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Old 11-07-2005, 11:33 PM  
Cochise Cochise is offline
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ESPN role in the Owens saga

Ok, I don't want to start another TO thread, but I thought this was a nice (fresh) angle.

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ESPN also had a role in Owens' demise

BY PHIL SHERIDAN

Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA - To talk T.O., you have to talk TV.

The Eagles' new reality is easy to confuse with reality television. The way this thing played out, the role of Andy Reid could just as easily have been played by Donald Trump.

``Terrell Owens ... you're fired.''

Without removing any responsibility from Owens for the events that led up to Monday's bombshell, it's also important to note that this whole thing was an ESPN production from first to last.

This was "Playmakers'' without the script or the bad acting. Well, without the script.

It was Mike Wise, the fine sports columnist from the Washington Post (and, notably, the one Post columnist without an ESPN contract) who put it best. Wise wondered in print when ESPN became "Al-Jazeera for spoiled athletes."

He was writing about Terrell Owens, among others.

Let's be fair. ESPN couldn't have engineered this thing without the misguided cooperation of a clueless attention-monger athlete and his equally pub-starved agent. What this was, it was the perfect storm of an infantile, camera-starved player and the greatest hype machine in the history of the planet coming together to blow the Eagles' season into tiny little shards of ruined hope.

Terrell Owens is a selfish jerk.

ESPN specializes in selfish jerkosity.

Game. Set. Mismatch.

It is an overused metaphor, but what the hey. The moth is drawn to the flame and the flame turns the moth into smoke and moth-ash. The TV lights drew Owens in and now this giant pain-in-the-ash is nothing but smoke.

Now there are astute readers out there who will point out that The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News have published a combined 3.7 billion column inches of copy about Owens. And faithful readers of this column (thanks to all four of you!) will note correctly that it has been devoted to Owens and Owens-related fallout roughly 92 percent of the time since April 2004.

You have a point. The media as a whole have milked this cow until it fell over. Headlines, deadlines, Web hits and podcasts - Terrell Owens was the "Neverending Story'' until, well, the story ended. Except, of course, there is the grievance and the post-suspension reaction piece and the what-comes-next story and the special edition when he signs with the Raiders in March.

Conceding all of that, here's the bottom line: Take ESPN out of the equation and this is a run-of-the-mill contract squabble between a star player and a football team.

Let's just focus on the sequence last week that brought the cauldron to full boil.

ESPN reported that Owens sprained his ankle in Denver and would likely miss the next two games. This was news because Reid, who has started every news conference since the day after he was hired with the word "Injuries," hadn't mentioned this mysterious ankle sprain after the game or a day later.

So Hugh Douglas, the self-proclaimed "bad-assador" who gets it as much as any player to pass through this hellish sports market in the last decade, called Owens out in the trainer's room. Not a politic move for any kind of assador (bad- or amb-), but let's just be grateful somebody noticed there was an elephant in the locker room.

A day after tussling with Douglas, Owens agreed to a lengthy sit-down interview with 19-year-old Graham Bensinger, a freshman journalism major at Syracuse University - where Donovan McNabb, of course, sits on the board of directors.

And this is where the ESPN factor comes in. Michael Irvin is to journalism what Liberace was to quantum physics, and he had served as Owens' on-air confessor. Graham Bensinger, once he needs to shave, may turn out to be the second coming of Edward R. Murrow, or even Howard Cosell, but for now? He's a kid that Owens figured would lob a few softballs his way.

Here's the best and most telling quote from the interview that was cut to two T.O.-killing minutes on ESPN last week. Asked about how unfair the media have been to the poor unfortunate multimillionaire backstabbing teammate from Hades, Owens said:

"You know, I know how the media is. I know how TV works. They'll throw a question out there and they'll edit it. You know, the way they want to put it out there to the world."

Then, knowing how TV works, Owens provided the sound bites that wound up biting him right on the portion of the anatomy he is such a pain in.

How perfect is that?

This is postmodern self-immolation. Owens' final crime was to echo the brain-dead analysis of ESPN's Irvin on ESPN, leading to ESPN commentators like Sean Salisbury and Mark Schlereth calling for Owens' head on, of course, ESPN.

It was great TV.


Unless you care even a little bit about the Philadelphia Eagles. Then it was just sick, sad and stupid. Then it wasn't reality TV. It was reality.
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:49 PM   #2
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ESPN reports sports 24 hours a day. I think they are up to 8 channels now. Yeah, they are going to blow things out of proportion. How else are they going to fill 200 hrs of programming every day? Pro-dodge ball? Any idiot can see that this is the fishbowl in which he lives. I'm not convinced that ESPN did anything more than what ESPN always does, and that is to fill a market void.
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:50 PM
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This message has been deleted by cdcox. Reason: edit not quote, bozo
Old 11-08-2005, 07:12 AM   #3
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Excellent take.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:18 AM   #4
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While I agree that ESPN was the primary vehicle for this (and cable news in general does this to so many stories), I still wonder how much of a cancer the guy was without the media coverage. ESPN had nothing to do with the screaming matches he gets into with coaches or the tirades on the sideline.

You could almost wonder if ESPN's coverage was the negative PR campaign that allowed the Eagles to justify it to their fans and the sports world. Maybe they would have wanted to be rid of him because of things that happen behind closed doors, but the public spectacle is what saved them from the wrath of fans.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:26 AM   #5
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" Michael Irvin is to journalism what Liberace was to quantum physics "

So true...
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief52
" Michael Irvin is to journalism what Liberace was to quantum physics "

So true...

He is so bad, that I caught myself admiring how eloquent Shannon Sharpe is this weekend.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cochise
Wise wondered in print when ESPN became "Al-Jazeera for spoiled athletes."
Thatís sig material right there.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:38 AM   #8
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If TO wasnt enough evidence that ESPN is more about making stories than showing sports, one only needed to watch the Sunday Night NFL game when Bruschi came back to play.

It was unwatchable. So sickening, I actually came to hate Bruschi for a while.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:43 AM   #9
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One of the comments that T.O. supposedly made, the one about Farve, was actually made by the ESPN reporter, T.O. just agreed with it. It seems as if they were feeding the jerk lines to get him to say what they wanted.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:45 AM   #10
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What?! TO wanting to re-negotiate his $41 million contract?
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:48 AM   #11
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What did ESPN do to make San Francisco want to get rid of him?

ESPN has become a pathetic excuse for a sports station and a news station. But none of that changes the fact the TO is lying in the bed that he made. The guy is a world class A-hole and deserves 100% of the credit for the situation he's in.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jspchief
What did ESPN do to make San Francisco want to get rid of him?

ESPN has become a pathetic excuse for a sports station and a news station. But none of that changes the fact the TO is lying in the bed that he made. The guy is a world class A-hole and deserves 100% of the credit for the situation he's in.
I totally agree.
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Old 11-08-2005, 08:57 AM   #13
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nuff said.
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Old 11-08-2005, 09:08 AM   #14
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ESPN is the Weekly World News of the sports world. I wish there were some kind of alternative.
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Old 11-08-2005, 09:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdcox
ESPN reports sports 24 hours a day. I think they are up to 8 channels now. Yeah, they are going to blow things out of proportion. How else are they going to fill 200 hrs of programming every day? Pro-dodge ball? Any idiot can see that this is the fishbowl in which he lives. I'm not convinced that ESPN did anything more than what ESPN always does, and that is to fill a market void.
Pro Dodgeball tournament, right here on the 'Ocho', ESPN8.
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