Tag Archives: Super Bowl

The Ongoing Battle of Marshawn Lynch vs. the Media

This piece is written by Alexx Klein. She was a journalism major at Indiana U with a sport marketing and management concentration. Currently she serves as the Athletic Communications GA where she is the primary SID for cross country and swim/dive. Previously, she worked as the media relations intern in the IU athletic department, as well as the PR intern for the Washington Mystics. This summer she will further continue her WNBA experience and serve as the PR intern for the Indianapolis Fever. 

The saga began in last year’s Super Bowl with “I’m just ’bout that action, Boss.”

Then, his blatant disregard for the media, and the NFL’s rules surrounding it, continued through to this season. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been putting on a spectacle with the media all year, which has now carried into the Big Game.

According to an ESPN article, in the 2014-15 season alone, Lynch “had been threatened with a $500,000 fine by the NFL if he skipped media day and has accumulated $131,050 in fines since the start of the regular season for violations of the league’s media policy as well as on-field conduct” (Marshawn Lynch, 2015, para 12).

Likely fearing harsher fines and punishment from the league, Lynch honored (some of) the regulations of the Super Bowl interview sessions and attended. He did, however, wear apparel from his line Beast Mode, which will undoubtedly earn him a decent sized fine.

Lynch got creative this time around, adding some variety to his Super Bowl Media Day press conferences. In his defiant refusal to give the media the information they were looking for, Lynch stuck with the phrase, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” for five straight minutes at Tuesday’s session. Wednesday it was, “you know why I’m here.”

However, it was after Thursday’s Media Day session that it became apparent why he was behaving the way he was, and it’s because he genuinely does not care about the media, or anything they stand for. On Thursday, he gave shoutouts to his hometown, his family, his teammates, his charity and his hat- all things that he is passionate about and that carry great importance to him. At the end of the day, he cares what his family and his teammates think of him, not how the media want to portray him to the sports fans of the world.

As a current member of the media, it is often frustrating when athletes do not allow you to easily do your job. However, taking a step back from my profession, I have come to a conclusion that I never thought I would in a situation like this.

It’s brilliant. And I respect it.

He stood true to what he believed in, and despite criticism from the media around him, never backed down. Washington Redskin’s safety Ryan Clark said it was “the perfect end to what he’s done with the media all season.” He finally let us in to his thoughts, what drives and motivates him, and what his perspective was on all of this.

Before last year’s Super Bowl, a profile on Lynch was done by Michael Silver. This profile explains why Lynch reacts the way he does to the media. He said, “Football’s just always been hella fun to me, not expressing myself in the media. I don’t do it to get attention… I’m not as comfortable, especially at the position I play, making it about me. As a running back, it takes five offensive linemen, a tight end, a fullback and possibly two wide receivers, in order to make my job successful. But when I do interviews, most of the time it’ll come back to me” (Marshawn Lynch’s, 2014, para 36 and 38).

I agree with Clark, Merrill Hodge and all of the other commentators who have praised Lynch for his behavior this week. This is not to say that I condone breaking league rules and policy, but hey, he warned the media early on: he is not interested and does not appreciate the attention. He was upfront and nobody respected his wishes.

On Thursday he told reporters he was here to prepare for the game, now let’s see if preparation pays off.

What are the Issues with “Deflate-Gate?”

This piece is another in our ongoing series of posts written by those in academia. This piece comes from Dr. Nancy E. Spencer, a Professor of Sport Management at Bowling Green State University and the faculty advisor for The Maxwell Media Watch. 

By Dr. Nancy E. Spencer

January 25, 2015

Since there is just a week leading up to the Super Bowl, many issues have been raised related to Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess that “Deflate-Gate” will be one of the main discussions. So what are the issues related to Deflate-gate? Since last week’s playoff games, both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have held (multiple) press conferences in which they were asked to comment on what happened.

Bill Belichick held the first press conference, in which many felt that he threw Tom Brady under the bus. In Tom Brady’s press conference he was “peppered with questions for 45 minutes” (Kim, 2015), as seen in this clip. Brady surprised many by saying that he had not yet been questioned by the NFL. He was asked directly if he was a cheater, to which he replied, “I don’t think so,” adding that this wasn’t about ISIS. What do you think? Were Tom Brady and/or Bill Belichick telling the truth? Whether or not they were telling the truth, someone must have known about the footballs being deflated. So who bears responsibility? And what should be the consequences? And why didn’t someone (like D’Qwell Jackson) say something during the game?

