The past few weeks have not been kind to CBS play-by-play
announcer Sean McDonough. On Oct. 25 his agent, Robert Fraley,
was killed in the plane crash that also took the life of Payne
Stewart. On Dec. 7 McDonough's boss, CBS Sports president Sean
McManus, informed him that his $600,000-per-year contract, which
had expired one week earlier, would not be renewed. McDonough,
known to his peers as a loyal soldier, will finish his 10-year
tour of duty, not to mention the century, by broadcasting the
Sun Bowl (Minnesota versus Oregon) from El Paso on New Year's
Eve. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, indeed.
"Sean [McManus] kept using the word terrific to describe me,"
says McDonough of the conversation during which he was handed
his walking papers. "He seems troubled by having to let me go,
but not any more than I am."
McDonough's exodus coincides with CBS's imminent hiring of Dick
Enberg from NBC. Enberg, who will become CBS's new No. 2 NFL
play-by-play man, isn't directly replacing McDonough, whose
specialty is college football. However, Enberg's salary, which
has been reported to be in the $2 million range, was a factor in
CBS's decision to unburden itself of McDonough's salary. "The
reason I was given is that they had a chance to hire Dick
Enberg," says McDonough, 37. "I equated it to a game of musical
chairs. My four-year contract, which expired on December 1, was
the next one up." (Through a spokeswoman, McManus declined to
comment on McDonough's departure.)
McManus has cleaned house at CBS--goodbye, Andrea Joyce, Pat
O'Brien, Tim Ryan and Michele Tafoya--in favor either of young
up-and-comers, such as Bonnie Bernstein and Phil Simms, or
legends, such as Verne Lundquist and now Enberg. Apparently,
McDonough fails to fit either of those molds. "They thought I
was kind of a nondescript guy," says McDonough, "and maybe I am.
But my feeling is that people want to tune in to watch the game.
I was never trying to be a TV star."
For the past dozen years McDonough has done TV play-by-play for
the Boston Red Sox. His status in that position, too, is muddled
because the Sox recently switched from JCS New England
Television Network to Fox 25. "I've gotten a phone call or two,
but nothing serious in the way of job offers," says McDonough,
who recently signed with a new agent, IMG. "I'll worry about
that after the holidays."
McDonough is a Jim McKay type trying to exist in a Terry
Bradshaw world. Ample room exists for both. If anyone should
understand that, McManus should. His dad is Jim McKay.
GRANDMA THE G.M.
By wielding the axe, a 77-year-old from Alabama has become a
fantasy football phenom
Marthare Maxwell, a grandmother of six, has never attended an
NFL game. She watches no preview shows and, because of failing
eyesight, does not read the sports pages. Maxwell is 77, lives
in the tiny southeastern Alabama town of Ozark (pop. 12,922),
and when she hears "log on," thinks first of tending the hearth.
However, Maxwell loves playing fantasy football. With the help
of her oldest son, Syd Voiles, she entered a nationwide Internet
league operated by Small World (www.smallworld.com), a fantasy
sports site. With two weeks remaining in the season, her team,
the Holdouts, is in 22nd place--out of nearly 350,000 entrants.
"You can't be sentimental about your players," says Maxwell. "If
a player isn't performing, you've got to let him go." A while
back, she recalls, "we dropped Mushin Muhammad and picked up
Cris Carter. He scored a few touchdowns the week we acquired him."
Among distaff football owners, Maxwell may be having just as
good a season as Georgia Frontiere, pooh-bah of the real St.
Louis Rams. "Oh, I don't know about that," she says. "Then
again, there are a lot fewer teams in the NFL than in my
lame-duck McDonough, "and maybe I am."
--Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, responding to the question, "Would
your dad [Joe (Jelly Bean) Bryant] in his prime have been able
to stop you?" on CNNSI.com last Friday