The Age of Reason, as Thomas Paine penned it, was in the late 1790s. Today, we are immersed in the Age of No Good Reason.
Last month ViacomCBS began layoffs of 450 employees from all parts of the company. I know a few of the victims, solid news and sports folks now sweating rent while looking for gigs that no longer exist or pay comparative entry-level peanuts.
The “thoughts and prayers” boilerplate special statement followed:
“We are restructuring various operations at CBS as part our ongoing integration with Viacom, and to adapt to changes in our business, including those related to COVID-19. Our thoughts today are with our departing colleagues for their friendship, service and many important contributions to CBS.”
OK. But that got me to thinking about Tony Romo’s new CBS contract to call about 20 NFL games per season — $17 million per, close to $1 million per telecast for the next 10 years on a reported $170 million deal.
Gee, that seems like a lot, as in crazy-go-nuts. In the midst of layoffs, CBS will pay him $17 million per annum for weekly, seasonal work. And he can’t ensure even one more viewer or ratings point.
Romo engenders viewer love or scorn. Many feel he’s a wind-up talking box with a sandpapered voice — a point that’s tough to debate, even if endless yak is now the senseless normal among TV’s game analysts.
I mostly enjoy Romo’s work. True, he doesn’t shut up, but he’s amusing, pleasantly sarcastic and spends more think-out-loud talk on the next play than the previous one, a welcomed rarity. NBC’s fabulous lead NHL voice, Doc Emrick, talks a lot, too, yet I’m glued to every word. What good would his silence serve?
Still, at $17 million per for Romo, how many jobs would CBS have saved had it drawn the line at, say, a mere $10 million per — still a TV record — saving $7 million per annum.
That’s not to presume the savings of millions on Romo’s contract would have been applied to saving jobs, but if I’m a stockholder I’d sure like to know why CBS would even consider paying a weekly, seasonal employee $10 million let alone $17 million per.
Romo wouldn’t have worked for less than $17 million per? OK, so let him go find that gig. Or some other network might have grabbed him for $16 million per? Good for him and them.
But at 2 bucks or 2 billion, Romo can’t make anyone watch unless he comes stitched to a football game. World gone nuts.
Beware having a public opinion about flag
How would you like to be under attack in a foxhole shared by Roger Goodell? Those telegrams begin, “We regret to inform you …” But back to him in a bit.
It can never be what it is, or what it so clearly appears to be. It always has to be something else, what people want it to be.
And now Drew Brees has been caught in that fishing net:
For years, Brees has represented the best of the NFL, a charitable, gentlemanly professional and steady good deed-doer who never did dirt to anyone. Oh, and a superb QB.
But overnight he became a fully suspected racist for saying something without teammates’ approval. Asked about Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 knee-taking, Brees said he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag.”
Shame on him! He then took a hammering from black teammates. As Brees’ star pass-catching target receiver Michael Thomas, an Ohio State man, tweeted of Brees, “He don’t know no better.”
Then, rather than show the courage of his reasonably patriotic conviction, Brees apologized. For what? For his insensitivity in view of the alleged murder-by-cop of George Floyd, as if that was supposed to instill overnight hatred for flag and country in addition to grief and sorrow. He begged forgiveness.
Too late, he’s now on the RWL, Racist Watch List. He should’ve first solicited teammates’ consent to express an independent thought.
Now he owes an apology to the right-headed for apologizing.
So where is Goodell, leader of the Nero Fiddles League, to defend Brees from such a betrayal and unwarranted attack? He has been spotted jumping on the same bandwagon as the Brees bashers. Friday the commissioner issued a statement essentially inviting more anthem-kneeling.
So fat chance that he would scold of NFL players for declaring holy racial war on whomever doesn’t march to their drummer. He has no courage or sense of fair play.
Just more of Goodell’s standard, feckless, cowardly pandering. Thus he allows the vilification and defamation of a Drew Brees?
Bury your head, Roger! Incoming!
ESPN just Kane’t find right voice
Leave it to ESPN. It virtually ignores the NHL because it doesn’t hold any financial interests in it. But with the alleged murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis PD, ESPN’s “First Take” last week was able to land a black NHL player to speak about it.
Evander Kane, now with the San Jose Sharks, was indulged as if he were the ultimate expert on choosing right over wrong. To that end, he sounded good.
But as readers noted — and as is TV’s habit — Kane should have been among the last chosen to speak on issues of right from wrong.
With the Sabres in 2016, Kane was arrested for his part in a Buffalo bar brawl, allegedly fighting with a bouncer and grabbing an unarmed woman by the throat and trying to force her into a car. In the same incident, read the police report, Kane allegedly manhandled another woman.
He copped to a six-month adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, a six-month good behavior pledge.
He’d previously had hassles with his team, including a suspension for missing practice to attend the NBA All-Star Game.
Last year, Kane was sued by a Vegas casino for non-payment of $500,000 in gambling markers he allegedly blew through while the Sharks were in Vegas for a playoff series against the Golden Knights.
Naturally, not even a whisper of this during the interview.
One can play a round of golf in fours hours and never remove his glove, not even once. Yet MLB batters step from the box to readjust their gloves after every pitch, including those they didn’t swing at.
Will those NFL and college football players who respectfully stand during this season’s pregame national anthem now be identified — targeted — as racists? Or will the anthem become past tense?
Would ESPN have even bothered to air the documentary on Lance Armstrong, the Alex Rodriguez of cycling, if he hadn’t said “f–k” a lot?
Not that it’s much consolation to 32-year NBA Kings broadcaster Grant Napear, fired from his sports talk show early last week for alleged racism by texting “All Lives Matter,” but Atlanta’s black mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms on Thursday declared to her constituents, “You all matter to me.”
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