People & Personalities
NBC's Cris Collinsworth is NFL players' "least favorite NFL commentator," according to a poll of 237 NFL players conducted by SI. Collinsworth finished with 11% of the votes, while ESPN's Chris Berman came in second with 8% and NFL Network's Warren Sapp finished third with 6%. Six ESPN commentators "were among the top 11 vote getters," while CBS "had no one in the top 12." Fox' Troy Aikman ranked 4th on the list despite coming in 2nd in an earlier SI poll of "players' most-liked commentators" (SI, 12/19 issue). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Giants S Antrel Rolle was "right for firing back at Cris Collinsworth for telling millions of viewers watching Giants-Cowboys on NBC that [Cowboys WR] Dez Bryant 'barbecued' him on a 50-yard touchdown reception." Raissman asks, "When was the last time Al Michaels strongly challenged Collinsworth over an analytical point? Come to think of it, when was the last time a play-by-play man held a top NFL analyst such as Collinsworth, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman or Jon Gruden seriously accountable for anything they say?" If players "believe these NFL TV analysts have a credibility problem, what should fans think?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/16). The most recent SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal readers survey found Collinsworth to be the favorite football TV game analyst (THE DAILY).
JAMES GIVEN TIME OFF THE AIR: The AP's Jim Vertuno reports ESPN college football analyst Craig James "has been granted time away from ESPN while he considers running for the U.S. Senate in Texas." ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz said that James "requested that he not work his scheduled bowl game on Tuesday so he can concentrate on his decision" (AP, 12/16). In Ft. Worth, Bud Kennedy reports James "now seems sure to file by Monday" his intent to run for office (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/16). FOXSPORTS.com's Jen Floyd Engel writes, "My fellow Texans and I are taking yet another one for team, this time staring down the prospect of being governed by expert blowhard Craig James so you do not have to turn down the volume on Thursday night football broadcasts." She notes this "serves two purposes of the greater college football good as far as I can tell." First is "removing him from ESPN college football broadcasts immediately," and second is "rendering him toxic and thereby untouchable for another network if he runs and loses" (FOXSPORTS.com, 12/16).
NO COLLEGE HOOPS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes Shaquille O'Neal "won't be part of the CBS/TNT coverage of this season's NCAA men's basketball tournament." When asked if he would be part of the tournament coverage, O'Neal said, "No, I'm not that good. And I'm not really a fan of college basketball." TNT's Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith this spring were added to CBS' and Turner's tourney coverage "to opine about college hoops." (USA TODAY, 12/16).
DECISION TO COME: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes it "continues to look as if Cardinals lead television play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin will be retained if he remains successful" in his rehab efforts after being arrested recently for the second time on a drunken driving charge. The decision on his status is "being made by Fox Sports Midwest, for whom he works on the telecasts, with input from the team and Fox corporate officials." FS Midwest Media Relations Manager Geoff Goldman said, "What's most important is that Dan continue to focus on his sobriety and getting well. We'll continue to monitor his progress" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/16).
NOTES: The NBA Kings are "still working on the schedules," but sideline reporter Jim Gray and analyst Bill Walton "will return for the 2011-12 season." Gray is "expected to work 15 games," while Kings co-Owners Joe and Gavin Maloof "told Walton he could work as many games as he wanted" (SACBEE.com, 12/15)....Former Chiefs coach Todd Haley "appeared easy-going and relaxed, cracking jokes and laughing at times" during his appearance Thursday night on ESPN's "Audibles." Haley "did get in a shot at the Chiefs for what he perceived to be a lack of support" (K.C. STAR, 12/16).