What’s part of this week’s column posted here:
The sparkle of a Kings’ outdoor NHL game may have come and gone with last year’s appearance at Dodger Stadium against the Ducks. But as the lead-in for their Feb. 21 encounter against the San Jose Sharks in Santa Clara, this four-part EPIX “Road to the Stadium Series” series from Ross Greenburg Productions has plenty of behind-the-scenes revelations that fans of the team will appreciate if they have yet to access it. Most noteworthy: coach Darryl Sutter’s inside the locker room demeanor versus what kinds of non-sound bites he usually gives the media.
Meantime, access the first two episodes at www.epixhd.com, with episodes 3 and 4 coming the next two Tuesdays.
What else we felt was right and just to include:
== A documentary that Greenburg’s production company began on the life of former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in early 2014 will become a one-hour Showtime special to premiere on March 25, the network announced this week. George Roy directed and edited it, and Steve Stern wrote it.
Among those who will appear in the doc are Charlie Scott, the first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC, and former Tar Heel stars Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison, Eric Montross and J.R. Reid.
Smith died at the age of 83 last Saturday and, while there was no cause of death given, his family said five years ago that he suffered from a progressive neurological disorder.
“We did understand that he was not well, and I think the fact he struggled with Alzheimer’s has not been talked much this week,” said Greenburg, who did not interview Smith for the piece. “We didn’t know he was going to pass just before we would air this. It’s kind of amazing. We were planning on doing it for March, right around the NCAA Tournament, but it’s interesting to do this now because instead of a documentary it becomes an obituary.”
== TheUndefeated.com is the impactful name they’re going with at ESPN for the new site devoted to sports, race and culture that will launch this summer and lean on the voice of columnist Jason Whitlock as its editor-in-chief.
Whitlock explained in a statement that the name is inspired by a famous quote from poet Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
So no more do we lazily just call this the “Black Grantland.”
“Maya’s quote perfectly captures the African-American journey and the spirit athletes and all Americans try to embrace,” said Whitlock. “It’s wonderful to see our collective vision coming together.”
As something of a test run for the site, ESPN.com posted a 9,000-word profile of Charles Barkley, the Turner Sports analyst and NBA Hall of Famer, by TheUndefeated.com writers Jesse Washington and Justin Tinsley, who pose the question: Is Barkley the modern day Muhammad Ali, a voice for the ages on race. Or Jack Johnson, a provocateur with no real agenda?
ESPN also warns the story contains “explicit language.”
== As much as we enjoyed honoring the life and times of former NFL Films chief Steve Sabol upon his passing occurred in 2012, we tend to smile even more reading about the ground-breaking accomplishments of his father, Ed, the actual NFL Films creator and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who died this week at the age of 98.
Sabol founded NFL Films in 1964 and ran it until ’95, winning 52 Emmy Awards in the process.
Here is his obit written by the Associated Press.
As Steve once said: “My dad has a great expression. He always says, ‘Tell me a fact and I’ll learn, tell me the truth and I believe, but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.’ Interestingly enough now, my dad’s story is going to be in Canton and hopefully that will live forever, too.”
Here’s a column on Ed Sabol by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom is entitled “I love this man (even though I never met him)”
In a discussion on “Pardon The Interruption,” Tony Kornheiser said: “I always wondered why it took the NFL so long to put Ed Sabol in the Hall of Fame. He got in at (age) 94. Who was more important than him?”
Added Dan Patrick as he made it the first topic on his Tuesday radio show: “(Ed and Steve Sabol) are the most important people in NFL history. If I said (Ed Sabol) transformed the NFL, I’d be shortchanging his legacy. He didn’t change the way we think about football, he changed the way we view sports. He also changed movie making as well. …
“Other leagues have tried to copy NFL Films, but it’s not easy because you have to try to copy the passion of the Sabol family. They turned a hobby into a company. And they’re gone, but the legacy will live on. … The Sabols, and rightfully so, they’re Hall of Famers. People may say it’s Joe Namath or Pete Rozelle or Vince Lombardi … they made the game bigger, but I thought the Sabols made the game better.”
Bob Ryan, the former VP of NFL Films and the company’s fourth employee hired, told Sports Video Group that “Ed loved Hollywood movies, and that’s what he wanted our movies to be like — as did Steve. The sports fan will always like your movies, but he wanted little kids and women who didn’t give a damn about football to see the artistry and majesty of the game. John Facenda, original music, sideline sound — all were innovations of his.”
== One more AP obit, this time about one of its own — NFL writer Dave Goldberg who died Sunday at 73. It points out that his pet peeves about the business concerned “if reporting was losing its standards, with less fact-checking and excessive use of anonymous sources.” We checked that out, and it’s true.
Goldberg described himself on his Twitter account: “old guy who is said to know a lot about football (and futbol) but hopes he knows about other things too. Retired (almost) so I read a lot.”