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Michaels for the Rabbit

It was really a contract deal. A football announcer for a cartoon. It’s described in a book written by George Bodenheimer titled Every Town is a Sports Town.

ESPN had acquired the rights to Monday Night Football and wanted to assemble an announcing team. At the time, John Madden and Al Michaels were the announcers. Madden’s contract was up and he decided to join NBC to call Sunday Night Football. Al Michaels wanted to join him and get out of his contract for Monday Night.

ESPN tells it this way: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was created in 1927 by Walt Disney for Charles B. Mintz, and distributed by Universal Studios. Disney directed 26 Oswald cartoons before a budget dispute with Mintz forced Disney to leave and create his own studio. Mintz, however, owned the rights to Oswald, and kept the character.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was Walt Disney’s initial character that ultimately led to the idea of Mickey Mouse. He had lost the rights to the character when he formed his own studio. Oswald does look a bit like Mickey Mouse, who Disney used as his primary character for his new studio.  As a side note, Mintz was the creator of another character … Woody Woodpecker.


That’s why Disney, who owned ABC, still put a value on Oswald as a precursor to Mickey Mouse even though  “he” had no commercial value. It was Disney’s and ABC’s pure historical sentimental value.

Without getting into too many crazy details, when Michaels wanted out of his ABC contract to go work with Madden; on February 9, 2006, NBC confirmed that Michaels would be joining Madden at the network to broadcast football on Sunday nights.

In return, Disney received  the rights to Owald. So, for some other programming considerations and a cartoon, Michaels was allowed out of his Monday Night broadcasting contract with ABC. To this day, he remains  a broadcaster on Sunday… and none of us still know about Oswald the Rabbit except for this trade. A cartoon character for an announcer.

And for pic o’ day, here’s another character!



Valvano Cut Down the Nets

I just finished watching ESPN’s “Survive and Advance”  from their 30 for 30 series. It is timely because it is the story of the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack as they marched toward an improbable NCAA basketball championship. I have attached the episode listing and here is a link to the description. (ESPN link).

Throughout the show, we are reminded of Valvano’s cajoling and encouragement to his team to survive and advance. Each game, his ten loss squad facing elimination, would find some way to come back and win. Had they not won the ACC tournament that year, they would not have even gotten to the NCAA tournament. To win the ACC, it meant beating a North Carolina team that was led by Michael Jordan; and the beating a Virginia team with Ralph Sampson.

The NCAA championship game matched underdog North Carolina State against the high-flying team from Houston that was known by all as Phi Slamma Jamma, because they played above the rim and ultimately had two of their players end up in the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame, after great pro careers.

I don’t recite these events to simply recount an amazing story of the team that would not be denied. Instead, I was most moved by the mention of something that the team did long before that championship season began.

When Valvano was named coach of the Wolfpack, he called his team to a quiet gym floor to tell them of his vision. He told them that they were going to win a championship. Then, he pulled out a gold pair of scissors and grabbed a ladder. In the quietness of that gym, he made them practice the event of cutting down the nets after winning a championship. He wanted them to visualize what it was going to feel like… when they became champions.

During that 1983 season, no one knew what Jim Valvano would have to face. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and gave his infamous speech about never giving up. Subsequently, The V Foundation has raised over 100 million dollars in the fight against cancer. To a 1983 basketball team, Coach Valvano taught  his team to survive and advance. In 1992, Coach Valvano used that same spirit of hope in the fight against cancer.

Coach K of Duke looks into the camera during the documentary and says that he believes that the championship gave Coach Valvano the platform in the ultimate fight against cancer.  During the ACC championship game between NC State and Virginia, you can  hear Dick Vitale screech, “Cinderella baby..Cin City” as NC State went on to victory and a berth in the NCAA tournament.  A true team with a vision, that was able to overcome to their ultimate goal.

The documentary is a tremendous challenge for every day life. I was reminded that…  if I believe, there are no impossibilities.

And my Mom sent pic o’ day that pretty much says what a lot of us are thinking:


“All My Rowdy Friends”

The Hank Williams Jr. recent political firestorm opinion and the resulting resignation/firing, are interesting fodder for my legal blog, because it really does incorporate free Speech, employment issues, and reputation. ESPN’s article relays the story in a way that it comes out as “it depends on who you talk to”.

I’m guessing you know the story but here’s a quick recap. Williams has been doing the opening for Monday Night Football for a long time. His song includes mentions of the two teams for that game and then says “All my rowdy friends are here on Monday Night”.

