The Oklahoma City Thunder announcers Brian Davis and Grant Long irritated some viewers with their criticism of former OU standout Blake Griffin during the Thunder’s 111-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
After Blake hammered home an alley-oop pass from Baron Davis in the fourth quarter, Long said, “I’m almost prone to calling that goaltending. Davis nearly put that in the basket.”
Davis said, “You’re down 20, though. … That’s wonderful. That’s flashy and may make some highlight rolls, but they’re down 20.”
Long discussed how other centers in the league have made some spectacular dunks and said, “As great as those plays look on the highlight reel, winning basketball is played in the half-court situation for the most part.”
One reader said in an e-mail: “I was a little puzzled by the constant shots the TV commentators took at Blake. For example they criticized the dunks as something, which is superficial. When Ibaka scored a wide open dunk, they cheered ‘Take that Blake, this one counts.’ It was bizarre to see them belittle his game so much. Maybe the non-Okie Thunder fans might harbor more vitriol than us who grew up with him.”
Another reader said: “It appeared to me the Thunder TV crew took several cheap shots at Blake last night, referring to him as a “show off” among other things.”
Before he decided to play football at the University of Oklahoma in 1984, Troy Aikman almost decided to play baseball instead. A three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys, Aikman told Bryant Gumbel in a segment airing on the next edition of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that the New York Mets made a pitch for him to play baseball. The program premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Aikman will team with Joe Buck to call Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 on Fox.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
AIKMAN: “I got a call from the New York Mets and they said, ‘We need to know what it’s gonna take to get you to forgo college.’”
GUMBEL: “Did you pitch?”
AIKMAN: “I was a pitcher and a shortstop. And so when they said what’s it gonna take.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, $200,000.’ They said, ‘$200,000? Darryl Strawberry is not even making that much money.’
And I said, ‘Well if you want me, that’s what it’s gonna take.’ And they said, ‘You have a nice football career at Oklahoma.’ “
The Texas Rangers are close to hiring Fox Sports Southwest studio analyst John Rhadigan as the team’s new play-by-play voice, according to a report Friday in The Dallas Morning News.
The Rangers can do better than Rhadigan, a solid studio analyst, but he has no play-by-play experience. It shows how much Rangers ownership despised former play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin, an enthusiastic announcer with network experience. They dumped him to bring in someone who hasn’t broadcast any MLB games.
Gold-throated radio voice Eric Nadel would be the best choice to work with analyst Tom Grieve, but he likely prefers to stay on radio. The Morning News reported Scott Franzke, who worked Rangers pre- and postgame radio before becoming the Philadelphia Phillies play-by-play announcer, was among the early candidates.
Rhadigan joined Fox Sports Southwest in June 2001 and has handled Rangers pre- and postgame shows.
I haven’t been big on video games — at least in the past 10-12 years or so. (I was unbeatable on NHL95 on Sega Genesis).
But our family recently stepped into the 21st century of video gaming and got an XBOX360. We got it for the Kinect, because we thought our 4-year old would have fun playing some of the games, which he has.But now — probably much to the disliking of my wife — comes this: “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters“.
They’ve added Augusta National to the list of courses on the wildly successful Tiger Woods video game franchise. The game will feature the voices of David Feherty and Jim Nantz. You’ll be able to choose from more than 20 pro golfers and play 16 courses (Augusta, Royal Melbourne, St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, etc.).
It comes out March 29, 2011. I may put the controller down sometime on MAY 29.
– Assistant Sports Editor Ryan Sharp (email@example.com)
Cliff Lee shook the baseball world with the surprise announcement that he was signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bob Costas, an analyst with MLB Network, gave some of his opinions on the move:
ON WHETHER PHILADELPHIA’S ROTATION IS NOW THE BEST OF ALL-TIME:
“Philadelphia’s pitching staff is going to be in the argument. Of course, they have to go out and do it and a lot of things can happen. Injuries and off-years, but potentially, they’ve got a staff that will be in the argument with the best of all-time. One that immediately comes to mind is the 1954 Cleveland Indians, with Early Wynn and Bob Lemon in the prime of their career years. Bob Feller was still very effective, Art Houtteman, Don Mossi, that was an awesome rotation. In 1971, the Baltimore Orioles had four 20-game winners. … But I think [Roy] Oswalt or [Cole] Hamels are probably better than the Orioles’ fourth starter, Pat Dobson. Potentially, this Phillies’ rotation, if everyone maxes out, is about as good as any in the modern history of the game.”
