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  • Ed Werder, Jean-Jaques Taylor and Charean Williams had a collective Dallas Cowboys braintrust of more than 35 years. Then all three were laid off this off-season.
By Richard Deitsch
May 28, 2017

This is an indisputable fact: The Dallas Cowboys are the most popular television team in the NFL, which makes them the most popular team in professional sports (in the U.S.) based on viewership numbers. They are by far the most broadcast NFL team around the country and sports fans have definitive feelings about them, a mix of love and hate but never indifference.

That the Cowboys sit near the top of the sports public consciousness made for an odd juxtaposition when the news came down that three prominent and award-winning sports reporters with long ties to covering the Cowboys—Jean-Jacques Taylor (ESPN), Ed Werder (ESPN) and Charean Williams (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)—were part of layoffs at their organizations. Frankly, it makes no sense on face. Why would you let go of experienced reporters with deep contacts and insight into arguably the most popular team in professional sports?

With that in mind, last week I asked Taylor, Werder and Williams if they would answer some questions on their employment status in relation to their Cowboys coverage. They were incredibly honest and I appreciate their time.

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Obviously no one is immune to layoffs, but did you believe your association with the Cowboys would have provided some employment safety for you?

Taylor: I vacillated over that throughout my last year at ESPN because I could never, ever get a handle on it. I mean, I knew the Cowboys had more page views than any other team except the Patriots, but I also knew every time you looked around somebody was coming to town to do a story whether it was from The Magazine or Undefeated or Bill Barnwell, Mike Sando or Kevin Seifert, all talented dudes who have a unique perspective on the NFL. So you’re trying to figure out your value because, maybe, they think they can get enough from Todd Archer, who’s terrific, and all of the supplemental coverage that they don’t need me, per se. Even though I had more institutional knowledge on the beat than virtually anybody else, you wonder how much it’s respected or if people even care. Plus, my role was changing seemingly every year because that’s the ESPN way. I have no problem with change because it can be good and it forces you to grow, but when you change as often as ESPN changes it’s difficult to get a good feel for whether you’re giving your bosses exactly what they want. Plus, the Cowboys beat is the only one that had two reporters last year. If you’re trying to cut costs, it makes sense pragmatically to cut the beat that has two reporters.

Werder: With the layoffs approaching, I was warned that everyone was at risk and that quality of work was not going to be a factor. In my most recent contract negotiations, I made getting as many years as possible my primary objective to protect my family. I thought doing high-level work covering games and in-studio on ESPN's most important property made it unlikely I would lose my job. I believed my experience and performance on the Cowboys created another layer of protection because I know my contact list and reputation with people in and around the organization allow me to consistently compete for news and to uniquely and accurately interpret Cowboys moves. I know from experience the zest there is in Bristol for anything on the Cowboys. When I would arrive in Bristol on Monday evening from my weekend game site, I invariably had multiple requests for Cowboys topics on SportsCenter and the NFL shows.

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Williams: I believed I was in the safest spot at the paper. I mean, it's America's Team. Can you have too many people covering the biggest beat in town? You could add every other sport that's here, and together they wouldn't equal the interest or generate the hits the Cowboys do.

How long have you covered the Cowboys?

Taylor: I made the jump from lead high school reporter and backup Texas Rangers reporter to the Cowboys’ beat right before training camp in 1995. My first partner? Ed Werder. I covered the Cowboys’ beat from 1995 through 2006, spanning [coaches] Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Bill Parcells. I became a general columnist just before the start of the 2007 season and continued covering the Cowboys, in large part, just with a different role and perspective. Not much changed when I went to ESPN in August of 2011. Essentially, I’ve been covering the Cowboys in some way, shape or form for the last 21 years.

Werder: I first moved to the DFW market to cover the Cowboys for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1989, just after Jerry Jones purchased the team, hired Jimmy Johnson and they drafted Troy Aikman. The timing wasn't coincidental. Being up against the staff and resources of The Dallas Morning News was ominous under any circumstances but I felt I could compete as long as I wasn't disadvantaged as I would have been had the previous hierarchy remained. I wasn't up against 29 years of relationships. Everyone was starting over with Jerry and Jimmy. I covered that one season, then left for a different opportunity but returned to the market with the Morning News in 1992—the first Super Bowl season for the new regime. We have been in DFW ever since. I always say it's because I'm centrally located, with an American Airlines hub and Jerry's Football Circus in my backyard. I think I've always worked hard, was determined to achieve whatever my talent in journalism would allow, but I doubt I would have had the career I've enjoyed for so long if I had never covered the Cowboys beat, and I actually turned the job down initially to remain in Denver! The interest in the Cowboys is mostly endless, win or lose, love them or hate them. Every national media person considers the Cowboys their first priority, even when I worked the beat for the papers the national writers from New York would call and ask me for insight or quotes. I remember telling Gary Myers to just worry about covering Phil Simms!

