NBierma.com File

Monday, December 02, 2002

E-mail rec'd, re: Olbermann reax:

Most of this information has been widely circulated in rumors and second-hand
accounts since Olbermann's departure. To this day, I think it was a
"lose-lose" for ESPN and for Keith Olbermann. His exit led to the
ascent (or BAD scent) of Stuart Scott, which then enlightened us to the ebonics we never
knew ... or wanted to know ... like "pimp-slapped" and "shakin'
what yo' mama gave ya".

There is no worse hiring in the history of sports television than ESPN's of
Stuart Scott. I cringe with disgust every time I see his ugly, dim-witted mug
on the Sportscenter set. He is an idiot - but worse, he THINKS he is
knowledgable ... and somehow, he has fooled the ESPN execs. Or, in my cynical
view, fills a quota with a stereotype that keeps black viewers quiet. A
minstrel character, like J.J. on "Good Times", which demeans and
insults black Americans. Rather than promote and reward solid performers and eloquent
speakers like David Aldridge and Mike Tirico ... Scott receives the bulk of
the network's "pop" promotion. If I have to hear one more story about
Stuie's glorious athletic accomplisments ... on the little league fields - I'm not
joking, he actually does this ... I will vomit. Again.

The intellectual banter of Olbermann and Patrick was classic comedy. It was
truly witty, funny, provocative, and informative. It riveted you on each
episode, and left you eagerly anticipating the next one. Olbermann's fatal
flaw was exactly what he outlined - obsessive compulsive, paranoid, insecure
perfectionism. His career has never quite gotten back to where it was prior
to his departure from ESPN. This may be his first attempt to get back in the
network's good graces, but we've all heard a lot of bridges were burned - by
Olbermann - that may prevent his ever from happening.

Kenny Mayne approaches Olbermann's wit, dry humor, and timing - if not the
vast knowledge of sports history.

Trey Wingo is steadily improving, and Rich Eisen is decent. John Anderson has
made significant strides in carving out a niche personality, armed with an
overt sense of humor.

Scott Van Pelt is still a golf reporter doing sports news, but that may be an
unfair preconception based on his former role exclusively covering the PGA

Linda Cohn is steady and sharp, and has improved her ad-lib abilities.

Many of the rest are largely unremarkable.

ESPN has done a very good job in hiring women. I have always loved Suzy
Kolber. She is cute as a button, but beyond that - rock solid in football
knowledge ... far surpassing the sophomoric blithering of Stuart Scott. Pam
Ward is the best female play-by-play announcer I've ever heard, better than
many men. She can call men's basketball and football games, and you don't
even focus on the fact that she's a woman. Andrea Kremer always does solid
work, and is highly respected in NFL circles. ESPN has avoided hiring eye
candy, based solely on their appearance, unlike Fox. Some may point out
Melissa Stark, but she is cursed by her stunning looks - overshadowing her
decent, developing skills.

It would be a remarkable media event, and potential ratings boon, for ESPN to
bring Olbermann back to Sportscenter. Many faithful, long-time viewers - like
myself - would applaud such a move. For Olbermann to take the first step with
a forthright apology, regardless of any ulterior motives, demonstrated
humility - at least publicly. More importantly, should Olbermann apologize
directly - in private - to ESPN executives, this may be the tonic required to
settle what has been a very ugly divorce.

Bring back Olbermann. Fire Scott.