ON LEE SIGNING WITH THE PHILLIES:
“Obviously, Cliff Lee was going to be rich no matter what, so he cashes in big time. But when money is not the only thing, then it restores some of your confidence that there are other factors. That’s part of what free agency is supposed to be about. It isn’t just about money, it’s about selecting your circumstances. What if you want to live closer at home? What if a particular city appeals to you? What if you prefer the National League over the American League or if you want to join a contending team? There are lots of considerations that should go into free agency other than money. In this case, although money was a factor, the fact that it wasn’t the single dominant factor is kind of refreshing.”
ON THE IMPACT OF THE NEW YORK YANKEES:
“They took a swing and missed. … I don’t think it’s a disaster, but it’s a disappointment. I don’t think the Yankees are going to get much sympathy, considering the advantages they have every year and the run of success they’ve had. Outside the talk show callers in New York, I don’t think they’re going to get much sympathy.”
ON WHETHER PHILADELPHIA IS THE WORLD SERIES FAVORITE:
“If you were talking about the old, straight pennant race days where over 162 games the best team would generally prevail, I’d say the Phillies are the World Series favorites. Or even when it was two divisions and you played eventually a seven-game League Championship Series, you might say that. But now, it’s such a gauntlet that you have to run. Would I be surprised if the Phillies don’t win the National League East? Yes, I’d be surprised. … But now anything can happen in a short series in the postseason.
I’d be surprised if ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden took the University of Miami coaching job. I think better jobs would be available in the NFL if he decided to return to coaching. In a teleconference last week, Gruden addressed the rumors:
Gruden: “I’m very thankful for the job that I have and I’m eager to try and get better at it. I know there was a lot of speculation over the last few days and I’m sorry for that. I’m excited to be on Monday Night Football with Ron and Mike.”
ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson said, “For a little perspective, we at ESPN actually want our analysts to be sought after by the sports they cover. Anytime that happens, it demonstrates a level of relevancy, expertise in a particular sport…with that said, very specifically, Jon’s contract with ESPN runs through the 2011 season and he’s made that commitment.”
Gruden also talked about the big “Monday Night Game” between the New York Jets and New England Patriots:
Gruden: “The game is equally important for both teams but given the fact that it’s at New England and the Jets have already beaten New England this season, I think it’s a little bigger for the Patriots. I don’t see anybody sweeping Tom Brady twice in the same season in my lifetime. It’s going to be a tall order I believe for the Jets. I think Brady is at the top of his game and the consecutive winning streak at home is unbelievable.”
On Jets head coach Rex Ryan; “He assembled a great staff and he’s very confident in his abilities. He is who he is. I think he’s funny, I think he’s a riot. I love watching his press conferences. I like watching it during the week, and I like watching his team back it up on game day. He has his own style and he’s consistent with that. I give him credit for that and he’s also got the players to back it up.”
The final top 10 greatest players of all-time were unveiled Thursday night on “NFL Network’s The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players.”
And the No. 1 player? It’s former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, the all-time leading receiver. Runner-up was Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, followed by New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton.
Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, a former Oklahoma State star, was the highest rated Oklahoma star at No. 17. Jim Thorpe ranked No. 37, followed by former OU stars Troy Aikman at No. 80 and Lee Roy Selmon at No. 98.
Rice and Brown were also presenters during the Top 10 episode, with Rice presenting 49ers teammate Montana, and Brown presenting fellow running back Payton.
Here is the list with presenters in parenthesis.
