Monday, October 10th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, October 10, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With the Oakland Raiders wearing decals on their helmet yesterday to honor the passing of Raiders’ owner Al Davis, sports media went into overdrive over the weekend to honor one of the founding fathers of modern American football. Davis died Saturday at in Oakland at the age of 82 and the Raiders had won three Super Bowls for him over the years.

Here are a few quotes from executives and media personalities about the legacy of Al Davis:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: “He had a tremendous impact on the NFL as a commissioner, an owner, coach, general manager and no one loved the game of football more than Al Davis.”

FOX’s Howie Long, who played 13 seasons with the Raiders: “There are many from this generation who will judge Al Davis by the last 10-plus years or by his many legal battles with the league. But what I would want today’s generation to know is that yesterday the NFL lost a titan, a man who more than any other helped shape the league and the game you see played today… He was an AFL maverick, forcing the NFL-AFL merger as commissioner, a successful owner and coach with the Raiders, winning three Super Bowl titles and an AFL Championship. He was also a pioneer, hiring the league’s first modern era African-American head coach in Art Shell and also the league’s first Latino head coach in Tom Flores.

CBS’s Bill Cowher: “When you think of Al Davis there is no question about the fact that he was well respected. I think of two words that come to mind, confrontational number one. At league meetings he was the guy that would stand up to the Commissioner, speak outwardly about rules and always abstained when it came to voting. And number two, controlling. Word had it, he would call in to the coaches booth if he wanted that ball thrown down the field. And he would say I want more bump and run, man to man. The guy was respected, but he was also confrontational and controlling.”

ESPN’s Tom Jackson: “When I finished playing professional football, one of my first assignments the next year as training camp started was to go to Raiders camp and cover it. I get out there, and the night before, about 11 o’clock, I get a call from the Raider organization saying, ‘You can’t come out here and cover the team tomorrow.’ And I was like ‘Why?’ They go, because Al (Davis) is not comfortable with you seeing the Raiders practice having been a Denver Bronco for so long.”

NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci: “Part of his legacy was that he was ahead of his time in many areas, both on and off the field….Before the Rooney Rule, before Affirmative Action and Title IX were law, he was already hiring.”

ESPN’s Bill Parcells: “I was still playing college football and I met him (Al Davis) in 1963 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was the coach of the team. It was one of these games that you got paid $600 if you won the game and $400 if you lost. During the course of the week, I was able to spend time with him in the lobby of the hotel at night talking football. He was kind of surprised that I was interested in learning what he knew at that age. Unfortunately, during the week, I broke my hand in three places on a Wednesday. Of course there are no replacements available in those all-star games. So he said  ‘Are you going to play or not?’ I said, ‘Yea, I’m going to play.’ Strangely enough, after the game, he came up to me and he handed me an extra $200 and he said, ‘Thanks a lot.’ That was the beginning of a 48 year friendship that existed until this week.”

FOX’s Michael Strahan: “My generation knows who Al Davis is but I don’t think everyone knows the impact that Al Davis had not just only on the Raiders, but on the NFL. I would like to encourage my generation, younger generations if you don’t know, go out and look up Al Davis. Find out what he did because he was one of the guys who made the game what it is today. We love the product that we have now and Al Davis is a big part of it.”

On the air

TBS wrapped up coverage of the MLB National League Division Series on Friday with a double header that averaged 6.1 million total viewers and a 3.8 household rating, according to Nielsen overnights. Game five of the Cardinals/Phillies pulled almost 8.4 million viewers to make it the most watched NLDS game ever on cable television. Based on metered market ratings,the games made TBS the highest-rated network on Friday in cable and number two in all of television. TBS wrapped up the opening round of the MLB post-season with an average of nearly 4.2 million viewers and a 2.7 rating through the 19 games.

Meanwhile, FOX’s coverage of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Fox, Tigers/Rangers held off a challenge from college football on Saturday night, with the game pulling 5.97 million viewers as well as a 1.7 rating/6 share among A18-49, according to Nielsen’s fast nationals. ABC’s broadcast of the Ohio St./Nebraska game was right behind in the demo with a 1.6/5 and 5.12 million viewers.

