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Roundtable: NFL media members talk about covering training camp

From Richard Sherman and Seattle trying to defend its title to Johnny Manziel and the Browns, there are plenty of captivating storylines as training camp kicks off. Photo:

From Richard Sherman and Seattle trying to defend its title to Johnny Manziel and the Browns, there are plenty of captivating storylines as training camp kicks off.

In order to offer readers insight into how NFL media members approach covering training camp and the preseason, I assembled five respected NFL media members for a roundtable discussion.

The panel:

Josina Anderson, NFL reporter for ESPN’s SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown
Robert Klemko, Writer for The MMQB
Alex Marvez, Senior NFL reporter at Fox Sports and SiriusXM NFL Radio
Mike Reiss: ESPN NFL Nation reporter covering the New England Patriots and reporter/analyst for ESPN Boston.com.
Adam Schefter, NFL insider for ESPN and ESPN.com

The panel was asked to go as long or as short as they wanted with their answers. They were free to skip any questions. Some of the answers have been edited for clarity. Part 2 will run tomorrow.

How would you define your job between now and the start of the regular season?

Anderson: My job between now and the start of the regular season is like the fire drill before the actual fire -- and I love it. When it comes to covering the NFL, my goals are simple and I believe shared with colleagues on similar assignments: break news, net exclusives, find features and provide unique insight. The longer I'm on the case, and observe the masters in the game, the more I discern there's a rhythm to presenting NFL news. My process for getting on the pulse of the upcoming season begins by scanning major stories across the league. Then, I like to reconnect with people I know and those I'd like to know better to tap into the beat of the NFL. I love hearing outside suggestions to get myself flowing. I find this helps me make a mental list of what can be accomplished right now and later down the road. I did this a few weeks ago and it led to my first feature for Sunday NFL Countdown this season.

For me, the first camp I cover is really when the alarm goes off, jolting me into the nonstop nature of the NFL:  The walk begins, wading into the headlines you expect at the outset of the season and bracing for the flare-up story lines you didn't see coming. It can be dizzying at times to tackle because I'm a born go-getter. The same drive I had running at North Carolina is the same mindset that carries me now. I'm not around-the-clock with it like our insider extraordinaires Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen -- that is a whole different level of covering the NFL -- but I can admit to thinking about what's next in my sleep a lot and maybe just maybe seeing Twitter in my dreams a time or two. My hope is that by the time the season rolls around, I'm primed for injury news at the beginning of each week, I have a good nest of nuggets by midweek, I'm vigilant for new developments after games at the end of it and for whatever interview ideas surface out of that.  If I can #WashRinseRepeat that sequence until the Super Bowl, I'd consider that a successful season.

Klemko: I'll be flying to Seattle and driving to every camp in California for the first swing, then stopping by three of the Midwest camps for a day or two until they break. For the next month, my job will consist of mining interesting feature angles out of each camp for The MMQB and checking in with 120 Sports network via Skype. All I really need to do is to stay under budget and avoid being yelled at by Peter King.

Marvez: I’m in an interesting position because I wear two professional hats: My main job is covering the league for Fox Sports for both our digital and television (Fox Sports 1) endeavors. I’m also a co-host on SiriusXM NFL Radio. I will be doing SiriusXM shows from nine different camps this year and while I’m there I will be gathering information for FoxSports.com. I’ll also be trying to help Jay Glazer and Mike Garafolo break news for Fox Sports.

Reiss: I split it into two parts. The first part, and the foundation of the job, is to maintain a vibrant blog with relevant Patriots-based training camp information featuring breaking news, analysis, observations from practice, informed opinion, as well as an aggregation of others’ notable work. My hope is that the space is viewed as a one-stop shop of all-things Patriots that keeps the conversation going. The second part is serving the various platforms within ESPN, and that entails a lot during training camp. This is the second year for our ESPN.com NFL Nation in which we have one reporter covering every team. We are all responsible for a blog on the team we cover, and with that we often work together on 32-team-based projects, but it hardly stops there. We also are linked with the TV side, radio, ESPN The Magazine etc. One example from last year’s training camp was when Tom Brady was hit in the knee by defensive end Adrian Clayborn during a joint practice with the Buccaneers. It was a brief scare, Brady staying down and clutching his knee, the 10,000-plus at practice collectively holding their breath (he ended up being OK). News travels fast these days with Twitter, and I think it took about two minutes before NFL Insiders was calling to discuss what had just unfolded to the national audience.

