The XFL touched us all in so many inappropriate ways.
Hatched by the WWE’s Vince McMahon and co-facilitated in a complete lapse of judgment by NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol, it lasted as a TV mess from February to May, 2001.
The reason any of this comes up is that Charlie Ebersol, the 34-year-old son of Dick and an L.A.-based reality TV show producer, decided to direct and co-produce an hour-plus long documentary about it, “This Was The XFL,” which ESPN will air Thursday night at 6 p.m. (with reairs on Super Bowl Sunday at 4 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 5 p.m., and also available starting Thursday night on WatchESPN).
True enough, and pointed out triumphantly here at the very end of the doc, the only real XFL legacy left is how TV cameras now cover NFL and college games in more video-game type format with overhead cables and hand-held steady cams. That kind of stuff was bound to happen once Fox Sports came aboard in the mid 1990s and was already starting its own revolution with on-screen time-and-score graphics and digital first-down markers.
A league that far over-hyped and embarrassingly under-delivered as a league, a TV product and something that devolved from the human mind, for whatever reasons it wants to give now, is the charitable focus of our mid-week media column at this link. …
== The doc trailer:
== Of course Dick Ebersol is “proud” of how his son told the story, from the Wall Street Journal.
== Another review from AwfulAnnouncing.com’s Ben Koo: “I found myself wanting more. … While the film was definitely hindered by time constraints, ‘This Was The XFL’ is a bit too polite and not introspective enough especially when you compare it to the 30 for 30 on the USFL, which was a very well crafted installment.”
== A BleacherReport.com feature with Charlie Ebersol, as well as this Entertainment Weekly puffy piece.
== More from SI.com and New York Newsday.
== Does the NFL think the media won’t notice that it appears to be scrubbing press conference transcripts?
== Fox NFL pregame co-host Howie Long said it during Tuesday’s media press conference in Houston about his feelings watching his son, Chris, the former Rams standout playing for the New England in Sunday’s Super Bowl:
“At the end of the day your DNA is what your DNA is, and Chris is someone who, from the day he committed to it in high school, he’s 110 percent all the time. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has worked harder and been through more in the first eight years of their career. I ran out of things to say on Sunday nights. I really did. As a dad and as someone who played, I’d tell him it’ll be better next week, it’ll be better next year. Eight years, that’s hard to do.”
A Long family reunion will take place as a feature story in the “NFL on Fox” Sunday pregame that begins broadcasting officially at 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Fox also has a Colin Cowherd co-hosted “kickoff” show from 10 to 11 a.m., a “Skip and Shannon Undisputed Super Bowl Special” from 9 to 10 a.m., and the NFL Films produced “Road to the Super Bowl” special at 8 a.m.
Fox’s Saturday programming includes the “NFL Honors” awards show at 8 p.m., preceded by the “Super Bowl Greatest Halftime Shows” bit at 7 p.m.
== From a SBLI play-by-play man Joe Buck’s appearance Wednesday with on the Rich Eisen Show (KLAA-AM 830 and the DirecTV Audience Channel), when asked about a prop bet that set the over/under at 0.5 at how many live promos he would be asked to read promoting a Skip Bayless show: “That’s a fair line. I’m going to say under.”
== ESPN added Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and former Bills and Jets head coach Rex Ryan to their “Postseason NFL Countdown” special on Sunday from 8-to-11 a.m., with Chris Berman, Wendi Nix, Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer, Randy Moss, Adam Schefter, Sal Paolantonio, Ed Werder, Suzy Kolber and Steve Young.
== And Norman Chad has his must-read Super Bowl preview guide.
== Where to now, Brent Musburger?
Following his Tuesday farewell broadcast for ESPN, we’ve been told that a company known as the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN.com) will be Musburger’s next landing spot, announced Monday. Showtime boxing analyst Al Bernstein will also be part of the venture from the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, delivering “unbiased, exclusive and proprietary news, analysis and data” on the Website as well as a SiriusXM Radio channel. 93 from noon to 3 p.m. The launch is Feb. 27, but a special broadcast with Musburger leading into the Super Bowl will appear Sunday at noon.
Musburger’s nephew, Brian, is the company’s founder and chairman.
Brent Musburger explains a little more about it in this SI.com interivew.
== An insightful piece by the Dallas Morning News’ Barry Horn on former CBS and Fox exec Ed Goren on the topic of whether there are any voices left in sports broadcasting that carry the weight as Musburger did.
== Warning: ESPN is giving Chris Berman an hour-long tribute called “Chris Berman: He Did Go All The Way” on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
== As ESPN continues with a new trend toward personality-driven “SportsCenters,” he digresses further by having “SC6 with Michael and Jemele,” in reference to the 3 p.m. (PDT) “SportsCenter” edition with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill that the net says come with “a format geared to fit Smith and Hill’s personalities, along with a specially-designed set and its own music.” It launches Monday.
== And now “Meet Sage Steele, The Stacey Dash of Sports Media” according to The Daily Beast: “So Sage Steele isn’t easily offended — just when democracy in action threatens to interrupt her travel plans.”
It led to Dan LeBatard inserting himself into the discussion.
