Media column version 01.30.15 — What are the odds NBC’s Al Michaels gets into compromising position with Super Bowl XLIX prop bets?

What will be in this week’s media column:

Already, some media TV types are expressing a disdain that deflated footballs are hijacking their Super Bowl conversations.

On Tuesday’s NFL Live ESPN studio show, Herm Edwards barked: “This is an embarrassment for the league. You’re talking 5,000 media members (the number of credentials issued by the NFL for this game). And we’re talking about a situation that happened about a football. We shouldn’t have to discuss this anymore.”

B7_iCpLCAAA5LeaESPN’s Tom Jackson added: “I am like the Patriots, I am tired of talking about it. I am through talking about it for the rest of the week.”

What if someone was putting money down that you would talk more about it all?

When NBC’s Al Michaels parked himself between Jimmy Kimmel and Edward Norton last Thursday and mentioned that he’d been given information that Vegas bookmaker had a unique prop bet, his eyes lit up a bit.

“There’s a proposition that asks how many times will Michaels and (Cris) Collinsworth say ‘deflated balls’,” Michaels mentioned. “The over and under is 2-and-a-half. Bet the over. We can control that.”

Or can he?

We’re going to look more into that proposition, and others, in this week’s column.

What else we wanted to get to:

== How about the odds that Michaels can make it to every media outlet in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl?

Before he paid his latest visit with the BS Report  — taped last Friday, released this last Monday, appearing above — he logged in a piece with NRP’s “Fresh AIr” (Dave Davies in for Terry Gross) and endured Q-and-As with and Rich Eisen‘s smarm-cast.

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Play It Forward Jan. 26-Feb. 1: How Patriotic would it be to mess with game balls on a Super Sunday?


Patriots coach Bill Belichick, greets Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after their 2012 regular-season game in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23 in Russell Wilson's rookie season.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick greets Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after their 2012 regular-season game in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23 in Russell Wilson’s rookie season. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Details/TV: At Glendale, Ariz., Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Channel 4

Official game balls for Super Bowl XLIX sit in a bin before being laced and inflated at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio last week. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski) ORG XMIT: OHRO103

Official game balls for Super Bowl XLIX sit in a bin before being laced and inflated at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio last week. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

We feel cheated.
For the 49th edition of the Super Bowl, we were all pumped up for an appearance by the 49ers. Instead, they miss the playoffs and run their coach off – what’s their deal? (They’ll host Super Bowl 50, so now’s the time to refocus). Then, consider how much electricity there would have been in the air-conditioned University of Phoenix Stadium if the AZ Cardinals and Carson Palmer had been able to stay healthy and wealthy, and could have claimed a home-desert advantage. The Rams deflated our hopes long ago – not just as a franchise, but in pretending they might come back to L.A. So in the end, the NFC West team that merits our attention is Pete Carroll’s crew, which guarantees that we’ll have a ball – at the proper PSI requirements, of course.
Maybe the Seahawks are a slight underdog to win their second consecutive title, but it’s perfect timing to become their 12th, 13th and 14th man right now – if that’s within the rules. Should Carroll pull off back-to-back Super Bowl wins, we will be far more impressed than when Bill Belichick did it 10 years ago with the ’04 and ’05 Patriots. And those, friends, are the last Vince Lombardi trophies that Belichick has hoisted, thanks to bad karma. (See: Spygate, 2007). Carroll’s Seahawks will have polished off the AFC’s No. 1 seed two years in a row if they win here, and his redemption will come against the franchise that lost faith in him back at the turn of the century.
20superbowl2-articleLargePatriots owner Robert Kraft said firing Carroll in 1999 after just three seasons (and a 27-21 record) was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make since buying the team: “A lot of things were going on that made it difficult for him to stay, some of which were out of his control. And it began with following a legend (in Bill Parcells).” So who replaced Carroll at New England? Belichick, who went 5-11 his first season there in 2000. Kraft has only hired two coaches on his watch as the Pats owner: Carroll, who left the NFL and started his nine-year run at USC in 2000, and Belichick, who has since become the winningest coach in postseason history. “It’s a little bit personal because we were there and it’s a great place and I have great respect for what they have done, the family, what they have pulled off over the years,” Carroll said this week about facing the Patriots. “The Kraft family, they’ve done amazing things, historic things in the league and in the last 15 years or however long it’s been … They’ve been the best of the best and they’ve proven it. So we’re fortunate to get a chance to get to play a team like this and a club like this.”

