Two Hockey Notes

As the Bruins and Flyers get ready for Game 5, we have a couple of notes for you.

First, Comcast SportsNet which has been airing a Bruins postgame show while NESN was unable to air any hockey programming during the first four games of the B’s-Flyers series as NBC and Versus called exclusivity, will again air a postgame show tonight. NESN will have tonight’s game, however, Comcast SportsNet has decided to go up against NESN with a postgame show. In addition, CSN will bring out a big gun to lure viewers. Former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque will join host Michael Felger and analysts Ted Donato and Tony Amonte. Provided there’s no overtime, the scheduled airtime will be 9:40 tonight.

Next, the NHL is crowing about last Friday’s ratings in Boston for Game 4. It’s saying Versus beat both NESN which carried Red Sox-Yankees and TNT which aired Game 3 of the Cavs-Celtics series.

This is what the NHL says in a press release:

The final local ratings for the market are in and Nielsen is reporting that the Bruins beat out both the Red Sox and the Celtics.

The Bruins averaged a 8.3 local rating on VERSUS, the Red Sox a 6.3 local rating on NESN and the Celtics a 4.1 local rating on ESPN.

In terms of households, the Bruin game delivered 200,000 households, the Red Sox game 153,000 households and the Celtic game 99,000 households.

In terms of total viewers, the Bruins easily beat both of the other local teams averaging 328,000 viewers (Red Sox had 223,000 and Celtics had 142,000 viewers).

Nice to see some good news on the hockey front even if the B’s did not come through on Friday.

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Why The Media Loves Brett Favre

Why does Brett Favre have the undying support of so many members of the national media?

Why, despite a full decade of coming up short on the biggest stage, or throwing an ill-advised pass which is intercepted at the worst possible time, does the national media as a whole love and worship him, and certain people in that group find it nearly impossible to criticize him?

I’ll tell you why. It’s very simple actually. He treats them well, makes them feel special, and fills their notebooks. In fact, if an athlete wants to be adored by the press, he’d do well to study what Favre has done.  I’ll give you a few examples.

1) He spends extra time with the TV broadcast crew on Friday/Saturday.

When a broadcast crew is assigned a particular game, a portion of time is set aside for them to sit down and talk with a few key members of each team. It’s usually the quarterback, perhaps the head coach, and a few other players of note for that game. They come in, and talk for usually a set amount of time, say, 30 minutes or an hour. I’ve heard stories of Favre spending three hours in these sessions, to the point that the crew need to leave. He’ll just sit there and answer any question, shoot the breeze, spend as much time as they want. The broadcasters love this. Many players dread these sessions, and it probably comes across in those sessions. But Brett gives them all they want and more, so they’re going to praise him up and down during the telecast on Sunday.

2) He has media members over to his home, during and after the season.

This is another sly-but-calculated technique of Favre. Open up your home. Let the media see you away from the field. Feed them. The media loves to be fed. Let them sit on your couch and hang out with you. Let them see you interacting with your family, with your dog, mowing your lawn. This humanizes him even further to them. He’s no longer “Brett Favre, Star NFL QB” but now “Brett Favre, ordinary guy.” If someone invites you to their home, treats you nicely, are you then going to rip them in front of millions? You’re at least going to cushion your words of criticism.

3) He’ll text message them to make them feel special.

Wow…Brett Favre sent me a text message! He’s thinking of me! He’s my friend! Or maybe he’ll pick up the phone and tell you that he’s just sitting at home, watching American Idol while his daughter chases the dog all over the house. Humanizing. Personal. Not going to rip this guy.

4) He shows his emotions – freely.

Up or down, you know how Favre feels. Whether he’s celebrating on the field, or crying at the end of the season, his emotions are all out there for the world to see. In an era where athletes are “professional” and it’s just a job, and they don’t let the world inside, Favre lets it all out. That makes him something different to the media which craves this sort of thing. Favre also lets the media inside his personal life. He’s had some tragedy and tough times in his life – his painkiller addiction, his father’s death, his wife’s breast cancer. These incidents, sad as they are, are in no way unique among NFL players. Parents die, loved ones are sick, addictions are overcome all the time, but again many of today’s athletes are intensely private about these types of things. Favre isn’t. The media loves these stories of overcoming adversity, and just eat it up. They also remember these times later when he fails, and it tempers their criticism of him.  The press hates Bill Belichick for being robotic in press conferences following games – it gives them nothing to work with. Brett shares all that, and again, it makes him human to them. They love that.

5) His press conferences are long and “folksy.”