1. Jerry Rice (Jon Gruden)
2. Jim Brown (Burt Reynolds)
3. Lawrence Taylor (Bill Parcells)
4. Joe Montana (Jerry Rice)
5. Walter Payton (Jim Brown)
6. Johnny Unitas (Frank Deford)
7. Reggie White (Mike Holmgren)
8. Peyton Manning (Ray Lewis)
9. Don Hutson (Peter King)
10. Dick Butkus (Howard Mudd)
11. Ronnie Lott (Marcus Allen)
12. Anthony Munoz (Bob Trumpy)
13. Joe Greene (Dennis Miller)
14. Sammy Baugh (Bill Belichick)
15. Deacon Jones (Jennifer Allen)
16. Otto Graham (Don Shula)
17. Barry Sanders (Wynton Marsalis)
18. Ray Lewis (Marvin Lewis)
19. Bronko Nagurski (Jim Dent)
20. Brett Favre (Steve Mariucci)
21. Tom Brady (Derek Jeter)
22. Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams)
23. John Elway (Marty Schottenheimer)
24. John Hannah (Joe Klecko)
25. Dan Marino (Alex Rodriguez)
26. Bob Lilly (Dan Reeves)
27. Merlin Olsen (Jerry Kramer)
28. Emmitt Smith (Moose Johnston)
29. Jack Lambert (Chuck Klosterman)
30. Night Train Lane (Jerry Glanville)
31. Bruce Smith (Luke Russert)
32. Jim Parker (Raymond Berry)
33. Sid Luckman (Marv Levy)
34. Deion Sanders (Michael Irvin)
35. Chuck Bednarik (Ray Didinger)
36. Raymond Berry (Frank Deford)
37. Jim Thorpe (Sally Jenkins)
38. Lance Alworth (Jerry Jones)
39. Gino Marchetti (Ernie Accorsi)
40. O.J. Simpson (Chuck Klosterman)
41. Rod Woodson (Boomer Esiason)
42. John Mackey (Ernie Accorsi)
43. Alan Page (Steve Rushin)
44. Mel Blount (Bob Trumpy)
45. Tony Gonzalez (Trent Green)
46. Roger Staubach (Chuck Klosterman)
47. Ray Nitschke (Jerry Kramer)
48. Red Grange (Steve Hirdt)
49. Mike Haynes (Matt Millen)
50. Terry Bradshaw (Dennis Miller)
51. Bart Starr (Bill Curry)
52. Eric Dickerson (Marcus Allen)
53. Willie Lanier (Floyd Little)
54. Forrest Gregg (Deacon Jones)
55. Earl Campbell (Jerome Bettis)
56. Gene Upshaw (Phil Villapiano)
57. Mike Singletary (Joe Theismann)
58. Steve Van Buren (Ray Didinger)
59. Mike Ditka (Roger Staubach)
60. Jack Ham (Dennis Miller)
61. LaDainian Tomlinson (Reggie Bush)
62. Randy White (Mark May)
63. Jim Otto (Bill Bergey)
64. Herb Adderly (Mel Renfro)
65. Randy Moss (Brian Billick)
66. Willie Brown (Mercury Morris)
67. Kellen Winslow (Joe Gibbs)
68. Mike Webster (Joe Greene)
69. Bobby Bell (Michael MacCambridge)
70. Marshall Faulk (Kurt Warner)
71. Paul Warfield (Mercury Morris)
72. Jonathan Ogden (Michael Strahan)
73. Ozzie Newsome (Bob Trumpy)
74. Marion Motley (Mike Brown)
75. Darrell Green (Carl Lewis)
76. Art Shell (Ron Wolf)
77. Tony Dorsett (Roger Staubach)
78. Bruce Matthews (Warren Moon)
79. Emlen Tunnell (Michael MacCambridge)
80. Troy Aikman (Drew Brees)
81. Steve Young (Mike Holmgren)
82. Ted Hendricks (Howie Long)
83. Norm Van Brocklin (Sonny Jurgensen)
84. Joe Schmidt (Jerry Glanville)
85. Marcus Allen (Matt Millen)
86. Willie Davis (Bobby Mitchell)
87. Crazylegs Hirsch (Michael MacCambridge)
88. Ed Reed (Hines Ward)
89. Ernie Nevers (Steve Hirdt)
90. Kurt Warner (Nick Bakay)
91. Fran Tarkenton (Sen. Amy Klobuchar)
92. Michael Irvin (Troy Aikman)
93. Sam Huff (Sonny Jurgensen)
94. Lenny Moore (Bobby Mitchell)
95. Larry Allen (John Randle)
96. Mel Hein (Steve Hirdt)
97. Derrick Brooks (Jon Gruden)
98. Lee Roy Selmon (Ron Wolf)
99. Michael Strahan (Jon Runyan)
100. Joe Namath (Spike Lee)
Thanks to several readers for pointing out that former OU running back Adrian Peterson was snubbed in the AFLAC trivia question on ABC’s Texas at Nebraska telecast Saturday afternoon.
