The National Sportscasters & Sportswriters Association last night held its 55th annual awards banquet at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., honoring SI’s Peter King as Sportswriter of the Year and NBC’s Mike Emrick as Sportscaster of the Year. The evening culminated in the inductions of TNT’s Marv Albert and ESPN’s Rick Reilly into the NSSA HOF. Reilly, who said that his column running today on ESPN.com is his last as a sportswriter, used his 12th appearance at the NSSA lectern to crack jokes about his career highlights and future plans. He gave out his own faux awards for everything from best quote he had heard from a sports figure -- Yankees SS Derek Jeter for, “Dude, I’m not going down that Miss Universe road again” -- to best hate mail he had received, which came from a cheerleader who wrote “I hope you die” with a heart over the “i.” Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway introduced Reilly, saying, “For 30 years Rick has told me about me, so for once let me tell you a little bit about him.” He called Reilly “the best in the world at what he does” before raising a glass to his longtime friend. NBC’s Bob Costas, a ’12 inductee into the HOF, presented Albert for what he called an “overdue induction.” Costas said that when a big moment happens in a basketball game, “You want Marv Albert’s voice to be the narration of that moment.” CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman offered Costas an assist by recording one of his famous “Top 10” segments, titled “Top 10 Things You Never Knew About Marv Albert.” The crowd cracked up when Letterman revealed that Albert “has two poodles named ‘Yes’ and ‘It Counts.’” In accepting his honor, Albert reflected on calling games he watched on TV as a child for WMPA, a fictitious station with call letters based on his initials. He also touched on the significance of being objective as a sportscaster because “fans are not stupid.” Albert: “Be true to your audience and true to yourself.”
MONDAY NIGHT QB: King in accepting his third Sportswriter of the Year award stressed the importance of originality in a crowded sports media landscape, noting that while he was one of about 15 reporters at the ’99 NFL Combine, the league issued 941 credentials for the ’14 event. King: “One of the things that I told our new staff is 'I don't care about volume. I only care about originality.'” He used a story from The MMQB in which he embedded himself with an NFL officiating crew as an example of finding unique ways to capture and tell stories. King also shared that he recently received a death threat from a reader, and that when he told his wife, she responded, “Only one?” King: “Our world has changed. People are going to know you because of social media, because you put yourself out there. … It's a small price to pay for what it is that we do.” Meanwhile, Emrick accepted in absentia his first NSSA award, as he was calling Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. In a prerecorded acceptance speech from inside Staples Center, he thanked Albert for helping him land his first NHL gig -- as Albert’s backup calling Rangers games on the radio in the mid '80s.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: More than 60 Sportscasters and Sportswriters of the Year from 40 individual states also were on hand to accept their trophies, while the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan was introduced as the NSSA’s incoming President. Ryan, an ’11 HOF inductee, gushed about the impact the organization has had on his career and expressed excitement about the opportunity to give back to it. ESPN Coordinating Producer Jose Morales received the Story of the Year award for “Carry On,” a follow-up to a ’09 piece produced by Lisa Fenn. The bond Fenn formed with the two high school wrestlers featured in the original segment was the focus of Morales’ story and, as such, she was retroactively awarded the ’09 Story of the Year Award. Fenn said of the ethical line regarding forming relationships with subjects, “The good stuff, the stuff that really matters, is often on the other side of that line.”