Yes, we all want Manny Pacquiao to fight Floyd Mayweather, and the fact that it hasn't happened yet is an embarrassment to the sport of boxing and the seven fans of the sport that remain. However, Pacquiao will step in the ring with another one of the sport's big names, Shane Mosley, this Saturday. The 39 year old Mosley, who lost to Mayweather in a unanimous decision last May, may not be the most glamorous or most intriguing matchup for boxing fans. Pacquiao is a massive -600 moneyline favorite, which is an enormous number (you would have to bet $600 to win $100). One aspect of the fight that might convince more fans to watch though, is the presence of one Gus Johnson as the fight's play by play man. Gus will be working with Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver on the call of the fight. Here's a quote from Gus during a conference call from BoxingNews24...
The two guys are in there and at the top of their game and taking risks. Everybody knows it and everybody can see it and feel it. And that’s what makes boxing so special; the anticipation and not only the anticipation but of the actual moment coming together for these two men who are in the ring. There’s nothing like a championship fight like James Brown said. As far as Pacquiao-Mosley, I’ve got to pinch myself to realize that I’m working this fight. I have a lot of friends and people who come up to me and say, ‘Hey, are you going to watch the Pacquiao-Mosley fight?’ I have to chuckle and say, ‘No, I’m not going to only watch it, but I’m going to call it.’ So I’m just so happy to be a part of this event.”
Gus may not be the superstar announcing boxing like he is doing the NCAA Tournament or the NFL, but it may be a reason for some folks to tune in to a fairly predictable fight. If Pacquiao dominates Mosley the way most fans believe, it'll take all of Gus' hyper-enthusiasm to make the fight exciting.
In case you missed it earlier, check out our article earlier today chronicling Dan Shulman's live announcement regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden. As Ben Koo pointed out, Shulman breaking into the late stages of a close game to deliver the jarring news compares to other moments in sports broadcasting history when sports and real life mix. Like many broadcasting greats before him, Shulman was more than admirable in his handling of the situation, even encouraging viewers to change the channel and watch the news as it unfolded. Our full analysis is available at the link, but here is the actual video of Shulman's realtime announcement. A huge tip of the hat to @LevityNYC for uploading and sending us the clip.
I had the pleasure of catching up with friend of AA and NBA on TNT play by play man Kevin Harlan today as he was flying to Miami to cover tomorrow's Game 2 of Celtics/Heat. Harlan is one of the most popular announcers in sports and last time we talked with Kevin in February, he was preparing to announce the Super Bowl for Westwood One radio. In this interview, AA chats with Kevin about that experience, the NCAA tournament, and these NBA Playoffs. If you'd like to read more of my interview with Kevin, you can jump over to the other half of the Q&A at Bloguin's outstanding new NBA blog - Crossover Chronicles.
Q: Last we talked you were getting ready for the Super Bowl. Can you take us back to that game and your experience?
A: I guess I just felt more anxious than anything else. From the moment I opened my mouth to sign on the air until we closed I was very happy with the strength of my voice, happy with the call, and very happy that my superiors were happy! (laughs) I worked with Boomer and he was just terrific, the game was great, you have these two NFL franchises that were meeting with a ton of star power in the game... it just lived up to everything I had hoped it would in terms of a broadcast. I usually leave a broadcast picking out a thousand things I wish I would have done differently, and I came away feeling overall pretty good, not perfect certainly, never feel that way, but pretty good about how everything turned out.
Q: Staying with the NFL, the fear of a lot of fans is that we may miss some game. As an NFL broadcaster for CBS, would that affect you and others that broadcast those games if we do miss games, or even a season?
A: I'm not sure exactly what will happen to us at CBS. We're all basically under contract, but there has to come a point if the lockout cancels multiple games that the network would come to us and even ask for a little release. I'm not certain where that stands. I certainly hope that none of us, and I speak for broadcasters, stadium employees, members of organizations, and the fans that we never cross that line. It seems like there's some pretty important things going on that may not be resolved as quickly as we'd like. That possibility always exists that there might be a time when the networks come to their broadcasters and say, "we've missed multiple games, we need some relief here" and I don't know a broadcaster that, as incredibly good as these jobs are, how anyone would balk at that.
