Monday, April 12, 2010

Of messages & happy endings

It just came to my attention a short time ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers had traded Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick in next week's NFL draft. While it will make the experts say "Huh?", the rationale has to do with Holmes' recent legal troubles. It also sends a clear message to star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has managed to evade criminal charges over two alleged assaults over the last several months, that not even star players are exempt from being traded away or cut if they don't exhibit appropriate behavior away from the field. Fourteen months after winning his 2nd Super Bowl, Roethlisberger now is without the wide receiver who clinched Super Bowl 43 vs. Arizona for him, and now must be on his best behavior.

Lost in all of this drama is the fact that the Steelers just helped the Jets become even bigger players in the AFC East. Holmes, coupled with Jerricho Cotchery and perhaps a returning Braylon Edwards, would give the Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez enough of an arsenal that could conceivably unseat New England atop the division. However, training camp is still a ways off........

Speaking of messages, TBS sent a very loud one earlier today by signing former NBC late night host Conan O'Brien, whom just about everyone assumed would be bound for Fox after NBC cut him loose in February. Ahh, but not so fast. TBS got its foot in the door, so to speak, last fall when they entered the late night wars with Lopez Tonight, which will move down an hour upon reaching its 1st anniversary in November to make room for O'Brien.

TBS, in recent years, has changed its identity by building their schedule more around comedies, and leaving the drama to sister network TNT, even going so far as to share cable rights with another sister network, Cartoon Network, for reruns of Fox's Family Guy. While George Lopez was relatively untested as a talk show host, TBS was willing to take a chance, hoping he would do the same basic thing that Arsenio Hall had done 20 years earlier, only in this case, the target demographic would be Latin-Americans instead of African-Americans. The success of Lopez Tonight has erased the bitter taste of failure from a year earlier, when TBS had brought in impressionist Frank Caliendo (Fox NFL Sunday, ex-MadTV) to do a solo show. Frank TV quickly disappeared, leaving Caliendo to do his Sunday schtick.

Apparently, Rupert Murdoch was too busy counting his money before offering O'Brien a contract, so Time Warner pounced. Enough said.

After all the hype surrounding the Masters over the weekend, there were more than a few pundits that believed Tiger Woods would win his 5th green jacket. I wasn't one of them. In fact, Woods never made it to the top of the leader board, finishing in a tie for 4th, 5 shots behind Phil Mickelson, who won his 3rd jacket. Predictably, the New York tabloids, who kept Woods on the front pages all weekend, didn't feel the need to accord Mickelson the same treatment, only the back pages, in today's editions. Mickelson took time off from the tour last year to attend to his wife, Amy, who is battling cancer, and who was in attendance on Sunday to see her husband's latest triumph. So there was a feel-good story at the end of the tournament, after all.

For all the genuflecting ESPN & CBS had to have done toward Woods, praying for a ratings miracle, they had to understand that there was an even better story being told.

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