Williams: I covered them for 17-plus seasons.

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How much of a surprise was it when management told you they were letting you go?

Taylor: I can’t say I was surprised. I was in the last year of my contract, I was making a nice salary and everything I’ve read for a year has indicated ESPN was going to have some layoffs. I’m a pragmatist, so I started preparing for the possibility as soon as I entered the final year of my contract. In fact, I told my wife before I went to Bristol for the NFL Nation summit last April that I was going to get an answer on my future during my three-day visit. I’m a planner by nature, so I created Plan A and Plan B. Both are cool. It was just a matter of which plan my wife and I were going to put in place after I returned from Bristol.

Werder: I can't recall a time when I've been more shocked even though it seems there were some hints—a young, bilingual reporter from South Florida was hired and relocated to Dallas—although a manager met and assured me that reporter would not impact my assignments. The home studio I had since being promoted to NFL Insider was removed because it was costly and wasn't being used, and my request to own my podcast rights was granted. But I was shocked, for sure. I still can't believe my reporting ability and experience were not valued as I thought they should be. But I've been discussing opportunities I never thought attainable so I'm emotionally moving in that direction.

Williams: I don't know that layoffs are a surprise in our business, but I suspect it's always a surprise when it's you. My story could be "The Blind Side Part II" obviously for different reasons than The Blind Side.

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How surprised were you when you learned the fate of the other people on this panel, and why?

Taylor: Shocked. We all know Ed is one of the best reporters in the country, as dogged a reporter and news gatherer that you’ll ever find. He’s one of the reasons I became as good as I was covering the beat because he taught me that not getting the story wasn’t an option. And on the rare occasion you did get beat, you had to own the story from the point forward. He's so good I never even really considered that he could or would get laid off. Who doesn’t want that guy as part of their coverage team? I was equally shocked when Charean was laid off. She’s one of the most well-respected reporters in the country. She had to be to become the first woman to be elected president of the Pro Football Writers Association and a Hall of Fame voter. She’s covered the Cowboys’ beat for a long time and there’s a reason why we affectionately call her, “Mother Football.” It’s not like we were hearing rumors of layoffs at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, so I’d have to say it was even more shocking than Ed just because it completely came seemingly out of the blue.

Werder: Well I was the first person to work the Cowboys beat with Jacques, and I've known Charean since she followed me on the Tampa Bay Bucs beat at The Orlando Sentinel. JJT has evolved from beat writer to columnist and radio talk show host. He has very creative column ideas and executes them well. Randy Galloway calls Charean "Mother Football," which he intends as a show of great respect for her knowledge of the game. She's one of the most accomplished female journalists in the country—a HOF voter and former president of Pro Football Writers Association. Both are genuinely good people and true friends of mine so I certainly didn't expect any of us to be in this predicament. I've been a subscriber to the DMN and Star-Telegram for more than 25 years. When they laid off Charean, I canceled my subscription. People have responded by saying such actions only lead to more job losses, but I think consumers have to send the message that there are consequences for actions such as further depleting the writing staff. I mean when a newspaper fails, it's usually because of management, not the writing staff.

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Williams: Ed Werder? Are you kidding me? His layoff is probably the first time I said to myself, "Well, if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone." I figured Jacques was safe because he covered the Cowboys. Jacques and Ed go back a long way here. They both have many sources, have broken a lot of stories and have become recognized as voices on the Cowboys. I have much respect for both and am proud to call them friends.

Why is there interest in Cowboys content away from Dallas?

