I recently noticed that with a high level of accuracy, I can identify who is anchoring SportsCenter by just hearing their voice as I'm often working on something and will have it on in the background (#humblebrag). It's not that hard after you memorize the regular dozen or so anchors who are in the rotation of ESPN's staple show.
Occasionally there is a new face/voice that I haven't seen before or just didn't make a memorable impression on me. However with ESPN sending a substantial amount of talent to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl in addition to stuffing the set with a record amount of television personalities, the Worldwide Leader has been spread a bit thin this weekend it seems.
With the late night/early morning SportsCenter on the weekend essentially being the grave shift, I found myself wondering if the pairing above might be the most unrecognizable pairing of anchors to host SportsCenter in recent memory.
Both Adnan Virk and Max Bretos didn't ring a bell to me although I'm sure I've seen one or the other in some capacity in the past. If you think I'm being harsh, I actually have to say I found Virk and Bretos to be pretty darn enjoyable as they breezed through a busy Saturday of highlights without incident. Although ESPN is known for trying to not duplicate the popularity of the Olbermann and Patrick dynamic duo pairing by constantly mixing talent for SportsCenter, it seems of late there has been a lot of continuity in the SportsCenter pairings.
Maybe the schtick of some of the regulars has worn a bit thin but of late I've found myself enjoying some fresh blood like Virk, Bretos, and others getting a crack at ESPN's signature program.
For those of you thinking the 4 am ET SportsCenter on Sunday morning could be the worst assignment on ESPN, trust me there is way way worse things the overlords in Bristol can assign you.
I'm a mild fan of Darren Rovell and I hope that doesn't incite a riot among our readership. I like business, I like sports, I use Twitter, and I don't mind the excessive usage of hair product, so Rovell is okay with me despite the avalanche of tweets that come from his Twitter account.
Every day there are some insightful bits of information that I enjoy reading from Rovell although finding the good stuff is similar to sifting through a bin of $3 DVD's at your local grocery store at times. (White Squall! Beverly Hills Ninja! Best $6 I've spent in a long time!)
But over time Rovell has become the center of Twitter created controversies in addition to reporting on actual stories of substance. The past couple of days have highlighted Rovell's transition from sports business reporter to highly opinionated Twitter Czar and self appointed king of all new media.
Judging by the reaction on Twitter, I liken Rovell to a modern day Radio Raheem from Do The Right Thing in that he saunters around town making way too much noise for the neighborhood. His boombox (Twitter account) is louder than anyone else's on the block and he doesn't take kindly to criticism or objections to the CONSTANT stream of music that he emits. If only he needed D batteries to keep going.
This week, Rovellmania on Twitter has kicked into high gear. First, he became the subject of his own Super Bowl prop bet on how many tweets he'll send out on Super Bowl Sunday.
But the bigger story involving Rovell is the wrath of Twitter coming down on him for commenting that this year's Playboy bunnies were not that impressive at their annual Super Bowl party. You can be the judge below... (and if any of the bunnies need a shoulder to cry on for not meeting Rovell's standards, I'm here to listen and maybe later we can watch Beverly Hills Ninja).
For those wondering, Rovell is married and has taken a LOT of crap for interjecting his personal opinions of the bunnies. In fact, further showing Rovellmania is in full swing, Deadspin is all over the Rovell v Playboy Bunnies feud, which features Miss January 2010 and favorite playmate of the sports blogosphere Jamie Edmondson furiously calling out Rovell. Edmondson took a few swings at Rovell and tweeted out this story telling why Rovell dissed this year's bunnies:
"What really sparked the rude comment that @darrenrovell made (because I was there) is that when he asked to take a photo w/ me on the red carpet, the closest person to us was on the phone and advised they were unavailable because they were in the middle of handling an issue at VIP check in and to see if someone else could take it...he then said to me in a snotty fit "Oh not even for my 175,000 Twitter followers" and stormed away."
Apparently Edmondson cut the muster for Rovell, although according to her it seems he believes his Twitter following entitles him to special VIP treatment. Rovell offered up only this in response.
