Darren Sharper Describes Falcons Loss To Panthers As "A Chink In The Armor" (Video)

When talking about a loss by the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons, which still has the best overall record in the NFC, Darren Sharper called it “a chink in the armor.” After what transpired this past spring with Jeremy Lin, there is no reason to be using that phrase anymore.

If you’re a regular viewer of NFL Network, one of the occasional talking points is the Atlanta Falcons not earning enough respect, despite the team’s 11-1 record heading into Week 14. In fact, one person recently referred to the team as “the Rodney Dangerfields of the league.”

With the Falcons losing their next game by ten points, the instant analysis may not have been very respectful in a different way.

At the start of the “NFL GameDay Scoreboard” program, analyst Darren Sharper was pressed for his thoughts on the Falcons’ 30-20 road loss to the Carolina Panthers; despite the loss, the Falcons still hold the best record in the NFC, at 11-2.

“A little chink in the armor, you might say, with the Atlanta Falcons,” said Sharper.

Hello, but haven’t we been down this road earlier this year? We witnessed three different ESPN employees use the same phrase to describe Jeremy Lin suffering his first loss since becoming a starter on the New York Knicks during his swift tenure on the team: Spero Dedes – the Knicks’ own play-by-play guy on New York’s ESPN Radio outlet – was disciplined (albeit by Madison Square Garden, which owns the team’s broadcast rights); ESPN’s Max Bretos was suspended for a month; and Anthony Federico was jettisoned for good as a Worldwide Leader employee for using the phrase as a headline for a story on said Knicks loss on their mobile platform.

Now, I understand there probably isn’t an Asian-American player on the Falcons’ roster (and please forgive me if I am mistaken). But that’s beside the point. When such a phrase can warrant disciplinary action amongst several people, it shouldn’t make a difference what the nationality of the person on the other end is. It’s an archaic phrase that ought to be phased out altogether in the 21st century.

I’m not calling for Darren Sharper to be suspended or anything – just use better judgment next time, Pick Magnet.

Torg: Herbstreit Was "Pretty Harsh" On Me

Scott Torgerson told John Corby (pictured) on Columbus radio station WTVN that he apologized to ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit about a week before he finally heard Herbie’s diatribe against him. He also insisted that he volunteered to be suspended from “97.1 The Fan.”

Recently unemployed Columbus sports radio host Scott Torgerson revealed that he had apologized to ESPN “College GameDay” analyst Kirk Herbstreit after unloading on “The Torg” on his weekly radio program on WBNS-FM/”97.1 The Fan”, following the infamous “I wish Desmond Howard would get fired or die so I can watch Gameday again” tweet – a tweet that led to a suspension and ensuing termination of Torgerson from his own show on “97.1 The Fan.”

“I actually talked to him on the phone… the Wednesday while I was suspended, and apologized to him for putting him in that situation.”

Considering how Herbie’s Torg rant went viral by that Wednesday, it would show what great character Torg has, saying sorry to Herbie knowing he ripped him to shreds on the radio station his top-rated afternoon drive show used to be heard on.

As it turns out, Torgerson was practically the last person in Columbus to find out about it.

“I didn’t hear it at the time,” Torgerson admitted Friday on John Corby’s own afternoon drive program on WTVN-AM 610. “I actually just heard it a few days ago… After listening to it, wow, it was pretty harsh.

“Then I looked at his Twitter feed, and he kinda was going at me a little bit… And then he did some TV interviews on Tuesday, where he went at me some more. But you know what? I don’t have any ill will. He can decide to do whatever he wants, if he decides to take that road, you know, it’s not a road that I would take, but remember, I did it, and I own up to it, and whatever he did, he has to deal with it.”

Corby suspected WBNS-FM’s affiliation with ESPN, the network that employs Herbstreit, did Torgerson in. “Maybe,” Torgerson said. “I don’t really have any proof of it… I don’t want to accuse anyone of doing anything, because I really don’t have the proof.

