After spending his first year doling out punishment to wayward players and cheating teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took his turn swallowing the medicine this week.
Under political and network pressure, the Commish relinquished control of Saturday’s Patriots-Giants game and allowed it to be broadcast on free TV (both CBS and NBC) instead of holding it hostage on the NFL Network.
So now everyone gets to see if the Patriots can beat everybody — secure in the knowledge that sometimes, even the NFL can’t manage the same trick. All it took was a right arm-twisting.
Congress reminded the league it receives an antitrust exemption to negotiate TV contracts — something the NFL doesn’t want to see messed with. And the networks reminded Goodell that with the writers’ strike killing their Saturday prime-time lineup, he might want to throw a bone to networks who pay through the nose (a combined $1.2 billion annually) for his product — since he was being forced to anyway.
Other than the fact that Bryant Gumbel will be calling the game on three different stations, this was a good thing. And it might be the first step toward teaching the league it can’t have its cake and slather it over its face, too.
UCLA had better forget about whether Rick Neuheisel’s checkered past will hurt the football program and hire the guy before he turns down the job like everybody else.
Wednesday, Al Golden turned down a chance at the job. Who?
Golden is at Temple. He’s 5-19 in his first two years with the Owls, who haven’t had a winning season in almost two decades (1990). And he would rather stay there? Wow.
If UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero is smart, he’ll hire Neuheisel today, before he gets too far behind in the recruiting race and, well … things happen. Just ask Washington and Colorado about that stuff.
• Roger Clemens cost the Yankees more than $25.4 million in salary and luxury taxes in 2007. It remains to be seen how much the Mitchell Report winds up costing Clemens.
• By the way, the Yankees have paid $121.6 million in luxury taxes over the past five years. So each of the 27 teams that have always been under the cap has gotten more than $4 million from George Steinbrenner – kind of like having an obnoxious, rich uncle.
• Wanna know how huge it was for the D-Backs to get Dan Haren? The Padres backed up their signing of Randy Wolf (shoulder surgery in September) by picking up Mark Prior (missed all of 2007, 1-6 in 2006). That’s what’s out there, folks.
• New Dolphins vice president Bill Parcells said he has no ambition to be a coach or a general manager in Miami. Of course, that’s the same thing Wayne Gretzky said when he joined the Coyotes.
• Goose Gossage will finally get into the Hall of Fame this year after nine years on the ballot. Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long for Tim Raines, a first-timer, to take his rightful place in Cooperstown.
• Local sportscasters rarely gain national recognition. But Stu Nahan, who passed away Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 81, did it with his appearances in the “Rocky” movies and his classic interview with surfing superstar/babe magnet Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” His entrance into any L.A. press room (The Forum, Dodger Stadium, The Coliseum) always included the strong scent of Aqua Velva and plenty of smiles and handshakes.
Hey Stu … nice jacket, dude.
• So Dennis Green has filed for the trademark rights to the term “They are who we thought they were?” Don’t worry. Chances are if you violate the agreement, Denny will let you off the hook.