Favre is the master of the “aw shucks” persona during press conferences. These are usually marathon sessions in which he answers every possible question. He again does so in a “regular guy” manner getting verbose, and spinning new ways to spout the time-tested clichés of athlete press conferences. He is also an expert at making it look like he’s taking all the blame and none of the credit, when subtly, it is the exact opposite. He helps the media do their job. They’re going to then feel bad turning around and ripping him.

In addition to the above, he’s crafted his public image carefully as well by the endorsements he does. I can really just think of two current commercial series with him, and they both portray him in a certain way. The jeans commercial, where he’s playing touch football with his buddies in the back yard…”regular guy.” The commercial where he is trying to select a new TV and can’t make up his mind – a self-deprecating reference to his constant inability to make up his mind on his latest retirement. Likeable. Poking fun at himself.

I’m not blaming Favre for doing any of these things. In fact, you’ve got to admire how hard he works to keep the media on his side, and why it becomes so hard for many of them to come out and just rip him. As you can see, it isn’t rocket science, either. Treat people nicely, help them out wherever you can, make them feel special, and you’re going to instill irrevocable loyalty in them.

Don’t expect things to change this offseason, no matter what ultimately happens, and don’t expect it to stop after he retires, either. We’re stuck with him for a long time. He and the media enable each other.

Peter Gammons Joins NESN and MLB Network

Just mere hours after we learned that Peter Gammons was leaving ESPN, we learn that he joined MLB Network. That was expected. But was not expected was the announcement this evening that Gammons was joining NESN and NESN.com. This is a big coup for NESN which gets him from ESPN and the ESPN Boston site. Peter will not only be seen on NESN and MLB Network, he’ll write for NESN.com and MLB.com.

Here’s part of the press release that was issued by NESN this evening:

Gammons will serve as a studio analyst, reporter and offer commentary for over 50 of the network’s hour-long pre and post game shows and as co-host of Red Sox Hot Stove and Red Sox Spring Break LIVE. He will also make regular contributions to NESN.com.

“I’m a New Englander who wanted to be Jackie Jensen,” said Peter Gammons. “I started out at the Boston Globe and wrote about Jerry Remy when he was at Somerset High School. I was lucky enough to be there for the Munson-Fisk fight in 1973 and The Sixth Game and the ’78 playoff, and when my local cable company wouldn’t put NESN on our system I signed the override petitions.”

“NESN has given me the opportunity to come back to my roots and once again be part of my neighborhood, and I am truly excited about it. During the 2007 World Series, Matt Holliday said that what differentiated Fenway Park from any other stadium is that fans don’t react, they anticipated, and that creates a tension unlike any other audience in sports. It is a great feeling to be back with that audience.”

And not to be outdone, MLB Network and MLB.com had a release of its own:

MLB Network and MLB Advanced Media today announced that Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons has joined MLB Network and MLB.com as an on-air and online analyst. As part of a multi-year deal, Gammons will offer analysis and commentary on MLB Network for breaking news and special events like the Trade Deadline, First-Year Player Draft, Winter Meetings and Postseason. Gammons will also serve as a signature and regularly featured writer for MLB.com’s new columnist initiative, writing commentary on breaking news and posting several articles online each week.

During the 2009-2010 offseason, Gammons will appear on Hot Stove, MLB Network’s nightly offseason studio show featuring updates and analysis of the moves all 30 clubs are making and planning in preparation for the upcoming season. He will also contribute to MLB Network’s Spring Training program 30 Clubs in 30 Days and do studio work on short documentary-style pieces and other select programming. Gammons will also be a regular analyst on MLB Tonight, MLB Network’s signature nightly studio show.

So the baseball winter meetings have gone from very quiet to very busy with this news about Peter Gammons.

Tedy Bruschi to ESPN, Debuts Thursday.

In one of the quickest transitions from the football field to TV, ESPN has announced that former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi will join ESPN as an analyst. He’ll be on the regular network and he’ll also have a role on the new ESPN Boston site that launches next Monday. Look at the press release:

Tedy Bruschi Joins ESPN as NFL Analyst
Super Bowl Champion Patriots Linebacker to Provide Analysis on ESPNBoston.com and Appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter and ESPN Radio

Three-time New England Patriots Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi is joining ESPN. The veteran linebacker, who just announced his retirement from pro football last week after 13 seasons, will provide NFL analysis on ESPNBoston.com – ESPN’s new local sports site, launching September 14 – and appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and other ESPN platforms.