Taylor: They’re a marquee franchise because they’ve always had stars, whether it was Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson in the ’70s or Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin in the ’90s. Now, they have Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Fans and TV are drawn to stars. The Cowboys have also had their share of dynamic polarizing players such as Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Charles Haley, Deion Sanders, Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. You either love those players or you hate them. Either way, you watch them because they cause an emotional reaction. You also have to know that Tex Schramm and Jerry Jones are two of the greatest marketing geniuses ever. At least Schramm marketed a winner. The Cowboys haven’t had consecutive double-digit win seasons since 1995-96. They haven’t been to the NFC Championship game since 1995. Only Detroit and Washington (1991) have longer streaks in the NFC. Understand, every other NFC team has been at least twice. Yet, the Cowboys still max out on national TV appearances each and every year.

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Werder: The Cowboys are a national team on a scale few, if any, in the NFL can match. Maybe the Packers or Steelers or Patriots can challenge that. But interest has often been disproportionate to its success. It doesn't matter if the Cowboys are 5-11 or 11-5, they're a team of interest. Tex Schramm created a mystique and Jerry Jones is a businessman with the ability to promote like it few others so that has only grown larger.

Williams: Tex Schramm, Tom Landry, Gil Brandt and Roger Staubach got that ball rolling in the 1970s not only with the team's play but with how smart they were off the field. Did you know the team answered every autograph request that players received? After that, it became generational, although I do believe Jerry Jones, the ultimate showman, has built on it, growing the team's popularity despite the fact that the Cowboys haven't won the Super Bowl since 1995. Love the Cowboys or hate them, everybody is interested in them.

What are your plans and aspirations heading forward?

Taylor: I’m blessed. I’ve had a local radio show—J Dub City—in Dallas on 103.3 FM-KESN with Will Chambers since October. It’s Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and it’s given my life a normalcy since the layoff because I returned home from getting laid off by ESPN on Wednesday night and I went to work Thursday morning at 6:45. I still want to write and report because I love it. I tell folks during my radio show all the time that y’all sit around and argue with your friends about why coaches, players or teams did this or that. I don’t. I go out and ask coaches, players and general managers why they did this or that. That’s the beauty of this business. I never have to wonder why. I also enjoy telling stories and using my job to bring awareness to issues and to help people that don’t have a voice. I used to consider 50 old. I still feel young. It’s way to early for me to retire and I don’t want to do anything else. I’m hopeful the reputation I’ve established in this business will provide some opportunities for me to continue writing as well the work I do on my radio show.

Werder: Like I tweeted when I announced I had been laid off, I'm not retiring. I was doing my best work when this decision was made. I was more comfortable in the studio and less reliant on notes than ever before. I've accumulated a great contact list within the league. I'm so appreciative of those on social media who even now, a month later, are publicly supportive and complimentary of the way I've done my job and the principles I've tried to honor in my work. Honestly, the best thing about what happened is the reaction I got from people in the league, especially from coaches who have lost jobs through no fault of their own and had to do what we and others have to do now to rebuild our careers. I'm doing a Cowboys-focused Doomsday Podcast with Matt Mosley, a former ESPN and DMN colleague with whom I have great chemistry. I think it has enormous potential and it's been incredibly enjoyable. It’s difficult because I remain under contract to ESPN and I can't just go take another job. I'm fortunate in that I've been offered several, some involving the Cowboys. People know we are being paid but what they don't understand is we've had something taken from us—the jobs we love to do. I've always been motivated by the competition of the business. I enjoy being part of a team. I'm proud of the career I've had, the way I've done it and I'm not ready for it to be over.

Williams: I knew what my dream job was at an early age. Now that I've lived that, I'm asking myself, "What's my new dream job?" I haven't figured that out yet. But I consider this a beginning, not an end.

What advice, if any, would you give to younger people who want to do what you do?

Taylor: I believe in chasing dreams. As a 10-year-old growing up in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas I read the sports page every afternoon and I wanted to be a reporter so I could go to games for free. By the time I got to Skyline High School, I wanted to be Dallas Morning News columnist Randy Galloway and even wrote a poem about it once that I showed him when I started working at the Morning News. I live by something my dad has always told me over the years. He says it’s always better to experience the exhilaration of success and even the despair of disappointment and failure than to always taking the safe road because you’re afraid to explore everything this journey called life has to offer. If you want to be a journalist, then go for it. Prepare yourself to write, do radio, TV and video. Establish your brand, while you’re young, and never stop. Find a niche that makes you unique and go for it. Sports will always be here and someone will always be needed to tell the stories of those teams, athletes, coaches and owners in some way, shape or form.

