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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Neil Best - Boomer Esiason Is Upset With New England's Belichick Over Coach's Behavior After Loss To Colts

Lowering the boom on Bill - Neil Best - Newsday
January 23, 2007

Whatever you think of him as a TV analyst, there is one thing that consistently makes East Islip's own Boomer Esiason stand out from the pontificating pack: He thinks and talks like one of us!

That was evident late in Sunday's 8-hour gridiron gala, when he reacted to the strangest moment of a long TV day and night.

A seemingly nervous Solomon Wilcots had just attempted to conduct an interview with losing Patriots coach Bill Belichick and elicited only two terse non-answers.

Back to the CBS studio! Esiason threw up his arms, shook his head and said, "What was that?"

It was a nationally televised reminder that for all his brilliance, Belichick is not a particularly nice fellow, and is especially hopeless around journalists -- who, like it or not, are a conduit to fans.

Yeah, we know. Any fan would gladly take a nasty coach over a sweetheart if it means three rings in four years. But all else being equal, is there anything wrong with being, say, Tony Dungy?

Sometimes it's helpful to remind the paranoid coaching tree of (please, stay retired) Bill Parcells that helpfulness with the media -- remember: conduit to fans! -- and winning are not mutually exclusive.

Nine years ago, Dungy earned the Pro Football Writers of America's Horrigan Award for cooperation with reporters. Peyton Manning was nominated for it in 2004.

Belichick? Well, at least this week he didn't assault a photojournalist en route to barely acknowledging Manning after the game.

Anyway, Wilcots' encounter with Belichick capped a generally solid day of work from the No. 1 teams from Fox and CBS.

One Fox quibble: Neither Troy Aikman nor Joe Buck commented on the Saints' Reggie Bush pointing at Brian Urlacher as he ran toward, then flipped into, the end zone. The Bears were not amused.

On CBS, Phil Simms and Jim Nantz were their usual cautious selves about second-guesses or criticisms; it would have been interesting to see how they handled Manning if he had not rallied the Colts.

It never came to that, of course, but as of halftime, the bluntest opinions on Manning came from Esiason, who repeated a line he used on a conference call Wednesday:

"If he turns this ball over [again], he is going to have to buy a house in A-Rod's neighborhood, because that's where he's going to belong -- all the money, all the stats and no championships. So a lot of pressure on him."

Tough, but true. One half later, the world had turned and Belichick was the one who looked bad.

Esiason saw the tape of the Belichick interview seconds before it went on the air; he wished he had had more time to discuss it on CBS' brief postgame. He did so on the phone yesterday.

"I was pretty disgusted with Belichick," he said. "I've interviewed him on my MSG show. It's hard. It's really hard. I don't think he does it on purpose. I just think he doesn't know any better. I just thought it was unprofessional."

Esiason left a message Sunday night for Wilcots, a former teammate on the Bengals.

Among other things, he said, "I'm surprised you didn't strangle him."

Grid bits

The AFC and NFC title games attracted audiences that will make them the most viewed shows of the TV season thus far, surpassing the first two episodes of "American Idol." The AFC on CBS drew 28.1 percent of households in large markets; CBS did not release national figures, but that number will fall a bit when they do. The NFC on Fox drew a 25.1 national rating and 43.2 million viewers ... Even Eli Manning believed the penalty against the Patriots for roughing his brother Peyton on the Colts' winning drive was a bad call. He said so on Michael Kay's ESPN 1050 show ... The race to hire Tiki Barber has taken a turn, with him now leaning toward NBC over early favorite ABC/ESPN, a person familiar with his thinking said. A deal is unlikely until after the Pro Bowl ... The current HBO "Real Sports" has a report on disabled former NFL players and efforts to get help from the league and/or union. "The players today are the worst-represented union in all of sports," Mike Ditka says.

Sound bites

MSG's coverage of Friday's Knicks-Nets game drew 1.72 percent of households, compared with 0.65 on YES ... TV pros long have tried to translate hockey to a small screen, with Peter Puck to glowing pucks. Now this: Rail Cam. Versus showcases it for the All-Star Game tomorrow; it's a camera that runs on a rail above the glass. Worth a try ... CBS and DirecTV extended DirecTV's deal to show out-of-market NCAA Tournament games. But the big question is whether Major League Baseball will, as many expect, sell out-of-market rights exclusively to DirecTV, cutting out cable customers. An MLB spokesman said nothing is final despite a report in The New York Times that a deal is near ... Derric Rossy, a heavyweight out of Medford, fights Eddie Chambers on Feb. 9 at Suffolk CC on a card to be

Hooter Girls Are Coming To Bauer's Pure Rush Super Bowl Miami!

Yep. You saw it here! The Hooter Girls are coming to the Bauer's Pure Rush Super Bowl Party in Miami.

You can enjoy them, er, their look...Ah, the fact that they're around. If you come to Miami for the party. Makes logic to me!