In what could be the biggest sign Rovell has truly become the center of the sports tweeting universe, ESPN recently quoted one of his tweets while dancing around who it actually came from on SportsCenter. Hmm a CNBC Sports Business Reporter...... I wonder who that could be?
You know you've arrived when you're being quoted on SportsCenter and the mothership goes to great lengths to avoid saying your name for fear of further promoting you.
And to think I started this article by saying I'm a fan of Rovell... I guess I still am although engaging in feuds with Playboy models isn't winning him any popularity contests. Who else tweets out a picture of a cute kitten on accident to nearly 200,000 people to only blame it on a mysterious rogue error. I guess at the end of the day, Rovell is a cat guy and just isn't a fan of bunnies.
Dan McLaughlin, the lead play by play announcer for the St Louis Cardinals on FOX Sports Midwest, will be returning to the broadcast booth after a DUI in September threw his future into chaos.
The DUI was the second for McLaughlin in 13 months and follows in an unfortunate tradition of Cardinals players and staff drinking and driving. Former pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in April 2007 while driving drunk, former manager Tony La Russa was arrested for DUI a month prior to Hancock's death, former Cardinals utilityman Scott Spiezio was arrested in February 2008 for DUI, hit and run, and assault, and third baseman David Freese was arrested in December of 2009 for a DUI. Combine all of those infractions with the two arrests for McLaughlin, and it's disappointing to see FOX allow him to come back to work.
To McLaughlin's credit, he's apparently doing all the right things since his arrest. He entered rehab, attends weekly meetings, and hasn't had a drink since the incident initially happened. I just think it's a little short-sighted for an organization that's had issues with this to allow a man that seemingly embodies the image of the Cardinals and alcohol to return to work. It's setting a very dangerous precedent for the future. Out of all of the drinking-related infractions the club has been through over the years, the only time the club took action was when they released Spiezio.
ESPN once again aired a Super Bowl week special "The Champions" which featured all most of their Super Bowl winning analysts on the same set. Given that ESPN has a battalion of NFL analysts, you can imagine this set would be more than a little crowded. The show was hosted by Mike Tirico and featured analysts (from left to right, first row then second row) Mike Ditka, Jon Gruden, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Keyshawn Johnson, Antonio Pierce, Tedy Bruschi, Mark Schlereth, and Trent Dilfer. I'm exhausted just listing all those names, let alone watching the show. The 2011 ESPN NFL analyst yearbook photos must have been taken directly afterwards...
I just feel sorry for all the Super Bowl winning analysts at ESPN that didn't make the cut for the show. Where was third-time ESPN analyst Bill Parcells? Darren Woodson won three Super Bowls and he's actually one of ESPN's best analysts! Eric Mangini won titles as an assistant with the Patriots and Damien Woody won two rings too. Unfortunately for them, they must have been placed on the inactive list for this Champions special.
A more entertaining choice would have been seeing all the ESPN Super Bowl winning analysts play an actual game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The best part of the Super Bowl isn't the game or the commercials... and it sure isn't the six hours of pregame coverage and endless week of hype. By the time the actual game comes around, we're all pretty worn out on everything surrounding the Super Bowl. (Did you know that the media loves having the Super Bowl in Indianapolis because everything is easy to get to! How awesome is that!) No, the best thing about the Super Bowl are of course the ridiculous prop bets.
Every year during the Super Bowl, you can bet real money on pointless, degenerate things like the length of the national anthem or who may get facetime during the game. Here are the best of those prop bets from Bovada and our pick for each (not that we're endorsing actually betting or taking this advice, that would just be heinously foolish) so you can better enjoy the entire Super Bowl experience.