Schefter: Really no different than it is the other 365 days of the season: track any and all significant developments related to the NFL for ESPN. We're coming off what, in my five years at ESPN, is one of the only times I can remember where it felt like football took a backseat. There was the World Cup and LeBron James, two once-in-every-four-year events -- and for a few weeks, you could feel that the NFL was not a high priority the way it is the other 49 or so weeks of the year. But here it comes again. And you can feel it building, too. There's a certain level of excitement and coverage when the teams report to camp, another level with the first weekend of preseason games, another level as it gets deeper into the preseason and the starters play more, and then another as the regular season draws near. But ESPN always is interested in the latest news and trends in the NFL, and it's my job to track it.

What do you anticipate will be the most interesting training camp story/stories on your beat?

Anderson: Without question for me it is the competition at quarterback for the New York Jets between Geno Smith and Michael Vick. I think there's a lot of pressure on Smith to rebound from his rookie season -- especially on the heels of Mark Sanchez's departure. It'll be fascinating to see if Smith legitimately emerges as Rex Ryan's starter as he likely won't have the benefit of an untimely injury from his fellow competitor this year, nor the Sanchez criticism to help mask his performance. If Smith can show significant signs of improvement, as he did by increasing his rush total per game near the end of the season and by eliminating picks in the last couple games, it could be quite a comeback story after all his ups and downs. I know many weren't expecting the Jets to beat the Dolphins last December with Miami's playoff hopes on the line, let alone for Smith to show that level of heart with a late second quarter touchdown run and an end zone spike en route to a 20-7 victory.

On the other hand, it'll be fascinating to see if Vick gets tapped to take over the reins in Smith's sophomore season -- especially after Vick had just a 2-4 record of his own last year and lost his own gig to Nick Foles in Philly. Vick has shown a good measure of deference to Smith since joining the Jets, but deep down I believe he relishes the opportunity to end his career on a better note. It will be interesting to observe how well Vick and Smith are relating to each another in camp and how much Vick will truly help Smith succeed -- perhaps to his own detriment.  I know from several conversations with Smith that he doesn't fear competition and he believes in his talent and his potential to grow, but if Ryan and Jets fans lose patience quickly this season and Vick takes over for Gang Green, it'll be headlines befitting of the Big Apple.

Klemko: My teams for the summer are Seahawks, Raiders, Niners, Cowboys, Chargers, Bears, Packers and Colts. When I look at those teams in terms of the Super Bowl -- which is all that really matters -- I’m intrigued by the Colts. Is this the year for Andrew Luck to emerge as one of those Top 5 guys now that he’ll have Dwayne Allen healthy at tight end plus Hakeem Nicks at receiver? I think so. Obviously the Seahawks-Niners rivalry is the best in football and could decide the NFC again. I’m excited to visit Seattle for the first time and check in with MMQB columnist Richard Sherman and some of the other legionnaires.

Marvez: Johnny Manziel is the top story of the preseason. While they are obviously very different people, there are similarities between the media and public attention given to Manziel and Tim Tebow. But at least the latter was able to begin his rookie season with some anonymity because he wasn’t vying to become an immediate starter. That’s not the case with Manziel. I want to see how he responds to all of the scrutiny – much of which he has brought upon himself through his decision to live a very public social life. I want to see how quickly he develops as more of an NFL-style quarterback. Will he inspire teammates or turn them off, especially if he doesn’t live up to the hype right away on the field?