“I could tell you ‘I guess,’ but I don’t want to goof up my suit, if it comes to that,” he added, regarding a potential lawsuit he has intentions of filing against the station and its owner, Dispatch Media Group. But 48 hours after he wrote on his website that that was the direction he was going to go, he didn’t sound very committed about taking legal action to Corby. “I don’t know if we’re going to,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a process to this… If it drags out long enough, I guess we’ll find out.”

Also in his first local media interview since his dismissal from “97.1 The Fan,” Torgerson explained how, while “running errands” the day he posted a tweet that he thought was “sarcastic,” he came to the conclusion that, “Boy, that was a dumb thing to tweet.” He also disclosed how the Monday after his Twitter trouble, he “proposed” to station management that he be suspended for a week, “and it kinda took off from there.”

Corby asked Torgerson how his employment status at “The Fan” had gone “from suspended to fired.” Torgerson said that he was assured by “some management” that his job was safe with the station, and was told to “hang tight” for the duration of his suspension. “You just kinda hear more and more things,” Torgerson said, recalling his anxiety late last week. “The more time went by, and the more no one would give me an update, I knew I was a goner.”

After Torgerson finished the interview, Corby expressed his suspicion that the Worldwide Leader did indeed have a hand in Torgerson’s termination.

“It’s hard for me to believe,” Corby told his listeners, “that Herbstreit and ESPN weren’t somehow involved in this, because ESPN, all they had to do was say, ‘Hey, you’re no longer an affiliate.’ Then, what do they do? Most of their programming is ESPN… And we’ve got Fox [Sports Radio] on [our sister station], so that’s not available. You’d be pretty much screwed.”

Apparently, Corby is unaware of the two new sports radio networks that have launched over the last couple of months. Supposing “97.1 The Fan” stood by The Torg and kept him on the payroll, while the station may have indeed risked losing the ESPN Radio affiliation – remember, it was a talent on an ESPN Radio affiliate taking an unwarranted swipe at an ESPN network talent – they may have considered signing up with either NBC Sports Radio Network or the CBS Sports Radio Network, which officially launches its 24/7 schedule on January 2.

But would it have been worth risking your affiliation with former Ohio State Buckeye Kirk Herbstreit? Probably not.

Listen to the John Corby interview with Scott Torgerson here.

Death Wish For Desmond Howard Gets Columbus Radio Host Suspended

Columbus radio host Scott “The Torg” Torgerson (shown here with his co-host, Mike “The Common Man” Ricordati) was suspended by WBNS-FM after openly wishing for ESPN “College GameDay” analyst (and Michigan graduate) Desmond Howard to “get fired or die so I can watch Gameday again.”

Have you noticed that Joe Buck calls a lot of New York Giants games? Don’t know if there’s a stipulation in his contract or it just works out that way (a Giants/49ers game originally scheduled to be called by Thom Brenneman ended up being a Buck job since the San Francisco Giants hosted the NLCS opener that night).

Anyway, you can go on every corner of the Internet – and of course, Twitter – and find people that absolutely vilify Buck and his style of calling football and baseball games. If viewers were stuck with Buck, there are alternative audio options out there so you can hear your team’s call of the game, and mute the TV.

But I seriously doubt that anyone in this crowd would hope for Buck to somehow get terminated by Fox, or worse, suddenly perish.

Not so much the case for Scott Torgerson. When last you heard of him, he and his radio partner who make up the afternoon drive sports radio team of “The Common Man And The Torg” on WBNS-FM in Columbus, Ohio, were schmoozing with our commander-in-chief.

This past Saturday morning was like any other for “The Torg” during college football season: get ready for that day’s Buckeyes game, and watch ESPN’s “College GameDay,” a program about NCAA football disguised as a two-hour advertisement for The Home Depot and Cheez-It. (Mind you, I just watch it for the signs.)

Anyway, on this particular Saturday, “College GameDay” analyst Desmond Howard was getting on The Torg’s nerves. So he wrote: “I wish Desmond Howard would get fired or die so I can watch Gameday again.”

You see, Desmond Howard regularly gets on The Torg’s nerves. In fact, The Torg claims that it’s some sort of running gag on his show: Howard went to the University of Michigan, The Torg does a radio show in Columbus, home of Ohio State University – excuse me, THE Ohio State University.