Tweets from Darren Rovell on Super Bowl Sunday - Over/Under 149.5
Our first prop bet actually comes from Bet Online and may be the weirdest Super Bowl prop bet of all-time. It features Twitter aficionado Darren Rovell of CNBC. Yes, you can bet on the number of tweets Rovell will send out for Super Bowl Sunday. What a country. Believe it or not, Beyond the Bets also has a breakdown of Rovell's tweeting from last year's Super Bowl to help you decide which way to go. Rovell also reportedly has 55 tweets pre-loaded for the game. (Pre-loaded tweets?) If Rovell tweets from 10 AM till 10 PM, he'll have to send 12.5 tweets an hour to reach the magic number. That's a lot of tweets even for Rovell. But, with Twitter activity likely to be as high as ever during the Super Bowl, it'll be impossible for Rovell not to be in on that action. Of course, Rovell could put money on the under himself and we'd be screwed... but, that's always the risk one has to take. PICK: OVER 149.5
What will Kelly Clarkson wear to sing the National Anthem?
This is easy money. Kelly Clarkson has publicly stated she's rooting for the Patriots, but there's no way the NFL would want their anthem singer to wear the jersey of one of the Super Bowl teams for the national anthem. The conspiracy theories would be out of control. Recent anthem singers like Christina Aguilera and Carrie Underwood have gone for a more respectable style of dress that has been free of NFL logos and it just seems incredibly tacky to trot out an anthem singer as an NFL mascot. The NFL has to draw a line somewhere with their endless self-romotion, after all. Unless there's some sort of Spygate II situation going on, take "Anything else." PICK: Anything else -300
How many times will Peyton Manning be shown on TV during the game? - Over/Under 3.5
The marquee prop bet surrounding the game coverage revolves around the biggest story of Super Bowl week - Peyton Manning. The game's being played in his city, his brother is one of the starting quarterbacks, his biggest rival is on the other sidelines, and his own retirement-slash-will-he-leave-Indy saga has dominated the week's coverage. If there's one person not involved in the actual game to show, it's Peyton Manning. But to pick the over, we're talking four live shots of Peyton Manning during the game.
NBC football producer Fred Gaudelli is perhaps the best in the biz and has said that he won't be "gratuitous" with crowd shots (ahem... Fox... marching bands... ahem) and the network has a good history of making sure the game takes center stage. That said, with the other personalities that will merit some airtime during the game (as you'll see below), four shots of Peyton is unrealistic. Peyton loves the TV cameras and the cameras love him, but this pick should be safely under as long as he doesn't suit up for either team. PICK: UNDER 3.5
During the Super Bowl chaos in Indianapolis, an interesting nugget has turned up, courtesy of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL will be expanding their primetime coverage to include Thursday night games on the NFL Network from weeks two through fifteen, and the expansion will include a guarantee that every team in the league will appear in a primetime game, be it on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night, at least once. Thursday Night Football specials on Saturday nights will also be a thing of the past.
I assume that with the expansion, most of the league's bad teams will be contained on Thursday nights, so as not to dilute the pool of night games on NBC and ESPN. Now, I wonder what the league's strategy will be here, whether they'll use one of a good team's alloted primetime slots against a bad team, or just put two bad teams against one another to get them both out of the way at once.
Given the fan reaction last fall to the NFL Network's Thursday duo of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, getting more of them can only be a good thing. In our Pyrotechnics awards, Mayock finished third overall for best analyst for his work on the NFL Network, as well as on Notre Dame football. As long as Mayock and Nessler stick together in the NFL Network booth, we should be good to go.
Welcome to this week in Screengrab Snafus! ESPN had a little trouble with the graphic above during a telecast this week... unless they're sending some sort of secret message that giant logos are slowly taking over the world. (via aREEanneuh)
Josh sent us this screengrab of TNT having a little trouble spelling "Celtics" on a recent broadcast, adding an extra "I" to the team nickname. Of course, we all know that's not the correct way to spell Celtics this year. You need to add extra "L"s instead of "I"s...
Via cjzero comes this snafu of a Predators-Wild game and an upside down advertisement attacking the players on the ice.
And finally comes this amazing snafu from Tim Burke from ESPNU. Evidently, nobody at the network knows the difference between "parity" which means competitive balance, and "parody" which is a comedic imitation. This is a parody of a screengrab that was supposed to be talking about parity...