Q: Another event you did was the NCAA Tournament. What is that first day of the NCAA Tournament like when you broadcast four games in the same day?
A: I wouldn't say it's the most fulfilling broadcast day that we have on our schedule for the simple reason that you can't savor a well-played game, a fun game to do, a close game, a last second shot because once that game is over, you've got to go to the next game. Almost immediately, once that game ends you're putting your notes for that game away and you're grabbing notes for the next game, and then the next game. You don't have a chance to reflect and thus make corrections or enjoy as a crew great shots, great replays, because they are quickly forgotten. From strictly a broadcast standpoint, it's a pretty unfulfilling day.
From a fan's standpoint, and to be a broadcaster you've got to be a fan, it's terrific because it's this non-stop conveyor belt line of interesting stories, colorful coaches, great plays, upsets, it's like it's a non-stop cavalcade of all those different things. So, as a fan and a broadcaster it's terrific. But strictly from a broadcasting platform it's a day you can't reflect on because there's so much volume to it.
Q: You also were at VCU's regional site and saw their run to the Final Four.
A: Their run was exhilirating and great, great copy. That made watching them enjoyable, Richmond was in that same group, as was Florida State. We had three double digit seeds and a one seed Kansas. As it turned out, that site had some really interesting games. That was a stunning performance by that team making it all the way to the Final Four and it was fun to catch a little bit of their story from one of the last teams in to one of the last teams out.
Q: How is the NBA Playoffs different from those other events that you cover like the Super Bowl or NCAA Tourney?
A: The Playoffs are different because it's an ongoing story. We have at least four games in a series and if you're lucky six or seven games. It's really like a chapter in a book because of the adjustments. You are constantly glancing at statistics, trends, because you can begin to really thread the story of Game 1 through Game 2 into Game 3. Something that happened in Game 2 may be relevant in Game 5. You are immersed in those two teams and you feel at the end of the series like you know every dribble, every shot, every minute played. You can somehow chronicle it because you've witnessed it and you've had to reflect on it and carry the significance into the next game or two or three games down the line.
That's what makes the NBA Playoffs so great. Number one, the best team always wins because you have multiple games to prove yourself and it's not just a one and done. Number two, trends develop, strategies become more clear, counter strategies become the focus. If you love the NBA, and follow it closely and know how much strategy goes in, you enjoy every second. The NBA Playoffs is just a thrill a minute and these Playoffs in particular have been incredibly entertaining.
Q: I thought we may have gotten a "With no regard for human life" call on Kobe's first dunk in Game 5.
A: Well, when LeBron did the no regard dunk, he came off of that thing with a look on his face that was just menacing like he would've gone through a brick wall, a ring of fire, anything to make that thing work, and basically did. With Kobe, what he did I thought was just incredible, but I did not see the expression after the dunk so that's why I didn't say it. I was so stunned that he did that because he's conceded he doesn't have many more left in his bag so you weren't expecting it, especially with the bad ankle. He soars, comes down, and does this incredible dunk. It was no more spectacular than a lot of other dunks he's pulled off, but because of the circumstances that one will stand out.
In 2010, ESPN pulled back the curtain on some of the behind the scenes scrambling that sports broadcasters endure when unexpected yet monumental news breaks during a live sporting event. Tonight Dan Shulman and ESPN were pressed into action again on this front as millions watching Sunday Night Baseball were informed of the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Many people have praised how the matter was handled and it is in fact how I caught wind of the historic news.
While Twitter, text messages, IM, news channels, and the web also played a pivotal role in spreading the news, Sunday Night Baseball was probably one of a handful of programs that were being broadcast live and to an audience of millions. Looking back at somewhat similar moments in time when unexpected news and a major sporting event clashed, we know it's quite stressful to scramble to inform the American public that something unexpected and riveting has happened.
