By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

Even if you try to avoid IT (not the eBay commercial theme), IT (the Super Bowl) will still consume you. Because even without THEM (the Pats), IT is being forced at you by the Disney company, first and foremost.

It’s Super Bowl week, folks, and we’re here to argue that there has never been more made of any of the previous XXXIX affairs. From ESPN Radio to ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” (with the suddenly striking Dana Jacobson) to ESPN’s “blowing out the budget coverage” – as Dan Patrick has been glibly repeating – the Worldwide Bleeder has been bleeding every last bit out of a match-up that would have been perfect in a grey, gloomy, rainy setting. It’s two starless franchises, from negligible media markets in an event that has become the epitome of why Osama Bin Laden’s followers perceive America as foolish and greedy. The troops President Bush discussed on Tuesday are, when you think about it, defending and honoring our right to put on such lavish displays of opulence. That’s sickening in a lot of quarters.

If we weren’t already so cynical and jaded, we’d probably be outraged. Instead, we immersed ourselves in one form of XL coverage (ESPN.com dominated, per usual) or another (Deadspin had itself a bit of a week as well). And when it was all said and done, or at least almost all said and done, we discovered that Michael Smith , late of the Globe, is beginning to deliver for the Mouse Men in Bristol. It was Smith who was asking the questions when Donovan F. McNabb opened up – albeit sometimes cryptically – on the T.O. sitch-yee-ay-shun. Unfortunately, instead of some additional insight from the interviewer, Smith’s initial story was more transcript than Insider-type opinion. He’s still not ready for that, which is why he was a pre-mature hire by the ESPN execs.

(The following entry has been edited from its original form. We would urge you to read the Shots post of 2/10/06 for clarification on the matter – Shots regrets the error in judgment.)

On Friday, the New York Post confirmed the Bonnie Bye-Bye rumors with some WFAN back-up. Here’s the Velvet Hammer site explaining a bit of at least one Bonnie’s future endeavors. (NOT to be confused with this site . Be sure to check out the fees under the “Registration” tab at B-Squared’s site.)

Bernstein is working the XL for CBS/Westwood One Radio.

Shots, as we may have mentioned in past missives, had one, lone, extended, interaction with Bonnie during the interview for this piece from FHM in 2003.

We shot the crap for a bit, each had a coffee (or tea, I can’t recall) and we also did the photo shoot that made the story’s accompanying shot. She was likable, friendly and sharp. I liked her a lot then and have always liked her work – moreso for college basketball than on the NFL. She’s definitely Top 3 at her craft and I am willing to argue that at length over a pint or 12. Point is, I already have an opinion of BB and it’s a favorable one.

• Prompt a UConn Husky fan about the Super Bowl is this week and they’ll assume you’re talking about the Jim Calhouns vs. the Jeff Jacobs in a battle that makes Steelers-Seahawks seem Pop Warnerish. The black-on-black crime that Donovan is claiming on TO has nothing on the Husky-on-Horde crime underway in Storrs.

There’s no way Shots – or any other Husky Horde Outsider – could possibly do justice to the mess that has spilled onto printed pages, web pages and, maybe best of all, on the airwaves of WFAN 660 AM (January 31). The Sports Information Director (Kyle Muncy) is in the thing knee-deep and every media member is being forced to choose sides. It’s the kind of situation that drives thinking people away from the business.

In a nutshell, Calhoun and Jacobs are having a pissing match of monumental proportions. Among the offshoots of the imbroglio was a bodily harm threat Calhoun apparently leveled against Jacobs after a practice (when Jacobs was not present).
Jacobs let his feelings be known on Tuesday in the Courant and, as some Calhounites point out, was then in Detroit the rest of the week for the Super Bowl.

Shots emailed Jacobs to find out what he knew of the Horde’s reaction, how his editors were treating the episode and any other information he cared to share. Jacobs responded promptly and politely: “I’m at the super bowl this week and don’t have a full grasp on the horde’s reaction yet. My paper’s editors have been fully supportive. I’m going to have to wait a week or so to see what the landscape is.”

A sampling of Nutmeg newspapers finds predictable side-choosing and someone called the Courant’s Reader Representative, who does little representing and a whole lot of cutting and pasting.

When you’re done slogging through all of that, you’ll be left with this: Egos clashing, a school fighting to control its spin and a writer who has become the story in a way that would make Dan Shaughnasty proud.