But could it be more than just a bit for the show? Could The Torg really have a deep-seeded hatred for Michigan alumni? Here’s more of his previous tweets mentioning Desmond Howard:

August 31, the eve of the new college football season: “I love College Football but I cant watch GameDay. Desmond Howard is such a dope he just compared Fitz Toussaint’s DUI to the Tat 5. #DOPE”

September 8, while watching the new Fox college football show hosted by Erin Andrews, Eddie George and Joey Harrington: “Too much hand movement on the Fox pregame show but I like them better than Game Day because no Desmond Howard. #typicalmedia”

Last November 19, the day “GameDay” analyst Lee Corso dropped an F-bomb toward the end of the broadcast: “I hope Corso doesn’t get too much heat. It could mean more Desmond Howard. His stupid little giggle laugh is annoying. I hate him.”

And a random tweet from the middle of last July: “I hate Desmond Howard.”

Now, I’m no psychologist, but this certainly sounds like an Ohio State honk with an utter disdain for “the enemy,” i.e. Michigan, and anyone/anything associated with the university. He probably scoffs at the TV if there’s a movie with James Earl Jones (1955 graduate) being shown, or perhaps he can’t watch reruns of “The Brady Bunch,” particularly scenes featuring Alice the maid, played by Ann B. Davis (1948 graduate). I bet he can’t even watch NFL Network because Rich Eisen (1990 graduate) is on it all the time. And he likely loathes Madonna (1979 graduate).

So with “College GameDay” being must-see TV in Columbus, the mere presence of Desmond Howard on the program is a major obstacle for The Torg to withstand. So by expressing his wish for Howard to “get fired or die,” he was showing his true colors. What had been a pleasure on Saturday mornings had become a chore for The Torg, all thanks to that kid who won the Heisman Trophy twenty years ago while representing the University of Michigan, Class of ’92.

A short time after Torgerson’s “death wish” tweet, he posted what appeared to be a “mea culpa” tweet: “My Desmond Howard tweet was a joke. I think if you listen to the show you know that. My apologizes to those who took it serious. Total joke.”

I’ll tell you what the joke is here: The Torg’s alleged attempt at an apology. Really, who has heard “I wish so-and-so would die or get fired” and immediately doubled over in gut-busting laughter?

Probably The Torg after he pictured what “Gameday” would be like in the post-Howard era.

As it turns out, guilt was sinking in on The Torg. Big time. So much so that he deleted, no, not the tweet, but his entire Twitter account. (This is why I have used Topsy to link his past tweets in this post.) Yes, Scott Torgerson realized that with a little three-letter word in the middle of that tweet, he could be in big trouble.

Indeed, he was: He did not show up for the Monday edition of “The Common Man And The Torg.” A source has informed the Columbus-based sports blog Awful Announcing that Torgerson was indeed suspended indefinitely.

I’m guessing that he was not hanging around the station that afternoon when Kirk Herbstreit did his weekly one-hour college football radio show.

That’s right: Kirk Herbstreit, who you may have seen on such ESPN shows as “College GameDay,” also hosts a weekly program on the radio station whose afternoon co-host has called for the death or firing of Desmond Howard, who you may have seen on such ESPN shows as “College GameDay.” Which brings this situation a bit closer to home.

As you would expect, Herbie torched The Torg.

“Just sickening,” he said during a three-minute diatribe, referring to Torgerson only as “an individual that works at the radio station.” He explained how he and Howard are good friends off the air, despite the fact that he used to be a Buckeye quarterback and Howard suited up in Ann Arbor. “I know that’s a crazy notion to think about,” he told listeners. “I can look past the fact that he had the audacity to wear a Michigan uniform.” He also expressed his shock that a colleague at the ESPN Radio affiliate has carte blanche “to say such asinine comments… To me, he crossed a line.”

(The full transcript of Herbstreit’s rant is below.)

It will probably be awhile before we hear from Scott Torgerson, or his alter ego, “The Torg,” again. I really do hope he learns a valuable lesson from all this.