richard-sherman-tom-brady-u-mad-bro-1Whoever wins this game has to do it fair and square – like when the Seahawks stunned  the Patriots, 24-23, back in October of 2012, as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw for two TDs in the last eight minutes to overcome a 23-10 deficit. Tom Brady’s career-high 58 pass attempts weren’t enough, and it led to that inspirational picture of him with Richard Sherman and the “U MAD BRO?” tweet.
If things aren’t on the up-and-up this time, there’s could be a lot more madness. Things could get blown out of proportion. A Super Bowl that’s ready for its AARP card certification might not have the patience to withstand that. Just like a regulation football, it needs to have the utmost bladder control.


IMG_2865Since we frequently hold conversations with Siri on our iPhone, we had cause to ask the simple question: What is your favorite NBA team? Without much of a pause, she  responded …. well, you can read it yourself here. Siri could show up with a bag over her head in Madison Square Garden when the Lakers face the New York Knicks on Super Bowl Sunday (11 a.m., TWC SportsNet) and still be pretty much incognito. How soon does she switches allegiances to the Lakers? … The Clippers hit the road for eight straight on Wednesday, including a stop in San Antonio (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN) against a Spurs team they haven’t figured out the last four meetings … The Kings come back from the All-Star break playing host to Chicago (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN) and then go on a five-game road trip, beginning in Boston (Saturday, 4 p.m., FSW) … UCLA has its hands full with Utah (Pauley Pavilion, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN2) and Colorado (Saturday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network) … Tiger Woods promises to appear at the PGA’s Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., (Thursday-Sunday) right in the heart of the Super Bowl crowd … The rest of the week linked here.

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Ranking the L.A. sports media best and worst … do we dare? Here’s the SoCal Sports Broadcasters’ cheat sheet

Microphone-GuyMonday’s 24th edition of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters is set for Monday at Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake. You can actually attend if you come up with the $75 at the door. Just dress appropriately.

The annual awards given out — cover your screen if you want to be surprised — include inducting USC’s Pete Arbogast in to the SCSB Hall of Fame, giving L.A. Times columnist and former sports editor Bill Dwyer the President’s Award, noting “Outstanding Achievement” by the Kings, Galaxy, Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, handing Ned Colletti a “Special Achievement” honor and bestowing a “Prep Sports Award” to Barry McKeever.

Then come the other categories that must be exhausted with more trophy giveaways. Who, pray tell, will win ….

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Media column version 01.23.15: Some day, Tony Verna’s legacy could include us talking more about talking video replay again

UPDATED: Friday at noon:

What will make it into this week’s sports media column:

Replay addiction has in many strange ways impeded the presentation these days of college football, the NFL, tennis and, lately, Major League Baseball.
Tony Verna wanted no credit, or blame, for that.
It wasn’t at all what he had in mind when he created the first sports TV “instant replay” in the 1963 Army-Navy game — a fact that rightfully belonged in the first paragraph of Verna’s obituary that came out Sunday following his death at age 81.
An extended New York Times obit appeared Wednesday.

ibndexVerna wasn’t hoping that league officials could have it as a tool to second-guess their own referees or umpires. As it turned out, it was Tex Schramm, the CBS boss who hired Verna and monitored him through the initial replay process 50-plus years ago before becoming the Dallas Cowboys general manager and NFL exec, who championed the use of replays during pro football games.
Today, the guys are overusing instant replay in football,” Verna said in 2008. “I think they’re trying to nail the officials. They’ve got so many damn angles. They’re coming back showing they can see better than what’s going on on the field.”
He also told the New York Times a couple of years ago that its evolution was inevitable to having it incorporated into life games: “You can’t have a Super Bowl and get the call wrong. Fans demand that. It’s like the light bulb. It had to be invented. That’s it. And I expect it to get better and better and better.”
It appears that it has come to a point where replay not only gives today’s viewers more “correct” calls, but it forces a lot of extra scrutiny.

