SI.com highlights a select group in the sports media who were newsworthy, both for positive and negative reasons, in 2011.
THE PICK:Mike Mayock (NFL Network, NBC)
His analyst brethren include Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks (Troy Aikman, Phil Simms) and coaches (Jon Gruden) and former standout players (Chris Collinsworth, Ron Jaworski). Asked to describe his broadcasting career, Mayock said, "I'm a grinder."
A little-used safety for two seasons with the Giants after being selected by the Steelers in the 10th round of the 1981 NFL draft, Mayock's road to the top of his profession includes calling Arena League Football and Canadian games, and even a stint as a sideline reporter on NCAA basketball games for CBS. His break came in 2005 when the NFL Network hired him, and he soon separated himself as television's most authoritative draft analyst, praised by critics and fans for his attention to detail and endless film work. Last year NBC assigned Mayock to its Notre Dame broadcasts, and this year the NFL Network named him as the analyst for its Thursday Night Football package. The grinder now finds his name atop the marquee.
Mayock talks a lot during a broadcast but unlike many others, he speaks from a prepared place, a broadcaster with a qualified opinion about his subject matter. Writing about him for Sports Illustrated, I cited something from his call of the NFL Network's opening-night broadcast (Nov. 10) between Oakland and San Diego. In that game, he told his audience he was at Raiders practice six days earlier and saw quarterback Carson Palmer working with his receivers on how to get off bumps from cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage. Mayock explained what made this particularly interesting was that it was Palmer, as opposed to a coach or a wideout, teaching the receivers to get off the line. It was the kind of subtle detail viewers have come to appreciate from him. He's a worthy pick for SI.com's highest media award.
HONORABLE MENTION:Marv Albert (CBS and TNT), John Barr (ESPN), Jay Bilas (ESPN), Doris Burke (ESPN), Ian Darke (ESPN), Rich Eisen (NFL Network), Mike Emrick (NBC), Beth Mowins (ESPN), Mike Pereira (Fox), Adam Schefter (ESPN), Dan Shulman (ESPN and ESPN Radio), Joe Tessitore (ESPN), Trey Wingo (ESPN).
THE PICKS:Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts (CBS); Marv Albert and Steve Kerr (TNT)
I didn't catch Eagle and Fouts often in 2011, but when I did, I loved what I heard. It's a duo that doesn't take itself seriously but still delivers a thoughtful, smart broadcast for viewers. Humor is an underrated element of sports broadcasting and both men are adept at it. Eagle, in particular, seldom gets listed among the best working sports broadcasters, but he's regarded that way here.
Albert and Kerr were sensational on the NBA and they carried that chemistry over to the NCAA tournament when they did games for CBS and Turner.
HONORABLE MENTION:Brian Anderson, RonDarling and John Smoltz (TBS); Joe Buck and TroyAikman (Fox); Mike Breen, MarkJackson and Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN and ABC); Jim Durham and Dr.JackRamsay (ESPN Radio); Chris Fowler and Darren Cahill (ESPN); Gus Johnson and Charles Davis (Fox); Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery (ESPN); Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (NBC); Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN); Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg (CBS); BradNessler and Mike Mayock (NFL Network); Dave Pasch and Doris Burke (ESPN).
THE PICK: ESPN2's Fantasy Football Now
This category is usually a toss-up between ESPN's College GameDay and TNT's Inside the NBA, but I'm citing FFN this year because of the tangible value it gives viewers every Sunday. The fantasy market is a major reason why NFL television ratings have soared, and ESPN competitors would be wise to watch this show and swipe the best features from it. There are no fluff pieces, no over-the-top chuckling at everything Shannon Sharpe says, no Chris Berman kissing the butt of all things Roger Goodell. It's heavy on information and informed judgment. FFN is a work in progress in terms of chemistry, especially its multiple host format. But it deserves notice and has carved out a nice niche among fantasy fans with zero promotion from its own company in relation to Sunday NFL Countdown.
HONORABLE MENTION:College GameDay (ESPN), Inside the NBA (TNT), Football Night in America (NBC).