Earlier reports suggested that D’ Qwell Jackson noticed that the football that he intercepted seemed to have less pressure than usual, so why didn’t he (or someone else) report it? Jeff Darlington spoke to Jackson, who said that since that was his first interception in a playoff game, and the pass was thrown by Tom Brady, he wanted to keep the football as a souvenir. Time will tell whether Jackson eventually receives the football as a keepsake. For now, the NFL has confiscated all the footballs in order to examine whether they were purposely deflated.

On Saturday, Bill Belichick held another press conference, saying at the outset that in the past few days, he had dedicated himself to learning more about “bladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day ball preparations,” and so forth (Stone, 2015). He provided this explanation to account for the difference in air pressure: “We all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions. It’s a function of that. So if there’s activity in the ball relative to the rubbing process, I think that explains why when we gave it to the officials and the officials put it at say [12.5 psi], if that’s in fact what they did, that once the ball reached its equilibrium state it probably was closer to [11.5] psi” (Stone, 2015, para. 5). Since I am not schooled in how ‘rubbing a football’ might affect the air pressure, I turned to the “Science Guy” (Bill Nye), who basically said that Belichick “didn’t make any sense” (Schwartz, 2015). I must say that I am more inclined to believe Bill Nye’s assessment than the other Bill guy.

Given that the science of air pressure may not fully explain what happened to produce under-inflated footballs, how do you think this issue should be settled? Should players, teams, and/or coaches be punished? If so, what should be the penalties? Should penalties be applied before the Super Bowl? Will this controversy ultimately put a damper on the Super Bowl? And/or will it affect the outcome?

 

What’s up with the Legion of Boom?

By Nick Muhl

The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks have been the topic of many headlines this season. Unlike last season, this year’s Seahawks have been the subject to trade rumors, locker room disputes and their mediocre start at 4-3.

The Seahawks’ serious issues began with the early headline noise that wide receiver Percy Harvin simply did not fit in to the team, both with coaches and his fellow peers in the locker room, since joining them late March 2013.

In a surprising move, the Seahawks traded Harvin to the New York Jets for what will most likely be a fourth round draft pick. The Seahawks gave up 3 draft picks including a first and third round pick to the Minnesota Vikings to acquire Harvin.

Following the trade, and a 28-26 loss to the 2-5 St. Louis Rams, more headlines were scattered of a divided locker room in the defending champions locker room. As we approach the trade deadline, Seattle’s All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch has been subject to the new trade rumors, a week after Harvin’s trade. While a trade involving Lynch is unlikely to happen this season, reports say signs now point to the 29-year old running back not returning to Seattle next season.

In his article published on ESPN, NFL reporter Chris Mortenson cited the following reasons as to why he believes Seattle will move on from Lynch next season:

“The organization has grown tired of his ways, including pulling a no-show at the White House Super Bowl ceremony, his training camp holdout and his possible contribution to locker-room distractions.”

Later in the same article, Mortenson reported that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had known about the possibility of a Harvin trade a month prior to the actual trade. Earlier in the same week, ESPN also reported the quarterback Russell Wilson was shocked to hear Seattle decided to move on from Harvin, the day before their lose to the Rams.

Seattle’s cornerback denies the team has any discomfort in the locker room or concern regarding the team’s record , “If three losses were to ruin the season, then it would have ruined last year’s season, too, because we lost three then, too,” Sherman said following the press conference after the loss to the Rams.

However in many ways the NFL in recent years has been spoiled by multiple Super Bowl winners including the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and New York Giants. in NFL history only 5 teams have started out 3-0 after winning the Super Bowl. There has also only been 7 NFL teams to ever repeat a Super Bowl championship the following year.

So why are so many headlines and fans shocked by the early mediocre record by the Seahawks? They do play in arguably the best division in the NFC, currently if the season ended today the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals would make the playoffs over Seattle.

