Archive - Dec 2, 2006
From the November 17, 2006, installment of The Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1968 that NBC executives made one of the worst broadcasting decisions in the history of network television, interrupting their coverage of a football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets in order to show the scheduled movie, Heidi, about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.
There was one minute left in the game and the Jets were leading by 32 to 29, when NBC went to a commercial. No televised football game had ever gone longer than three hours before, and executives weren't sure what to do. Timex had paid a lot of money to advertise during Heidi, and network executives figured the Jets would win the game anyway, so after the commercial break, the movie began.
Football fans were enraged. So many people called to complain that the NBC telephone switchboard in New York City blew 26 fuses. People were right to complain. What they missed was the Raiders coming back to score two touchdowns in the final minute, winning the game 43 to 32.
It was that game, and the storm of protest by fans, that forced TV executives to realize how passionate the audience for football really was. Two years later, networks began showing football on Monday nights as well. And because of that game, the NFL now has a contract with the networks that all football games will be shown until their completion.
This is kind of old news, but I thought this on espn.com was funny...that a joke like this one would create a big controversy.
Michael Irvin (ESPN commentator and former Dallas Cowboys receiver) joked on ESPN Radio that...
Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo's athletic ability must be the result of an African-American heritage.
Irvin later apologized for his comments...
"They were inappropriate and insensitive. My whole thing, what I always try to do, is give people a first-hand knowledge of what it's like in the locker room and how we as players joke around with one another," Irvin said.
"Generalizations about heritage are inappropriate even in jest, and what Michael said was wrong," ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys told USA Today. "We have spoken to Michael about it."
The Big Lead has a transcript. Based on that, I can see why Irvin's statements were a little more inflammatory than than they would seem based on the ESPN story:
"â€¦ [there must be] some brothers in that line somewhere â€¦ (laughs to himself) somewhere there are some brothers â€¦ I don't know who saw what, where â€¦. [maybe] his great, great, great, great Grandma ran over in the hood or something went down â€¦ (laughter)"
Dan Patrick, sensing disaster, jumps in and says, â€˜that's the only way to be a great athlete?'
Irvin comes back with, "No, that's not the only way â€¦ but it's certainly one way â€¦ [maybe his] great, great, great, great Grandma pulled one of them studs up outta the barn [and said] â€˜come here for a second' â€¦ back in the day â€¦(more sinister laughter)"