THE PICK:Terry Francona (Fox, ESPN)
Filling in for Tim McCarver for the first two games of the American League Championship Series, Francona was insightful and genuinely funny, both valuable commodities in broadcasting. He laughed at his own clichés and was unafraid to question managers' strategy. He drew raves from fans and critics (Yahoo! Sports baseball writer Jeff Passan tweeted, "Is Terry Francona Wally Pipping Tim McCarver?"). Francona won't be Pipp-ing McCarver, but the former Boston manager has been hired by ESPN to replace new Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine on Sunday Night Baseball. He'll also be seen on Baseball Tonight. Though I imagine he'll be back in baseball sooner than later, Francona has a chance to be very good if he works at the job.
HONORABLE MENTION:Mike Florio (Versus), Eric Mangini (ESPN), Urban Meyer (ESPN), Kurt Warner (NFL Network).
THE PICK:Chris Webber (NBA TV and TNT)
Webber has become a sharp studio analyst. Watching him this month on NBA TV's preview shows, he has great depth about the league and doesn't sugarcoat his opinions. He's a smart guy who acts like someone who takes broadcasting as a profession rather than a hobby.
While I listed Desmond Howard in the honorable mention category, he received the most votes when I asked people on Twitter which sports broadcaster had improved the most. Indeed, he looked far more comfortable on the set of College GameDay this year. Around the Horn host Tony Reali has improved every year on a show that should be shown in North Korean prison camps.
HONORABLE MENTION:Desmond Howard (ESPN), Liam McHugh (NBC), Tony Reali (ESPN).
THE PICKS: Jay Bilas (ESPN), Doris Burke (ESPN) and Mike Mayock (NFL Network, NBC)Preparation is the bond shared by Bilas, Burke and Mayock. Their performance isn't about personality, and each has grinded out an impressive career through smarts and professionalism. When they do a game, I usually learn something. As a viewer, there is no better result.
HONORABLE MENTION: TroyAikman (Fox), Hubie Brown (ESPN Radio), Darren Cahill (ESPN), Mary Carillo (CBS, Tennis Channel), Cris Collinsworth (NBC), Charles Davis (Fox), Fran Fraschilla (ESPN), Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN), Clark Kellogg (CBS), Steve Kerr (TNT), Ray Hudson (Gol TV ), Johnny Miller (NBC).
THE PICKS:Doug Brown, Dan Davis, Christine Lisi, Marc Kestecher, Bob Picozzi, Jay Reynolds, John Stashower (ESPN Radio anchors)
If I were to single out an individual for this award, I'd likely give it to Chuck Wilson, the ESPN Radio host whose thoughtful work nightly on a variety of topics is first rate and makes that network look very good. But I've really come to appreciate the above group of professionals who provide SportsCenter updates for ESPN Radio, particularly because they rarely get any of the famous and voluminous hot air that the ESPN PR department loves to blow at higher-profile and higher-volume talents. Davis retired last week after joining ESPN Radio in January 1992 when the network launched. Good luck to him.
HONORABLE MENTION:Chuck Wilson (ESPN Radio), Dino Costa (Sirius XM), Dan Patrick (Premiere Radio Networks), Travis Rodgers (Y! Sports Radio), JimRome (Premiere Radio Networks), Bob Valvano (ESPN Radio), Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo (ESPN Radio).
Note: Patrick works for Sports Illustrated and I know many of his behind-the-scenes people. But the show has been terrific this year and I thought it worth listing, even with our shared employer.
THE PICKS:A Game of Honor (Showtime) and Unguarded (ESPN)
"Football was an excuse to get in the door," said Pete Radovich Jr., the director and co-producer of Honor. For six months, Radovich Jr., co-producer Steve Karasik and a production team from CBS Sports were embedded with football teams at Army and Navy. They had unprecedented access to combat training, classrooms, locker rooms and, most fascinating, what incoming freshmen have to endure during their first weeks at each academy. This marked the first time that I've gotten a sense of what these young people have to go through on a daily basis.
It should be noted that the film does shoot its subjects in overtly heroic fashion. Honor often comes off like a campaign film, and plays heavy on patriotism and nationalism themes. It's also clear that the filmmakers -- incredibly talented folks -- became very close with their subjects. But the end result is remarkable filmmaking.
