Sources: NFL Net Changes Leave Eisen “Fearful”

Today the NFL confirmed my Wednesday report that the league had hired Jay Glazer and Daryl Johnston as analysts for NFL Network studio shows.

Rich Eisen and Mark Shapiro

Additionally, the league confirmed another of my earlier reports this week - per John Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL - that it is now employing former ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro as a “consultant” for NFL Network game broadcasts and studio shows.

The latter piece of news probably didn’t make NFL Network studio host Rich Eisen’s day. Read more…

NFL Network “Swung And Missed” At Peter King

Turns out the NFL is far from satisfied in allowing NFL Network to be a fringe media player.

NFL Network Tried To Hire Peter King

Earlier today I confirmed that Jay Glazer of Fox Sports was joining NFL Network. I’ve since been informed that the NFL also approached Sports Illustrated’s Peter King about joining the network, but was turned down. (”Swung and missed” was how it was described to me.)

Perhaps even more significant is who the NFL Network has turned to for programming advice. Read more…

ESPN Dumps Draft Devotees For Blonde Mistress

Last night I spent the start of the NFL Draft flipping back and forth between ESPN and the NFL Network before finally settling in to NFLN coverage for most of the night.

Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Debate Jimmy Clausen

(Dude on the left? A-hole, which is why I like him)

Why? Because ESPN left its big NFL Draft guns Mel Kiper and Todd McShay on the bench in favor of offhand analysis by Jon Gruden. Inexplicable when considering that ESPN singlehandedly built the NFL Draft into the popular, pop culture event that it is today by the non-stop propping up of prognostication by Kiper and now McShay.

Once I realized that Kiper and McShay were being shoved aside by ESPN to placate Gruden’s ego, I turned to NFL Network, which spent most of the night giving viewers what they wanted, astute analysis from draft expert Mike Mayock.

So why did ESPN flip the script? The network is doing all it can to keep Gruden from returning to the NFL, so it showcased the coach on what has become perhaps ESPN’s signature NFL property. But in the process of doing so, Bristol betrayed what it has built into an astonishingly popular property.

I’m flummoxed by ESPN’s naivete about Gruden. Bristol execs somehow think that he wouldn’t break his current contract with the network if the right coaching deal came along. A deal that would probably include an NFL team buying out a portion of Gruden’s remaining ESPN contract.


So on what should be a triumphant night for a property ESPN basically invented, the network sent NFL Draftniks scurrying to the NFL Network as Kiper and McShay were mostly idle throughout the night.

While I know there are probably plenty of you who despise Kiper and McShay, ESPN has turned them into undeniable celebrities. So ESPN spends all this time building up the pair’s predictions, then shoves them aside during the actual NFL Draft coverage just to make Gruden happy? Though the coach could leave the network at any moment and is somewhat reticent about giving strong opinions for fear of alienating a future employer?

I’m not defending Kiper and McShay, more making a comment about ESPN’s inability to see how its being played by Gruden.

Read more…

Sapp Battery Charge: Judge Delays Arraignment

Warren Sapp failed to show up this morning for what was to be his arraignment hearing at the Dade County courthouse in Miami on a domestic battery charge.

Warren Sapp March 3 Court Appearance To Be Arraigned March 17

Instead, Sapp’s lawyer Christopher Lyons requested and was granted a two week continuance. The move by Sapp’s attorney may be the first step in a plea deal, depending on who the Dade County District Attorney assigned to the case.

The March 17 appearance will likely bring a plea bargain or Sapp’s actual plea. Based on the favoritism already apparently shown Sapp in this situation by authorities, I’d bet the former.

Sapp is accused of domestic battery of his girlfriend on the morning of Feb. 6 in a Miami hotel room. In the police report, Sapp’s accuser said he choked her and threw her down.

Read more…

UPDATE: Sapp To Spend Night In Jail For Charge

UPDATE (9:43p ET): WSVN-TV’s Blake Burman reports from Miami tonight that Warren Sapp will be spending the night in jail because of a misdemeanor batter charge: “because this case involves alleged domestic violence he has to go before a judge. That means he is spending the night in jail.