Shots doesn’t know Jacobs personally, but I’ve always liked his writing when I’ve come across it on trips to visit family and friends in Hartford. We’re more familiar with Alan Greenberg in these parts because of his Boston crossover – Jacobs never went that route. He recently encountered some health issues and we’re guessing that no small part of this is a newfound realization that life’s too short sugar coat everything and play the dummy.

Likewise, Shots has had limited interaction with Calhoun, save for a summer weekend spent working on a feature about him for SPORT magazine around seven years ago. I vividly recall sitting in the basement of Coach’s Hartford sports bar with Calhoun and trying to keep up with his rapid fire responses. That was before he had been elevated to the elite status he now holds with two national titles. Frankly, I was always mildly intrigued by the guy – especially the Geno/Jim Hatefest that has festered as long as the two have been sharing Gampel air.

As of late, Calhoun’s pissed off a lot of people and seems to have a rivalry with everyone, everywhere. Calhoun gets under opposing coach’s skins like few others. Just ask John Calipari about him and watch the hair stand at attention on Cal’s neck.

Calhoun doesn’t so much fascinate me anymore as he does frustrate – the Williams/Price thing has been a nightmare and his disrespect to UMass was both petty and foolish.

All that said, this is an episode that crosses all sorts of philosophical and professional conduct lines and we can assure you if The Big Show were emanating from Storrs, the topic would have already been beaten to death. As it is, it’s probably the better match-up of the week’s two ball-based, battles.

(It should also be noted that Shots is hereby extending an olive branch to both parties and, in taking a page from McGrory’s book, I am offering up a face-to-face, fully sponsored by Shots, at a restuarant to be named, in Sturbridge (neutral territory for both men). We will structure the sit down around a meal, but will audio record the proceedings, report on the lunch and then put the issue to rest forever more. It worked well for Menino when McG did it at Locke Ober or somesuch gin joint – whaddya say, Gents? My email’s always available.)

• It appears WEEI 850 AM has re-launched its laughable website but we’ll save you the trip: it’s still second rate and sub-standard for such a heavyweight of the radio industry. But they do have computer-generated, talent renderings including one where the Big O’s nipples twinkle. How very creative. .

• Discovered During Super Bowl Week (DDSBW) No. 1: No one in America gets better logo treatment than Shots’ fave, Howie Schwab. His Stump intro is legendary and this Couch Potato label is simply stunning. I’d wear it on any piece of clothing.

Chuck Klosterman has been blogging the Bowl for ESPN.com as the Boston Sports Guy’s stand-in. Klosterman hit his stride mid-week and although it wasn’t MUST-reading, it was pleasurable reading once you got into it. He still reads better on the beach, in magazine form, but that’s because that’s how I was introduced to him. . . CK is, by the way, beginning to take on some very obvious Charlie Pierce traits. Which is fine, but I do like to let it be known that I am the foremost stealer of Pierce-isms currently on the circuit. Not the best, mind you, but the most blatant. Or so thinks my dog, Percy the Dog.

• Credit due to Michael Wilby Wilbon who, in Wednesday’s PTI, took BC over Duke. He was wrong, but bold and close. And bald and close, too.

• Bill Cowher told folks that “Joey is being Joey,” to which Manny probably started being Manny. Shots is working on being Shots – but it’s just so difficult.

• NAME DROP WARNING: Shots recently had lunch with James Blake the tennis player, and this Jerramy Stevens cat who Joey Porter is going to decapitate on Sunday (during the National Anthem) could be Blake’s Separated at Birth soulmate. You heard it here.

• Big-pimping and big-repping the 617 this week was Basketball Bob Ryan who squeaked out an “Around the Horn” “win” over Woody Wood Paige on Tuesday night. Basketball Bob did a majority of the days this week on ATH and even managed to tell Dick Vitale at halftime of the Duke-BC game that it was time to “turn out the lights.” Even when he’s almost wrong, he’s right. . . Can you imagine, Vitale makes a trip to Boston and neither paper does a feature on the guy because neither paper has a full-time media writer? What. A. Joke. . . Dan “Silk” Shulman, the usual partner of Vitale, was recovering from an appendectomy down south in Florida. (Get well, DS – we love your initials and your pipes!) Aging Mike Patrick filled in and Shots longtime fave, Doris Burke trekked up Route 95 for the contest to ably serve as sideline reporter.

Sasha Talcott’s Tuesday Globe article on the future of the Red Sox radio deal was so woefully inadequate, it was laughable.

