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Rosen Recounts The Highlights of His Career

Jason Barrett



Although he’s never played a down of competitive football in his life, you wouldn’t know it by the way Mark Rosen is revered on the Vikings sidelines.

“Rosieeee!” screams a voice from the TCF Bank Stadium stands, 35 minutes before kickoff on a recent Sunday. “How you doin’?”

Hall of Famer Jim Marshall teases him about the early ’70s, when the once full-haired sportscaster had to lug around his own camera. Comedian Nick Swardson wraps him in a hug. A woman in San Diego Chargers colors asks for a photo while pledging her allegiance, if not to the purple, then at least to the Twin Cities’ most enduring TV personality.

Upstairs in the press box, he’s approached by former Vikings coach Jerry Burns. “Mark,” says the legendary grouch, flashing a rare grin. “I want to be like you someday.”

For young sportscasters clawing their way up the ranks, making that dream a reality has become increasingly hard. With as-it-happens coverage available on your smartphone, local TV sports anchors seem as antiquated as the town crier.

“There was a time the sports guy was bigger than life. That’s no longer the case,” said Don Shafer, news director at San Diego’s XETV, which eliminated its sports department six years ago. Nationwide, most stations have whittled the time for sports updates in half.

And yet, Rosen remains.

Only a slight hobble in his left leg — the result of a recent knee surgery — and his encyclopedic knowledge of Minnesota sports give away the fact that, at 63, he’s been a member of the WCCO family for 46 years, making him the longest-tenured TV sports personality in any U.S. market.

“I’ve been in the right place at the right time,” said Rosen in his unthreatening baritone, which sounds like a game-show host who can’t wait to tell you what’s behind Door No. 1.

While his stiffest competition has retired or moved on, Rosen is still embedded in the wild world of sports, whether deflecting jabs from the jocular morning crew at KFAN Radio (1130 AM) or breaking down the Wild’s playoff chances on “Rosen’s Sports Sunday,” a late-night staple since 1981.

He’s Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” standing up alone to the gunslinger who insists his kind should catch the next stagecoach out of town — a lonely image, yet one that plays perfectly to Rosen’s lesser known persona: the movie buff.

The great escape

The young Mark Rosen may have awakened every morning to a Harmon Killebrew poster and Hank Aaron bobblehead, but his nights belonged to Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster — tough guys who shot first and did multiplication tables later.

Rosen’s father, Joe, worked as a distributor for Paramount Pictures. While Mark’s classmates in St. Louis Park were engrossed in “101 Dalmatians,” he was front and center for “The Longest Day” and “Spartacus.”

Fans he encounters on a coffee run are more likely to get a DVD recommendation than a prediction on the next Gophers game.

Mom also helped plant the seed. Doris Rosen was a natural ham — she wound up winning a regional Emmy for her sidesplitting ’CCO commentaries with anchorman Frank Vascellaro’s mother, Rosalie. Rosen may have followed through on Mom’s dream of an acting career if a different kind of tough guy hadn’t moved in across the street.

Phil Jones is best known for covering the Gerald Ford administration for CBS News, but in the ’60s he was at WCCO, Channel 4.

“I was fascinated by watching Phil be this reporter on TV and then come home and cut his lawn,” Rosen said.

Rosen bugged his neighbor for the chance to meet WCCO sports anchor Hal Scott, maybe pick up some odd jobs at the station.

Jones finally relented. The 17-year-old had his foot in the door.

Broadcast News:

By 1972, Rosen was all-in at WCCO and had dropped out of the University of Minnesota.

From the get-go, his signature style was on display. Folksy, but never overbearing. Confident, not cocky. A firm handshake, not a slap on the back. The Minnesota way.

“His knowledge exceeded anyone he ever competed with, but he never flaunted it,” said former Vikings coach Bud Grant. “He likes scoops, but he never betrayed a confidence.”

Former WCCO anchor Don Shelby remembers how the two of them loosened up the newsroom, sweating through their white shirts while tossing footballs over news directors’ heads.

“Part of it was boyish fun,” Shelby said. “Part of it was building camaraderie.”

Rosen’s desk, which pedestrians can peek at through WCCO’s windows on Nicollet Mall, still looks like it was taken over by a kid. It’s littered with a Wheaties box from the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team; coasters promoting his 2012 autobiography, “Best Seat in the House,” and three remote controls so he can keep up with a myriad of games.

One of his favorite punching bags, Shelby, is no longer around, but he makes do with political whiz Pat Kessler, who’s gotten used to Rosen’s gentle ribbing.

Rosen’s soft sarcasm served him well when he got the biggest — and most unexpected — break of his career.