Bruschi, who played in five of the Patriots franchise’s six Super Bowl appearances, will offer his NFL insights and analysis in multiple contributions per week on ESPNBoston.com, ESPN’s new home for New England sports news and information, online video, and original and customized content. He will also offer analysis on ESPN, beginning this week when he debuts on NFL Live Thursday (4 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET) and Friday (4 p.m.) with host Trey Wingo and Darren Woodson.

As part of studio coverage leading into ESPN’s season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader on Monday, Bruschi will be on-site at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., for SportsCenter and Monday Night Countdown before the Buffalo Bills-Patriots game. Also, Bruschi will attend ESPN’s MNF Chalk Talk Series event at the Hall at Patriot Place that morning (11:30 a.m.), and during halftime he will be recognized on the field as an honorary captain of the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team.

Bruschi played in 189 career regular season games (and 22 playoff games) during his 13-year career (1986-2008), all with the Patriots, who selected him in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Captain of the New England defense for seven seasons, Bruschi helped lead the Pats to nine playoffs, eight division championships, five conference titles and three Super Bowl crowns (XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX). He also helped guide the Patriots to the first undefeated 16-0 regular season record in NFL history in 2007. A 2004 Pro Bowl selection, Bruschi finished his career with 1,134 tackles, 30.5 sacks and 12 interceptions. He is the only player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns.

“Tedy Bruschi has embodied the Patriots and their unrivaled success the past decade, and we are thrilled that this three-time Super Bowl champion is joining our roster of NFL experts as well as ESPNBoston.com, which will give New England sports fans a stable of authentic and familiar Boston voices when it launches Monday,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production.

Bruschi added: “I’m very excited to be joining the ESPN team. I hope to bring my passion and knowledge for the game as an analyst just as I did as a player. I look forward to the national exposure of covering the entire league while also having the opportunity to stay close to my roots here with ESPNBoston.com.”

In addition to his relentless worth ethic and intensity on the field, Bruschi is equally as well known for his determination and professionalism off the field. After suffering a stroke in February 2005, Bruschi endured months of rehabilitation before he was medically cleared to play football and returned to the Patriots lineup in October. Bruschi was named the 2005 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and the recipient of both the Ed Block Courage Award and the Maxwell Football Club’s Spirit Award.

Bruschi was named to NFL.com’s All-Interview Team for accessibility to the media, and he has been one of the Patriots most active players in the greater Boston community. When his retirement announcement was made, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called him “the perfect player,” and team owner Robert Kraft, citing “executive privilege,” promptly named him honorary defensive captain of the franchise’s 50th Anniversary Team.

Certainly Tedy impressed people when he made his retirement announcement last week at Gillette and supposedly, he was approached by ESPN right after he got off the podium. Judging from his TV ads, Tedy has the potential to be a very good analyst.

Seymour Traded to Oakland

In a trade that certainly shocked everyone in the NFL, the Patriots announced they traded defensive lineman Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders for a 1st round draft pick in 2011.

Mike Reiss in one of his last duties for the Boston Globe writes that Seymour’s salary now comes off the Pats’ cap.

Ian R. Rapoport of the Boston Herald also has a report.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has Bill Belichick’s comments on the trade.

BSMW Fearless Leader Bruce Allen has his thoughts over at Patriots Daily.

Christopher Price posts the entire Patriots press release on the trade at WEEI.com.

Chris also has a report on the trade.

Shalise Manza Young
of the Providence Journal says the trade was a Sunday stunner.

If any other news breaks, it’ll be posted here.

From the Self Serving Department, here are my Sunday links. Enjoy.

You Program The New Boston Sports Radio Station

I saw something similar to this posted by Dallas sports media writer Barry Horn, and thought it would be an interesting topic for Boston, as well.

Let’s say you’ve just bought up a radio station in the Boston area. You’ve got a great reach with your signal and money for talent isn’t an issue. You can sign anyone, even someone already working somewhere else.

What’s your schedule? Who do you sign to fill the following slots:

  • 6:00 am to 10:00 am
  • 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
  • 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • 6:00pm to 9:00 pm
  • 9:00 pm to midnight
  • Overnight?

Everything is up to you. You can have solo hosts, or teams of hosts. You can hire people who are already working at various outlets. (Let’s try to keep it to Boston media figures, though)

What other features would you incorporate into the programming? What wouldn’t you do?

Discuss.

CSN Reports Rasheed Wallace Joins Celtics

Gary Tanguay of Comcast SportsNet reports that Wallace’s agent has told him that his client has committed to joining the Celtics.

In his short post at the CSN website, Tanguay says Wallace’s agent will be a guest tonight on Sports Sunday.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has more extensive story on this.

I also have the Sunday links over at the Fang’s Bites page.