Recently, Williams was on Fox News, expressing his opinion on House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, playing golf together. He compared it to the President of Israel playing golf with Hitler. The Fox commentators gave him a couple of opportunities to back off that comparison. He pressed on to include that “They’re the enemy”,  referring to  President  Obama and VP Biden. In that moment, his national reputation was viewed differently. Some may have liked him more; others less; and still others might have thought that he needed a straight jacket.

That night, before the Colts game, ESPN announced that they would not be playing Hank Williams’ intro song. Instead, they went from commercial, directly to kickoff.

Since then, ESPN has announced that they are parting ways with Williams. Williams announced on his website that he had decided to no longer be associated with ESPN because they had “pulled my opening on Oct 3rd and stepped on the toes of the First Amendment”.  Williams has continued to stand by his original statements but has added, “I am very sorry if I offended anyone”.

First, we now know that Williams was not considered an employee of ESPN. By simple definition, that means that they had less control over him if he was deemed an independent contractor. They just decided, according to ESPN, that they did not want to be associated with him… their legal right. If he had a contract that did not include an opt-out by ESPN, they still may be required to continue to pay him for term of the contract.

The next issue is whether ESPN’s action could somehow be considered as “stepping on the toes of the First Amendment Freedom of Speech”.

Growing up, I used to hear the old expression, “the freedom of your fist ends when it comes near my nose”. ESPN owns their content and have expelled employees on multiple occasions,  for actions that they deemed not suitable for their employees.

In this instance, I’m not sure why Williams thinks that they have violated his freedom of speech. All they’ve said is that they don’t want to continue any association with him. He can continue to express his opinion on politics…. just not as an ESPN contractor.

I find these stories fascinating because politics and opinion is feisty. In fact, if this blog were political, I would get more comments of disagreement.

One final note that connects this Firm to opinion. I regularly buy broad television rotators. That means that I might buy an afternoon rotator of 1-5. I recently received an email on the Firm website,  from a lady who was protesting that one of my advertisements ran during the show “Ellen”. She felt that I was supporting “The gay lifestyle” by having my ad run during that show.

A few years back, Sinclair Broadcasting was supporting President Bush. A group organized a mass email to any business that was buying advertising from Sinclair. We have an office in a couple of Sinclair advertising staions. So, I received a  a lot of emails in my “in box” that threatened to never call me, if I didn’t stop advertising on their stations.

I still place ads in and on different communication mediums. I haven’t really focused on “not buying” something because of disagreement. For now, all my rowdy friends and me will just continue to stay the course and represent individuals. It’s a whole lot easier than running around trying to be angry over the golf game of two politicians.

Now, a whole lot simpler pic o’ day. Just a squirrel and a Coke.

Don’t Get a Big Head

     So I am causally going through the news and I see the typical stories, while I wait for some blog inspiration.Val Kilmer owes back taxes; Octomom is losing the house; A pig named Maxwell cries “wee wee wee” all the way home. (Didn’t want to put a Geico commercial attachment in the blog!)

     That’s when I saw the story of the stolen head. The personalized head of ESPN football analyst, Lee Corso, was stolen from the campus of Oregon State University.

     Corso has been known to wear the head of the team mascot, when he picks which college football team will win. That routine has been going on, since Corso began appearing on the network’s Saturday college football show that travels to the various college campuses. As a result, they made a special “Corso head” for him.

     Two men now face felonies for stealing the Corso head. The mascot head was reported missing by an ESPN employee, on Saturday night. It was valued at 5K and had been last seen in a large box, at the Oregon State University Union Quad. It had “traveled” there for the rivalry game between Oregon and Oregon State; known as the Civil War game.

     According to the police report, Michael Cuneo, took the head from the Union Quad, and walked away from the site and “stashed” it in the bushes. His “accomplice” then came driving by and picked it up. Apparently, the large head was visible in the car. The picture below might give a clue on that.

     The comments below the story kind of  give a mixed bag reaction to the theft. Of course, this is a question of stealing versus a college prank. However, when it comes to a value of 5K, did that make it more than a prank?

     Here are some of the quotes that included such stories as the time that someone took figures from the nativity scene and sent a ransom note that said something like, “If you ever want to see Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus again”. Anyway, if you click the story, you will see:

                             “I am not advocating stealing, but there was a day that things like this were viewed simply as a prank like sticking the camp counselors underwear up the flag pool. In today’s PC world, they will probably over react and throw the book at them. Too bad!”

                             “Has anyone found Lee’s actual head yet?”


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