The best sports documentarian is a subjective crown, but Jonathan Hock rates very high on any list. Unguarded chronicled the rise and fall and ongoing redemption of Chris Herren, a schoolboy basketball star from Fall River, Mass. Hock's previous sports doc was The Best That Never Was, a terrific exploration of the life of Marcus Dupree, arguably the greatest high school running back.
"To me, games are play-dramas unto themselves, self-contained," Hock said in November. "But the story really begins once the game ends. Real redemption -- what we pretend the games are about but what real life really is about -- can only happen for the athlete after the game is over and real life begins."
HONORABLE MENTION:Bobby Fischer Against the World (HBO), Catching Hell (ESPN), McEnroe/Borg: Fire & Ice (HBO).
THE PICKS:The Wrestler (ESPN's E:60) and Gambling on Youth Football (ESPN's Outside the Lines)
The superhero physique he had during his days in the WWE is long gone. Scott Hall is now 53 and says he takes 11 heart and seizure medications daily. He has a pacemaker and says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He looks shockingly frail. In October, E:60aired a 16-minute piece on one of the more interesting figures in pro wrestling history, given his fame and self-destructive nature. For those of us of a certain age, it was a devastating portrait, a man wrecked by drug addiction and alcoholism. There's no narrator and no reporter fronting the piece, which adds to the sullen mood. Lead producer Ben Houser and associate producer John Minton III are to be commended for their work. Same with the terrific job of video editing by Bluefoot Entertainment's Matt McCormick.
Reporter Paula Lavigne's work on the gambling and criminal influences surrounding a popular South Florida youth football league should be seen by all youth coaches. Her on-camera interview with Osbert Small, a coach in the league who was caught by hidden camera betting on games, was compelling stuff.
HONORABLE MENTION: ESPN's Outside the Lines on Welles Crowther; Outside the Lines on Wes Leonard; HBO's Real Sports feature (fronted by Mary Carillo) on Bob Hewitt; Bryant Gumbel's Real Sportsinterview with Jerry West.
THE PICK:Chris Russo, Sirius XM sports host
Russo uttered the most inane sports-talk-radio comment of the year when he proclaimed that Red Sox fans would exchange the 2007 World Series title for not collapsing this season. How did the host come to this thesis? Well, he didn't poll Red Sox fans, nor does he work out of Boston to glean such insight (SiriusXM is based in New York). This analysis became even more humorous when the Boston Globe later published its piece on the dysfunction in the clubhouse during the season. After Russo's take, I emailed the Boston Globe's terrific sports television critic and sports reporter, Chad Finn, to get his view on how a Red Sox fan would see this. Not surprisingly, Finn dismissed Russo's silliness.
Compounding his inanity, Russo in the following weeks called Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia "a fraud" for considering opting out of his contract after pledging fidelity to New York. The word "fraud" is a loaded word, a cruel charge that should not be thrown around lightly by a national host, especially one who left his longtime place of employment (WFAN-AM in New York) for a fat deal with a satellite provider. Sabathia, of course, agreed to a contract extension with the Yankees instead of testing the free-agent market. I look for better things from Russo in 2012.
THE PICK: Philadelphia sportswriters vs. Philadelphia sportswriters
Philadelphia has seen its share of epic battles -- Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed and General Howe versus General Washington to name a pair -- but this year the rough-and-tumble city saw two writers who cover the Eagles (Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer) literally battle each other at the team's practice facility. Fantastically, the alteraction was given the Taiwanese animation treatment.
In addition, a couple of months earlier, David Murphy (Daily News) and John Gonzalez (Inquirer) duked it out over the fields of Twitter and the Web.
Erin Andrews (ESPN) vs. Michelle Beadle (ESPN): Beadle made her feelings clear in this Deadspin interview in May.
Desmond Howard (ESPN) vs. Phil Simms (CBS): They had a dust-up during Super Bowl week in Dallas.
Bill Simmons (ESPN) vs. Keith Olbermann (Current TV): Background on the feud can be found here.
Bill Simmons and Tony Kornheiser (ESPN) vs. Mike Tirico (ESPN): Simmons apologized to Tirico for his commentsin the ESPN book Those Guys Have All the Fun.
