ESPN Sits On Audio Despite Another Bowe Denial

Eddie Matz of ESPN The Magazine reported last month that Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe told him that in 2007 his Chiefs teammates would “import” women to the hotel where the team was staying on road trips.

Dwayne Bowe

After Bowe’s story was published by ESPN, on May 26 former Bowe teammate Eddie Kennison told WHB-AM in Kansas City that Bowe told him he never talked to anyone from ESPN about the story.

On May 27 Bowe himself was asked by a K.C. reporter, “What about the actual interview? Did you actually talk to the guy?

Bowe replied, “I really can’t remember, man. That’s why I’m still stuck in a daze.”

Bowe also claimed he was, “misquoted” and “the way he (ESPN reporter) took it was totally not the way that I said it.

After Bowe’s hedging denials, ESPN The Magazine editor Gary Belsky revealed that Matz had taped his conversation with Bowe and offered to play the audio file for Bowe or anyone within the Chiefs organization.

Though ESPN subsequently declined to release the audio to the public, leaving some to wonder about the veracity of Belsky’s claim.

On May 28 I reported:

I have confirmed through a source that the tape does indeed exist and that there’s a specific reason why ESPN doesn’t want to release the contents to the media.

I was told earlier today that while telling the story, Bowe mentioned names and details that ESPN felt shouldn’t be released to the public. The move was explained to me as protecting those named in the story and Bowe himself.

Based on Bowe’s subsequent, multiple contradictory statements in the past 48 hours in denying responsibility for the story, he’s eliminated any chance of anyone believing him about anything.

For that reason, ESPN made the right call in withholding the contents of the tape to the public.

That brings us to today.
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Your Next ESPN Mag The Body Nude Cover Is Here

Sarah Reinersten

Here’s Sarah Reinertsen on the cover of ESPN THE MAGAZINE’s “The Body Issue,” and I have to say, smoking hot and competes in the Ironman Triathlon? Very nice. It almost makes up for naked Carl Edwards. Almost. Read more…

Olympian Lolo Jones’ Pic From ESPN ‘Body Issue’

More and more pictures are being leaked from ESPN THE MAGAZINE’s well-hyped “The Body Issue,” most notably cover models Gina Carano, Serena Williams, and amputee triathlete Sarah Reinertsen. And though the cleavage-heavy pictures of Carano and Williams (to say nothing of the heavy beefcake of Adrian Peterson and Dwight Howard) are certainly titillating, it seems that the magazine’s focus for the issue is going beyond mere cheap sex appeal.

Cropped Lolo Jones

That’s Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, best known for being one hurdle away from gold in the Beijing Games. She’s also in the issue, and though she cuts a striking figure, we can’t put all of it above the fold for limited-buttcrack-related reasons. You can see her larger picture after the break. Her contribution to the issue, while not as high-profile as the cover athletes, has its own measure of controversy–not the least of which is the revelation about her weight. Looking at Jones’ gaunt face and lithe frame, what do you suppose it is?

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ESPN ‘The Body’ Issue: First Topless Shot Posted

Nicely played ESPN:

ESPN The Body Issue First Topless Shot Posted

(Surfer Claire Bevilacqua - credit ESPN The Mag/USA TODAY)

I’ve actually shot the SbB Girls at that exact location many times. El Matador Beach - far north side at low tide. Malibu. House in back tips it off. You can only reach that spot at low tide through a passageway through a massive rock.

USA TODAY’s Tom Weir posts the first semi-nude shot (Surfer Claire Bevilacqua) from ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body” Issue, due out Oct. 9.

Michael McCarthy also has a list of those who will be posing, including Joba Chamberlain. Nude. Read more…

Danica Patrick To Appear In ESPN The Body Issue

Well ESPN’s “The Body” issue is right around the corner - due to hit newsstands on Oct. 9. And I’m pleased to confirm that Danica Patrick will indeed appear in the issue.

Danica Patrick Tissot LARGE

(I didn’t scuttle it, which is why she’s in the same issue talking about it)

One small detail though: she won’t be posing nude. Or semi-nude. Or at all.

A source tells me today that she does a mini-interview in the Oct. 9 issue that’ll run “in the regular motorsports section and not as a part of the Bodies theme.

I was also told in that brief Q & A, she does address the prospect of undressing for ESPN mag photographers. Read more…

Lupica-ESPN Twitter War Headed Off At The Pass

We knew there had to be a reason for ESPN to ban its employees from Tweeting about stuff that might affect the Mother Ship. A case in point came on Monday, when ESPN THE MAGAZINE senior writer Bruce Feldman took a shot at NEW YORK DAILY NEWS hobbit Mike Lupica via the Twitter Machine.