That was your week in Screengrab Snafus, next time be careful out there!
I'm sure most of us have seen this commercial, probably multiple times. But on Sunday, we're going to be seeing Mean Joe Greene again...only he won't be shilling Coca-Cola.
Downy, you know, the fabric softener company, is bringing Greene back for a commercial during Super Bowl Sunday. Instead of getting a bottle of Coke, Greene will instead be getting a bottle of Downy Unstoppables, and taking a whiff.
Advertising industry, why must you bastardize history? When I think of Mean Joe Greene and Super Bowl commercials, I think of him chugging a Coke, and throwing his jersey to a young child. I am absolutely, positively never going to recognize him as "the guy in the Downy commercial." Furthermore, why would Downy decide to use him in a commercial? I'm willing to bet that the percentage of men watching the game that also buy fabric softener is low, and that the percentage of women who are watching the game and buy fabric softener and ALSO recognize Joe Greene is low. It would be like having Joy Behar in a commercial for Advance Auto Parts.
The commercial will air on the pregame show between 5:30 and 6:00. And for those of you that like your nostalgia, here's the original Mean Joe Greene Super Bowl commercial...
Earlier this week, Peter Schrager and Esquire put together a fabulous, well-sourced list of the Top 10 current NFL players that you'll see next on television. Given the sheer amount of NFL coverage and five networks in play (ESPN, NBC, CBS, Fox, NFLN), there will always be jobs available for players that want to make the transition to being in front of the cameras. Esquire talked to agents, TV execs, writers, and nearly everyone in the industry to compile their list. The best part about the list is the honesty of unnamed industry insiders speaking about notable flops. "More often than not, we have been wrong. Tiki Barber was supposed to be the best at this. He sucked. Joe Montana? The same thing." (I'm guessing ESPN knew Emmitt Smith was going to be terrible from the beginning.)
Below we've listed the Esquire Top 10, but why not have even more fun with the list. Since we've just endured National Signing Day, we'll also project where each player will analyze in their post-playing media career. If only Peyton Manning were able to hold a press conference and pick up a CBS hat from a table, that might actually be compelling television.
1) Peyton Manning Projection: CBS #1 Booth Analysis: One agent quoted says Manning could have any seat he wants in broadcasting. A media reporter says he'll be the most sought after ex-player in the history of television. Seeing as how Peyton Manning has never met an interview, commercial, or TV camera he didn't like so a media career is extremely likely. With his career in doubt, that may happen sooner rather than later. The perfect fit for him is stepping into the #1 CBS booth alongside Jim Nantz. Top game analysts at each network are all about quarterbacks (Simms, Aikman, Jaws) and it's conceivable for Manning to immediately be among the best of the bunch from Day 1. A megastar like Peyton Manning shouldn't be crowded out in a studio with loud noises cancelling him out. The booth is where he belongs. With AFC games on CBS and Phil Simms' analysis seeing a sharp decline in the last few years, it makes too much sense to not make this happen... if CBS has the gumption to make such a high-profile move.
This is Savalace Townsend from Arkansas Pine-Bluff, one of those tiny schools that makes the NCAA tournament once in a blue moon, and then is always in the play-in game. Anyway, they were playing Grambling State and Townsend absolutely destroys a Grambling State player like something you'd see on a Blake Griffin highlight reel.
And now, the reason why we're here: the announcer's call of the incredible dunk. He's so muted, so understated. "Are you kidding me?" Instead of sounding like he's calling one of the craziest plays he'll see during this or any season, he's talking like a baseball announcer that sees a single up the middle in the 8th inning of a 9-2 game. You know that sound in an announcer's voice, that bored, disinterested type of voice... kind of like Joe Buck doing a baseball game.
At any rate, it was a phenomenal dunk by Townsend that really got downplayed by a tepid call. This is why Gus Johnson needs to be cloned about 100 times, ladies and gentlemen.