NBA owners and players held a last-minute meeting last night in an effort to save the entire NBA season, which league executives have said that would begin cutting tomorrow if there isn’t an agreement in place with the first 100 games now at risk.

The ACC has officially opened up discussions to update their television contract with ESPN. With the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the conference, league officials utilized a provision to renegotiate the 12-year, $1.86 billion contract with the hopes that the new deal would be closer to what conferences such as the Pac-12 is receiving. Another factor, according to executives, is that the additions could allow the ACC to formally begin looking at a modified national ACC Network using third tier rights, similar to the Big Ten and Pac-12, with ESPN as a possible partner.

ESPN is turning from Hank Williams, Jr. to Barry Sanders, who will debut tonight in the new opening of Monday Night Football. Sanders is expected to narrate the opening between the Lions and Bears. Reports state that Sanders will not become a regular opening act for the long-running sports staple, however.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Sunday that the NFL is game for a second regular season contest in London and the move will be discussed with owners this week. This year the Buccaneers and Bears will play the annual game on Oct. 23.

Sponsorship & Promotion

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France told reporters that the organization is in discussions with Sprint to remain the title sponsor of the sport’s top racing series.

Meanwhile, General Mills is making Wheaties a co-primary sponsor of Jeff Burton’s No. 31 at Richard Childress Racing. Wheaties will now replace Cheerios as the focus of the sponsorship.

The NFL has promoted Renie Anderson to Vice President of Business Development, Sponsorship & Media Sales for the league. Anderson has worked with the NFL for six years.

The Jacksonville Jaguars needed a lifeline to avoid a blackout this weekend. The team failed to sell of the required tickets for their game against the Bengals, before Anheuser-Busch InBev jumped in to pick up the 3,000+ tickets remaining for the game and allowing the team to be seen locally.

The New York Rangers and Volkswagen of America are taking their relationship to the next level, inking an extension to their multi-platform marketing partnership for the 2011/12 season. The deal includes arena, online and on-air activation as well as the return of the in-arena fan contest, the Shoot. Score. Drive. challenge.

Digital Fields

Xbox Live is bringing the octagon to audiences in a whole new way. Microsoft announced that a UFC channel will launch on Dec. 1 for subscribers of the service. The platform will let fans order live events as well as choose on-demand content from the promotion. Social features will show who users think will win a fight and compare fighter records. The first broadcast available for the app will be UFC 140 which takes place on Dec. 10.

A new web series is out to prove that it’s never too late. The series, dubbed The Dan Plan, follows former commercial photographer Dan McLaughlin was he attempts to prove or disprove the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of something. In this case, that would be his goal of making it to the PGA Tour by becoming a master of golf. The series can be viewed at

The Main Event

MLB playoffs continue with Tigers/Rangers on FOX at 4p while the Cardinals/Brewers square off on TBS at 8p.

ON THIS DAY in 1908: The Baseball Writers Association is formed

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: For which college did Dwyane Wade play? Answer: Marquette. Kudos: Bob Rathbun – FOX Sports South/Raycom Play-by-Play/Atlanta; Phyllis McQuillan – MSG Media/NY; Christy Burrows – NASCAR/Charlotte; Corey Goff – Turner Sports/Atlanta; Joanna Kuebel – Entertainment Studios/Chicago; Mike Patterson – Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Elizabeth Conlisk – BTN/Chicago; Tim Allen – Tennis Channel/Chicago; Chriss Flynn – c media i/Denver; Greg Moloznik – GLM Media Dynamics/Scottsdale; Anne Wettig – FX Network/LA; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; Brent Silacci – Comcast Spotlight/San Francisco; Paul Barrere – Telerep/LA

In The Know:  Which head coach has the most wins for Al Davis and the Raiders?  (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)

Later — Chris
 Chris Pursell for Cyn opsis | Sports

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