Some other stories I’m curious about: The Raiders are maybe the most popular team on my SiriusXM NFL Radio show (Late Hits), and I haven’t heard the fan base as excited about the team’s chances in some time. Is such optimism justified? We’ll start to get a feel for how much the veteran influence may mean in Oakland as camp unfolds. What type of punishment will [Colts owner] Jim Irsay receive for his March arrest and what will the response be of players across the league toward whatever Roger Goodell decides? Richie Incognito: He’s lived up to his last name the past few months by completely falling off the radar. Will a team give the talented-but-troubled Incognito another chance to play in 2014? Will there be a legitimate quarterback competition between [Jets’ quarterbacks] Michael Vick and Geno Smith?

What kind of fire does Steve Smith bring to the Ravens, especially since it has traditionally been Baltimore’s defense that exhibits swagger? What kind of difference can [Redskins’ coach] Jay Gruden and DeSean Jackson make in getting RGIII’s career back on track? What kind of offense is Jeff Tedford bringing to the Bucs? Who wins the quarterback scramble in Minnesota? And will the fallout from the Chris Kluwe scandal resonate throughout training camp?

Reiss: Aaron Hernandez’s arrest … Tim Tebow’s presence … Rob Gronkowski’s forearm … oh wait, that was last year. What a difference a year makes for the Patriots. There was an overflowing media presence at the start of camp in 2013 because of those things (about 100 credentialed media), and it almost certainly won’t be matched this year because there aren’t as many sizzling national-based storylines. We still have Gronkowski’s return from a torn ACL as a top storyline, and how the Patriots bring him along will be closely monitored (he said Friday night that he plans to play the whole season). The addition of cornerback Darrelle Revis, and how he could be a big part of transforming a defense that ranked 26th in the NFL on third down in 2013, is probably the biggest of them all, even trumping the soon-to-be-37-year-old Brady.

Schefter: There are two obvious candidates here, one of which can be predicted, one of which can't. The one that can is the discipline that is going to be handed down to Ray Rice, Aldon Smith, Josh Gordon, Greg Hardy and, most interestingly, Jim Irsay. Every player is waiting to see how hard Roger Goodell comes down on Irsay -- and I think it's going to be half-a-season and a seven-figure-fine hard. The other interesting part of training camp, and it's the same every summer, are the injuries that transform the composition of a roster and the outlook of a team. Almost every week in the preseason, a team is going to lose a player who it now thinks is going to be vital this season. It's always a war of attrition and that starts the moment drills do.

How do you feel about using the word “Redskins” in your reporting and why?

Anderson: I grew up in the Greater Washington, D.C., area. One of my earliest memories of the Washington Redskins is Super Bowl XXII when Doug Williams led the team to a 42-10 win over the Broncos. I remember the celebration that erupted around the entire city, on the airwaves, in print, and among all the people at that time. That was especially true for African-Americans. Williams' achievement as the first black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl -- and to have an MVP performance -- was a great source of pride. But now, when I think back to being a young fan, it actually boggles my mind that I never considered the negative connotation the team's mascot could carry for anyone in the Native American community. It really didn't enter my mode of thinking until early in my journalism career when I began to notice a spattering of articles that illuminated the team's name as a racial slur. The discussion didn't gain strong momentum in my mind until the Oneida Indian Nation launched their national "Change the Mascot" campaign, and I covered their press conference in New York last year.

I have met Redskins owner Daniel Snyder several times. I have had the opportunity to chat with him and his public relations staff in the Ashburn, VA facility. I have covered his team more times than I can count -- including on said issue. I do think Mr. Snyder's passion about his team is very authentic. To me, his commitment to the continued use of Redskins as the franchise's name is not a public facade. I read Snyder's emotional letter to season-ticket holders last year, in which he defends the Redskins name to fans. It's clear Snyder is robust in his belief that the team's transition from the "Boston Braves" to the "Boston Redskins" in 1933 did not occur to create a disrespectful label, but instead "was, and continues to be, a badge of honor."