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Werder: I just met this past week with a high school student who is being mentored by a friend and wanted to speak to me because of his interest in sports journalism. I told him that nobody seems to know where journalism is going. So be versatile, get as much practical experience as you can, read and write at every opportunity and keep in mind you never know who might be reading your story and watching your report. And if you're going to pursue journalism to make certain you have a viable backup plan.

Williams: When I was in the second grade, I told my teacher I wanted to cover the Cowboys when I grew up. I'd practice doing play-by-play in my metal swing set. The local newspaper wrote a story about the 7-year-old who had a dream to cover America's Team. How many people get to live their dream, much less for 17 years? I would encourage anyone to dream big, and chase that dream as long as possible, but at the same time, realize exactly what you're getting into.

Is there anything you wish to add?

Taylor: When you get laid off, your initial reaction is obviously disappointment and it makes you question your ability for a day or two. Then the more you think about it and you see the list of talented people laid off and you realize it has zero to do with your ability. I had one of my best years in 2016 whether it was my oral history on Tony Romo, my TV interview of watching film of Ezekiel Elliott with Emmitt Smith or my piece on former Texas A&M receiver Thomas Johnson (with Shaun Assael, who was also laid off) that won a New York Press Club award. It was bigger than me. It wasn’t about what I did or didn’t do, so I eagerly await the next opportunity with no emotional baggage.

Williams: I got to do what I loved for a really long time. I have attended 23 Super Bowls, including my time at the Orlando Sentinel, and seven Olympic Games. It's been a great ride. But the best, I am convinced, is ahead of me.

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THE NOISE REPORT

(SI.com examines some of the week’s most notable sports media stories)

1. Pete Weber has the been the voice of the Nashville Predators since the team’s inaugural season in 1998–99. Prior to his Nashville gig, Weber served as a color commentator for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, NFL's Buffalo Bills, was a radio play-by-play voice for NHL's Buffalo Sabres and called many sports in Buffalo (where he was very kind to a young reporter who shares my first and last name). His championship calls include the 1980 NBA Finals (Magic’s rookie title) for Mutual Radio (color with Tony Roberts) the 1981 Albuquerque Dukes in the PCL (play-by-play) and the 1993 Buffalo Bandits of the NLL (play-by-play). Below, Weber, 66, discusses calling his first Stanley Cup Final as a broadcaster:

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SI: How personally satisfying is this to get to call a Stanley Cup Final given you have been with the Predators from Day One?

Weber: As I think you know, I always wanted to be in on the “birthing” of a franchise. The fact that I am still with the Predators 19 years later, with more contract time to go, makes me feel like a parent must feel to see his/her offspring graduate from college. It seemingly has gone by so quickly, but when I go through my files, I realize that just isn’t so. Only in a time lapse sense is this an “overnight success” story.

SI: Have you reflected on the fact that you are about to call a Cup just three years removed from a heart attack?

Weber: Not until I saw this question, but for that matter, I think of what February 6, 2014 meant to David Poile as well. By nine that morning, I was undergoing an angioplasty and was in recovery by 10:30. Around 11:30 or so, David was down the tunnel from the Predators’ bench at the Xcel Energy Center when a pass tipped of a stick and struck him in the eye. He suffered multiple injuries from that one-in-a-million accident and wasn’t able to go to Sochi as GM of Team USA.

SI: Why has the city taken to this team?

Weber: I feel it’s because the team has reached out to the city from the very beginning. Going back to 2007, when the founding owner decided to sell it, it was almost moved to Hamilton, Ontario. Then the fans responded so well to a civic movement to save the team for Nashville and a local ownership group was formed. The Predators then became “their baby,” too. When the team was stripped down (no new contract for Paul Kariya, the trades of Tomas Vokoun to Florida along with Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell to Philadelphia) and was on the verge of falling out of playoff contention, the Preds were playing St. Louis in early April and were down a goal late. Without any provocation from the scoreboard or the public address system, the fans produced a spontaneous standing ovation and a roar the helped propel the team to a much-needed win, then on to the playoffs. They have been doing that ever since (and it’s made me grateful for my earphones, believe you me!) They buy tickets, support the team loudly, and it seems the team has responded. Sorry if this sounds too much like something from Rudy.