• With anarchy swirling around him on the booze-soaked streets of downtown Vancouver, CTV British Columbia senior reporter/anchor Rob Brown provided a riveting live account of the post-Stanley Cup riots for Canadian viewers and for those of us watching from the States via streaming video. It was visceral, scary stuff, and so close was Brown to the action that you wondered at times if he'd be engulfed by some of the hooligans. Brown and his cameraman, Jazz Sanghera, never lost their cool, even though Sanghera suffered a broken nose from flying debris. Here's a video recap of their work.
• ESPN reporter and producer Colleen Dominguez and producer Justine Gubar offered compelling reporting for Outside the Lineson the life and death of professional golfer Erica Blasberg, who committed suicide in 2010 at age 25. They reported the story for seven months, including trips to Dubai, Las Vegas and Portland. Impressive work.
• ESPN feature producer Scott Harves produced a tremendous 16-minute retrospective on the life of Wes Leonard, the two-sport star at Fennville (Mich.) High who collapsed and died at age 16 on March 3. With unique access to the team (and Leonard's family) for 10 days in March, Harves filmed the team through its three district playoff wins and during its loss to eventual state champ Schoolcraft High. He shot well over 50 hours of footage. Harves and his crew also produced a superb OTL piece on Joplin High football after a devastating tornado hit the Missouri town.
• For an example of talent and production working in perfect coordination, we cite the NFL Network coverage of the Ryan Mallett selection during the NFL draft. NFLN insider Michael Lombardi, clearly tapped inside the Patriots' draft room, tipped viewers 10 minutes before the selection that New England was going to pick the quarterback in the third round. Lombardi later explained that Mallett was the top quarterback on the Patriots' board and that Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had texted him how surprised he was that his player had fallen so far. NFLN analyst Kurt Warner even texted Tom Brady about the pick. Brady responded: "I'm here for 10 years." Fantastic.
• Props to Zack Meisel and James Oldham, the duo for Ohio State's student-run daily, The Lantern, whose story in May on former Buckeyes football player Ray Small (who confirmed some of the allegations that the school was investigating) helped illuminate the out-of-control nature of the program.
• The (Bergen) Record of New Jersey sports columnist Tara Sullivan called out the Masters after a security guard denied her entry into the Augusta National locker room for a post-tournament interview with Rory McIlroy. Twitter played a role here, too, especially in the metabolism of the story. Public relations people in sports must now react in real time at an event when something breaks involving the media.
• New York Times sports reporter John Branch examined the life and death of NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard over a three-part series. It was brilliant, eye-opening work. If you missed it, it's linked here.
• Yahoo! Sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson and contributor Rand Getlin dropped a bombshell in August with this exhaustive report on a renegade Miami football booster.
• During a vacation with his wife, Erin Cox (a reporter for The Capital, an Annapolis, Md.-based daily), Washington Post sports reporter Rick Maese found himself in the middle of the series of massive earthquakes that struck northeast Japan, unleashing tsunamis that swept across the countryside. The couple soon journeyed north to the disaster area and started filing reports from evacuation shelters and other nearby sites.
• Lisa Wilson became the lone black woman leading a sports section at a metropolitan daily newspaper when the Buffalo News promoted her to executive sports editor in May.
• ESPN landed the rights to Wimbledon (a 12-year deal) after NBC's nonsensical taped semifinals coverage in recent years. It was welcome news for tennis fans.
• Jim Palmer delivered a heartfelt, teary-eyed tribute to Mike Flanagan on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) after learning of his former Orioles teammate's death.
• The CBS/Turner partnership for the NCAA tournament was a great viewer success, especially the airing of every game in its entirety. It gave viewers the power to toggle between multiple channels and program the tournament themselves.
• From March 12 (the beginning of the NFL lockout) through July 25 (the end), SiriusXM NFL Radio conducted 1,089 interviews ranging from players to NFL negotiators. Nice work.
• In June, ESPN reporter John Barr and producer Nicole Noren won a national Investigative Reporting Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for their 2010 exploration into the sex industry trade in South Africa before the World Cup. This month, HBO Real Sports correspondent Bernard Goldberg won an "excellence in broadcast journalism" award from duPont-Columbia University for his in-depth reporting on concussions in sports.