I also know that the Oneida Indian Nation has called upon NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to "do the right thing and bring an end to the use of the racial epithet." Additionally, I know the name can be a painful reminder of the mistreatment of Native Americans in this country and that research has been conducted to document the psychological impact of its use on their people.  So while I'm aware the name doesn't offend every Native American, I can comprehend the logic that suggests what is offensive to one should be offensive to all. When it comes to the use of the word Redskins in my reporting, I don't believe it should be censored from a journalistic standpoint. Our use of the name in the dissemination of information isn’t a sign of advocacy. Rather, I see it as a continual recording of its existence. I don't have a personal problem with any reporter who has taken a stance on the issue and who demonstrates their opposition through omission of the name. But when it comes to using the name in the line of work, I choose to stay neutral.

Klemko: I don’t use it. I’ve felt that it is offensive for a long time, and that feeling was confirmed when I visited the Big Cypress reservation in Florida this year and spoke with adults who had been teased with the name in high school. Last February before I joined SI, I wrote a letter to my sports editor at USA Today requesting a policy change on the name. It read, in part:

“My children will ask me why did I not only fail to protest a professional sports team which employed a racial epithet as its mascot, but endorsed the use of the term in print and on the Internet. Should I say it was to keep my job? Or that we felt the billion-dollar industry the mascot came to represent was too rich and powerful to stand up to? Or perhaps that Native Americans were so marginalized at that point in American history, it just didn’t seem to matter? Or that most people, at that time, didn’t mind team names such as ‘Redskins.’ And there might have been a team called the ‘Darkies,’ but it just didn’t have the same ring to it.

No, I’ll say that I wrote a letter. And I’ll say that newspapers are these great places where people argue right and wrong and everyone’s voice is heard. I’ll tell them there were countless untold stories about the diversity of the human experience that I wanted to tell, and I couldn’t sacrifice that opportunity by refusing to write a slur generally accepted by my audience.”

Today I write for a media entity that allows myself and others to abstain from using the name. It’s not enough. But it’s all I can do at the moment.

Marvez: I don’t feel strongly one way or the other. I have no problem using it because I don’t feel there is any racist intent in use of the nickname. But if they became the Redshirts or whatever tomorrow, that’s fine with me, too. I understand why people would be upset about this, but I also don’t think my readers care about my social views on this subject. I can see it from both sides. Dan Snyder is obviously very passionate about this topic because the easiest, smartest and I believe most financially lucrative way to respond would be to re-brand the team with a new nickname (and new merchandise) to indicate a new beginning, while still using the term “Redskins” when reflecting upon the franchise’s proud history.

Reiss: Until recently, it wasn’t at the forefront of my thoughts. It is now, in part because of stories like the one Jenny Vrentas wrote on TheMMQB.com, as well as reading respected voices like Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes. As Vrentas wrote, it’s a nuanced and complicated issue. So I’d say the feeling I now have is a bit of conflict.  

Schefter: Not my job to make a stand on their name. If they're keeping the name, I'll keep using the name. If they're not, I won't. I'll call them whatever the team calls itself. It's Dan Snyder's decision, not mine. As far as I can tell, he has as much interest in changing the Redskins name as I do in changing mine. So to me they remain the Washington Redskins.

What is the most frustrating part of covering NFL training camp?

Anderson: No question the most frustrating part of covering training camp is the heat. Yes, I have Jamaican heritage and island tendencies in my blood, but I also like the shade like everybody else. I remember back to my days in Denver covering the Broncos, when it wouldn't take long before I would shift to flats or flip-flops -- and not just in anticipation of Fred Fleming [the team’s director of special services] walking to the media area to see if I was aerating his field with high heel holes in good fun. I think there always comes a time, in the thick of camp, when the sun is beating on my neck and I want to sit down. But then I remember I'm not even practicing or wearing pads. I mean, I do feel bad for the players out there competing in high temperatures at times, but not so bad that I won't search for a bench to watch the field from, if it's allowed.

