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The "order to fire" Marv Albert "came directly from" NBC President Robert Wright, according to Michael Starr of the N.Y. POST (N.Y. POST, 9/26). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Stephen Battaglio writes, "Sources said NBC likely dropped the ax quickly on Albert because he lied to top executives about the incident" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 9/26). REAX: Albert's attorney Roy Black asked if he was surprised by NBC's move: "I don't know if I'm so surprised ... as much as I am by the way they did it. They give the guy 15 minutes after this and immediately fire him. You would think someone who had worked for the network for 23 years ... would spend more than 15 minutes in making a decision like that" ("Larry King Live," 9/25). Albert's attorney Peter Greenspun: "We're surprised they didn't wait until the time of sentencing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/26). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that NBC's statement "bespoke betrayal," and while NBC and MSG "adored" him, if they "were inclined to keep him, advertisers and affiliates would surely lobby to have him fired" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26). In N.Y., Harvey Araton: "Some will ask why Albert isn't moral enough to call [NBA] games played by the likes of Iverson and Rodman, et al. The answer is this: He is replaceable. He is a messenger. ... A messenger who embodies the wrong message is one problem that [NBA Commissioner David] Stern can make disappear" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26). NEWSDAY's Gay & Zipay report there was "widespread speculation that Albert ... would somehow salvage his career" at NBC. While NBC execs "agonized over the decision .. it was equally obvious that NBC was in an increasingly untenable position for other reasons. Foremost, there is a major question over whether Albert's continued employment might have affected NBC's renegotiations with the NBA and NFL for future telecasts" (NEWSDAY, 9/26). Newark Star-Ledger's Dan Wasserman: "[L]et's face it: he pleads guilty to assaulting a woman in a hotel room during kinky sex. This is not the type of [person] that a family-oriented network and company such as NBC and [GE] want to have on their payroll" ("Sports Inc.," 9/25). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes Albert "had to go" but "what is surprising is the swiftness with which the end came" (SUN, 9/26). In L.A., Larry Stewart: "NBC did what it had to do ... swiftly and cleanly" (L.A. TIMES, 9/26). Also in L.A., Tom Hoffarth calls NBC's "swift decision ... inevitable, but ... bogus" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/26). Bergen Record media writer Mike Celizic: "The guy is radioactive, get rid of him ... I don't think they want anything to do with him, and I don't blame them." The N.Y. Post's Wallace Matthews: "I'm not at all surprised by it, but I have to say I'm a little disappointed. You would think that after 20 years of service, NBC would owe Marv Albert at least the courtesy of allowing him to land in New York and break the news to him before they broke it to everybody else" (MSNBC, 9/25). In DC, Michael Wilbon: "I don't blame NBC for not wanting to put up with further headaches over this mess. ... But I also won't blame any entity from wanting to hire Albert a year from now if he has taken the necessary steps to deal with his behavioral problems" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26). NEWSDAY's Shaun Powell writes under the header, "Why Was Marv Fired Over A Misdemeanor?" Powell: "None of NBC's games had Albert as the main feature, and yet by firing him, he essentially was treated as one" (NEWSDAY, 9/26).
Marv Albert "put an end to his lurid sexual assault trial but lost his job when he pleaded guilty yesterday to assault and battery for biting a 42-year-old Vienna, [VA], women, accepting a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of forcible sodomy," according to Brooke Masters of the WASHINGTON POST. Albert faces up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine when he is sentenced October 24 (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26). ALBERT STATEMENT: Albert gave a statement after the trial: "I'd first like to say thanks so much for the wonderful work on the part of Roy Black and Peter Greenspun and their entire staff. From my point of view, I just felt I had to end this ordeal for myself, my wonderful family, my fiance Heather, my friends and supporters. I'd like to thank NBC Sports and MSG Network people for standing behind me through all of this. I'd love to be able to answer questions right now, but it's been a trying day, and I want to spend the rest of the day with my family" (THE DAILY). NETWORK STATEMENTS: NBC's statement on Albert: "This past May, when charges against Marv Albert become public, Mr. Albert asserted his innocence and assured NBC senior management that there was no basis whatsoever to the charges. Today, given Marv Albert's plea of guilty of assault and battery, NBC terminated its relationship with Mr. Albert" (NBC). MSG's release: "Madison Square Garden accepted Marv Albert's resignation. ... The Garden, MSG Network, the Knicks and Rangers thank him for 30 years of dedicated service. As he stated himself, he must now set out to reconstruct