• Asking point-blank questions and limiting opinion during his query, Bob Costas was brilliant and thorough during a chilling interview with Jerry Sandusky for NBC's Rock Center. Even more remarkable was that Costas had prepared to interview Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, when the lawyer offered up his client for a phone interview. The Washington Post described it as a "a clinic in how to do a high-pressure, big-news TV interview on deadline."
• Patriot-News crime reporter Sara Ganim had been investigating the Sandusky case for nearly three years before the national media converged on State College, Pa. Ganim, 24, has since owned the story with careful, sourced reporting and deserves the national attention she's received. "This is a crime story for me and that's how I've always approached this," Ganim said. "We have been careful to deal in facts and not rumors."
• Of the many terrific sports-related features that aired surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11, ESPN's 13-minute piece on Welles Crowther, a former Boston College lacrosse player who was killed in the South Tower of the World Trade Center after leading people to safety, stayed with me the most. If you have not yet seen The Man in the Red Bandana, it represents the best of ESPN's storytelling capabilities. Producer Drew Gallagher said the group that worked on the story -- editor Tim Horgan, reporter and writer Tom Rinaldi and cameramen Gregg Hoerdemann, Mike Bollacke, Aaron Frutman and Samson Chan -- did not approach it like another piece. "I think everyone put a little bit of themselves in it," Gallagher said.
• Anything Jane Leavy wrote for Grantland.
• TNT debuted its outstanding "NBA Forever" promo on Christmas Day, a nearly two-minute piece of basketball perfection. Turner Sports creative director Drew Watkins said he and his team -- visual effects artist/compositor Les Umberger and senior editors Eric Lund and Chris Wolfe -- were in the editing booth for nearly three weeks putting together the montage. They pored over thousands of clips in five- or 10-second chunks to come up with shots that fit stylistically and framing-wise. "The goal was to do something that connected to the viewer and was true to the game," Watkins said. "It really was just a good moment for the team I work with."
• Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand took to Twitter to call out Denver Post sports columnist and ESPN Around the Horn barker Woody Paige for swiping material from an in-depth feature he wrote on a cable television pioneer. Tweeted Ourand: "Hey @woodypaige. Did you really talk to Paul Maxwell? Or did you lift that quote from SBJ? Bad form to not list source." Paige eventually apologized.
• ESPN college basketball analyst Bob Knight failed to apologize, nor was he disciplined by ESPN management, for calling his colleague Jeremy Schaap " a chicken---- little ----sucker" in Those Guys Have All the Fun. Given Schaap's long tenure and quality journalism for ESPN (not to mention that his late father, Dick, worked at the network for years), the public silence spoke loudly about the "Jordan Rules" that certain talent are afforded in Bristol.
• The Poynter Review Project, in a long response to college football writer Bruce Feldman's allegations about his departure from ESPN after collaborating on a book with former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, wrote: "[Feldman] suggested that his conflicts, created by writing the book, are tiny compared to those of Craig James, the ESPN announcer named in Leach's lawsuit. If the allegations in the lawsuit are accurate -- that James hired a PR firm to smear Leach -- then ESPN has an even bigger problem that we'll certainly be writing about." Poynter concluded its findings with the following sentences: "Now [Feldman's] conflicts are CBS Sports' problems. And ESPN, and the Poynter Review Project, are left to address the James issue." That conclusion came on Sept. 2. Since then, neither Poynter nor ESPN has addressed the James issue with viewers. (James left the network this month to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas.)
• Former ESPN broadcaster Ron Franklin was pulled from the radio broadcast of the Fiesta Bowl after he allegedly referred to colleague Jeannine Edwards as "sweet baby" before the start of a meeting with Florida State coaches. Edwards told Franklin that she did not appreciate being addressed that way. That prompted Franklin to allegedly say, "OK, then, a--hole." Franklin, via an ESPN spokesperson, told SI.com: "I said some things I shouldn't have, and I'm sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl." The story was first reported by the Sports by Brooks website, which also was the first source to bring Feldman's suspension to the public.
• It took Fox until 5:14 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday to report on one of the major stories of the Super Bowl, the ticket fiasco that left 400 fans without seats after multiple sections in Cowboys Stadium were not completed in time. Remarkably, Fox downplayed the news by giving it less than a minute. Though the NFL came out with multiple statements afterward, Fox never updated its audience or did any original reporting on the story.