Warren Sapp Mugshot

You can read the arrest report of the incident here.

From reading it myself, two new things popped up. The alleged victim claims there was a witness in the hallway when Sapp allegedly threw her out of the hotel room and the woman claims that Sapp texted her with the message, “You Whore” after the alleged abuse.

Omar Kelly and Brian Haas of the SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL has details from Miami Police regarding Warren Sapp’s charge of misdemeanor battery.

Warren Sapp

Sapp is accused of attacking his girlfriend around 5 a.m. Saturday at the Shore Club Hotel on Collins Avenue. The woman, who was not identified by police, was treated by emergency workers for a swollen knee and bruises on the back of her neck and taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Detective Juan Sanchez, spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department, said that the woman called police around noon Saturday to report that she had been attacked. She said she and Sapp had dated for two years.

Read more…

Sapp Charged On ‘Misdemeanor Domestic Battery’

The ASSOCIATED PRESS reports:

Warren Sapp arrested outside Shore Club in Miami for Domestic Batery

According to a police news release, Warren Sapp has been charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic battery. The charge stems from an incident early Saturday morning at a South Beach hotel. An arrest affidavit was not immediately available.

Miami Beach Police spokesman Juan Sanchez says the 37-year-old Sapp was brought in for questioning Saturday afternoon.

That hotel was the Shore Club, as noted by Sapp himself with a Tweet. Darrell Reid of the Denver Broncos subsequently Tweeted that he saw Sapp being placed in a police car this afternoon.

The NFL Network has already removed Sapp from its coverage of the Super Bowl.

Warren Sapp Off NFL Network After Abuse Claim

CBS 4 reports from Miami Saturday afternoon:

Former University of Miami and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp was arrested by Miami Beach Police on Saturday on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge, according to Juan Sanchez of the Miami Beach Police Department. The arrest prompted swift action by the NFL, who removed Sapp from NFL Network broadcasts while the league investigates the matter. Read more…

Ochocinco Scoops NFL Press On Brady’s ‘Injury’

Yawn, another sleepy Satu–WE INTERRUPT THIS POST FOR AN IMPORTANT DREAMBOAT ALERT. Tom Brady has a sore shoulder! Stop the presses. Sound the alarum bells. All hands on deck: Mortensen! Schefter! Hell, get Peter Gammons in here! Someone fire up the ESPN overkill machine! Go! Go! Go! (!!!) Doesn’t Haynesworth know we’ve got a redemption/comeback storyline that needs to be beaten into the ground all season?  EVERYBODY PANIC!

Ochocinco Brady

(Behold the awesome power of MS Paint.)

Given the Patriots’ secretive nature about injuries and the media’s ability to work itself into a lather at the drop of a hat, it’s hard to know the extent of the injury. Thankfully, one man had the balls and the Rolodex big enough to cut the crap and get to the bottom of things: Investigative Reporter Chad Ochocinco!

Read more…

NFL Network To Broadcast Every Preseason Game

In what will surely come as good news to fantasy football dweebs, shut-ins and the parents of Denver Broncos backup quarterback Tom Brandstater (full disclosure — I qualify for the first two), the NFL Network has announced that it will broadcast every single preseason game. It’ll be the first time that the entire NFL exhibition slate will be televised, making if officially no longer necessary to ever attend one of them in person.

(Even here, the Lions are on the bottom. Sad, really)

This is also good news to the 10.8 million digitally-based Comcast subscribers who will be able to watch the games without paying extra. Comcast and the NFL Network finally hammered out a nine-year contract agreement in May, including the agreement that the company would no longer relegate NFL Network to a digital sports tier that cost subscribers extra. Of course not everyone has Comcast, but that’s another post. Oh, more breaking news … Read more…

Speed Read: O.J. Simpson Chase, 15 Years Later

Wednesday was the 15th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase, perhaps the most riveting low-speed pursuit of all time until James Harrison’s fumble return in this year’s Super Bowl. I wonder if someone baked O.J. a cake in jail? (I point this out basically so I can remind everyone that’s where he is right now - in jail. No matter how down or depressed I might get in life, I can now always remind myself of this and smile.)