his personal and professional life. We wish him well in those efforts. Madison Square Garden will have no further comment at this time" (MSG). Albert, in a second statement: "I have resigned from MSG and have been let go from NBC. I fully understand the position in which the networks found themselves due to my very painful situation. In the interest of my family, my friends and my many supporters, I step aside with deep humility and seek to reconstruct my personal and professional life" (Mult.). NEW YORK COVERAGE: All three New York City O&Os led with the Albert plea during their early evening reports. WNBC's Michael Hill said that the trial "featured an assassination of his reputation" (WNBC, 9/25). WCBS' John Slattery: "The whole world has seen this man air his dirty laundry." WCBS' Pablo Guzman: "People in the business, agents in the business, have said that as far as network reporting, that's probably over for Albert except perhaps for the Fox network, that he may be going back to where his career began, in local news" (WCBS, 9/25). TV COVERAGE: "NBC Nightly News" reported on Albert 10 minutes into the program, following its first commercial break. The report consisted of the details of the plea and reported Albert's firing from NBC Sports (NBC, 9/25). "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather, which had not reported on Albert all week, covered the plea 11 minutes into its program, leading with the story following the first commercial break. Rather: "A heavily publicized criminal court trial in Virginia ended today. Some journalists, including some closely associated with this broadcast, preferred not to cover any part of this case" (CBS, 9/25). ABC's "World News Tonight" reported on Albert eight minutes into its telecast. ABC's Jeff Greenfield examined cable TV's coverage of the trial. Greenfield: "Once a story has achieved enough media liftoff, it becomes an almost constant presence on these new news networks" (ABC, 9/25). ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS: "Extra" and CNN's "Showbiz Today" led with the Albert story. "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight" did not cover the story. CNN's "Larry King Live" featured the Albert plea. Among the guests were attorney Roy Black, agent Leigh Steinberg and N.Y. Times sports columnist Ira Berkow (THE DAILY). SPORTS SHOWS: ESPN's 6:30pm ET "SportsCenter" led with Albert and reported on him again midway through the hour- long broadcast. ESPN's Bob Ley reported that the NBA "had no comment on either Albert's guilty plea or his firing by NBC." The 11:00pm ET "SportsCenter" reported on Albert six minutes in, leading with the Shawn Kemp trade and the Astros clinching the NL Central ("SportsCenter," 9/25). CNN/SI reported on the Albert plea following stories on the Kemp trade and Greg Ostertag re-signing with the Jazz. CNN/SI's Bob Lorenz called the plea "a sudden and surprising end" to the trial. CNN/SI's Nick Charles: "Albert's personal persona and professional career both took major hits on the richter scale." SI legal analyst Lester Munson: "If he had been sentenced today, I think he probably would have done some time in jail. ... I think he may still face, however, some short time in jail" ("CNN/SI," CNN, 9/25).
Marv Albert's future is widely debated this morning, with many analysts commenting on whether he will ever be able to return to sportscasting. Albert's spokesperson, Howard Rubenstein, said that Albert, who made "about" $2M a year, "had no job offers" after his relationship with MSG and NBC ended yesterday (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/26). WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: Jeffrey Pollack, Publisher of THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: "If there's the proper amount of contrition and some length of a sabbatical, there is the possibility of a return to sportscasting." Advantage Int'l Senior VP Tom George: "Albert is who he is because of his platform with the Knicks. We don't have to have this guy" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26). In N.Y., Mike Lupica: "He can get a second chance as a broadcaster. .. It would be a shame if Albert didn't" (DAILY NEWS, 9/26). IF Enterprises President Steve Herz: "While I wouldn't expect him to get to the level where he was yesterday, this country loves to build up heroes, destroy them, and bring them back. Look no further than Richard Nixon" (DAILY NEWS, 9/26). The N.Y. Times' Ira Berkow: "There is an aspect of forgiveness, especially in the areas of entertainment, and Marv is an entertainer" ("LKL," 9/25). In Chicago, Jim O'Donnell: "[T]he feeling persists that Albert will somehow, somewhere rise again to an intermediate broadcast level, most likely operating out of his New York base" (SUN-TIMES, 9/26). Albert has endorsement deals with Nissan and Acclaim Videos. Burns Sports Celebrity President Bob Williams: "He's dead in the eye of advertisers. He's certainly dead in terms of endorsements" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/26). Acclaim has not decided whether to release, as planned, an NFL Quarterback Club video that features Albert's voice (NEWSDAY, 9/26). THE PEOPLE SPEAK: An ESPN SportsZone poll asked, "Should Marv Albert be allowed to broadcast sporting events." As of this morning, with 14,987 total votes cast, 52% said he should; 48% said he shouldn't (ESPN).