• Earlier that same afternoon, Fox's celebrity red carpet segment hosted by Maria Menounos and Michael Strahan produced the kind of awkward, train wreck television that we've come to expect when Fox heads down this sycophantic path. The New York Timescalled the Super Bowl pregame show the "Worst Damn Four-and-a-Half-Hour Super Bowl Show Ever." We won't go that far, but this was not Fox's finest hour.
• Charles Barkley was badly miscast as an analyst for the NCAA tournament selection show, a spot that should be held by a college basketball insider. Turner Sports president David Levy told SI.com that a change will be made in 2012. "I don't think we need six guys on the selection show," Levy said. "Charles was wrong for the show in the sense that there is so much information that we are trying to get out."
• St. Petersburg Times sports media critic Tom Jones perceptively hit on one of the more infuriating aspects of golf coverage: the excuse-making and cheerleading for Tiger Woods. He correctly cited CBS' coverage of the Masters, from David Feherty's waxing on about "all he's been through this week!" to Bill Macatee's asking about the golfer's eating plans after his final round. (The ever-gracious Woods responded to Macatee's questions by hitting him over the head with a 2x4 of condescension.)
• The Longhorn Network.
• "This is for all the Tostitos."-- ESPN college football announcer Brent Musberger, in full salesman mode, at the end of the Tostitos BCS national championship between Auburn and Oregon.
• "Ernie always said: 'A man is really lucky if God gives him a job he enjoys.' That is what I found, and that is apparently what Ernie found, too."-- NBC hockey announcer Mike Emrick, on the late Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who served as a nonacademic adviser for Emrick when he was a doctoral student at Bowling Green.
• "I was literally the first hire on what became ESPN.com when I was in Bristol in my mid-20s. This is the way they treat you. To watch them sit there and try to spin their way out of this and only make it worse. They made such a mess, and then they never cleaned it up." -- CBSSports.com writer Bruce Feldman, upon his leaving ESPN.
• "I could argue that if you still live in Cleveland at this point, you're bringing unemployment on, couldn't I?" It's the Rust Belt. It's 2011. If you live in Youngstown, Ohio, should I have no sympathy that you're unemployed? You're kinda bringing it on yourself."-- Colin Cowherd, ESPN Radio host and frequent amateur sociologist.
• "Date and marry 7's and 8's." -- Cowherd, giving dating advice and reducing a gender to a looks-based rating system.
• "I haven't really thought about a philosophy. I'm not Kant or Descartes, though I feel I was a better weakside rebounder than either." -- ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, on his Twitter strategy.
• "I wish I was 50 years younger and I would kick your ass!"-- HBO Sports' 80-year-old boxing analyst, Larry Merchant, to Floyd Mayweather.
• "The committee has gone against its own principles. UAB, VCU, why are they in? They were never mentioned [as a possibility] for a reason. ...These are horrible decisions. We need more basketball people on the committee. These are bad, indefensible decisions." -- Bilas, on the selections of VCU and UAB into the NCAA tournament.
• "Abby Wambach has saved the USA's life in this World Cup!"-- ESPN soccer announcer Ian Darke, on Wambach's goal in the dying moments of the Women's World Cup quarterfinals against Brazil.
• "ESPN basically has to have one of their talent talk about Hitler or put a picture of their d--- on a phone -- which is what that [Sean] Salisbury guy did -- before they'll do anything about any of these various crazies because they don't have to. Nobody can touch them." --- Outgoing NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol, on the power of ESPN (from Those Guys Have All the Fun).
• "[Tim] Tebow trying to fit into a conventional offense is a square peg into a round hole. Regardless of how successful he is during this stretch, if Tebow is going to be a productive NFL quarterback, it's not going to be in Denver. The reason is the general manager. Could you imagine John Elway wanting to run a spread offense? That's not the quarterback he envisions moving forward with this franchise."-- Fox NFL analyst Howie Long, on Oct. 16, a week before Tebow's first start this season.
