game instead at 1:25 p.m. on KCBS-Channel 2, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms describing all the Terrible Towel waving.
Those who have DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket” package can see it on Channel 715 with Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein on the call.
A CBS spokesperson said simply the decision was based on the fact that the Steelers-Broncos game is far more appealing.
Fine, but that was often the case during the regular season to this point when L.A. had to endure another Chargers broadcast because of league mapping rules.
Attempting to put L.A. out of its misery for one weekend, and not allowing us to watch the reaction San Diego fans will have for their Chargers, has the cynic in us sensing there’s more to this decision.
At the same time, the Rams could be playing their last game in St. Louis tonight. The NFL Network (as well as The Beast 980-AM) has coverage of it in L.A. at 5:25 p.m. with Ian Eagle and Trent Green describing it. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes two former Rams — Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner — will be part of the NFL Network pregame show. The NFL Network focuses on Faulk for it’s “A Football Life” episode starting with airings on Friday.
== The rest of the NFL Week 15 programming for L.A.:
= NFL Network has its first Saturday game of the season, N.Y. Jets-Dallas (5:25 p.m., Jim Nantz, Phil Simms).
= CBS’ Sunday doubleheader starts with Kansas City-Baltimore (Channel 2, 10 a.m., Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon) instead of Tennessee-New England or Houston-Indianapolis.
= Fox’s single game Sunday will be Carolina-N.Y. Giants (Channel 11, 10 a.m., Joe Buck, Troy Aikman) instead of Chicago-Minnesota, Atlanta-Jacksonville or Buffalo-Washington in the morning, or Cleveland-Seattle or Green Bay-Oakland in the afternoon.
= NBC has requested and received Arizona-Philadelphia (Sunday, 5:30 p.m. Channel 4, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth).
= ESPN has Detroit-New Orleans (Monday, 5:30 p.m., Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden).
== The NFL also announced this week it would take the N.Y. Giants-Minnesota game in Week 16 (Dec. 27), giving Pittsburgh-Baltimore back to CBS (with a 10 a.m. kickoff). The NFL has one more “flex” game to take for Week 17 if it wants, a decision that can be made six days prior to that regular-season-ending Jan. 3 date.
== As far as those Thursday nights that the NFL has hijacked for TV purposes, Norman Chad isn’t taking it any more. This, as the Sports Business Daily reports the NFL has opened the bidding again for a two-year “Thursday Night Football” package, allowing Fox, CBS, ESPN, NBC and Turner to consider it, as well as Google, Yahoo, Apple and Amazon to see if they want streaming rights. CBS reportedly pays about $300 million a season for having Thursday games.
== College bowl game lineups of note: Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer have the BYU-Utah meeting in the Las Vegas Bowl (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7). Eamon McAnaney and Rocky Boiman have the New Mexico Bowl (Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN) with Arizona and New Mexico.
== Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery and Allie La Force handles CBS’ college basketball double header from Brooklyn on Saturday — officially known as the CBS Sports Classic — which starts with UCLA-North Carolina (Channel 2, 10 a.m.) followed by Kentucky-Ohio State (12:30 p.m.).
== Time Warner Cable continues to control the state high school playoff bowl game coverage at Sacramento State on Friday and Saturday after Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket carried regular season and CIF division championships.
For Saturday’s 8 p.m. Open Division championship between Concord De La Salle and Corona Centennial, it’s Barry Tompkins, John Jackson, Mike Pawlawski and Dan Dibley with the call on TWC SportsNet.
But because TWC SportsNet has a Lakers commitment on Saturday (at Oklahoma City, 2 p.m.), the other two title games played on that day are relegated to the TWC Community Channel. That would be the noon Division 1-A contest between City champion Narbonne and Clayton Valley Charter and the 4 p.m. Open Division Small School championship between San Marino and Central Catholic (both games called by Steve Quis, JT Rogan and Dan Dibley).
The schedule Friday from Sacramento State, with games on TWC SportsNet: The 4 p.m. Division II-AA game between Camarillo and Del Oro goes to Quis, Jackson and Kate Scott, while the 8 p.m. Division I-AA game between Mission Viejo and Bellarmine is called by Tompkins, Jackson, Pawalwski and Scott.