Don’t put much into media headlines and articles surrounding distress in Seattle’s locker room. The team still maintains a winning record and we are not even halfway through the season. Writer Ryan Gamble for The Examiner put in his article titled, “Marshawn Lynch trade rumors: ESPN causes a stir with Seattle Seahawks Fans, Gamble cited an article written by Greg Garber of ESPN to be the original source of the Lynch trade rumors that spread through headlines the next day.

Garber, an ESPN NFL Insider writer, hypothetically wrote that the San Diego Chargers would be a great place for the running back to land should Seattle ever choose to move on. Garber went into detail what he believed the Seahawks and Chargers would have to give up to make the trade happen. Shortly following the publishing of his article, Lynch trade rumors began through multiple sources of media.

However, Lynch just signed a new deal and is coming off another Pro Bowl season capped with a Super Bowl Championship. The “downslide in Seattle” is merely another case of the media taking a rumor and running with it. This is a great example of how every source needs to checked and follow through before reporting such rumors, especially in this case the defending champions.

Seattle’s remaining schedule includes 5 of their 6 total division games still. They are also coming off a win last week v. the Carolina Panthers 13-9. The Seahawks take on the winless 0-7 Oakland Raiders next week at home.

The Role of Women in the CBS Broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII

BY HEATHER MUIR, PHD

Following the uproar over Brent Musburger’s on-air comments during ESPN’s coverage of the BCS National championship game about Katherine Webb, the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend, I was curious to see whether or not there would be a ripple effect in subsequent television coverage of football games. During the CBS coverage of Super Bowl XLVII from New Orleans, I examined which women appeared on air, how they were dressed, and what roles women played during the broadcast. From a feminist sport criticism perspective, I wanted to know whether the women present during the broadcast were positively contributing to the program or were merely there as “eye candy” for the viewing pleasure of the male audience.

I. Family members/supporters

Mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters of players and coaches appeared during the game and the broadcast leading to the main event. Several behind-the-scenes stories about football players included interviews with mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. In this role, three women stood out: Candace Brigance (wife of former Ravens player OJ Brigance who has become his primary caretaker while he battles ALS), Jackie Harbaugh (mother of Jim and John Harbaugh, the head coaches of the opposing teams participating in the Super Bowl), and John Harbaugh’s daughter Alison. The coach and his daughter stood together on the sidelines during the national anthem, both with their right hands over their hearts. She was dressed in a white t-shirt with a purple long sleeve shirt underneath. Under both of her eyes, she had “eye black” just like the players often wear to reduce glare. Women are often portrayed on television as nurturers and emotional supporters in both life and sports.

II. Entertainers

Cheerleaders, singers, musicians, and dancers added to the entertainment value of the broadcast. As the players from both teams entered the stadium prior to the kick-off, cheerleaders were among those welcoming them to the field. The Ravens cheerleaders wore white crop tops, short white skirts, and white tennis shoes while the San Francisco cheerleaders wore red bikini tops, short white skirts, and tall white boots. During each team’s entrance to the field, the cheerleading squad was positioned on the periphery of those gathered to greet the players. Oftentimes television producers of football games include a shot of the cheerleaders when the broadcast goes to or returns from a commercial break. Throughout the remainder of the CBS broadcast, the cheerleaders were never featured on air. There were no close-ups of the cheerleaders dancing, kicking, or waving their pompons. The cheerleaders were not a primary form of entertainment for the television audience as much as they were for the audience in attendance at the game.

