Redskins v. Steelers – Pregame: Ron Jaworski on Jason Campbell

I had read where ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski had called Jason Campbell his mid-season NFL MVP, but I hadn’t had a chance to hear his reasoning behind it. So when I saw him on the field for pregame, after his appearance on PTI, I took a few minutes to ask him about it.

So did I correctly read that you’re calling Jason Campbell your mid-season MVP?

Absolutely, yeah.

Why is that?

When you look at the Redskins record of 6-2, I think he’s one of the main reasons for it. Clearly Clinton Portis is playing well, but when I looked at every game this weekend, I saw how much Jason has improved. And I saw the lack of mistakes he’s making orchestrating this offense. Getting them into the right protections, getting them into the right routes – very few quarterbacks in this league can handle an offense like that.

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Monday, October 27: Briefly on the Shouting and Eye-Rolling

Let’s get this out of the way early in the day: the beat reporter involved in the Zorn blow-up was Ryan O’Halloran of the Washington Times, and he has a full account of the incident on the paper’s Redskins 360 blog.

Here’s the crucial part:

Zorn thought the subject was about the previous drive (which ended with a Shaun Suisham missed field goal) and his use of timeouts. At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about.

Anyway, I tried to re-phase it more clearly but to no avail. Another reporter asked it more bluntly and Zorn answered.

And I rolled my eyes out of frustration that it took 3-4 questions for us to figure out what sequence he was talking about.

Zorn didn’t like this — obviously. I told him we could chat afterward and that was that. We chatted, looked at the play by play sheet and got on the same page.

This squares with the accounts I was hearing last night (although, unlike O’Halloran, I have since seen the footage and understand why people thought it was more dramatic), and I’m sure everything is square between the two. But if it isn’t and today’s press conference turns into a knock-down drag-out cage match, I’ll do my best to give detailed reports.

Friday, October 10: Guest At The Park – Talking to Kenny Mayne

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne was at the park yesterday, filming this week’s “Mayne Event” segment for Sunday NFL Countdown. There are plenty of people on ESPN whose schtick tires me out at this point, but Mayne isn’t one of them. I got a chance to talk to him about his brief career with Jim Zorn, their similar hairstyles, and how much work actually goes in to making a two minute comedic sports short. (Vladimir over at Cooley’s Blog also talked to Mayne, and asked a few questions about Mayne’s favorite ways to hunt Rams. It’s worth watching.)

Here’s my interview with Mayne, and I’ll have some behind-the-scenes type video from The Mayne Event shoot a little later on.

I read your email proposal for the segment, and I was impressed by how much detail went into it. How long do the actual scripts run?

“They’re all different. For my money, if it’s funny, I don’t think there should be a real time limit. If it’s three minutes, great, if it’s 2:40, great. The bosses prefer things shorter, anything from two minutes to two and a half, which really goes by pretty fast. You need three or four great scenes, a couple of lines, a couple of tracks, and that’s two and a half minutes.”

It’s a full production, though, like a commercial shoot or something on that level.

“Without as many people. Unfortunately, [Producer] Drew [Gallagher] was just reprimanded for wasting company money, so we have one camera. I think on this shoot it would’ve been great to have two cameras to have everything happening at once and not have to worry about reshooting the same reactions. But, yeah, we look at them as mini-movies or mini-commercials … actually, not mini-commercials, but a longer commercial.

“The biggest part of it is just getting people to go along. Most teams are pretty receptive; I’ve done this for a number of years, so they know they’re gonna be shown in a good light, we’re not out to get anybody. I can only remember once when we out and out took a shot at a guy, and it was totally in fun with his blessing.”

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Words Not To Use Capriciously In The NFL: “Tampering”

While the announcement of Vinny Cerrato’s radio show on ESPN 980 was met with two basic reactions (those being mild indifference and frothing apoplectic rage), the actual airing of the show itself was a much lower-key affair. Everyone seemed to realize that it was, after all, just a sports talk radio show and not actually another sign of the coming Redskins apocalypse or whatever. Some fans seemed to really enjoy it, others found it slightly dull, but by that point it didn’t seem like such a big deal and that was it for that subject for the weekend.

At least, publicly.

This morning’s edition of the show started with new co-host Frank Hanrahan introducing Friday’s host, George Michael, to help clear up some business. Here’s a transcription.

GM: Here’s the deal. I hear that there was an accusation of a very serious word, and the word being tampering, which I found to be utterly outrageous.

So, Vinny, I told you on Friday that I didn’t want to get you in trouble. We talked about Lane Kiffin, the coach of the Raiders, and it’s been suggested that there was a call or question of Were you involved or were you guilty of tampering.