Radio Days:

Rosen was supposed to provide sports updates when Tom Barnard launched a show in the mid-’80s on then-low-flying KQRS (92.5 FM). Barnard had just come from New York and loved bad-mouthing our local teams.

“No one around here had heard anything like that, but instead of recoiling in horror, Mark went along with it,” he said.

The show leapfrogged to the top of the ratings in 1986, and an ad-libbed joke about the lack of enthusiasm over that year’s gubernatorial candidates led to a write-in campaign for “Little Marky.” In a matter of weeks, lawn signs supporting Rosen popped up and listeners sent in jingles.

Rosen got 8,000 votes.

His popularity didn’t go unnoticed by the brass at CBS, which owned WCCO Radio (830 AM) and TV. They wanted Rosen playing for both of their teams, an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“I had them over a barrel, PR-wise, but was I willing to jeopardize my TV career for KQ? Ultimately, no,” said Rosen, who called the decision the most painful of his career. He burst into tears after his final signoff with Barnard.

To continue reading this article, visit the Minneapolis Star-Tribune where it was originally published

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Mina Kimes: Deshaun Watson ‘Bailed Out Our Entire Industry by Being Bad’

“If he was playing well, I would be inundated by hate mail right now because that’s what happens



Mina Kimes
Courtesy: ESPN Images

Mina Kimes was not alone in condemning the Cleveland Browns for signing Deshaun Watson to a record guaranteed contract as he was facing dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct. This is the first full season Watson has played for the Browns and he has been less than impressive through the first two weeks of the season.

Kimes says that in a strange way, it something she and her colleagues should be happy about.

“This dude just bailed out our entire industry by being bad,” she said this week on Pablo Torre Finds Out.

She said that she has talked to a number of fellow NFL analysts and writers that feel “a little bit of relief” that there is nothing about Watson to celebrate right now.

It isn’t lost on Kimes that maybe not having to talk about Deshaun Watson like he is any other star in the NFL isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“We never had to reckon with, and maybe we will. You know, it’s been two weeks, but we certainly haven’t, so far, had to reckon with that cognitive dissonance in what it would have entailed,” she said.”

Winning and outstanding performance can scrub clean a lot of scandal in the minds of the public. Kimes noted that even mentioning the allegations against Watson would be met very differently if he weren’t struggling.

“Right now, because he’s playing bad, because he’s playing poorly, if you were to put a clip of me saying something about the fact that he was accused of all these sexual crimes and misdemeanors and whatnot, and if you put that out now, I would not get heat,” she said. “That’s what I want to drill down on here. Like, if you aggregated this and put it out, I would not get hate mails. If he was playing well, I would be inundated by hate mail right now because that’s what happens.”

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Shannon Sharpe: Skip Bayless and I ‘Barely Talked’

“It was really like a heavyweight fight.”



Shannon Sharpe; Skip Bayless
Shannon Sharpe - Courtesy: Kevin Mazur, Getty Images for We The Best Foundation | Skip Bayless - Courtesy: FOX Sports

As Shannon Sharpe gave a heartfelt goodbye to his longtime Undisputed co-host Skip Bayless, it marked the end of a near seven-year run together on FOX Sports 1. For two-and-a-half hours each morning, Sharpe and Bayless would debate the sports topics of the day and help define an era of debate television. Directly opposing them for most of that time was First Take on ESPN, a show that they had both been a part of in varying capacities over the years.

Stephen A. Smith, working alongside analyst Max Kellerman and host Molly Qerim, engaged in a similar format before the show adopted a new format in late 2021. As Smith utilized the deep ESPN talent pool to have experts on different topics oppose him, the show grew in popularity and, at times, left Undisputed significantly behind in the ratings.

Sharpe is now a member of First Take and is contributing to the program on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the football season. At the same time, he is building Shay Shay Media with his flagship Club Shay Shay Podcast on The Volume and working to produce content in tandem with the media brand.

Nonetheless, he misses working with FOX Sports 1 on a daily basis because of all the people on the lot aside from the show itself. From the security guard that would walk him to and from his car every day to those in wardrobe, props and in the cafeteria, no longer being able to see them for 240 days throughout the year has been a difficult thing to come to terms with.

“People don’t understand just how hard I worked at that job,” Sharpe said in a recent interview on The Stephen A. Smith Show. “What they saw was the two-and-a-half hours a day, but they didn’t see the prep – the six-seven hours of prep time I actually did to get ready for the show [and] the re-watching of the entire show to try and get better.”

After Sharpe completed his protracted answer to Smith about the things he misses most regarding FOX Sports, the First Take featured commentator elocuted an observation he made therein.

