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Dick Ebersol Miffed Some ESPN Execs With Jerry Jones Cell Phone Joke

Apr 27, 2010 – 4:30 PM
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Will Brinson

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The Sports Emmys went down in New York on Monday night, meaning that once again, hundreds of journalists got to give golf claps to Bob Costas as he added to his trophy collection. But something that might have gone unnoticed (since there was no television coverage) was NBC Sports' Dick Ebersol's attempt at humor.

Ebersol, along with Jerry Jones, got onstage to present John Madden a lifetime achievement award, at which point, before screaming BOOM! and handing Madden the trophy, Ebersol poked some fun at ESPN. The details, courtesy of John Ourand at the Sports Business Journal:
With many ESPN execs, including ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer and Exec VP/Content John Skipper, in the audience watching, Ebersol took out a cell phone and pretended to record Jones. He then said, "I just wanted a call out to my friends at ESPN-TMZ." At a party after the event, many ESPN execs were fuming at the remark.
You know what? I'm not entirely sure why ESPN is angry on this one; for as much fun as it is to give the World Wide Leader hell for their sometimes curious coverage decisions, there are a couple things that make this incident brushing-off-the-shoulders worthy.

First, the Jerr-ah video was newsworthy: it featured an NFL owner discussing a former coach, a high-profile NFL draft prospect all while mentioning how his stadium got built. If he does that on live television, everyone writes about it.

Second, it's an awards show -- making semi-amusing, onstage jokes at the expense of your colleagues is the only thing that keeps this sort of stuff even remotely interesting.

And finally, pot meet kettle -- sure, NBC took the high road by thumbing their noses at "live coverage" and Stephen Colbert during Olympic coverage, and by only showing high-falutin' golden domers on Saturday, but when you get down to it, is flashing headlines like "[Tito] Ortiz accuses Jenna Jameson of drug use" (on the front page of and "Rachael Uchitel pitching reality show" (on the golf homepage) any different than showing that video of Jones drunk at a bar? Of course not.

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Filed under: Sports