After that 1963 experiment, Verna wasn’t really able to do more with the replay idea until the 1964 Cotton Bowl, isolating cameras on Texas wingback Phil Harris to show how he would line up just outside the ends and race downfield. Play-by-play man Pat Summerall was the one credited with calling it “instant replay” during that game.
A few years later, Verna’s replay system was eventually re-purposed by the Federal Highway Administration in monitoring busy traffic intersections and investigating collisions.
When Entertainment Weekly did a special list in 1999 of the “100 Greatest Moments in Television,” Verna’s first replay was No. 33.

Verna was most often on the CBS NFL crew that included Vin Scully during his time doing the sport for the network in the 1970s. And Verna’s Emmy-Award winning career wasn’t limited working five Super Bowls, 12 Kentucky Derbies (including Secretariat’s run for the Triple Crown), NBA championships, NHL Stanley Cup Finals or the L.A. Olympics that he did at CBS and ABC. He started creating syndicated shows like “Great Sports Legends,” and later handled many complex global feeds of charity concerts like Bob Geldolf’s Live Aid and Pope John Paul II’s “Prayer for World Peace.” The Directors Guild of America gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports in 1995, and he wrote a book about his career in 2008 called “Instant Replay: The Day That Changed Sports Forever.”

One of the last things Verna tried to develop on a larger scale was a “talking replay,” which he first tried out in an 2008 L.A. City High School football championship game at the Coliseum. Randy Rosenbloom got to present it to the viewers (see video below) as Lindsey Nelson once did to the TV audience who didn’t know anything about “instant replay.”
In this week’s “SoCal Prep Report” show (it has been airing on LA36 and will appear on KLCS-Channel 58 at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Friday), Rosenbloom gives Verna a final shout out for how his innovation worked on even the most primitive level.
In our column this week linked here, we acknowledge Verna’s contributions and thank him for his ongoing conversations about how sports and TV continued to expand and experiment.

Other notes we have that must be content in this space: Continue reading

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Play It Forward Jan. 19-25: If you’re just skating through life at this point, why not go with Citizen Gold


Details/TV: At Greensboro, N.C., Saturday at 8 p.m., Channel 4 (tape delayed)

espnw_headliners_gold_08The Los Angeles Sports Council last week announced that Gracie Gold, who last year won the U.S. Figure Skating championships in Boston and then claimed a bronze medal in the team event the Olympics in Sochi, Russia before placing fourth overall in the individuals, was more than qualified to claim the organization’s 2014 Sportswoman of the Year honors. But don’t you have to be an L.A. citizen to qualify? Gold, who was born in Massachusetts and raised in Missouri and Illinois, has lived the last year-plus in Redondo Beach to train at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo with coach Frank Carroll. And there’s no ignoring how the So Cal celebrity lifestyle has caught up with Gold. Just the other day, she was hanging out on Catalina Island with her new pal, Taylor Swift, who also invited actress Jaime King, singer Lorde and the group Haim.
tumblr_n412jtCM4E1tq9x4fo1_500According to NBCSports’ OlympicTalk website, Swift invited Gold on the excursion, and “I said, duh, of course I’d love to,” replied Gold, who had a morning skating session that day. The story reports that the gang “yachted, ate lunch and had ice cream cones. Then they went back to Los Angeles to hang out.” Or as Gold said: “It was just one of those whimsical things. Just a casual text from Taylor Swift, no biggie.”
Well, Good night, Gracie.
Before she can pick up her new LASC trophy on the March 15 ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, she’s got to figure out a way to defend her U.S. title because Ashley Wagner, the 2012 and ’13 U.S. champ, goes into this event as a co-favorite. Maybe you recall that Wagner finished just fourth at last year’s nationals but still made the U.S. Olympic team over third-place finisher Mirai Nagasu based on her performances leading up to that event. Of course, this competition also has the men’s free skate, highlighted by Jeremy Abbott, Max Aaron and Jason Brown, which goes Sunday (Channel 4, 1 p.m.). The pairs and free dance is Saturday (Channel 4, noon). Terry Gannon, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are on the call.


The Clippers take on Boston (12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) and the Lakers head to Phoenix (7 p.m, TNT) as part of the 12-game MLK holiday where the NBA takes over Monday …  The whole thing is linked here.

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