• "I'm a simple guy. I don't watch TV. I don't go on the Internet. So I never watched Playmakers, but I knew if the league was pissed, I probably should be pissed." -- ESPN's Chris Berman, who does not work for the NFL, on the network's drama depicting professional football that was canceled after complaints from the NFL (from Those Guys Have All the Fun).
• "Ah, f--k it."-- ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso, getting excited on CollegeGame Day.
• "S--t, you have to get rid of that ball just a split-second quicker."-- Ron Jaworski, getting excited about Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne not throwing quickly enough on Monday Night Football.
• "It's a five letter word: S-T-R-I-K-E."-- Fox baseball analyst Tim McCarver, having some difficulty after a strikeout of Esteban German by Marc Rzepczynski in Game 1 of the World Series.
• "So our suggestion here is a more modest one: Hey, knuckleheads, is it too much to ask that you confine your buffoonery to situations that don't directly damage your team? Week after week, game after game, we see guys who think nothing of incurring penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, costing their team's valuable yardage, even late in close games. Today's most conspicuous culprit: Buffalo's Stevie Johnson, who, after a TD catch versus the Jets, thought it would be a good idea to go Marcel Marceau, pantomiming, among other things, Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. But in this case, it was Johnson who shot himself in the foot, as his display cost his team a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff." -- NBC Sports' Bob Costas, not happy about over-the-top touchdown celebrations.
• "God's been awfully good to me, allowing me to do the things I love to do. I asked him, 'One more year at least?' And he said, 'OK.' " -- Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, announcing on air in August that he'll be back for another season.
THE PICK: "Told I'm not supposed to listen to Jeezy, or give daps. That ain't happening. Real recognize real, I suppose. I don't get mad, I get money." -- Jay Bilas, disproving the criticswho questioned his love of rapper Young Jeezy.
HONORABLE MENTION: "Love the solidarity, but #freebruce isn't enough. What would be enough? #boocraigjames."-- CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel, expressing his thoughts during a Twitter uprising that featured Bruce Feldman and the #freebruce hashtag as trending topics.
$4.38 billion: Amount paid by NBC to broadcast the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro; the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and the 2020 Summer Games at a to-be-determined location.
111 million: Audience that tuned in to Fox to watch the Packers defeat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, breaking last year's record audience of 106.5 million for the Colts-Saints.
13.458 million: Viewers who watched the 2011 Women's World Cup final between the United States and Japan, the second-most-watched daytime telecast (Monday-Sunday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.) in cable history, behind the Rose Bowl on ESPN (20.557 million viewers on Jan. 1, 2011).
Bob Barry Sr. (Oklahoma broadcaster), Rod Beaton (USA Today sportswriter), Nick Charles (CNN and Showtime broadcaster), Jack Dale (Texas Tech broadcaster), Bill Gallo (New York Daily News sports cartoonist and columnist), Mike Flanagan (Orioles broadcaster), Jim Kelley (Buffalo News sports writer), George Kimball (Boston Herald sportswriter), Tom Kowalski (Lions writer for Booth Newspapers and MLive.com), Kim Jessup (ESPN PR staffer), Ernie Johnson Sr. (Braves announcer), Tom McEwen (Tampa Tribune sportswriter and editor), Larry Munson (Georgia broadcaster), Hayden Nowkhah (infant son of ESPN anchor Dari Nowkhah), Bobby Rhine (Dallas FC broadcaster), Paul Splittorff (Royals broadcaster), Dave Solomon (New Haven Register sports columnist) and Allen Wilson (Buffalo News sportswriter).
Twelve Broadcasters Viewers Deserve More Of In '12 (not listed above):Steve Bunin (ESPN), Heather Cox (ESPN), Jeannine Edwards (ESPN), Len Elmore (ESPN), Chris McKendry (ESPN), Curt Menefee (Fox), Kevin Negandhi (ESPN), Kelly Naqi (ESPN), Dave Revsine (Big Ten Network), Kenny Rice (NBC), Sage Steele (ESPN), Matt Winer (NBA TV).
Five Broadcasters Viewers Need Less Of In '12:Skip Bayless (ESPN), Michael Irvin (NFL Network and Hall of Famer in this category), Craig James (unattached, Hall of Famer in this category), Rob Parker (ESPN)and Woody Paige (ESPN).