For the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, ESPN had a a great special on Howard Cosell's famous late game Monday Night Football announcement of the star's unfortunate passing. I highly recommend you check it out as it's on Youtube here.
1980 is ages ago, way before all things internet and the explosion of cable television. Cosell's announcement of the news which was an ABC scoop that no other network had, was the first announcement on the matter and one that millions watched. Below is that now famous call.
This special about the back-story of this moment was extremely telling, especially for those too young to have any connection to that moment in history. The news came in the final moments of the game, a game that was hotly contested all the way to the final seconds. Once Cosell had Lennon's death confirmed by ABC news, they had about a minute before going back on live air for the final seconds of regulation to determine if and how to break the news.
So why the decline in numbers in the 2nd year of the NFL Draft in primetime? For one, lockout fatigue may be finally setting in on some hardcore fans. The uncertainty and bitterness surrounding the labor dispute might have tuned some fans out of the Draft coverage entirely.
Another factor in the ratings downfall could have been the stiff competition on TV Thursday night. In fact, ESPN's coverage was ranked 3rd in primetime behind American Idol (which people apparently still watch without British Mel Kiper...you know, Simon What's-his-name) and The Big Bang Theory (a show I wouldn't watch if tied down and held at gunpoint). The worldwide leader should actually be pleased that they were able to beat the likes of the NBA Playoffs and Steve Carell's final episode of The Office, which was definitely a tear-jerker for fans of the show like yours truly.
Now, I know what you're thinking, if my brother Matt were around this weekend, he'd have the perfect Office video to tie back in to the NFL Draft. But, since he's not here, my weekend present to you is a random compilation of "That's What She Said"...enjoy!
It was a new experience last night for viewers watching ESPN's NFL Draft coverage. Gone were the days of 25 analysts crammed on the main stage all fighting for the little bit of talking time between picks. Gone were endless cutaways to team sites and war rooms. Instead, ESPN went all-in with the tandem of Mel Kiper and Jon Gruden. So, how did the leaner and meaner NFL Draft coverage grade out? Let's go through the good, the bad, and the ugly to give ESPN's 1st Round performance the proper evaluation.
-The reduced main set with Gruden and Kiper was a classic example of addition by subtraction. Last year's 1st Round was ruined by Steve Young dominating analysis without saying anything of substance. The revolving door of NFL analysts brought in by ESPN over the years (Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Irvin, etc.) all seemed more interested in making sure their voice was heard instead of analyzing the draft. Reducing the circus to the duo of Kiper and Gruden allowed the two analysts to shine. Instead of waiting for Steve Young to finally stop talking, we finally got our money's worth from Mel Kiper, who was able to give the type of analysis this year that he had to cram into 30 seconds in previous years. What little debate there was between Gruden and Kiper allowed both to shine as well.
-Gruden especially was on top of his game, separating himself from the pack of ESPN's NFL analysts with a tour de force performance. With the extra time allowed by the slimmed down set, Gruden was able to showcase the insight everyone loves from Gruden's QB Camp. The scouting reports ESPN had from Gruden and Kiper were very informative, especially the 2 pages of adjustments Gruden suggested Cam Newton would have to make to be successful in the NFL. The extra air time given to Gruden also allowed him to actually get into some of the concerns he had for each player. And while Gruden was still largely positive, he wasn't the one-trick "I LOVE THIS GUY" pony that he can revert back to at times. While Gruden still isn't the perfect draft analyst (more on that later) his attention to detail and clinical breakdown of each prospect from a coach's perspective was a breath of fresh air.
-Mark Ingram's moment, although contrived by ESPN and Suzy Kolber, was still an emotional moment. Seeing the former Heisman Trophy winner read an email from his father (currently in prison) allowed all of the emotion of the draft to bubble to the surface. And while I'm normally not one to accept such made for TV moments, the connection of father and son was worth the manufactured drama.