OJ Simpson Bronco low speed chase

Of course, someone reminded me that O.J. Simpson spent more time in jail over the double murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman than Donte Stallworth will for his DUI manslaughter conviction - and O.J. was found not guilty. Which, of course, is another reminder of just how screwed up the criminal justice system is, causing me to start grinding my teeth again. But then I think: “O.J.’s in jail, trying to fend off the advances of Stickpin Bubba,” and I start to feel better again.

OJ Simpson

It’s amazing to me that, in a pre-9/11 world, the question of “where were you when O.J. ran?” was basically my generation’s version of the JFK assassination. How gloriously naive we were back then. I was home on summer break from college, having just returned from playing some basketball with my friends and sitting slack-jawed with my Mom as the whole thing unfolded. Now the whole thing seems like some dated bit of pop trivia - except for when Fred Goldman pops up to remind you that real people died, and he’d really like to see O.J.’s stuff get sold so he can get some of his money.

Matt Millen’s reputation isn’t as far in the gutter as O.J.’s, but after destroying any shred of hope that the Detroit Lions might have had for winning in the next 20 years, it isn’t good. Which makes you wonder how much credibility he’ll have working as an analyst for the NFL Network this season. But don’t worry, Matt: Don Banks from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is here to help, with what I assume was meant to be a puff piece on Millen but turns out to be a master class in unintentional comedy.

Matt Millen back on TV

First off, Banks’ main premise is that the stage is set for Millen to have a huge comeback - like Richard Nixon. Yeah, Nixon. Not Frank Sinatra or John Travolta or even Anvil, but Richard Nixon. A good rule of thumb: if you are comparing your interview subject to Richard Nixon in any way, you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors. At least he didn’t compare him to Hitler (that only happens in Detroit).

But it turns out that Matt Millen “admits to being something of a Nixon buff.” Of course he is. And much like Tricky Dick, Millen seems to see himself as the perpetual victim:

“I don’t go backwards,” Millen said. “I just don’t think like that. There’s nothing I can do about [Detroit]. All I can do is from here on out. I understand. In Detroit, they need a bad guy. I was a bad guy. I was to blame for the fall of the auto industry and the housing market. Somehow, I had something to do with [Detroit mayor] Kwame Kilpatrick [resigning], although I’m not sure what. But that’s what happens when you lose in this game. You give everyone a cheap and easy story to jump on.”

Right, because your gross incompetence in leading the Lions to the worst eight-year record in modern NFL history was “cheap and easy” and not at all deserved. Come on. I liked Millen a lot as an analyst, but to try and whitewash his awful tenure in Detroit is simply insane. But Banks seems to think that Millen’s career as an executive might not be over:

I’m intrigued with the idea that Millen, in this era of ultra-short attention spans and a 24/7 news cycle, can put his head down, go back to work at the TV and radio gigs he once excelled at, and re-emerge some day soon with a different reputation and image than he engenders today. I not only think it could happen, I’m convinced it will happen.

Don Banks is clearly off of his meds. Just hang tight there, Don: the men with the white jackets will be there soon to take you back to the funny farm. The idea that a team would be stupid enough to let Matt Millen anywhere near their personnel department is nuts. But then again, as long as Cincinnati is still in the league, anything is possible.

Finally, the Day of the Lakers wrapped up in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant appearing on the “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” to discuss winning his fourth NBA title. Nothing earth-shattering happened (no Triumph the Insult Comic Dog coming on to ask about Colorado), but there were a few decent moments. And seriously, Kobe couldn’t be bothered to get out of his tracksuit for the interview?:

More sports news to consider whether it’s OK to laugh at this window washer’s Wile E. Coyote-like tumble as he fell six stories before bouncing off a lower roof since somehow he lived to tell the tale:

Who is the best catcher of all time?

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