SBD/Issue 70/Sports Media

A Bitter Scoop For ESPN: CBS First To Report Parcells-Jones

The NFL pregame shows continue to jockey over scoops on the Bill Parcells story, and CBS' Jim Nantz yesterday noted how CBS on the Saturday, December 21 edition of "The NFL Today" was the first to break the story of the Cowboys courting Parcells. Nantz added that Parcells could be announced as the Cowboys' next coach "any time between [yesterday] and Wednesday" (CBS, 12/29). In Chicago, Ed Sherman notes that the Parcells story "continues to make for some awkward moments" on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" — the show Parcells is a part of. After being scooped by CBS a week earlier, the show yesterday opened with Parcells disclosing that he "met again with [Cowboys Owner Jerry] Jones, but he never got into specifics. Host Chris Berman asked some gentle questions, but Parcells clearly wasn't going to reveal anything." Having Parcells on set "seemed to preclude the other ESPN analysts from speculating on the possible fireworks of a Parcells-Jones marriage. That wasn't the case on the other shows, where the matter was the subject of much debate" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/30). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke notes that Parcells "danced around" Berman's questions (USA TODAY, 12/30). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted that ESPN's Chris Mortensen interviewed Parcells for the December 21 edition of "SportsCenter" and the December 22 edition of "Sunday NFL Countdown," but that ESPN "looked awkward in playing catch-up on news about one of its own." ESPN Exec Editor John Walsh said, "We'd rather have known in advance that he'd met with Jones." Sandomir noted that ESPN "has no understanding with Parcells that he will provide news, in advance, about himself, nor did it have information that would have led it to ask Parcells if he were talking to Jones." Walsh: "We didn't expect this with Bill." Parcells "eventually apologized to Mortensen for not informing him" about the meeting. Walsh: "It's more embarrassing to Chris than any of us. I told him, `You get 90 percent of the stories, but it's a shame the 10 percent you missed happened to be about the guy in the room'" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/24). Mortensen said, "I'm not sure Bill Parcells is obligated to tell us that he's meeting with Jerry Jones. If he was on the verge of taking the job, then I think he would be obligated to tell us. If Bill had been the source of this leak (he should have told ESPN). It was a pure fluke that CBS got it" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 12/27).

Nantz’ Plea Connects

COMING UP A LITTLE SHORT: Martzke reports that CBS yesterday sent viewers of other games to the final seconds of regulation of the Dolphins-Patriots game. When the game went to overtime, Nantz "explained to viewers that an NFL rule prevented CBS from showing the overtime of a game that could determine playoff spots." Nantz said the rule existed to "protect the doubleheader game" on Fox, then "sent an on-air memo to `the NFL TV committee,' hoping members would address the rule in the offseason and allow fans to see the end of games such as the Dolphins-Patriots contest." Martzke calls Nantz's plea "first-rate" and notes that it "connected with frustrated viewers" (USA TODAY, 12/30).

JAG CORE: In Orlando, Jerry Greene writes, "This nonsense has got to stop. Since Jacksonville got an NFL franchise, CBS affiliate WKMG ... has often had to give us Jaguars road games instead of key Dolphins games. It has angered Dolphins fans for years, but [yesterday] was just too much. ... Blame CBS. It is the network which should be defending the good name of its affiliate ... by demanding that the NFL end the silliness of calling Central Florida a part of the Jacksonville market area" (OR. SENTINEL, 12/30).

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