NFL, Union Reach Deal on Drug Testing

NFL, Union Reach Deal on Drug Testing Finally! see my end notes
AP Football Writer

January 24, 2007, 12:44 PM EST

NEW YORK -- The NFL and its players union have agreed to more extensive testing for performance-enhancing drugs and have added the blood-boosting substance EPO to the league's list of banned substances.

The agreement, announced jointly Wednesday by the league and union, also adds to the financial penalties for players suspended for using those drugs. Players suspended for using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs will forfeit a prorated portion of their signing bonuses.

Signing bonuses often are the only guaranteed portion of a player's compensation.

In addition to the new test for EPO, the deal includes an increase from seven to 10 of the number of players on each team randomly tested each week during the season for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. That means there will be 12,000 tests each season, up from the current 10,000.

"It is important that the NFL and its players continue to be leaders on the issue of illegal and dangerous performance-enhancing drugs in sports," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. "These latest improvements will help ensure that we continue to have a strong and effective program. As we have done in the past, we will review and modify the policy on an ongoing basis."

The enhancements to the drug policy have been pending for almost six months -- from about the time Goodell succeeded Paul Tagliabue as commissioner. The league and union began negotiating on additional tests and substances in September, but didn't reach agreement until this week.

Those discussions followed congressional reaction to a story in the Charlotte Observer on steroid prescriptions given to Carolina Panthers players by a South Carolina doctor during the 2003 season, which ended with Carolina losing the Super Bowl to New England.

One provision of the agreement increases the unpredictability of random testing during the season and offseason, making it harder for players using performance-enhancing substances to regulate their usage because they won't know when they might be tested.

EPO, which provides users more stamina by increasing their number of red blood cells, is used primarily by long-distance runners and cyclists. That testing will begin this summer when teams go to training camp.

The program also includes additional use of carbon isotope ratio testing on a random basis to detect for doses of testosterone. All players now will be subject to those tests, previously used only to confirm positive tests.

The NFL also agreed to a $500,000 grant to the UCLA Olympic testing laboratory and other researchers for further testing on HGH -- human growth hormone. The league also will establish a group to study issues related to HGH.

In addition, the NFL Youth Football fund, endowed by both the league and union, has approved a $1.2 million steroids education fund at the Center for Health Promotion Research at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Ore.

So we are finally TRYing to get a bit Tougher on players who THINK they can fool the doctors. Only 10 Players ramdomly tested? up from 7??? Thats just Crazy. how about Half the roster each testing visit?? How about if one positive test on a team,..pull the whole team in?? The updated fines are good though.....a good start.

A Little More on Minority Hiring In Football

A Little extension on Zennie's Impassioned Plea from the other day. See My take at the end.

Johnette Howard
Time to get schooled on college hiring
January 24, 2007

When Chicago's Lovie Smith and Indianapolis' Tony Dungy meet with thousands of reporters in Miami next week and field questions about being the first two African-American head coaches to take their teams to the Super Bowl, it would be terrific if both men used the platform they'll have to steer the conversation away from the NFL, and toward college football's most outrageous, longest-running disgrace.

Did you know of the 119 NCAA schools that play Division I-A football, only six head coaches are African-American - one fewer than the NFL had last season despite having only 32 teams?

If that weren't already shameful enough to the NCAA, the NFL has progressed to a point where it has retread black coaches. They are Dennis Green, Art Shell, Herman Edwards and even Dungy, if you want to call him that, for the way Indy hired him after Tampa pushed him aside for Jon Gruden.

Though Green and Shell left their teams in the past month, the last two weeks still have been progressive ones for the NFL. In addition to Smith and Dungy's Super Bowl breakthroughs, the Giants made Jerry Reese their first African-American general manager and the Steelers selected 34-year-old Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin as their first African-American head coach.

College football's numbers are an outrage, by comparison. While the NFL's progress is directly traceable to the concerted push the league has made in the last decade since its passage of the Rooney Rule on minority hiring, NCAA schools - a notoriously fractious bunch - have plodded along rather than seriously consider an obvious question:

Would some version of the Rooney Rule - in which NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates - work for them?

Eugene Marshall Jr., deputy athletic director at the United States Military Academy at West Point and president of the board of directors of the Black Coaches Association, says the excuses the BCA hears about the lack of minority hires remain the same year to year: "There's not enough people out there ... The pool is weak ... They don't have enough experience ... They've never been a head coach."

"But I can tell you," says Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president of diversity and inclusion, "the lack of hiring is not happening because of a lack of qualified minority candidates."

So what is the holdback?

A few things, it turns out.

"What it really comes down to are schools' funding people and alumni," Marshall said. "Will fundraisers hire people [of color] to run these places where they spend their money? And in some cases, the answer is still no. We are seeing progress. It's just been far slower here."

For the past three years, the BCA has issued an annual Minority Hiring report card for college football's top two divisions to put a greater spotlight on the problem.

The BCA isn't demanding that minorities be hired for every college head coaching position. In the spirit of the Rooney Rule, what the BCA asks is that minorities be considered as head coaching and athletic director candidates, that minorities are included on the search committees that hire them, things like that. And, Westerhaus says, the NCAA leadership supports and works toward the same goals.

