Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Ed Sabol should be in Hall
Here is a potpourri of posts for your Friday reading pleasure, featuring Ed Sabol, NASCAR, Drew Brees, Craig Carton, Al Trautwig, Phil Simms and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
NFL FILMS FOUNDER IS HALL WORTHY
Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films, finally advanced to the semifinal stage of Pro Football Hall of Fame voting, but his candidacy should not stop there.
Fortunately, I know a number of members of the selection committee personally, so I feel comfortable offering the following polite suggestion:
Yo, vote this guy onto the finalists list. Now! Then make it official by putting him into the Hall when you meet on Super Bowl weekend.
NFL Films revolutionized the documentation of sports in numerous ways, and was a crucial factor in football’s rise to the top of American sports businesses over the past 40 years.
Sabol is 94. What are you waiting for?
NASCAR RATINGS IN REVERSE
Back in the mid-2000s, NASCAR was the hottest sport this side of football, flush with TV deals worth $4.5 billion and poised to outgrow its traditional Southern roots.
But since then things have gone awry, including a ratings freefall and declining attendance.
In 2006, NASCAR averaged 7.86 million viewers for Cup races, Sports Business Journal reported. By 2010, it was down to just under 6 million.
Worse yet, the median viewer age of 51.6 was older than the four major team sports’.
There are various theories at the networks and NASCAR about all this, but no consensus. Here is one they might not want to think about:
Perhaps it all was just a fad, and the circuit merely has returned to its natural level, with a strong but uneven following concentrated in regional pockets, much like the NHL.
U-S-A FOR SI
It is difficult to argue against Drew Brees as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, but it also is difficult not to sympathize with skeptics who argued for, say, tennis’ Rafael Nadal.
But, like Roger Federer supporters before them, they should have known better: SI has displayed an extreme – dare we say jingoistic? – preference for all things American in handing out the award.
The last winner who was not either American or playing in an American-based pro league? Speed skater Johann Olav Koss, a Norwegian who shared 1994 honors with American Bonnie Blair.
The last such person to win it solo? Auto racer Jackie Stewart, in 1973.
MSG PLEASED WITH CA-BOOM
It has been nearly three months since MSG began simulcasting WFAN’s morning show, and so far the network no regrets despite very modest ratings and the occasional jab at the Garden and its teams.
“We’re not involved in telling them what to say or what not to say; they run their show,’’ said Dan Ronayne, general manager of MSG.
Any cringe-inducing moments, though? “We knew what we were getting,’’ he said. “It goes with the territory. It’s sports talk.’’
Ronayne said the way Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton cover both sports and pop culture “really captures, in a way, what the network is all about.’’
In part that means sports and music, and also offering programming that extends beyond the Knicks and the three local hockey teams.
“The priority is operating year-long, on a 12-month basis,’’ said Ronayne, who among other things this year has added several Giants-related programs.
“I try not to look at it as in-season or out-of-season. It’s January to December.’'
BALKY BACK SIDELINES SIMMS
CBS analyst Phil Simms has been battling back pain all season and this past week finally underwent surgery to correct the problem.
He will take today off but return next weekend.
So joining Jim Nantz for the Raiders-Chargers game will be . . . no, not Jeff Hostelter. But that would have been amusing. Almost as amusing as assigning Scott Brunner.
Instead Dan Fouts got the nod.
MACY'S FLOATS PAST NFL
NFL games were the highest-rated TV show of the week in 28 of 30 NFL markets from Nov. 22-28. New York was one of the two exceptions.
What could be big enough on a holiday week to outdraw Bengals-Jets (15.2 percent of homes) and Jaguars-Giants (17.2)?
Hint: It took a star-studded lineup featuring Kanye West, Shrek, Hello Kitty, Arlo Guthrie, Gladys Knight and the Pillsbury Doughboy to pull off the feat.
Yup, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade booted football with a rating of 18.9.
MSG CROSSES SEVENTH AVENUE
Last fall WFAN escaped its notorious basement cave in Astoria for glassy new offices in Manhattan. This year it was MSG’s turn to move into the 21st century.
The network escaped what MSG Media president Mike Bair accurately called a “rabbit warren’’ of studios and offices deep within the Garden to modern new digs across Seventh Avenue.
The impetus was the ongoing renovation of the Garden, but the time had come regardless.
Some old-school charm – and convenient access to the court and ice – was lost. But the tradeoff is worth it to most at the network.
“This is a real joy now,’’ host Al Trautwig said. “I feel like I have a new job.’’