Carroll: CBS Says Hello to Tony Romo and Goodbye to Phil Simms

     A few years ago I had a conversation with former Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead who was getting started in the car dealership industry. I asked him if had considered a broadcasting career since he possessed matinee idol looks, was very polished, and had national name recognition. “I thought about it briefly but I decided against it because there is always going to be some new big name who is going to take your job and I can’t risk that as I get older.”

     Jessie made a wise choice as he has opened several New Jersey car dealerships over the years. I thought about him when the news broke that CBS was replacing Phil Simms as the network’s top analyst on NFL broadcasts with recently retired Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

     It didn’t take long for the negative reaction to come pouring in from media pundits and callers to sports talk radio stations. This wasn’t surprising since Phil Simms is a New York icon having been a QB on two Super Bowl championship teams as well as having done a fine job as a broadcaster since joining CBS in 1998. Fans frequently think of sportscasters as extended members of their family and they generally don’t welcome change.

     CBS Sports CEO Sean McManus made this decision and unsurprisingly he has taken a lot of heat. This had t have been a tough call but that’s why television executives get paid big bucks.

     In fairness to Sean, CBS has made a nine-figure investment in the NFL and ratings slipped last year. Hiring Tony Romo, who is 37 years old and is popular with female fans because of his good looks, is a way to attract the under-40 demographic who may have been tuning out on Sunday afternoons. Being of Mexican descent, the hiring of Romo brings more and needed diversity to the national sportscasting industry.

      Yes, Romo has no formal broadcasting experience and thus has been ripped by many as not being deserving of the top NFL analyst gig on CBS. Somehow I don’t think that as many people would have been worked up if it were Peyton Manning replacing Phil Simms.

      By the way, Simms will be fine as he still has two years to go on his current CBS contract and Sean McManus certainly wants to keep him at the network. Phil knows that sports jobs, with the seeming exception of being general manager of the New York Islanders, don’t come with civil service security.

     With Tony Gonzalez leaving “The NFL Today”it would be natural for Phil to take his place on CBS’s NFL pregame show. CBS could also pair him with Forest Hills native Ian Eagle who is now the Tiffany Network’s #2 play-by-play voice behind Jim Nantz. It should be pointed out however that Eagle’s current booth partner, former Chargers QB Dan Fouts, is a superb analyst.

     With both Seth Lugo and Steven Matz on the disabled list I asked Mets general manager Sandy Alderson if has been getting phone calls from agents of veteran pitchers who suddenly find themselves out of the big leagues. “That happens every day. Because of the quality of our pitching staff we are not a preferred destination however for these players thankfully!” he replied with a smile.

     The Mets had a scheduled day off between their home opener and their second game of the season and that worked out perfectly for the d’Arnaud siblings. The Atlanta Braves were their opponents and one of their bench players is Chase d’Arnaud whose brother is Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud. I asked Chase if he spent his off-day with his younger brother. “Absolutely. Since it was raining we watched bad movies on Neflix.” Chase is the lead guitarist and vocalist of his eponymous country/pop band which is based out of Atlanta and it performed at Turner Field last year following a Braves game.

     Former Mets infielder Ty Kelly was on the roster of Team Israel which surprisingly won four games in the World Baseball Classic. “It was a great experience and all of the guys on the team are staying in touch with each other,” he told. Kelly added that former Mets infielder Josh Satin, who played for Israel last September in the qualifiers that were held at MCU Park in Coney Island did not take part in the action last month. “He just became a dad and did not want to travel to Asia for the tournament,” said Ty.

      Former Knicks great Patrick Ewing has long wanted to be an NBA head coach but he could never get past the assistant coach level. He wisely jumped at the opportunity to succeed John Thompson III as Georgetown University head coach.

      A key reason why Ewing had difficulty landing a head coaching position in the pros goes back to his days as a player. One of the most important duties any head coach or manager in professional sports is communicating with the media. Ewing personified the old sports cliche, “They learn to say hello when it’s time to say goodbye,” when he played for the Knicks. He would routinely glower at the press and made himself unapproachable. His unfriendliness did not go unnoticed.

     Over the years however Ewing loosened up and whenever he would come into town as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats he would freely laugh and engage in conversation. If he can continue to show that side of him as Hoyas head coach then he should be able to land an NBA head coaching position.

    One thing that is certain is that the 2017 Big East Media Day at Madison Square Garden this coming October will draw its largest contingent of press in years.

    Speaking of college sports, HBO’s Friday night investigative series, “VICE,” made a rare foray into sports recently with an examination of the NCAA and whether college athletes should be compensated beyond the value of a scholarship. While the VICE team did a decent job interviewing a handful of athletes and university athletic directors, they failed to address arcane NCAA regulations that have nothing to do with colleges directly compensating their athletes. For example they could have wondered why a college athlete can’t make a few dollars signing autographs for a local car dealership.

    The National Hockey League owes a debt to insult comic extra ordinaire and Jackson Heights native Don Rickles who passed away at the age of 90 last Thursday. Rickles routinely called his victims hockey pucks throughout his career when hockey was barely on the radar screen as a sport. That putdown line gave priceless publicity to hockey.

    Destination Canada, the national tourism bureau of our neighbors to the north, made its biannual visit to New York City last week to meet with American media.

     Tourism officials from that nation’s capital, Ottawa, were very proud of the performance of their NHL franchise, the Senators, this season and encouraged everyone to step in front of their green screen to pose for a photo wearing a Senators jersey.

      Hockey was also on the mind of Quebec City officials who have a nice arena awaiting either an expansion NHL franchise or one that wants to relocate. They were aware of the fact that the Islanders are not wanted at Barclays Center and that the team’s owners don’t want to return to the recently reopened Nassau Coliseum which now has a smaller seating capacity. Of course they understood that the odds of a sports team leaving the New York City metropolitan area for any part of Quebec, even Montreal, are nil.

      Montreal officials have been heartened by the good attendance at the various late spring training games that have been held the last few years at Olympic Stadium and they are hopeful that Major League Baseball owners have noticed this trend as well so that the city can get a team. They have been without an MLB team since 2004 when the Expos relocated to Washington, DC to become the Nationals.

      Skin care used to be dominated by brands marketed for women but things have been changing rapidly. Jack Black (not the comedian) developed a line of products geared strictly for guys while corporate behemoth Unilever launched its successful Dove Men+Care brand of soaps, deodorants, and hair products a few years ago.

      A new Brooklyn-based company with a factory in Long Island, Beau Brummell, humorously named after the legendary 18th century British fashion dandy, is the latest entrant in the men’s grooming market with its selection of shaving products, scrubs, masks, and moisturizers. A lot of companies use throw around the term “organic” in a willy-nilly way, but Beau Brummell backs it up by using crushed walnuts and charcoals instead of chemicals as ways of opening up pores and cleaning out toxins and good old dirt.

     Long Island City has always been home to bakeries and in recent years it has seen startup juice and chocolate companies locate there. A new digestive lozenge manufacturer, Mera & Longhi, has moved into that growing western Queens neighborhood. Company founder Mary Leong told me that her herbal sucking drops fight heartburn but that they are tasty enough to be enjoyed strictly as pieces of candy.

     A California snack company, Rise Buddy, is making bags of baked rice chips which is a healthier and arguably tastier alternative to potato chips. They come in such flavors as sour cream & onion, sea salt, and pizza.

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