I’ve seen radio hosts get suspended for saying, doing or provoking reprehensible things, only to end up being fired.

To borrow a quote that President Obama told Scott Torgerson months ago, if I were “The Torg,” I’d be pretty nervous.

—————————————————————————————————————–

[ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit responds to Scott Torgerson’s tweet about Desmond Howard on his WBNS-FM radio show:]

“I’m gonna just address this publicly, because I think what Desmond Howard had to deal with over the weekend is disgusting, and very sad to think that, because – I don’t know what, I don’t know the reason behind it, but the tweet from an individual that works at the radio station was, was above and beyond, I think, what was acceptable. It is another example of what Twitter, and how things can be said, and things can be, “I was just kidding, I was just laughing”, and meanwhile, you have a guy who’s, you know, not real sure what to think about that in Desmond, and his family’s concerned about him… Just some things that just should not be tolerated, and just, just sickening. And, I – there’s so much more I wish I can say about that, but I’ll choose not to, but believe it or not, people that are, that have a hard time understanding this, this would probably keep you up at night, but former Ohio State players and former Michigan players are actually friends. I know that’s a crazy notion to think about, but Desmond Howard is a very good friend of mine, and I can look past the fact that he had the audacity to wear a Michigan uniform, and he’s a good man, and he’s a great father, and great husband, and does not deserve what he received with that tweet, and what came along with it. And I just apologized to Desmond, and to his family, that he had to endure that, and I’m really embarrassed more than anything to think that somebody who works at an ESPN [Radio] affiliate, who works at our station, has a forum to say such asinine comments, and what the individual lacks in credibility, to me, he makes up for by just throwing arrows and rocks at people, and that’s his thing. And to me, he crossed a line, and that’s something that, again, is completely unacceptable.

“When you know people – I know Desmond as an individual. And I just – we’re talking about college sports on TV and on radio. There are bigger fish to fry in our life than college sports, or sports in general. And to say you wish somebody would die is absolutely mind-boggling. Whether you’re kidding or not, you do not hit ‘send’ on that message, to get out to the masses. Just something that I just have a very hard time with.”

Time Runs Out For NFL Network Viewers In Three States

Time Warner Cable has acquired Insight Communications' cable systems, and has abruptly removed NFL Network and NFL Red Zone from the lineups at midnight on August 1, which means viewers in cities such as Cincinnati and Louisville, will miss out on regular season NFL telecasts, as well as original programming such as "NFL GameDay."

The nearly nine-year-old NFL Network has come quite a long way since the 11.5 million subscribers it gained upon its launch in the fall of 2003. These days, they’re available in about 65 million households, including seven out of the eight top television providers.

That number got a bit of a concussion on Wednesday.

That’s because Insight Communications’ cable system has been acquired by Time Warner Cable – otherwise known as the lone carrier out of the top eight television providers that does not carry NFL Network.

Over 750,000 Insight customers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, in cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, Lexington, Louisville and Evansville, had experienced the sports broadcasting version of “sudden death” when, at the stroke of midnight, NFLN’s signal was removed as Insight had transitioned into Time Warner.

One viewer reported seeing a message where NFLN used to be on his lineup, reading: “One moment please. This channel should be available shortly.”

What gall. Apparently, Time Warner’s idea of “shortly” is six years.

That’s how long the cable operator and NFL Network have been squabbling over carriage. Exactly one year ago, the commissioner of the league, Roger Goodell, stepped in and ordered negotiations for a long-term deal between NFLN and Time Warner that he hoped would be done by the season kickoff.

Much like a Philadelphia Eagles fan in January, any hopes of NFLN and Time Warner striking a deal went by the wayside, as carriage talks broke down following a “heated” argument.

Back in August of last year, Goodell said: “When we’re negotiating with our distributors, we believe NFL Network should be in every home. And we’re going to continue to push that because it’s good for football, and it’s good for the people who love football.”