Klemko: I can't really say anything about it is frustrating. We're traveling America and watching football on somebody else's dime. One of my best friends is an Army captain who spends every day in Lawton, Oklahoma when he's not in Iraq. Have you ever been to Lawton? Remember how Rust Cohle described that town in True Detective? “It’s like somebody’s memory of a town, and the memory’s fading.” Compare that to Seattle, Napa Valley and San Diego. If I had to guess what a veteran national reporter would complain about, I’d say the constant travel. But it was only a couple of years ago I spent my nights in an office cropping photos until 3:00 a.m., so I can’t complain.

Marvez: Not being able to spend more time getting a feel for how a camp is truly unfolding. Anyone who does a multi-city tour is simply getting a snippet of what is happening from the standpoint of position battles, coaching dynamics, roster competition, etc. The danger is trying to make snap judgments off what you only see in one or maybe two practices (at best) and then presenting an incomplete picture to your readers/followers/listeners.

Reiss: It’s charting attendance for me. I felt fortunate to have great teammates in Mike Rodak and Field Yates help tackle that, and more, in recent years.​ Injuries and the general health of the roster are a big part of covering a team, so before each training camp practice you’re checking off the presence of each player on the roster. It’s not like the players walk right past you – you’re looking through the binoculars to identify a good number of them. With a 90-man roster, that process can be a bit tedious on a daily basis, but it’s an important part of the job.

Schefter: Not getting to go to it. For 16 summers, I covered training camp for the Denver Broncos in Greeley, Co. There was nothing like living, eating, sleeping and breathing the beat and football. For 16 summers, I lived in room 1201 of Lawrenson Hall on the University of Northern Colorado campus. I used to say that some people have beach houses in Cape Cod or the Hamptons, and I had a dorm room in Greeley. But in a TV reporter's role, and with many teams shifting away from going away to training camp and holding it at their own facilities, there aren't any more summers of living in the same dorm room each summer. With ESPN having so much round-the-clock football programming -- SportsCenters, NFL Insiders, NFL Live, more SportsCenters -- my bosses believe there's greater value having me in studio than on the road. So while many of my brethren are at practices, and sitting down for face-to-face interviews, my contact consists of grabbing coaches or players between practices and meetings. Not nearly as easy nor as personal.

Other than your own outlet, what is the first NFL source you will look at the most over the next six weeks?

Anderson: Twitter. Twitter, and oh by the way, Twitter, because it is an aggregate of all my NFL sources. Of course it's up to us to filter out what's credible and what's not, but honestly I can't imagine covering the league without it. When I'm at camp it is impossible to pick up on everything going on, let alone at all the other camps going on around the league. So Twitter has been clutch in giving me a real-time feed of information. I remember the days in Denver when I would land a potential scoop and then scan headlines on Google News to see if our station could claim it. By the time I did that and posted the story I could have risked the effort it took to harvest that information first. I can't even imagine doing that now. It seems so archaic.

Klemko: Twitter. I know it’s not a traditional NFL source, but it puts all of the information in one place. I probably Twitter search as much as I Google. After that, Pro Football Focus, just to get an idea of who some of these players are and what they’ve contributed in the past. Lastly, Ourlads.com depth charts. They are updated constantly and always super accurate.

Marvez: Twitter followed by ProFootballTalk, which is exactly the same pattern as most of the NFL employees I know. PFT is the best clearinghouse for news.

Reiss: Does Adam Schefter’s Twitter feed count? That’s a pretty impressive NFL-wide outlet, but in the spirit of the question it’s Mike Florio’s ProFootballTalk. It’s an easy-to-navigate one-stop shop where I know I’ll be able to account for relevant league-wide news that is hard to stay on top of when dedicated to a specific beat. Like so many others, I also have an appointment every Monday morning to read Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” on TheMMQB.com.

Schefter: Twitter. It's the next best thing to being able to attend training camp. There are many beat writers who do a tremendous job of tweeting who is standing out at practice and who doesn't. It's also fun to track some of the fantasy guys with everyone's fantasy drafts approaching, so let me give a little shoutout to Evan Silva and my friends at Rotoworld -- really nice job they do.

