By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

*Gambling

UPDATED MONDAY NIGHT – Mostly earneest hat-tips to ESPN for its coverage of this particular game’s far-reaching impact. But we emphasize “mostly.” The morning SportsCenter hotsie-totsie tandem of Josh Elliott and Hannah Storm did more of the insulting footsie playing regarding the gambling element, but the reliable daily “Outside the Lines” with Bob Ley hosting hit it head on, leading with the story on the 2:30 p.m. show. But voting at SportsNation indicated the Donovan McNabb OT comments were more disturbing to a vast majority of viewers. (There is a predictable Philadelphia frenzy to bury both the QB and his coach, Andy Reid. This is the same phront-running town that wanted sudden legend Charlie Manuel out of town two seasons ago.)

By dinner time, the network was still walking softly around the two-ton gorilla that apparently is gambling’s innate tie-in with the NFL. “Around the Horn” got into it a bit early in the show, but “PTI” buried a great conversation on the topic by delegating to the fifth story of the first block (with a minute-thirty discussion). Tony Kornheiser was as bold as anyone getting Disney money could be and said the NFL has a “tacit agreement with gambling.”

As does ESPN itself, of course.

• Don’t bother looking for coverage of the gambling angle at NFL.com. We couldn’t find any and the game was terribly underplayed considering it was an historic game (first-ever 11-10 score).

• With news that “PLAY” magazine, the New York Times sports quarterly is ceasing operations, there comes the logical question of what that news may mean for the Boston Globe’s newest offerring, “OT.”

The differences are significant enough – pay (OT is 50 cents) vs. free(ish); newsprint vs. glossy; weekly vs. quarterly – to think it won’t immediately spell doom for “OT,” but it certainly isn’t encouraging news. Our own, random and very unscientific survey of stores carrying the Globe’s offering has revealed significant stacks of unsolds on various racks.

Simple fact is, it may not be the time to be experimenting with print products. The money may be better spent experiemnting digitally.

Something to keep an eye on anyway.

• Back to hibernation now. . . Thanks.

SUNDAY NIGHT, ORIGINAL POST
Time for a brief emergence from the hibernation headquarters in Hull as the Pittsburgh-San Diego finish on Sunday night (which pre-empted the President-elect on “60 Minutes”) will surely be a hot topic to start the week (and, indeed, already emerged on Sunday night.

A good summary of what happened in the final seconds can be found here, but our focus in more on the outright hypocrisy of both CBS and NBC (via Neil Best at Newsday) in avoiding direct mention of the point spread.

During the game on CBS with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, Nantz only alluded to the interest that the final play would draw for some. He certainly never mentioned the 4.5 point spread (with the home-standing Steelers as favorites) as the confusing ending was made even clunkier by the unspoken intrigue caused by the millions of dollars that were at stake for gamblers across America.

But heaven forbid any of the NFL’s treasured partners should ever let-on that, you know, people like football for more than just the Wildcat Offense. Are they protecting the “integrity of the game”? Don’t they already do that by ignoring the steroid issue in the NFL?

Later, on NBC’s embarrassingly choppy Sunday Night halftime show (Cowboys/Redskins), Bob Costas would only tiptoe around the point spread issue. The lack of commentary was made even more awkward with a shaky edit job with Costas trying to prod Cris Collinsworth into commenting on the matter as Collinsoworth squirmed away on his desk chair.

(Also, on ESPN’s SportsCenter “Blitz,” Chris Berman avoided mentioning the off-shoots of the reversed call.)

There is clearly some kind of agreement (oral or written) in place between the broadcast (and cable?/) networks and the league to not mention point spreads and gambling. Incredibly, ESPN is one of the only hopes in generating a full and open discussion of the bizarre finish and obvious gambling implications. Shows like “Around the Horn” and “PTI” (among others) are obligated to explore the gambling angle through discussion, even with Monday Night Football airing on the ‘Net that same night.

Really, any discussion of the game (written, spoken or crayoned) needs to AT LEAST mention the finish as it relates to the gambling aspect. We’d even argue the AP Story should have mentioned the spread (perhaps in the part where the official admits the final decision was the wrong one?).

• The fantasy impact is probably pretty negligible I would guess, but there’s certainly someone, somewhere who got hosed by not getting credit for a Pittsburgh defensive score. What do you wanna bet it’s the Sports Grouch’s buddy JerkO?

• More of the early chatter on the game’s ending and its ramifications. And here.

• Not surprisingly, no mention of the “Chaos by The Confluence” in this CBS recap:

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

Scott’s first book, with Memphis Coach John Calipari, is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009.