Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Joe Namath to Giants Stadium: good riddance

Joe Namath will be one of the guests

Joe Namath will be one of the guests on "Joe Buck Live." (Credit: AP)

I now will produce an exceedingly long post containing exceedingly random stuff from my visit to "Joe Buck Live" in Manhattan Tuesday night.

I will not be offended if you don't care and choose to skip the whole thing. But I don't have the time or patience to break it into multiple posts.

(My recommendation: Forget all of this stuff and just read Deitsch's wrapup. He's more efficient and focused than I am.)

HBO wisely addressed the infamous June 15 episode featuring Artie Lange with a video to open the show in which Buck encounters Lange in Times Square and bolts, horrified.

(The studio audience saw Buck pump his fist in celebration after the video concluded.)

I told Buck later I thought Lange looked shockingly like John Belushi in the brief video. Said Buck, "I know. I was standing there when he did that to me and was, 'Oh my God, that's Belushi! Animal House!'"

Buck had made several references to Lange before the show began, at one point telling the studio audience:

"On June 15, I was seated there and he was seated somewhere over there, and it happened: I spent 10 minutes in hell. But it was actually, I think, one of the best things that could have happened to the show."

After the show, Buck said of the video: "All of us as a group decided you can't pretend it didn't happen. I laugh at myself. I've had Artie's name yelled at me for the last three months. If I walk out here and I act like that didn't happen, that wouldn't be me."

Buck took questions from the audience before, during and after the show. Late on a Tuesday night, it mostly was full of young adults and feisty.

Audience members booed Jerry Jones and Curt Schilling before the show began. When they were introduced during the show, they received a mixture of boos and applause.

"That's why I love this place," Schiling said.

Joe Namath received only applause, of course.

I was part of a group of four scribes who spoke to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during a reception before the show. In addition to a curious take on the controversial "Party Pass" standing room tickets, Jones gave props to the winning team, saying:

"Give the Giants a lot of credit. That was a very hostile situation down there. The crowd was dynamic and excited about being there. You can give a team a lot of credit when they come into a situation like that and are able to win."

Jones on the state of naming rights negotiations for Cowboys Stadium: "We have very significant relationships with key service providers and product providers. We're rewarded by the kind of interest that we have had. But our naming rights will come.

"The visibility of this stadium is tremendous."

During the show, Jones used a profanity to describe his state of anxiety about opening a spectacularly expensive new stadium, saying, "I don't mind telling you, I was scared ----."

In the online only "overtime" segment, Namath spoke of his sobriety, which he said has lasted five years this time around. (He began soon after his infamous halftime interview with Suzy Kolber on "Monday Night Football" in 2003.)

"I'm convinced I can't deal with it," he said of alcohol use.

Later, Namath told me this about Giants Stadium as it enters its final season:

"I never played in that stadium and I never liked it as a fan for the Jets to play at Giants Stadium. It was always something that rubbed me wrong." 

After the show HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg rejected the notion the show had swung too far from one extreme of envelope-pushing in June to a more conventional approach this time.

"I don't think we went too conservative here," he said. "I just think we made some smart television . . . We tried to force too many laughs the last time around. We let them come naturally this time around. That was the major difference."

Buck said he thought "overtime" was "the most compelling segment because you have a mix."

The session brought together Namath, Dan Marino and Curt Schilling, who earlier had announced in the TV portion of the show that he would not run for Senator in Massachusetts.

"Overtime" ended with an audience member throwing a ball to Marino, who threw it back. The guy tried to get Namath to do the same, but he declined.

Photo: AP


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