-Although it was a minor detail, I was relieved ESPN chose not to use Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen to spoil every pick before it happened. The revealing pictures of young men getting a phone call they had dreamed their whole lives about was more than enough. Once again, ESPN decided to scale back the on-screen presence of Mort and Schefty and it worked. For those who wanted to be in the know, Schefter was again a Twitter maniac, which is exactly the proper forum for tipping potential picks.
Nobody knows what exactly is going on in the NFL right now, but one thing all football fans can celebrate is the sanctity of the NFL Draft, with the 1st Round happening tonight. There are many questions about the lockout and the state of the NFL's CBA, but we at AA have a few different questions in anticipation of ESPN's new trim and slim coverage of tonight's 1st round. How many towels will be required to mop up Chris Berman's sweat? Will Roger Goodell be tossed any softballs by Berman between picks? How many "guys" will Jon Gruden absolutely love? Will Mel Kiper's hair actually move on set? Will any viewers be watching NFL Network instead? If you have the answers to these questions and more, feel free to leave a comment below. We'll be back on Friday to grade ESPN's coverage of Round 1 and will include the best comments in our recap so make sure you let us know what you think throughout the evening. Happy Draft Day!
Before the draft even starts, we have our first unique moment of the draft as Goodell makes his first appearence and is met with a chorus of chants for "We Want Football". He did well to shake it off, but it's hard to ignore moments like this.
We are just hours away from the start of one of the nerdiest events of the sporting year, the NFL Draft. It's the conclusion of months of daily NFL Live shows on ESPN and weeks of banter between various "draft gurus." If we are lucky, this will finally be the year that Kiper snaps and takes a swing at McShay.
Up above is the hype video from SportsCenter from DJ Steve Porter that has been making its rounds on the internet. If you've wanted to hear what Chris Berman and Mel Kiper would sound like if they were in a quasi-rap song and autotuned to hell, then you'll love this! My highlight of this video is certainly the shots of Jaws from the 94 Draft around the 2 minute mark.
Another link that you'll certainly find useful is this NFL Draft 2011 drinking game from Gunaxin. There certainly is lots of "upside" to this game. The downside is you'll be blacked out by pick 13.
Stay tuned, we'll have an open thread tonight to celebrate the draft.
As if Jets coach Rex Ryan wasn't starved for attention enough, we now have to deal with his enormously large wordhole in the offseason as well. You see, evidently Rexy's rants aren't good enough for just the spoken tongue, no, Jets coach Rex Ryan has written a book! Yay! In case you're wondering what the heck Rex Ryan would write a book about, it's not about building a dynasty (like Bill Walsh). It's not about winning the Super Bowl (like Sean Payton). It's not supposed to be inspirational (like Tony Dungy). It's not even Ditka: An Autobiography. We won't exactly know what it is until the book is released next week. However, it is titled Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership In The World's Most Beautiful Game.
And, from the Amazon description, it looks like this book won't be about championships (Rex hasn't won any as a head coach) or inspiring people (unless it's to go get a GD snack)... no, it'll be about Rex Ryan saying obnoxious and tiresome things because that's what Rex Ryan does. Amazon's description tries to frame it nicely...
Most of all, fans will get insider access to Ryan’s headline-grabbing, brutally honest, and undeniably entertaining views on the NFL . . . and the very human side of the larger-than-life athletes who devote their lives to the game of football. From Ryan’s acceptance of the Jets head coaching job to his success in turning around a team that has long been number two in New York, from his drafting and believing in Mark Sanchez to kicking off the 2010 season with massive expectations (and a target on his back)—this book goes deep, and entertains on every level.
Here's what they mean to say: Rex Ryan is trying to make as much money as he can not from winning any championships, but from providing soundbytes. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself and the book will really be filled with golden words of wisdom by which to live an inspired, snack filled life. Excuse me while I hold my breath...