Mike Lupica, Bruce Feldman

Feldman had taken exception to something Lupica said on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters,” and did what few in the sports media have the backbone to do these days — take Lupica to the virtual woodshed. That he did it via Twitter is both unfortunate and hilarious. Let’s take a closer look. Read more…

Stanford $$$ Flushed Down Coach’s $70K Toilet?

• While Stanford suffers through athletic budget problems, football coach Jim Harbaugh gets himself a new $70,000 private bathroom & shower.

Jim Harbaugh golden toilet

• The SEC is certainly a selfless b-ball conference. When the players aren’t giving up scholarships to allow other people onto the team, their coaches are giving up raises so they can afford team trips to Australia.

• UConn is taking the first steps to curtail catastrophic cheerleader injuries.

• Schools aren’t sold on Bud Light’s plans for college-colored Fan Cans.

• Are fantasy sports a nightmare for relationships & fan allegiances?

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What Happens When SI Takes Off The Swimsuit?

SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY, my first stop on the web every morning, has this handy chart of SI vs. ESPN THE MAG sales the past two years:

ESPN Mag Sales vs. SI: Wonder what they'd look like without swimsuit stats?

Wonder what those numbers would look like if you removed revenue from SI’s swimsuit issue - a copy that happens to be the highest-selling mag on the planet every year. I’m guessing the ad revenue for SPORTS content would be a lot closer to dead, flat even.

Which mag do you prefer:

View Results

I know the swimsuit issue probably does more in actual sales than ad rev, but still you have to believe that those numbers skew the comparison to the ESPN offering. Read more…

ESPN Mag Debuts Anonymous NFL Gossip Column

For years, mainstream media outlets have declined to give credit to the vast majority of sports blogs based on two major pillars of journalistic self-importance: one, that bloggers blog their bloggy little blog posts anonymously (and presumably without the holy grail of a Journalism Degree from an Accredited Journalism Program) and two, that their little rabble-rousing rumors are unsourced and unverified by Multiple Reputable Sources or other Credentialed Journalists.

For years, ESPN led the self-righteous anti-blog crusade, stealing scoops and refusing to credit anonymous bloggers. Now, though, they’ve seen the light profit that spurious rumormongering can bring: ESPN THE MAGAZINE is launching a new, anonymous gossip column supposedly written by an NFL player. The only difference between that and an anonymous, unsourced blog is…what, exactly?

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Speed Read: NCAA Tries To Erase History Again

I have always thought it’s weird when people bring up the idea of removing steroid-era numbers from baseball’s official record book, as if history can be fixed simply by ignoring it. Say what you want about Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but every single home run they hit counted in a real-life Major League Baseball game.

Derrick Rose John Calipari

(This never happened.)

Of course, the NCAA has been pulling these sort of shenanigans for years, “vacating” wins for schools that violate the rules. The latest to apparently earn this wrath is the University of Memphis basketball program, whose run to the 2008 title game is reportedly going to be vanishing from the NCAA’s memory today. As far as they’re concerned, the 38 wins accumulated that year never happened because Derrick Rose had someone else take the SAT for him in order to get into the school.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s twice now that John Calipari-helmed teams have seen Final Four runs erased from the books, although in 1996 UMass was only forced to give up its 4-1 NCAA tournament record, and not its entire season, due to Marcus Camby’s indiscretions with an agent. In this case, Memphis’ whole season is being invalidated and Calipari is about to find his coaching resume to be 38 wins lighter.

John Calipari UMass

(This didn’t happen either.)

I suppose it makes sense on some level. If Rose shouldn’t have been eligible to play, then how could any of the team’s wins be valid? But ultimately, this is just a big fat case of “who cares?” Michigan vacated its two runs to the title game with the Fab Five, but what did that accomplish (other than banning the team from the postseason in 2003 for things that happened a decade earlier)? It’s not like they’re giving up anything tangible. The memory of what happened will always be there. Chris Webber isn’t suddenly off the hook for that timeout thing.

In a FOX SPORTS article, Antonio Anderson says it simply doesn’t matter:

“Honestly, I don’t care,” former Memphis guard Antonio Anderson said. “We know what we did. We didn’t do anything wrong, but it is what it is.”