Just a couple days earlier, Steele was being “open” about life as a bi-racial woman in sports media with Huffington Post.
And talking about her “rise” from Tampa to ESPN.
How do you like her now?
== Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and Lewis Johnson have TNT’s coverage of the Clippers playing host to Golden State on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Along with the Atlanta-Houston game at 5 p.m., TNT will announce at 4 p.m. all the participants for the Feb. 18 NBA All-Star Saturday Night dunk contest and other activities.
== Mark Jones and Hubie Brown call the Lakers’ game at Boston on Friday at 5 p.m. on ESPN, then stick around for the Clippers’ game in Boston for Channel 7 on Sunday at 11 a.m. (joined by Steve Javie and Israel Gutierrez).
== What are we supposed to make of the “delicious little Charles Barkley-LeBron James smackfest“? Are they good for ratings? And newspaper headlines?
Or do they feed into the current national narrative of …. never mind.
== The Pac-12 Network has both UCLA games this week, with JB Long and Matt Muehebach following the Bruins at Washington State on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Long is joined by Don MacLean and reporter Jill Savage for Saturday’s game at Washington at 7:30 p.m.
== ESPNU’s Roy Philpott and Brad Daugherty call USC’s game at Washington (Wednesday, 8 p.m.) while the Pac-12 Net’s Greg Heister and Ben Braun are scheduled to call USC’s game at Washington State on Saturday at 5 p.m.
== ESPN’s Dave Pasch and Bill Walton have No. 5 Arizona at No. 13 Oregon on Saturday at 1 p.m.
== As Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer tries to collect her 1,000th career win, the Pac-12 Network has the Cardinal’s game against USC on Friday at 6 p.m. (with Kate Scott and Ros Gold-Onwude) and ESPN2 carries UCLA-Stanford on Monday at 6 p.m. (Beth Mowins, Kara Larson, Shelley Smith).
== More Pac-12 Network live events worth noting:
= Spero Dedes and Don MacLean have Utah at Cal college basketball (Thursday, 6 p.m.), followed by Guy Baberman and Steve Lavin with Colorado-Stanford (8 p.m.)
= Roxy Bernstein and Mary Murphy have UCLA women’s basketball at Cal (Friday, 8 p.m.)
= Jim Watson and Amanda Borden have UCLA women’s gymnastics at Arizona State (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Pac-12 LA)
== The 40th anniversary of the hockey cult flick “Slap Shot” gives NHL Network cause to present “Slap Shot at 40” on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m., followed by an airing of the film at 5:30 p.m. The half-hour intro focuses on an interview with the “Hanson Brothers” played by Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and Dave Hanson.
== David Feherty said that “any sane person placing a bet ahead” of the series premiere six seasons ago of his Golf Golf Channel interview show, “Feherty,” would “have taken the ‘under,’ and I’d have agreed with them.”
But the channel said there will be a seventh season starting March 6 with the first of a two-parter with Phil Mickelson, followed by Patrick Reed (March 20) and Condoleeazza Rice (March 27), with Matthew McConaughey coming up down the road.
== Tiger Woods’ performance at the European Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates half a world away will have Golf Channel coverage starting Wednesday night at 8 p.m. and going until 1 a.m., then 3:30 to 5:30 a.m., replayed at 7:30 a.m.
Coverage continues Thursday night (11:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Friday morning), and very alte Friday night (12:30 a.m. Saturday until 5 a.m.) and Saturday night (12:30 a.m. Sunday to 5 a.m., replayed from 6-to-8 a.m. Sunday).
== AND FINALLY:
== Relive a touching speech by Vin Scully after he received the first Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters group on Monday at Lakeside Country Club, packaged together here by Ethan Hanson.
As for those who were given awards based on the membership vote:
Best TV play-by-play: Scully, Dodgers, SportsNet LA
Best radio play-by-play: Scully, Dodgers, KLAC-AM (570)
Call of the year: Scully, on the Dodgers’ clinching the NL West in the final home game, for SportsNet LA
Best TV pre and postgame host/reporter: Orel Hershiser, Dodgers, SportsNet LA
Best radio analyst: Rick Monday, Dodgers, KLAC-AM (570)
Best TV analyst: Jim Fox, Kings, Fox Sports West
Best TV sports news anchor crew: KABC-Channel 7 (Rob Fukuzaki, Curt Sandoval, Ashley Brewer)
Best radio sports news anchor crew: KLAC-AM (570) with Vic Jacobs, Tomm Looney, Dan Beyer, Tim Cates, Deb Carson, Steve DeSaegher and Isaac Lowenkron
Best radio sports-talk: Steve Mason and John Ireland, KSPN-AM (710)
Best Spanish language TV play-by-play: Adrian Garcia Marquez, Lakers SportsNet Deportes
Best Spanish language TV analyst: Jose Mota, Angels
Best Spanish language radio play-by-play: Jaime Jarrin, Dodgers, KTNQ (1020)
Best Spanish language radio analyst: Jorge Jarrin, Dodgers, KTNQ (1020)
Also great to see former KABC Channel 7 and KTLA Channel 5 sportscaster Ed Arnold receive his Hall of Fame induction.