The question was “What was the highest finish for a freshman in the Heisman Trophy voting?” The answer, according to ABC/ESPN was Clint Castleberry of Georgia Tech, 1942; Herschel Walker of Georgia, 1980; and Michael Vick of Virginia Tech, 1999. They all had third-place finishes. Peterson, in fact, had finished second as a freshman standout at OU in 2004.
ESPN/ABC has acknowledged the mistake. We’ll see if they correct it on a future broadcast.
— Fox studio analyst Howie Long believes St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is the rookie of the year so far this season. Long: “The Lions’ Jahvid Best has played exceptionally well and he’s battling turf toe. Rookies Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry in Kansas City along with Maurkice Pouncey in Pittsburgh are also playing well. but I’m going to go with Sam Bradford in St. Louis.”
— Through the first six weeks of the season, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” is averaging 21.4 million viewers, the most for the first six weeks of a primetime NFL package in 14 years (24.5 million in 1996 on ABC). “Sunday Night Football” was the No. 1 show on Sunday night for the sixth consecutive week.
— ESPN.com’s original scripted series “Mayne Street” is back for its fifth season with six new webisodes debuting every Tuesday at 8 a.m. This season will feature one continuous storyline with Kenny challenged by a new executive producer who quickly becomes his arch nemesis. On “Mayne Street,” Mayne stars as himself in a fictionalized version of life at a sports television network. His reoccurring foils revolve largely around his fictional production crew, as well as other ESPN personalities.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, a former OU star, appeared Wednesday morning on “The Dan Patrick Television Show,” 8-11 a.m. on DirecTV’s 101 Network and simulcast on KEBC-AM 1340. Here are some excerpts:
On whether or not he is better than Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson:
“Yes. What does he do better than me? I don’t think anything. Not faster, not stronger, anything. That’s just the mentality that I have. I have ultimate respect for that guy, he’s a heck of a player. So my mentality doesn’t change and it’s all love and I wish everyone the best and to succeed, but ultimately I play the game to be the best and I’m going to work my tail off to accomplish that goal.”
On how he will hold the ball differently this year:
“Yeah, a lot tighter.”
On his fumbling problems in the past:
“Doing research on myself, watching film,” Peterson said. “I find that a majority of my issues are when I’m getting tackled and fighting for extra yards … swinging that ball, giving guys a chance to punch at it.”
On whether or not he expects to be in the Super Bowl this year:
“Oh yes, without a shadow of doubt. That’s the expectation of me and of this team and that’s our goal. We will be accomplishing it. To make it even better, it’s in Dallas. Dallas, Texas, right where I’m from. It’s going to be good to go back and win it at home.”
On the last time he got nervous before a game:
“You know to be honest with you, when I’m out there that first snap, you have the little jitter bugs going but after that first snap it goes away. So that’s pretty much [how] nervous that I get.”
The NFC is especially rich this season for local NFL viewers with the longtime fan favorite Dallas Cowboys being challenged by the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams for attention on the tube.
The Vikings feature former OU running back Adrian Peterson and veteran quarterback Brett Favre, who returns for his 20th season in the NFL.
Former OU star quarterback Sam Bradford is the key ingredient to the Rams’ rebuilding efforts.
If you had a chance to program local Fox affiliate KOKH-25, which has the rights to the NFC, which of the three teams would you give top priority? Who are you tired of seeing?
How about the AFC? Which team should KWTV-9, which has AFC rights, give the most attention? The Kansas City Chiefs? Houston Texans? Or another team?
I welcome your thoughts as I prepare a story on the NFL TV schedule.