Here we are, one year later. Not only is NFL Network largely absent from Time Warner households, as well as those of another large cable operator, Cablevision, but nearly three quarters of a million cable subscribers have watched helplessly as their Insight Communications lineup has been grandfathered into Time Warner Cable, which wasted no time euthanizing NFL Network in front of those subscribers. This despite NFLN’s willingness to maintain the previous terms under the old Insight deal.

One online channel lineup found for what was Insight shows virtually the same lineup “effective August 1” – with channels 547 and 548, which had been NFL Network and NFL Red Zone, absent.

“We are disappointed that Time Warner Cable has taken away NFL Network and NFL Red Zone from the many Insight customers who have enjoyed both channels for years,” the network said in a statement released days before their signal would go dark on systems of what would be the former Insight, which had carried NFLN since 2005, and added Red Zone four years later. “With an expanded 13-game Thursday Night Football schedule kicking off in Week 2 and a new four-hour weekday morning show, NFL Network will bring fans more exclusive content than ever before in 2012.”

Shortly after, a Time Warner Cable spokesman did some early damage (spin) control: “We regret that some of our customers will be disppointed to no longer receive [NFLN and Red Zone], but the terms being demanded now for the NFL Network are out of line for a network willing to guarantee just a handful of live games.”

These days, NFL Network is more than just a place for “a handful of live games.” There’s daily football news (“Total Access”), programs featuring exclusive NFL Films footage (“Sound FX”), one of the most popular Sunday football programming franchises (“GameDay”), and of course, the aforementioned “new four-hour weekday morning show,” “NFL AM”. Oh, how I would not want to be an Insight/Time Warner customer after getting attached to “Figure of Speech” and “Our Daily Tebow” after just two days.

Currently, NFL Network asks for around 75 cents per each subscriber – a mere fraction of the upwards of $5.00 that ESPN demands. Of course, ESPN has more rights to sports events, which is partly what had led to the Worldwide Leader’s asking price to balloon over the years. Whereas NFLN has just one sport to focus on. In addition to Thursday night games, NFLN also carries Arena Football contests. And who knows, they may be raring to carry a playoff game or two each year at some point. So, for a niche sports network run by the most popular sports league in the country, is 75 cents per subscriber really too much to ask?

In the meantime, Insight-cum-Time Warner customers who are avid football fans might choose to take it sitting down and start watching ESPN, and endure news and manufactured controversies about other teams and leagues before they get to the content they desire.

Or they can switch to another cable carrier in their area, should one be available. Another option, again if available, is a fiber optic provider, such as Verizon FiOS, which does not appear to be in many of the areas that Insight previously served. However, Cincinnati Bell Fioptics is available for affected customers in the Queen City. There’s also the option of a satellite provider (DirecTV, Dish), which may be a bit more pricey than a cable bill in some cases. (Some landlords forbid the installation of a satellite dish on their buildings, which could be another roadblock.)

By now, Insight subscribers who had been NFLN diehards likely made the switch to another carrier (the Time Warner acquisition approval was made official on March 1, which gave customers five months to prepare for the Time Warner takeover). But for those who may had been taken by surprise by the removal of NFLN, how many of the 760,000 affected customers will make the move?

“I’ve got no guess,” answered Cincinnati Enquirer media columnist John Kiesewetter (who as you may expect based on some of the links on this post, has been all over this story) via e-mail. “I know some people will, but don’t know how many.”

With no telling just how large the exodus, if any, from newly-wired Time Warner connections will be, and considering Time Warner is the second largest cable system in the country, and keeping in mind that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will stop at nothing until NFL Network is cleared in as many households as possible, there is but one thing left to do: Get Tim Tebow involved.

Seriously.

The game plan might be difficult, considering he doesn’t play for the Bengals or the Colts, plus the fact that ESPN has been on his shirtless jock a great deal. But if Jeremy Lin could make it possible for MSG Network to settle their fifty-day-long impasse with Time Warner Cable, there’s probably a way that Tebowmania can somehow work a miracle in resolving a seven-year dispute between his league’s television network and Time Warner.

In the meantime, why not contact Time Warner Cable and tell them, “You’re despicable.”