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SI: How much are you thinking about pre-script the final moments in the event of a Predators win?

Weber: I know if I did that, it would sound so stilted. I can’t work that way, it has to be from the heart. In 2011 versus Anaheim, the Preds won their first playoff series and I allowed Rocky Balboa into my spirit and punctuated it with “Yo Adrian, they did it!” And that was just impromptu, so I will trust myself on this one.

1a. NBCSN’s NHL production had a really great moment on Thursday night with the near-goal by Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel in overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Penguins and Senators.

Here's how game producer Matt Marvin described how NBCSN covered it:

“Steve Greenberg is our replay producer and deserves the credit for setting up all the replays. From the first shots, it seemed pretty clear that puck had gone over the net, but we heard the fans reacting in a weird way. Usually the overhead camera provides the definitive look, but in this case it wasn’t the best shot. Our director, Charlie Dammeyer, cut to a number of super slo-mos, including a reverse angle and a 4k camera, which we use for NBCeeIt super-close ups. These angles provided a very clear picture that the puck did not go in the net. Judging from crowd reaction it seemed like they were reacting to the overhead shot which was a bit of an optical illusion."

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1b. NBC’s Stanley Cup Final broadcasting schedule:

Date

Coverage

Network

Time (ET)

Mon. May 29

Game 1 – Nashville at Pittsburgh

NBC

8 p.m.

Wed. May 31

Game 2 – Nashville at Pittsburgh

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sat. June 3

Game 3 – Pittsburgh at Nashville

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Mon. June 5

Game 4 – Pittsburgh at Nashville

NBC

8 p.m.

Thur. June 8

Game 5 – Nashville at Pittsburgh*

NBC

8 p.m.

Sun. June 11

Game 6 – Pittsburgh at Nashville*

NBC

8 p.m.

Wed.June 14

Game 7 – Nashville at Pittsburgh *

NBC

8 p.m.

1c. The Final will be called by Mike Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst), and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass analyst). It is their 11th consecutive Stanley Cup Final as a broadcast team. Liam McHugh will anchor pre-game, intermission and studio coverage on-site throughout the series, alongside analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones. Kathryn Tappen and Paul Burmeister will host coverage from outside sets in Pittsburgh and Nashville, alongside analysts Jeremy Roenick, Brian Boucher, and Anson Carter.

1d. The NHL Network said it will air up to 68 hours of live programming on-site in Pittsburgh and Nashville. The schedule on game days includes: NHL Now (4-6 p.m. ET); Stanley Cup pregame show (6-8 p.m. ET); and Stanley Cup Final postgame show (11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET).

1e. NBC Sports said through 78 playoff games on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA Network, the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs had averaged a Total Audience Delivery (includes TV-viewing and streaming) of 1.129 million viewers, up 8% from last year through the same point in the playoffs (1.049 million; 83 games). The playoffs are averaging 1.102 million TV-only viewers.

1f. ESPN NHL writer Craig Custance has left the company, leaving ESPN with one fulltime hockey writer.

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2. Episode 121 of the Sports Illustrated Media podcast features James Duthie, the host of The NHL on TSN as well as the Super Bowl, Masters, and the CFL playoffs on TSN.

In this podcast, Duthie discusses the differences between working in the Canadian sports media and U.S. sports media; how he views Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole’s broadcasting time in the U.S. and subsequent return to Canada; the preparation he does for the NHL Trade Deadline and NHL Draft shows; how Rogers acquiring hockey from TSN changed his job; what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman thinks of him and why; whether hockey viewership has peaked in Canada; his father, Jim, who spent 35 years with the RCMP; how Sportscentre in Canada is different than SportsCenter in the U.S.; whether the U.S. hosting this year's World Juniors will help grow the game; whether the Toronto Maple Leafs will win a Stanley Cup in the next five years; working with John Tortorella; why veteran goalie Roberto Luongo seems to be every Canadian sports podcast’s first guest, and much more.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.

3. Episode 120 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features Kevin Merida, an ESPN senior vice president and the editor-in-chief of The Undefeated. The site, which explores the intersections of race, sports and culture, just celebrated its one year anniversary.

