Before NBC got the rights to Sunday Night Football in 2006, people would run to their televisions to watch Chris Berman and Tom Jackson on NFL Primetime on ESPN every Sunday night. Before RedZone and even before NFL Sunday Ticket (1994), that show was the only way fans could see highlights of games they couldn’t watch during the day.
Berman was a guest on Monday’s Pardon My Take. During the conversation, he said sportscasters are making a mistake when showing highlights. While Berman understands people know the score before they watch the highlights, he believes that the play should be read as if it were happening live:
“This is where they make a mistake now. Everyone assumes you hear about a play and you call it on your phone for one second. Even at the end of the day when you know everything, here’s the whole meal for Week 12, for example,” said Berman.
“Give me the meal and those doing the highlights. People should not assume that everyone watching has seen the game or the highlights. You owe it to the viewer to do them like they are live. Give it to you like it’s happening live, even if it is the game that you have seen. Result of the game is okay, but not the play.”
In addition to hosting NFL Primetime (now on ESPN+), Berman is well-known for the nicknames he gave to numerous athletes. When he was doing baseball highlights in the early years of ESPN, he used them to hide that people couldn’t see video yet still made reading the score exciting:
“You try to embellish a little bit because it’s every night and not all of them were video,” Berman said. “A lot of them were Kansas City 5, Seattle 3 for 30 seconds. Don’t make jokes and take information away, but if I’m going to say Frank ‘Tanana Daiquiri’ struck out 13, it cost me half a second.”
However, there was a time in the mid-1980s where the nicknames went away. While they eventually came back in April 1986, it’s hard to imagine Berman reading a highlight without any of those signature nicknames:
“We had a new executive producer (early September 1985) say you can’t use them anymore. I’ve been doing them for five years, everyone likes them. He had no real reason. There’s three weeks left in the season. First of all, if he’s any smart, you do it in November; maybe no one noticed and then you don’t come back… I cut out all the nicknames.”
While Berman has been seen as one of the faces of ESPN, that does not mean that other networks didn’t try to pursue him. He told Pardon My Take that NBC tried to pursue him in 1989. While ESPN was unable to match the high-money offer NBC had, they got close enough for Berman to stay:
“I said, Steve Bornstein, don’t fault me for this, but in the end, I said you don’t have to match this, you got to get within a 9-iron,” he said. “They did and that was the best decision I ever made.
“We got the NFL in 1987. If I went there, I would be waiting to be the NFL guy behind Bob Costas. I’m doing that and I’m doing it for an audience everyday.”
It’s hard to imagine what the sports media landscape would have looked like then or even today if Berman had left ESPN for NBC, since he is one of the people associated with the worldwide leader.
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network
“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”
Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.
“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”
Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.
“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”
Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’
“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.
In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.
The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”
He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
Kareem Daniel Leaving Disney After Bob Iger Reassumes Role as Company CEO
“This is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”
Bob Iger is back as the CEO of Disney, and one of the first moves he made was to announce a company restructure. Part of that restructure includes the departure of Kareem Daniel, the chair of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED).
DMED was formed under now-previous CEO Bob Chapek. The division manages Disney’s streaming services which includes ESPN+.
Daniel was considered one of those closest to Chapek. Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees at DMED.
“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” Iger said in the memo. “As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”
ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will join other company leaders in coming up with a new company structure that Iger hopes “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.