And he’s got a point. The rest of the team didn’t do anything wrong. Even Calipari, it seems, didn’t do anything wrong here. Derrick Rose did allegedly do something wrong, but it’s unlikely that anything is going to happen to him. He, like Camby and Webber, will go on to make tons of money in the NBA while their former teammates are told that their dream college seasons didn’t even happen.

Of course, thus far, only teams that didn’t win the title have had such sanctions levied against them. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA is willing to strip a team of a title and hand it to the runner-up if something like this happens in the future.

Chris Webber timeout

(This…yeah, this happened.)

Should Memphis be forced to give up its 38 victories in 2007-08 if Derrick Rose cheated on his SAT?

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So, remember how (insert contending team here) was crazy not to give up half their team to get Roy Halladay a couple of weeks ago? Well, there are at least two teams that are feeling pretty good about their decision not to mortgage the farm for a short-sighted chance at success.

Roy Halladay

Last night in Toronto, Clay Buchholz — one of the players rumored to be headed to the Jays in a proposed Halladay deal — outpitched the man himself in a 6-1 beatdown at Skydome Rogers Centre. The win, coupled with a Texas loss, put the Sox back into the Wild Card lead by a full game.

Meanwhile, the Phillies’ “Plan B” when attempts to get Halladay failed, Cliff Lee, ran his record to 4-0 with a two-hit, 11 strikeout, complete game win over the Diamondbacks. Lee has pitched 33 of a possible 36 innings in his four starts with Philly and has a 0.82 ERA. Looks like he might be the 2009 version of CC Sabathia in Milwaukee, only for a much, much better team.

Cliff Lee

• Hey, everything I’m reading says that there’s still a lot of competition for the Vikings’ starting quarterback job. I am, of course, talking about D.H. Conley High School in Greenville, North Carolina. What, is there another team called the Vikings with some quarterback issues?

• Warner Robins, Georgia, won the Little League Softball World Series last night, crushing W’s favorite team from Crawford, Texas. Warner Robins is the first Little League to produce both a softball and baseball world champion (the boys won in 2007).

• English soccer team Burnley, playing its first Premier League home game ever (and first in the top division in 33 years), did the unthinkable last night, shocking Manchester United 1-0 on an awesome volley by veteran Robbie Blake:

• CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that ESPN THE MAGAZINE is allowing its subscribers to renew for a year AND get an ESPN.COM “Insider” subscription for a grand total of $1. The Mag’s GM claims that it’s a ploy to get more people to read Insider content, and not an admission that the mag is in trouble.

• ELEVEN WARRIORS says at least one witness says that Ohio State linebacker Tyler Moeller threatened a Florida man named Gray Decker, and that is why Decker flattened Moeller with a right hook at a bar and ended his season.

Here’s more details on the odd case of Caster Semenya, who won the women’s 800 meter run by a ridiculous 2 1/2 seconds at the World Championships. She is undergoing what is reportedly an “extremely complex, difficult” set of tests to determine whether or not she is actually a she. A gynecologist is involved, so I imagine that “extremely complex” is an understatement.

Caster Semenaya

• ONLINE SPORTS GUYS says an Albuquerque high school baseball coach has been fired for hiring strippers to “entertain” his team while they were on a road trip in Denver last year. Says one parent:

“We thank all our friends in the Albuquerque baseball community for their support and well wishes during this unfortunate circumstance where no one comes out a winner.”

Whoa, hold on there. I can think of at least nine people who probably think they came out a winner.

• How’s this for ridiculous? The entire Angels starting lineup on Tuesday night in Cleveland has a .300 batting average or better, and all have at least 225 plate appearances. An all-.300 lineup hasn’t been on a Major League field since 1930.

Angels all .300 lineup

 • After missing more than a year, Billy Wagner is set to come back from injury … and the Mets are trying desperately to trade him. Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural season at Citi Field!

• Before the Mets’ game with the Phillies on Saturday, members of the ‘69 World Series champion Mets will help build the framework of a home for Habitat for Humanity. An hour later, the current Mets will help build the framework of another NL East title for the Phillies. Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural season at Citi Field!

John Smoltz has sucked this year. So the Cardinals are going to see if he can magically turn into a good pitcher again.

• Now, it’s time for fun with Twitter. First, the BOSTON GLOBE’s Amalie Benjamin is a little, uh, overpowered by David Ortiz:

Amalie Benjamin David Ortiz Twitter

And, Nick Collison comes dangerously close to calling his wife an unfortunate name. Good thing you got that period there, Nick!

Nick Collison Twitter