SI.com: Which training camp story around the league would you most like to cover and why?

Anderson: There are several training camps that will be interesting to cover this season including the Redskins (to see Robert Griffin III's performance under new Redskins head coach Jay Gruden) and the Texans (to observe Jadeveon Clowney's impact on the defense). But I believe the most compelling training camp to cover this season -- other than the teams on my beat -- will be the Cleveland Browns. Not only will Johnny Manziel's development be a must-see event, but it will also be interesting to watch the time it takes Manziel to possibly displace Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback. We all know Manziel has the personality and lifestyle to light a media firestorm, while on the other hand he has the potential and the confidence to back it up on the next level. The fact that LeBron James is now returning to Cleveland and James' marketing company LRMR has the rookie quarterback as a client not only adds intrigue to how Manziel performs this season, but also to how both may combine to magnify renewed interest in their respective teams. On the field, we've seen Manziel complete nearly 70 percent of his passes over two seasons at Texas A&M, but we'll all be watching to see if his accuracy holds up against NFL defenses. I'd also like to see if Manziel's decision-making and grasp of the offense will mirror the improvement exhibited by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after his critical road win against the Bears in 2012. Wilson has already set the standard for shorter quarterbacks in this generation of the NFL to have Super Bowl success, albeit with the help of a great defense. I'm curious to see if Manziel can follow suit.

Klemko: I’m going to the one I’d most like to cover. I’ve been wanting to see for months how [Seattle coach] Pete Carroll operates his camp and if it feels any different than everybody else’s. He has a unique formula there. It’s all love in that locker room but if you fall behind, you’re out. I’ve heard some interesting stories out of there and seen some funny stuff online (Fullback Mike Robinson interviewing Marshawn Lynch for his YouTube show comes to mind). Can’t wait to see it in person.

Marvez: If I had the time, I would love to cover the entire Browns preseason to see how the Manziel situation unfolds. I think there will be incredible theater and the eyes of the NFL will be following this story more than just about any other until the regular season gets closer.

Reiss: Bill O’Brien in his first year as Texans head coach because of the respect I have for O’Brien both personally and professionally, and also a great interest in decisions that are made when it comes to the initial steps of implementing a program. O’Brien’s handling of Andre Johnson’s holdout, for example, has been something I’ve watched closely because every decision O’Brien makes in his first year is setting a tone for what he hopes his program is all about.

Schefter: Ultimately, this still is about people. I would love to see what unique teaching methods Eagles coach Chip Kelly is using. I would love to see what Peyton Manning is doing to try to match and exceed last season's record production. I would love to listen to what Richard Sherman is talking about. I would love to see how Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is going to make it work. I would love to see how well Rob Gronkowski is recovering from injuries that make such a strong guy seemingly so fragile. And then, of course, there are the quarterback battles with the Jets, Vikings, Bucs and of course, the Browns. Here's Johnny...

Yes or no: Johnny Manziel will be the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns by Week Eight?

Anderson: Yes

Klemko: Yes.

Marvez: Yes, but he had better learn how to throw to himself if Josh Gordon isn’t part of the receiving corps as expected.

Reiss: No. It’s hard for me to bet against Brian Hoyer, one of my favorite people to come through the Patriots locker room over the last decade. The Browns obviously didn’t draft Manziel to be a second stringer, so it’s just a matter of when they turn it over to him, but if Hoyer plays like he did in his three starts last year, I'm in the camp that says "Why not stick with him and let Manziel learn without the immediate pressure?" The Browns have a tough opening three games (at Steelers, vs. Saints, vs. Ravens) and then their bye, so one could imagine the calls for Manziel growing louder at the bye if he’s not already the starter. But the post-bye stretch looks a bit kinder as the Browns get to Week 8 (at Titans, vs. Steelers, at Jaguars, vs. Raiders), so I’ll go against the grain and stick with Hoyer.