For those without TWC access, the games stream live on twccommunity.com, and there is distribution in Northern California on CSN Bay Area, available on DirecTV’s listings.
== ESPN has Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Israel Guiterrez on coverage of the Clippers’ game in San Antonio (Friday, 5 p.m.).
== Departed L.A. Times sports editor/columnist Bill Dwyre on the write first, think second media landscape today, to Ed Sherman in his Poynter.org column: “Jim Murray used to write the definitive column on racial issues [three days after the initial news broke]. “He had you going, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?” It happened because he took the time to think about what he was going to write. … Now there’s very little thinking and a lot of reaction. That bothers me. You lose depth. You lose real balance.”
== Departed L.A. Times college football columnist Chris Dufresne has quickly launched his own blog.
== If you may have missed the Thursday edition of ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” that had an interesting discussion about Muslim athletes playing in America, here’s a podcast.
== Mark Rolfing, who underwent salivary gland cancer surgery in August, will return to the Golf Channel/NBC Sports PGA broadcast team when the tour stages the Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii on Jan. 7-10, the network announced. Rolfing, who lives in Maui, will also do the Sony Open (Jan. 14-17) and the first PGA Champions event the following week.
== Final episode of the season for HBO’s “Real Sports” has host Bryant Gumbel in a discussion with Mary Carillo, Frank Deford, Jon Frankel, Bernie Goldberg, Andrea Kremer, Soledad O’Brien, Carl Quintanilla and David Scott talking about the 20-year lifespan of the show. It airs in the usual Tuesday, 10 p.m. spot. Since the show started in April, 1996 it has had more than 800 story segments and 225 episodes.
This week it was announced that “Real Sports” won the 2016 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Broadcast Journalism Award for correspondent Scott’s piece (with producer Josh Fine) on the corruption going on behind the 2022 World Cup preparations in Qatar. The “Real Sports” franchise has won a duPont as well in 2006 and 2012.
== Howard Lederman, a drug store pharmacist by trade who made a nice side living as a retired boxing judge/analyst/”unofficial ringside scorer” on HBO’s telecast since 1986, has earned his way into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame as a 2016 inductee, along with journalist Jerry Izenberg and broadcaster Col. Bob Sheridan.
In 1997, Lederman was inducted into the L.A.-based World Boxing Hall of Fame, which is apparently much different.
Here’s our 2007 piece on Lederman. And, for more reference, a N.Y. Newsday feature on Lederman from 2014.
== NBC announced a three-year contract renewal with the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which will consist of nine telecasts on NBC and NBCSN. The 2016 schedule includes the June 25 Santa Anita Gold Cup (the winner getting an automatic bid into the Breeders’ Cup Classic) as well as the Oct. 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita (winner also goes to the Classic).
== Beth Mowins, Karch Kiraly and Holly Rowe have the ESPN2 coverage of the NCAA women’s volleyball semifinals on Thursday from Omaha, Neb. — Texas vs. Minnesota at 4 p.m.; Kansas vs. Nebraska at 6:30 p.m. — leading into Saturday’s final at 4:30 p.m.
== Here, if you missed it, are the winners of the Sport Media Pearl Awards from the Abu Dhabi Media group and International Sports Press Association.
== And finally:
In light of the news this week that MLB commission Rob Manfred refused to grant Pete Rose’s request to have his lifetime ban lifted, Fox Sports said it will keep using the all-time hits leader on its MLB coverage from the studio in 2016.
In light of the fact that Rose also took off on Fox during the 2015 World Series to take care of some “prior commitments” that including hustling back to las Vegas to do some autograph signings, the networks’ decision to keep him on is already somewhat quirky. But even at that time, Fox said Rose would be back next season.
Manfred’s announcement came last Monday. Rose met with the media on Tuesday to explain that, as he sees it, he should be baseball commissioner for as much as talks to people about the game these days.
It inspired a tweet from MLB Network anchor Chris Rose:
After watching Pete Rose’s 1/2 hr. press conference, I feel the same way after I lose the remote and have the TV stuck on Kardashian episode
— Chris Rose (@ChrisRose) December 15, 2015