Not only was potential player, ESPN Radio Boston not mentioned in the E1 cover story, the focus of Talcott’s piece steered toward the FM scenario, at the expense of other, more meaningful angles. (Aren’t satellite options in play to some extent? Wouldn’t a TV/radio combo be logical in a myriad of programming ways for NESN (ala the “Mike and the Mad Dog” simulcasts in NYC and now, the smartly-used “Mike and Mike” for ESPN2).

I’m not going to claim Cartel bias here; but I will ask the Ombudsfella, Mr. Chacon, to dissect the matter further.

• I became a little obsessed with this Monday item from red-hot Shots fave, Will Leitch and his red-hot website, Deadspin.com. The mere thought of what could be on the Arn Tellem Blackberry was absolutely beyond imagination.

(The item was removed by eBay early Wednesday evening and bidders were informed, in part, it was taken down “for violating of one or more of our policies. Any offers or bids placed on this auction-style listing are now null and void. We advise you not to finalize this transaction with the seller. As stated in the eBay User Agreement, neither seller nor buyer should engage in transactions that violate the law or eBay policy.”)

Jesse Fairbanks, the eBay lister who was offering up the Tellemberry told Shots in an email on Tuesday night that he was likely to be taking the item down anyway:

“I am probably going to end up taking it down.. I talked to my lawyer and he said that legally they probably wouldn’t have a whole lot to go on but could put me through a lot if they wanted too… I myself don’t feel its worth it to take the chance… I do have a couple people that are in the media circuit that are interested in it…

“I have not heard anything from (Tellem’s) people… I thought I would… Problem with the bidding is that people don’t think its real…. Believe me if I was going to make this up it would be a better person then Arn Tellem…. I didn’t even know who he was when I got the blackberry…”

“. . . As far as what is on it… I have to say there defiantly (sic) is some very interesting things in some emails that would put up some contriversy (sic)…. Besides the fact every major sports person is listed with there (sic) name, address and even some has their parents names and numbers… for what reason I don’t know…”

Even with that juicy tidbit, the item has only reached $112 as of 11 p.m. Tuesday night (bidding began at $.99 and the item was scheduled to expire on Saturday).

(Shots, it should be noted, entered the bidding early on with symbolic – but earnest – bids of $19.18, $21.33 and $33.21. I had to outbid Leitch. I just had to. Sorry, Will. The Illini might be a No. 1 seed, I just heard – you got that going for ya. . . ).

Interestingly, one of the final bids before the item was removed came from an Ebayer, JFEINSTE. Being the curious type, we emailed to see if it was John Feinstein, the sports writer with the cottage book industry. We got no response.

Fairbanks is an eBay Power Seller who appears to deal in handheld devices – his member name is “pdasource” – and his overall ratings are high (look how quickly this goes all Entwistle. . .) The item was listed as being in Westbrook, ME, six miles west of Portland.

Even with the item taken down, Shots guess is that the ArnBerry will wind up in the WRONG hands – but we’re skeptics by nature. And nurture.

• Discovered During Super Bowl Week (DDSBW) No. 2: A good friend recently pointed out that I should love Lisa Loeb. So I do.

Problem is, she’s limiting her reality show to NY and LA – What about Hull?

It’d never work anyway – I only fit her description to a freaking T .

• The only you thing you REALLY need to read this week is USA Today’s GREEN section cover story by David Lieberman.

• A picked up piece after Shots (and Editor Extraordinaire, Jerry Spar) did a coupla Boston Sports Review segments with Easy Ed Berliner at CN8 on Thursday evening: Big Red, Ed, will have MLB Insider and mlb.com Red Sox contributing writer Mike Petraglia

• Discovered During Super Bowl Week (DDSBW) No. 3: A Wonk for Detroit.

• There is no need to give Mitch Albom anymore page views than he already gets. But I still gotta do it. Nothing wrong with praising the well-done.

• Boston-bred, Andy Katz, the AK 47 got some airtime with Miss America during the OK-TX game on ESPN Saturday night. We’re hoping AK 47 can get that sweetie to the Runyon’s party this year. Not that Cav would let her in, of course.

• My prediction? If I’m awake for the fourth quarter, it will be the biggest upset since Joe Willie. Enjoy, be safe and raise one to Bishkie on a day he always enjoyed.

“I got boxes, David – what do they mean?” he would always ask around this time of year. Same routine in March when we’d fill out the bracket long-distance.

That’s what you miss, if you were wondering. Stupid little shit like that.

David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shots@bostonsportsmediadotcom