VC: You want me to explain it first? Jason La Canfora [of the Washington Post], he called the NFL to ask them, are they not gonna charge the Washington Redskins with tampering. Let’s listen to it and then I’ll read the tampering rule.

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Every Day is Media Day, Sort Of

Let me tell you a little bit about the media’s schedule here at Redskins Park. For just about the last month, every day has been more or less the same: the players would practice from 8:30 until 10:30 in the morning. After that, Coach Zorn and one or two players are made specifically available to the media on a podium, while other players are available as they walk off the field. This is when most of the information-gathering portion of a beat reporter’s day is done. Most afternoons, the whole thing repeats after afternoon practice.

It’s surprisingly entertaining to watch. You can get a sense of what sort of story someone’s working on by watching who they grab off the field: all the players with local ties, for example, or all the rookies. And even if you knew almost nothing about the team — not who the stars were, not who performed well recently — you could figure that out, too, by watching the size of the crowd that gathers when the player comes to a stop.

If Clinton Portis stops to answer a question, he’s immediately surrounded by a mob, but, under ordinary circumstances, Justin Geisinger doesn’t inspire the same kind of reaction.

But training camp has come to an end, which means that the schedule here changes, but it doesn’t go to the regular season schedule just yet. In the regular season, there is open locker room time before practice, where the media can go into the locker room and ask questions of the guys they need to speak to, in addition to the quick availability off the field. But the locker room is currently holding 27 extra guys, and there’s no room to squeeze in an entire media throng.

So we’re in a weird holding area of the season, and the solution for this year is to have the media wait out back, and bring out players for them to talk to as availability develops. As the media waits, their appetite for any sort of information increases — all of these people have jobs to do, of course, column inches to generate or minutes of TV time to fill.

The media waits patiently for material.

The media waits patiently for material.

The net result, though, is that they pounce on whoever is offered en masse, leading to enormous crowds around, for example, Jason Goode.

Jason Goode, mobbed.

Jason Goode, mobbed.

This wouldn’t be that unusual, this week — he did score the game-winning touchdown, after all — but the sheer numbers were somewhat overwhelming.

(Goode, incidentally, came out with his foot in a boot from a case of turf toe. “My priority is my health,” he said of the injury affecting his fight for a roster spot, “being sure that my foot is okay. At the same time, I have to prepare for Carolina.”)

Marcus Mason received a similar reception. Again, not totally unusual, as he’s having an excellent preseason and is making a fierce case for the team to keep four running backs, but watching the crowd converge as he came out of the building was startling.

Marcus Mason, surrounded.

Marcus Mason, surrounded.

(Mason, on whether his performance might help him catch on with another team if the Redskins don’t keep him: “Maybe, but my first hope is to stay here. I really couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”)

And so it went, with Justin Geisinger and Rock Cartwright also taking turns facing the mob.

(Rock on his big run: “That big run was the only good thing I took from the game. I missed a lot of reads, some other details.”)

The schedule will shift again when cuts start, to something that everyone is more familiar with, but this was a very prominent example of how different things already seem around here now that training camp is over.

NFL to Stream Sunday Night Games, Early Response Mixed

News broke today that the NFL and NBC are going to be streaming Sunday Night Football games for free over the internet. Online reaction to this so far has been somewhat mixed — from confusion amongst the commenters at NFL Fanhouse to mild frustration at Awful Announcing to growing skepticism from MJD at Yahoo.

I certainly understand some of the concerns, but looking at the bullet-pointed list of added features gives me some actual hope.

  • Alternative Camera Angles: Fans can choose from multiple extra camera angles, including cable cam and “star cam” (camera following a star player).
  • Picture-In-Picture Technology: Fans can watch multiple video streams at the same time.
  • In-Game Highlights: If they missed anything earlier in the game, fans can access highlights on-demand.
  • Live Stats: Up-to-the minute game data along with player and team statistics.
  • Live Interactivity: Fans can interact with NBC’s Football Night in America cast and NFL Network talent via a live blog.

Okay, so I don’t much care about the “Live Interactivity” — my version of interactivity with many of the commentators during live sporting events is turning down the volume, and I’m fine with that. And “Live Stats” are nice but not all that important in this context; if I’m watching the game on my PC, it means I have my PC nearby, and could check for stats on any of a million sites.

But I’ve been begging for control over camera angles forever, as well as the ability to choose what highlights I see when. A lot is going to come down to how well these options are presented and how effective they are, but if I really could choose to watch, say, the offensive line for a few plays instead of whatever storyline the network is choosing to highlight, I’d be a happy, happy viewer.