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Media must look at Newton’s bad behavior fairly

It doesn’t matter whether Cam Newton left the post-game press conference podium after Carolina’s Super loss because he was upset with the line of questioning, upset with what he heard from a nearby Denver player or merely upset at losing the biggest game of his career, his actions were plain wrong. After several weeks of trying to convince us that he was the new face of the NFL, Newton spent every penny of whatever capital he had accrued with his premature, immature departure.

The work begins now for both the quarterback and those who cover him and the NFL. Newton’s situation is pretty straightforward. He can either try to defend his actions by creating some sort of contrived narrative about how everybody is after him – for a variety of reasons – or he can move forward by apologizing and vowing to improve in the future.

Newton’s behavior was a stark juxtaposition to how he handled himself throughout the Panthers’ 17-1 run-up to the Super Bowl. When addressing the media, he usually did so dressed sharply, and his approach was direct, engaging and, when necessary, tough.

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Sunday can’t come soon enough for those fed up with hype

If you happen to believe that members of the winning team in Super Bowl 50 will dump green Gatorade over their coach’s head, get to Vegas right now and throw down a few bucks. You’ll get 6-1 odds. The blue stuff is running at 5-2.

As ridiculous as placing that bet may sound, it is almost sane compared to the hysterical avalanche of promotional efforts leading up to Sunday’s kickoff. Things have been relatively sane the past week or so, but as the game approaches, fans will be overwhelmed by media coverage that makes the political landscape seem reasonable.

This is the problem we face as an ever-expanding collection of NFL propaganda partners vies for our attention ahead of American sports’ biggest spectacle. With little news to report, considerable time and space to fill and a plethora of outlets competing for crumbs, the by-product of the week leading up to the Super Bowl is largely promotional content.

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NSJC Pod 0008 – Lucas Mayer

IU alumnus and current sports anchor and reporter Lucas Mayer joins NSJC assistant Ben Wittenstein in the latest edition of the NSJC Pod.

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Hiring females represents progress, but doesn’t stem resistance

Anyone who doesn’t recognize the irony in the fact that the NFL will hold a Women’s Summit a couple days before Super Bowl 50 hasn’t been paying much attention to the league over the past few years. While people like Greg Hardy have their suspensions for assaulting women dropped from 10 games to four and find jobs easily in the league, the folks on Park Avenue are “paying tribute to the critical role sports have played in the lives of female leaders past and present and raising public awareness of the role they can play in developing the next generation of leaders.”

That’s some fine spin by the NFL and certainly language that could spark some anger by those disgusted with the league’s record on domestic violence. But the league did earn itself some points last week when Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan hired Kathryn Smith to be the team’s special teams quality control coach. That move made Smith the first full-time assistant on an NFL staff and took Jen Welter’s internship with Arizona during last summer’s training camp a step further. Ryan deserves credit for his decision, which allows Smith input into the Bills’ kick/punt coverage and return schemes, as well as the ability to help with players’ technique and influence personnel decisions.

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ESPN must devise strategy to deal with decline in subscribers

OK, show of hands: How many of you are going to cancel your plans this Saturday in order to watch Chicago and Cleveland tangle in an NBA matchup on ABC?

That’s about what I thought.

Building on the success of its Saturday night college football broadcasts, ABC decided last summer to air NBA games in the same time slot. While it’s unlikely fans will flock to the contests, there’s a chance more will tune in to some hoops than would watch “Love Boat” re-runs or whatever it is the network shows on Saturdays these days.

The decision is part of the growing movement toward more major sports programming on broadcast rather than cable outlets that has been going on for several months. While it’s tough to imagine the Bulls-Cavs and future contests will be ratings giants, using the prime-time weekend window for pro basketball is a solid strategy, especially since only the league’s most popular teams will be shown.

As ABC joins its network brethren in trying to attract eyes with premium sports content, its partner, ESPN, is facing some disturbing numbers and must give significant thought to its business model moving forward.

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Here’s hoping baseball hall of fame voters won’t forgive so easily

We still don’t know the identities of the three people who refused to cast votes for Ken Griffey Jr. for Baseball Hall of Fame induction, but it’s likely we’ll find out soon. Nothing stays secret for too long any longer, and somehow the identities of those three will be revealed. It’s likely they left Griffey off their ballots for one of two reasons: either they wanted to prevent a unanimous election, or they believe Griffey was part of the performance-enhancing drugs culture that pervade Major League Baseball during the bulk of his career – even though he was never linked to PEDs.

Griffey received a fine consolation prize when his 99.3 percent vote total became the highest in hall of fame balloting history, vaulting him past Tom Seaver for the top spot. It’s unlikely Griffey will lament the lack of perfection, because the magic percentage for HOF inclusion is 75, not 100. For many players, 75.1 percent would be just fine.

Mike Piazza will join Griffey on the stage at Cooperstown this summer, thanks to his relatively modest – by comparison – 83 percent figure. Both were considered strong candidates for inclusion this year, and each has unassailable hall of fame credentials, based solely on statistics. Their numbers are certainly impressive. They will be part of the hall’s annual celebration and will be forever part of the Cooperstown elite.

They are also players who spent large portions of their careers during the steroid era of 1995-2008, when baseball stats swelled to unprecedented levels, and anybody who thrived under some level of suspicion.

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Note even ESPN’s shameless promotion can save semifinals ratings

Anyone who spent time during the past two-plus weeks watching the seemingly endless parade of college bowl games on ESPN couldn’t help but be exposed to the halftime show “reports” about the Dec. 31 College Football Playoff semifinal matchups. As the Military Bowl participants headed to the locker room for some rest and refreshment, viewers were subjected to 15-minute Orange and Cotton Bowl commercials, which were disguised as actual news items.

It was an embarrassing display of self-promotion by a network that has become more known lately for its self-aggrandizing content than for its credibility. By stuffing bowl broadcasts with reminders that it would be telecasting the semifinals, ESPN reduced itself further to a carnival barker trying to get the attention of people who weren’t quite sure they wanted to see what was inside the big tent.

Endless SportsCenter segments on location at the bowl sites supported the halftime propaganda, along with “inside” access to practice footage. ESPN broadcast snippets of players’ press conferences, even if they provided no substantive content, aired footage of talent mugging for the cameras with players and basically sold what’s left of its journalistic soul to generate interest in the games.

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