Samantha Steele heads into the unknown; Shulman stays at ESPN
The job is an odd mix of sports knowledge and sex appeal, journalism and entertainment. When done with an editorial bent by the likes of Jeannine Edwards, Andrea Kremer or Michele Tafoya, sideline reporting can be an invaluable service to sports television viewers. A pointed question following a tense game often produces memorable television; same with intrepid fact-finding following a key injury.
Of course, the gig remains an endless source of fascination (Fox Sports reporter Pam Oliver was trending on Twitter on Sunday afternoon with a
Samantha Steele has been with ESPN for only 15 months, but she's already been assigned two high-profile college football roles: sideline reporter for ESPN's
But the quiet ended last week with the news (first
What happens next? Who knows? There is no blueprint for a high-profile sports television reporter dating a professional athlete in today's social media world, and Steele's personal life now becomes part of the Twitterverse. She should expect plenty of commentary
"I suppose simply him being an athlete is now prime target material," said an on-air colleague and a friend of Steele's. "But she covers college football. Her ex played ball and no one said a word. I hope she just continues to crush Saturdays and stay above the gossip."
For its part, ESPN does not consider the relationship a journalistic conflict given that Steele covers college football and Ponder plays in the NFL.
"We do not comment on, or confirm, personal aspects of employees' lives," an ESPN spokesperson said. "Regarding any policies, we expect any commentator to raise any relationship that could be a conflict with the sport they cover. This does not fit that scenario as she covers college football."
"My humble opinion is that our personal lives should remain personal, but that any potentially touchy relationship should be brought to the attention of management," said Edwards, in an interview with SI.com on Monday. "I do not feel that as reporters we should be covering events that our spouses or mates are directly involved in (as in Samantha covering a Vikings game). If I were in this position I would make management aware of it and let them assign me as needed. Public perception is critically important, and we can't afford to put ourselves in a position to be overly scrutinized or have our journalistic integrity questioned in any way. I consider myself a professional who would be always be objective, but the public might not know that. Avoiding a potential conflict is the best way to go."
Steele, 26, declined to comment, but she took the right tone on Saturday by mocking all the hubbub around her. "S/O to all the grown men critiquing my wardrobe/relationship choices," Steele
What Shulman is, however, is the best play-by-play announcer at his network, and ESPN has wisely signed him to a multiyear extension. The move is great news for viewers as Shulman will continue to serve as the voice of
The one change coming is that Shulman will no longer do NBA games -- something he asked for in order to spend more time with his three teenage children in his native Toronto. He'll do about 75 events or so for ESPN during a calendar year, according to sources.
"I'm doing events I love and I'm doing it with people I enjoy working with," Shulman said. "I don't like making things about me. I like being part of a team. I guess at the heart of it, I love the job I do but I just want to do the game and go back home. It's not about being a brand. It's not about exposure. It's not about publicity. I just keep it simple."
Skip Bayless, this is not.
Whether Shulman and Hershiser will call
"We have had some casual conversations as far as those involved in baseball, but as far as I know, we are not even at the short list at this point," Shulman said.
"The NFL is investigating the San Diego Chargers for use of a banned substance in their loss against the Denver Broncos on Monday night," Glazer reported. "During the game, one of their equipment managers came out onto the field with these little hand towels with this illegal substance in it. One of the officials, Jeff Bergman, actually saw it and tried to confiscate it. The equipment guy wouldn't give it up. Finally, they made the equipment guy empty his pockets and what they found in these hand towels was this illegal form of "stick 'em" -- a skin-colored or clear-colored 'stick 'em' type of tape.
"This has been banned by the NFL for decades and decades. The NFL is investigating and the Chargers are facing potentially very stiff sanctions, a significant fine or even an outside shot of a loss of draft picks depending on how many people actually were involved in this, how many people knew about this and how high up it went in the organization."
"Ben's story is one of unfulfilled potential and we know that is a powerful way to connect with viewers, even this many years after his death," said Coodie Simmons, the co-director of the film, along with Chike Ozah. "I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and though I was young when Ben died, I remember crying like I lost someone in my own family. That's the way a lot of the community reacted and for a while, it brought people closer together and violence rates dropped in the city. Sadly, things are as bad today as they were back then and we're hoping that sharing Benji's story might help shine some light on the problem."
It's an excellent film, and worth your time.
On the final play of regulation with Tampa Bay trailing 35-28, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman scrambled out of the pocket before completing a pass to Mike Williams in the back of the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown. Stockton quickly recognized that a penalty flag had been thrown. That was good. Fox then showed a replay and here was the broadcasting transcript:
(The refs then declared that the touchdown was nullified for illegal touching on Williams. SI.com's Chris Burke has a solid explanation
Great drama, indeed. But no clear explanation for viewers. Later, on Twitter, Fox rules analyst Mike Pereria explained that it was not illegal contact because the quarterback was out of the pocket and the receiver can't come back in and be the first to touch the ball.