But one difference between the NCAA and NFL is significant: NCAA schools have no hammer hanging over them, while the NFL's Rooney Rule has teeth. The Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 when general manager Matt Millen ignored the league's directives and hired Steve Mariucci.

While Marshall believes accountability is needed in the college ranks, Westerhaus disputes the notion - advanced by the BCA, among others - that the fear of penalties is why the NFL is hiring more minorities more quickly. Westerhaus argues that the NFL's progress is traceable to making the hiring process itself "more and more inclusive" rather than "penalties, penalties, penalties - that's not why the Rooney Rule works."

Oh? It's hard not to notice how the NFL has changed since the Rooney Rule came along while the NCAA has made only glacial progress by urging its schools to do the right thing.

Westerhaus goes on to point out that even if the NCAA regarded penalties as important, getting some binding standards adopted would be extremely difficult because all member schools autonomously set their own institution-wide hiring practices.

But look: Exceptions have been made before. All universities set their own academic honor codes, but the NCAA has approved mechanisms to take back bowl money and scholarships when athletic programs cheat. The NCAA already has passed measures in which member schools can lose athletic scholarships if their sports programs don't meet a list of criterion that include acceptable graduation rates.

Why can't or shouldn't the hiring of minorities be treated with the same import? Why haven't incentives or penalties even been put to a vote?

College sports haven't been held to the fire nearly enough on minority hiring.

The sight of Dungy and Smith taking a stand in the next two weeks would be a sensational boost.

Minority report

Six of 119 head football coaches in Division 1-A are black (5%)

Coach School

Sylvester Croom Mississippi State

Karl Dorrell UCLA

Turner Gill Buffalo

Ron Price Kansas State

Tyrone Willingham Washington

Randy Shannon Miami

Six of 32 head coaches in the NFL are black (18.8%)

Coach Team

Romeo Crennel Cleveland Browns

Tony Dungy Indianapolis Colts

Herman Edwards Kansas City Chiefs

Marvin Lewis Cincinnati Bengals

Lovie Smith Chicago Bears

Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers

and my feelings on the subject: Zennie and I have been going back and forth the last day+ about this. I agree with Both Zennie's Prior post regarding the Raiders' Most recent Hire, and in general that Minority Hiring Practices In the NFL, NCAA, and several other Sports governing bodies are far behind the times. However, most of what Ms. Howard says in this piece above also makes sense. In college, the people holding the purse strings don't always want to embrace change, even if it's the right thing to do. I'm lucky enough to work for one of the Nicest, Smartest football people i ever met. He also just happens to be an African American. But NYC is ahead of the curve on such things, in both the public and private sector.
I also feel that it shouldn't be "Equality" for some, it should be Equality for ALL....
And Yes: there are PLENTY of Capable Minority assistant coaches at the College level(and High School) who are qualified to be head coaches.

Parcells "consulting" again?? Bill We though you were retiring??

This is Priceless! See my Slant at the end!

Parcells as adviser?
Team source says he would be welcome as consultant to GM

Newsday Staff Writer

January 24, 2007

Bill Parcells has been a de facto adviser for the Jets in the past year, supplying answers and guidance to both general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini throughout their first season at the helm. Now that Parcells has retired as the coach of the Cowboys, though, his role with the Jets could become more formal.

The man who coached the team from 1997-99 and was the general manager in 2000 could soon return as a consultant, a move that would be welcomed by the Jets, according to a team source.

"There have been no conversations," the person said, "but you always want to leave the door open."

Unlike some of his other coaching stops, Parcells' departure from the Jets was relatively amicable. He has a solid relationship with owner Woody Johnson and has been a mentor for Tannenbaum and Mangini. It was Parcells who originally hired Tannenbaum for the Jets in 1997. Had Parcells accepted the coaching job in Tampa Bay after the 2001 season, he likely would have taken Tannenbaum with him as a general manager there.

Both Mangini and Tannenbaum have said they run many of their football ideas past Parcells before moving forward on them. His blessing is believed to have been influential in the Jets' decision to hire Mangini last winter, a move largely orchestrated by Tannenbaum.

Parcells has made no indication he wants to return to the Jets, or to the NFL for that matter. He will likely be wooed by television networks that will offer more money than the Jets for his on-air analysis. But if he does rejoin Gang Green, he would likely find the non-demanding role as consultant a semi-retirement that would allow him to maintain a position in the league while avoiding the day-to-day minutiae that he said was a part of his decision to leave the Cowboys. He would also add clout -- and two Super Bowl rings -- to the Jets' front office.

And My Take:
Yeah Ok: like the Jets really need clout with guys like Mike Westhoff and Bob Sutton on their staff. While i Know that It doesn't hurt to have a "Smart Uncle" to run to with tough questions, how long before Bill gets the Itch Again? or when The Boys Genius have two bad years in a row(like maybe the next two years) and Ol Woody J says " Bill, fix this for me" You don't think he won't step back in "for the good of the team"? It's a good move anyway,....but Parcells will go TV before he takes a job with another team so quickly.

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