Schefter: Well, he's going to get the chance at some point soon, so I'd guess yes. I still think Brian Hoyer wins the opening day starting job. But at some point, he'll either get hurt or struggle, and the calls for Johnny to step in will just be too great for the Browns and their ownership to ignore. But the better question might be whether he can keep the job. It sure seems like Johnny Manziel believes he can do what he wants when he wants because it hasn't impeded him in the past. But this is a different deal now. This is the big leagues. And I will say, some of the things I'm seeing and hearing make me uneasy.

THE NOISE REPORT

SI.com examines some of the more notable stories of the week in sports media.

1. Sports Illustrated reported earlier this week that Erin Andrews will no longer do college football for Fox Sports given her promotion to the network’s top NFL team (as a sideline reporter) and Dancing With The Stars responsibilities.

Among the candidates to replace Andrews as the host of Fox Sports pregame show: Rob Stone and Joel Klatt. Look for America’s Pregame co-host Molly McGrath to also be involved in Fox Sports 1’s college football coverage.

2. Sports Business Journal media writer John Ourand has been all over the SEC Network’s (which debuts Aug. 14) distribution story. Here’s his latest.

3. I did a podcast with SI senior writer Lee Jenkins on his two LeBron James stories and how and why he chose to write a first-person with James.

3a. Good work by The Sports-Casters podcast with a show featuring Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and SI’s Jon Wertheim.

4. Sports pieces of note:

•ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham on Y.A. Tittle’s final years. Really terrific piece.

•SB Nation’s Greg Hanlon examined the sordid actions of former MLB player (and convicted sex offender) Mel Hall.

Washington Post's Kent Babb wrote a terrific piece on a Kansas City pawnshop that caters to former athletes who have hit on hard times.

• Fox Sports.com’s Erik Malinowski on the famous baseball pitchman Tom Emanski.

• Aaron Gordon on the plight of the modern-day female sideline reporter.

•Sports on Earth writer Patrick Hruby examines why the NFL settlement does not work.

•Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman on why NFL players must stand up against domestic violence.

The Washington Post’s Brandon Parker on 14-year-old C.J. Cummings, America's next great weightlifter. 

Non sports pieces of note:

•Esquire’s Tom Junod on the pit bull.

•The New Republic offered a brilliant parable for Vladimir Putin and Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

•The New Yorker’s Jon Michaud on how Dungeons and Dragons saved his life.

•Via Megan Abbott: Our nation’s love affair with mug shots.

•Elizabeth Spiers on how one feminist publisher is taking on the worst of Silicon Valley.

•The Atlantic asks: The Malaysia Air Crash: Should We Publish Pictures of Bodies?

5. Really liked this Jeff Pearlman Q&A with Fox Sports 1’s Katie Nolan.

5a. ESPN says it will host 63 college football coaches in Bristol between July 21-31. Collectively, they will appear on 25 different shows.

5b. According to ESPN the ESPYs drew 2.550 million viewers (note ESPN and ESPN2 simulcast the event so the network combined the viewership; the show drew 2.21M on ESPN only), an increase of 13 percent over 2013. Interestingly, the first Nickelodeon Kids Sports Choice Awards, which aired at the same time, drew 2.3 million viewers. Nickelodeon said its telecast outdrew the ESPYs by 850 percent among kids 2-11.

5c. ESPN’s inaugural ESPY Day Benefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research raised more than $6.5 million.

5d. Here's Michael Sam's speech at the ESPYs. Worth your time.

5e. Same with Stuart Scott’s speech on cancer.

5f. Speaking of the ESPYs, a source said the gift bag given to athletes, performers, selected guests and staff was valued at $23,000. Here’s a look inside the bag. An ESPN spokesperson said no college athletes received the bag and that the contents were provided by sponsors. Recipients must pay taxes on the swag. Asked how many people received the bag, the network, which employs the largest number of sports journalists and editors in the country, declined to answer.

5g. Twitter Sports said there were 1.1 million tweets sent during the ESPYs. For comparison: The Oscars (19.1M tweets), Teen Choice Awards (4.4M) and the 2013 Emmys (924,000)

 

 

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