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Media wants to know all about Chip Kelly, but why?

During the recent NFL off-season, few teams were as busy as were the Philadelphia Eagles. Head coach Chip Kelly took over the personnel reins from Howie Roseman and made a variety of moves that included jettisoning stalwarts like running back LeSean McCoy and guard Evan Mathis, and acquiring QB Sam Bradford, back DeMarco Murray and, yes, even Tim Tebow. By the time Kelly was finished, the Eagles’ roster was more than 50 percent different from when the coach took over prior to the 2013 season.

The flurry of action attracted considerable attention, not only because of its projected impact on the team but also for what it said about Kelly and his preferences regarding the construction of a team and the types of players he wanted. It was fascinating stuff, and it all jumped into the rumble seat when Washington Post sports features writer Kent Babb stunned plenty of folks last week with his article that included the revelation that Kelly had been married for seven years back in the 1990s.

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What a dumb way for Colin Cowherd to go out at ESPN

I mean, incredibly dumb.

After 12 years of a highly successful tenure at ESPN, Cowherd leaves on the lowest note possible. He was taken off the air before he could deliver a true good-bye on his last show.

In case you missed it, Cowherd got in all sorts of trouble for uttering this statement Thursday:

“You don’t think a general manager can manage? Like it’s impossible? The game is too complex? I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball’s just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic.”

Immediately, the politically-incorrect alarm sounded throughout Bristol. It gets quite a workout these days.

The ESPN PR department went to Defcon 1 in anticipation of the inevitable flak storm coming its way. Sure enough, it was considerable with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association each condemning the remark.

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All-Star ratings tank shows MLB has work to do

If you are a baseball fan of a certain vintage – and there are those who believe only people of that time period care about the sport anymore – you can remember when the All-Star Game was an unqualified highlight of the season. There was nothing better than watching the pre-game introductions, when living legends mingled with stars on the rise and assorted one-offs, giving fans the chance to see the game’s best in one place, for one night.

Even better, fans had the chance to see uniforms of teams that never made it through one of the few national TV windows. I’ll never forget being at the 1976 All-Star Game in Philadelphia and marveling at the White Sox’ all-black threads and Cleveland’s blueberry costumes. It was a magical night, and it really mattered. Those who supported National League teams rooted for the NL and vice versa.

At its peak, the Midsummer Classic pulled TV ratings in the mid-20s, with that ’76 game’s bringing in a 27.1 number, second highest since 1967. (The ’70 game had a 28.5 rating and a whopping 54 share.) It was a big deal, and no other sports league could come close, just as none could top baseball’s overall popularity.

Although the All-Star Game continues to top the ratings among major sports exhibitions, its popularity has fallen considerably. This season’s game pulled a meager 6.6 rating, the lowest ever and the fourth time in the last five years the number has been lower than seven. This isn’t just an aberration that can be blamed on the All-Star Game. You may remember that last year’s World Series attracted an 8.2 number, the second-worst of all time.

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Big Ten negotiations should be fun, but conference must get it right

Jim Delany has waited patiently. The Big Ten commissioner sat quietly as the Pac-12 created its own network – without a partner. He watched as the ACC created a media deal that was almost poach-proof, in the wake of Maryland’s defection to a certain Rust Belt league. He had to have smiled as the SEC inked a 15-year, $2.25 billion mother lode contract with ESPN.

Now, it is his turn.

This fall and winter, Delany and his conference lieutenants will begin the process of negotiating new media rights deals with potential partners. The current package, which expires after the 2016-17 basketball season, is with ESPN and CBS. The Big Ten Network contract, which runs through 2031-32, is with Fox.

The conference is in a unique situation, since it is the last of the major five leagues to ink a deal this decade. The others have driven up the price, and now the Big Ten will benefit from batting cleanup. The league will no doubt enjoy its advantageous decision, but it’s imperative it makes the right moves, because a lot of change is ahead over the next decade.

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Will Jordan Spieth move the ratings like Woods?

Just when everyone was saying there wouldn’t be another Tiger Woods, here comes a player who actually is outperforming Woods at a similar age.

Jordan Spieth won his first PGA Tour event at the age of 19; Woods was 20 when he secured victory No. 1.

Spieth already has collected two majors at 21. After winning the 1997 Masters at 21, it took Woods more than two years before his second major victory at 23: the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah.

Spieth also is the youngest player to win the first two majors in a season. Woods was 26 when he achieved the feat in 2002.

All in all, a pretty good start for Mr. Spieth.

Now the focus will be squarely on Spieth, not Woods, when he tries to continue his Grand Slam bid at this week’s British Open. And the tournament will be at St. Andrews, the venerable course where Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Woods staked their claims to greatness.

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ESPN’s Olbermann could be next victim of network’s NFL partnership

July stands as the only (relatively) quiet month in the NFL calendar. Teams ready for the coming excitement of training camp and the long trudge to the Super Bowl by dispatching personnel to vacation destinations, the better to refresh them for the hard work ahead. Sure, there are sundry reports from the police blotter, and the league occasionally steps forward with some P.E.D. suspensions, but things are generally under control, allowing other sports to step to the forefront.

But it’s impossible to keep everything relating to the league at a lower decibel level. Last week, Awful Announcing (yes, I love that site) reported that the pending contract negotiations between ESPN and Keith Olbermann could include a mandate from the network that the outspoken host remove the “Commentary” section from his daily program. The reason? It seems neither ESPN nor the NFL was too happy when Olbermann called for league commissioner Roger Goodell’s resignation following last year’s ham-handed approach to the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

Throughout his tempestuous relationship with ESPN, Olbermann has done plenty to anger his employers, to the point where one former colleague said that Olbermann doesn’t just “burn bridges; he napalms them.” That behavior led to Olbermann’s first banishment from Bristol. Should he balk at removing his ability to comment on all things sports during his half-hour window, Olbermann could be leaving Connecticut for a second time. This time, the departure would be less due to his acquired-taste personality (some would say it’s more abrasive than anything else) and more because he had upset the NFL, something we have learned is a no-no – Hello, Bill Simmons – in the ESPN world.

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SI’s Richard Deitsch discusses significance of Outside The Lines in its 25th anniversary

Sports Illustrated

On Monday, Sports Illustrated senior editor Richard Deitsch credited ESPN for its commitment to investigative journalism and noted the significance of ESPN program, Outside The Lines. OTL debuted on May 7, 1990 and to commemorate the 25th year anniversary, ESPN will air a primetime special on Tuesday, July 7.

Deitsch spoke with OTL staff members to discuss the importance of OTL and investigative journalism in today’s media landscape.

“I think the biggest reason that OTL is important in today’s sports media landscape is that it is really the only daily sports journalism show on TV right now, Monday-Friday and on Sunday morning. It’s a show that is never afraid to tackle a topic, whether it be sexual assault, sexual abuse, concussions, youth sports, gay athletes, performance enhancing drugs, racial issues, hurtful nicknames of pro football teams, etc. OTL has been a leader in many of these areas for the past 25 years and I expect the show to continue to be a leader going forward. If there is an important topic in the sports world, you can almost be guaranteed that OTL will cover it in some way.” – David Brofsky, senior coordinating producer


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