The Super Bowl broadcast featured a trio of female singers. Jennifer Hudson and students from Sandy Hook Elementary School sang, “America.” Alicia Keys sang “The Star Spangled Banner” while accompanying herself on piano. The musical highlight was Beyonce’s performance during the half-time show. Interestingly, all three main female performers are of African-American heritage. Each dressed in a distinctive style. Hudson wore a tight-fitting, black, leather-like shirt with long sleeves and a turtle neck collar. Her skirt was white and knee-length with two vertical lines of small black buttons down the front, reminiscent of a soldier’s uniform. Classy with a hint of patriotism. With this she wore high heel shoes, a green Sandy Hook ribbon, and small earrings. Much of her body was concealed and yet the fit of her clothing seemed to accentuate her curvy body. I wondered how much input she had in her fashion choice and whether her struggles with her weight influenced her outfit that covered most of her body. For her performance of the national anthem, Alicia Keys wore a sporty-looking, full-length, maroon gown. She chose small earrings and a short necklace as her accessories. Her clothing choice reminded me of someone performing at a classical music concert, and yet the bodice of the gown was shaped like a sports bra showing off her shapely arms. Classy with a hint of sporty. Finally, Beyonce’s music, clothing, and dancing set her apart from the other female entertainers. Her wardrobe choice looked like a piece of leather lingerie fully exposing her hips featuring a neckline that plunged past her bosom and down to her waistline. To this Beyonce added long, black leather, finger-less gloves; black fishnet nylons; and long, black, leather boots with high heels. To add a feminine touch, she added a black, lacey, see-through skirt around her waist and hips. During her high-octane singing and dancing, she gyrated and thrusted her hips all over the stage. All of her back-up singers and musicians were women whose costumes were primarily in black and similar in style to the lead singer. Following the half-time performance, the CBS Super Bowl commentators made no reference to Beyonce, her wardrobe, or her performance. However, the following day on the Morning Express show on the HLN channel, Carlos Diaz commented that all of the performers during the Super Bowl half-time show were women, that no men were needed, and what a powerful statement that is for young women everywhere. I applaud the notion that women can perform musical and dance numbers without the assistance of men, but I question whether young girls should emulate this scantily clad, leather teddy-wearing, hip-gyrating entertainer.

III. Reporters 

Over the years many women have been on-air commentators for CBS Sports starting with Phyllis George who in 1975 co-hosted CBS’s live NFL pregame show. Lesley Visser began her career with CBS Sports in 1983 with a few feature pieces and later served as a reporter for numerous sporting events on CBS. In 1990 became the first woman to cover the World Series. She joined the NFL Today show in 1990 and became the first female sportscaster to handle the Super Bowl trophy presentation in 1992. She eventually became one of the first women to provide color commentary of NFL games when in 2000 she joined the CBS Radio Sports group. Since then she has provided pre-game and sideline reports during CBS’s coverage of various Super Bowls. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Visser appeared only once during the Super Bowl broadcast. She introduced a pre-recorded piece on former Ravens player OJ Brigance and his battle with ALS. Visser was standing on the sidelines of the field wearing a green, sleeveless dress with a plunging neckline along with a beaded necklace. Visser, who will turn 60 this year, seemed cold and uncomfortable in the dress as it exposed her arms. She seemed to be hiding one of her arms behind her back, she shifted her weight, and her voice wavered which made it appear that she was uncomfortable and unsure of herself. During previous Super Bowl appearances, she wore suit coats and winter jackets. With all of her talent, experience, and knowledge of the sport, it was disappointing to see that her role was to introduce a pre-recorded video featuring an emotional personal story related to the sport. Women are often equated to emotions, and thus female TV personalities are often relegated to these touchy-feely stories.

The other female sportscaster who appeared on the CBS broadcast of the Super Bowl was Tracy Wolfson. She wore a bright yellow shirt with a black suit coat. Like Visser, Wolfson introduced a few personal stories, but she also provided some game-related coverage. First, she interviewed coach John Harbaugh as he entered the stadium. Had it not been for the power outage, we may have not seen Wolfson again on-air. Male sportscasters, primarily former players, gave the sideline reports throughout the game. However, during the power outage, Wolfson was asked to give a report about how the teams’ office equipment had been affected by the power outage. She reported that bench-side printers and telecommunication devices had been knocked out along with the lights throughout parts of the stadium. She wasn’t asked to give a report about the game from the sideline, but how fortunate they had a woman available to report on the state of office machines!