“You do understand that in that lengthy answer that you just gave to my question, you did not mention Skip Bayless one time,” Smith said. “You do know that.”

There were reportedly growing tensions between Sharpe and Bayless that ultimately led to the latter’s exit from the network. When Sharpe officially departed, Bayless and FOX Sports 1 management began work on compiling a new cast and format for the program, which relaunched earlier this month. Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, Richard Sherman, Rachel Nichols, Josina Anderson and Lil’ Wayne have all appeared on the show as contributors, facing off against Bayless, an institution and influential professional in the format.

Sharpe has gone on the record numerous times to thank Bayless for everything he did to welcome him to the network and create a stellar program. The part that he revealed to Smith was that they did not have much of a relationship off of the set, even within the corridors of the production facility.

“Skip would get to work; I would get to work,” Sharpe described. “I was in my dressing room; he was in his dressing room. It was really like a heavyweight fight. We barely talked…. [and] it was not a carry on a conversation and then, all of a sudden, we get up there and do what we do…. It was very little communication.”

Some of the public perception of Sharpe’s time on FOX Sports 1 and the split he had with the network adopted the notion, “Skip Bayless made Shannon Sharpe.” The remark perturbs Sharpe, who was a three-time Super Bowl champion and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he started working at the network. As one of the most accomplished tight ends in the history of the National Football League, he had already been enshrined in the history of the game and sports as a whole in perpetuity. The aspect of his being that FOX Sports 1 helped him with was in becoming more popular and well-known, and it is something he owes to Bayless and the program itself.

“Skip Bayless did not make Shannon Sharpe relatable. Skip Bayless did not make Shannon Sharpe the storyteller that he is [and] Skip Bayless did not make Shannon Sharpe the football player that can break down plays,” Sharpe articulated. “….I miss debating him, but it had gotten to the point over the last six-seven months – and I won’t allow it to ruin the six great years that we had – but it had gotten to the point that we needed to go our separate ways.”

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Rick Cordella Named President of NBC Sports

“Rick has been at the epicenter of NBC Sports for years with a proven track record of growth and innovation…”



Rick Cordella NBC

Three months after Pete Bevacqua stepped down as the chairman of NBC Sports to become the new athletic director at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater, the company has decided on its next leader. Rick Cordella, who has been with NBCUniversal since 2006 serving in a variety of different roles, has been promoted to the role of “President, NBC Sports,” and will report directly to Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBCUniversal Media Group.

Cordella most recently served as the president of programming for NBC Sports and Peacock Sports, a role in which he oversaw strategy for the sustained growth of both platforms. Peacock will be the exclusive home of a game within the NFL Wild Card round on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, marking the first time such an occurrence is taking place. Cordella was an integral member of the founding team for Peacock and served as the chief commercial officer for the over-the-top (OTT) streaming service. Under his leadership, NBC Sports garnered the accolade for the most-streamed Olympics and Super Bowl in history as the platform more than doubled its subscriber count year-over-year (YoY) to 24 million.

The six-time Sports Emmy Award winner began his tenure with the company within its fantasy sports properties, specifically overseeing Rotoworld and a variety of additional websites under its purview. Cordella was also a board member of FanDuel and represented NBC Sports on behalf of its investment in the sportsbook and gambling company. Additionally, he also has experience in digital media and has worked on the launch of several direct-to-consumer and online services, including NBC Sports Gold, ProFootballTalk and, while also outlining content and editorial strategy.

“Rick has been at the epicenter of NBC Sports for years with a proven track record of growth and innovation across all platforms, particularly our flagship NBC network as well as Peacock, where he helped architect our leadership role in sports and streaming,” Lazarus said in a statement. “Rick will oversee the evolution of our business as we continue to offer the best experiences and content to our viewers, as well as be the best partner to leagues and rights holders.”

NBC is in the second year of a $20 billion media rights contract with the National Football League, primarily centered on its Sunday Night Football property. The lead broadcast booth of Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth and Melissa Stark is in its second season working together. NBC also started broadcasting Big Ten Conference football games this fall with its new B1G Ten Saturday property featuring Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge and Kathryn Tappen.

The company recently reacquired the rights for WWE SmackDown, which will air weekly starting in Oct. 2024 on USA Network, and will produce four specials in prime time each year as part of the deal. NBC is paying $7.75 billion to broadcast the Olympic Games through the 2028 festivities in Los Angeles, Calif., and has been working with Major League Baseball to present an exclusive Sunday morning contest on Peacock each week. These properties, plus other aspects of its business, will be under the leadership of Lazarus, Cordella and other executives at the company.

“It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing,” Cordella told John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. “It’s less about this being the start of a new day and more about how we’re going to keep executing the way we have.”

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