In this podcast, Merida, the former managing editor of The Washington Post, discusses where the site is in relation to where he hopes it will be down the road; what he looks for when he hires staffers; what content has worked for The Undefeated and why; the importance of such a site for young writers of color, particularly at Historically Black Colleges; the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on The Undefeated; whether the site will try to amp its breaking news coverage; the amount of traffic the site gets and whether ESPN management has set metric or financial goals; why Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are getting increased attention for the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter; how the Washington Post has handled the 24/7 political news cycle; the pressures political reporters face in 2017; and much more.

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4. Non sports pieces of note:

• An incredible piece of journalism by PBS’s Frontline: Steve Bannon’s War

• Did the Turkish President’s Security Detail Attack Protesters in Washington? Great interactive work by New York Times

• Tech writing pioneer Walt Mossberg‏’s final weekly column

• In California, millions of dollars' worth of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are disappearing. Farmers are perplexed, the cops are confused, and the crooks are getting richer. By Peter Vigneron of Outside Magazine

• From Alex MacGillis for The New York Times: Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire

• Via The New Yorker: A brutal custody battle between two women raises questions about who has a right to rear a child—and could redefine the legal meaning of family

• Via The Washingtonian’s Luke Mullins: Meet Matt Boyle, Breitbart’s (Other) Man in the White House

The forever war, by The Globe and Mail’s (Canada’s) Mark McKinnon

• Via Mosaic’s Charlotte Huff: This is what it’s like to be struck by lightning

• From The Washington Post: The Seth Rich lie, and how the corrosion of reality should worry every American

• How great is this story about Roger Moore, the James Bond actor who died Tuesday

• From Simon Akan of Bloomberg: The Exquisitely English (and Amazingly Lucrative) World of London Clerks

• Via Ben Hersh of Backchannel: How fonts are fueling the culture war

Sports pieces of note:

• Longtime Pacific Northwest sports writer Dave Boling, on the remarkable story on how former Seahawks great Curt Warner and his wife Ana raised autistic twins.

• Nice profile of Diana Taurasi by ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel

• From Jeff Pearlman of Bleacher Report: 21 years ago Tupac ran into the Long Beach Poly football team at an In-N-Out Burger. Craziness ensued

• Yahoo’s Pat Forde on former Art Briles associates hiding at their new schools

• ESPN’s Seth Wickersham goes inside the Richard Sherman-Russell Wilson dynamic

Naples News writer Dana Caldwell on baseball prospect Nick Rivera overcoming his parents' drug use

• Jill Lieber Steeg, then with SI, on Cortez Kennedy in 1992

• ESPN’s Bonnie Ford on Petra Kvitova’s first match back since fending off a knife-wielding attacker in her home last December

5. Dick Vitale signed a contract extension with ESPN that will take him through the 2019-20 season. He began with ESPN in its first year (1979-80). The network also extended college basketball studio analyst Seth Greenberg.

5a. ESPN announced on Friday that it had signed former NFL and college head coach Chip Kelly to a multiyear deal as a studio analyst. Kelly will work on college football pre-games, halftimes and studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2, and also appear on SportsCenter on Fridays and Sundays offering insight to college and NFL games. There is always money for ex-coaches and football players in the sports media.

5b. Thought this was a good conference call on the French Open featuring ESPN analysts Pam Shriver, Chris Evert and Brad Gilbert

5c. The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 half-court basketball league (the debut broadcast is June 26 at 8:00 PM ET on FS1) has named its announcing team: Play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, analyst Jim Jackson, and actor/podcaster Michael Rapaport as the sideline reporter

5d. NBC Sports said it acquired the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Rugby World Cup including media rights on all platforms and in all languages to the Rugby World Cups in 2019 and 2023; the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 and 2021; the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018 and 2022; and the annual World Rugby U20 Championships from 2017-2023.

5e. The New Jersey Devils inexplicably let go of Sherry Ross as their radio analyst after more than a decade in the seat

5f. Per Paulsen of Sports Media Watch: The Premier League had its least-watched season since moving to NBC from Fox Sports

5g. Per Sports Business Daily assistant managing editor Austin Karp: NBC finished with 7.54 million viewers for the race portion of the Preakness Stakes, the lowest figure for the event since ABC drew 4.91 million viewers in 2000. Karp said this race this year was down 20% from 9.41 million viewers in 2016.

5h. A group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism students—in part advised by longtime Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes— won the grand prize in the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights journalism awards, an honor never before bestowed on a group of college students

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