Overall, women played some fairly stereotypical roles in the Super Bowl football broadcast on CBS. Women are often portrayed as nurturers and supporters of their husbands’ and sons’ sporting endeavors. They are in touch with their emotions and thus ideal candidates for introducing personal, touching stories about athletes overcoming adversity. Female singers, musicians, and dancers often enhance the audience’s enjoyment of television programming. Two of the three performers helped elevate the viewers’ spirits and patriotism through song. The third entertainer merely raised the temperature and heart rate of the audience and demonstrated the definition of “eye candy” and sexualized female bodies. Sex sells, sex brings viewers to the show, and she filled that role during this broadcast. Missing from the broadcast, however, were close-up shots of the cheerleaders in their short skirts and pompons.  Missing was commentary about how the cheerleaders looked or how Beyonce shook her booty on stage. Perhaps this was a direct result of the flack ESPN received after Musburger provided commentary on how young boys need to learn to throw the football so they can bag a beauty like the Alabama quarterback did. Finally, CBS missed the boat by under-utilizing the experience, knowledge, and skills of its female on-air sports talent. Relegating Visser and Wolfson to introducing touchy-feely stories was a disservice to sports journalism and women’s presence in television sports.

Super Bowl post-game wrap-up

BY MATTHEW OSTROW

Super Bowl commentators Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Steve Young did several things well to conclude Super Bowl 47. First, they stayed focused on the game despite the lights going out. Secondly, they did not blame the referees, although many people did, on the last play for the 49ers.

Reporter Sal Paolantonio should also be commended for his post-game interview with Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis. Paolantonio did exactly what anyone should do when interviewing Lewis — he kept his questions short and kept Lewis talking.

Paolantonio matched Lewis’ energy in the interview, which some would say is a bias. But after the Super Bowl, it would be hard not to.

Two particularly good lines/questions posed by Paolantoino to Lewis were, “And then they put the game in your hands with a goal line stand to win it,” and “never flinch.”

While interviewing a player after a Super Bowl win, a reporter should be able to capture their emotions by letting the player express himself. Paolantoino did just that.

Breaking down first-half Super Bowl coverage

BY STEVEN KUBITZA

There were countless non-game related story lines heading into the game between the Ravens and 49ers, but the focus by the announcers was on the field during the Super Bowl’s first half.

Jim Nantz and Phil Simms did a great job of avoiding talk of off-the-field issues. The issues related to Ray Lewis, (possible PED use) were ignored. Those issues were a focus in the pre-game show, but not during the game.

The one story line addressed in the first-half commentary was the Harbaugh brothers coaching against each other. CBS showed their family and side-by-side shots of their reactions to plays. However, it was not distracting.  The focus on the brothers was acceptable because another set of brothers may never meet up in a Super Bowl, again.

Great plays were highlighted, as they well should be, and the broadcast team was fair in giving praise to certain players during the first half. They focused on quarterbacks for both teams and despite the fact that Joe Flacco outplayed Colin Kaepernick in the first half, the commentators were not overly critical.

CBS Super Bowl Pregame Coverage: Taking the Good with the Bad

By Kyle McQuillen

Super Bowl XVII pregame coverage was handled by CBS this year. The pregame coverage was lengthy and had its fair share of great commentary and not so great commentary.

Joining the usual CBS commentary crew were Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, and Clay Matthews, linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.

These two were a great choice to offer commentary for this game. They both illustrated a high level of professionalism and showed little to no bias. Their insights helped the audience gain knowledge on how to prepare for a Super Bowl and what each team needed to do to be victorious.

The main theme of pregame coverage was Ray Lewis and how the Super Bowl would be his last game. Other story lines included: the battle of the Harbaughs and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s improbable road to becoming the starter.

CBS continued the trend of tiring out the subject of the battle of the brothers and even did a segment with the coaches’ mother, Jackie Harbaugh.

The interview with Kaepernick gave a great look into his upbringing and allowed the second year quarterback to explain what being on the grand stage means to him.

The segment on Lewis was poorly done.

The commentators mentioned Lewis’ impending retirement multiple times, which took away from the coverage. Also, they mentioned old news that had been worn out over the course of the week. Instead of talking about how Lewis would perform, they talked about how he has performed over his career, which is irrelevant to Super Bowl XVII.

One interesting portion of the coverage was when analyst Boomer Esiason criticized Ray Lewis. Esiason commended Lewis for a great on-field career, but a questionable off-field career.  The commentary focused on Lewis’ avoidance of Shannon Sharpe’s questions about his alleged involvement in a double-murder in 2000. Lewis was later cleared of the murder charges.