For many sports fans across the nation, tonight will mark a new year of sorts. Yes, the National Football League makes its return with what has become tradition of late: a rousing, over-the-top kickoff jamboree, all jam-packed into one Thursday night. I mean, what can compete with seeing Green Day and Randy Moss on the same field?Yes, that is a twinge of sarcasm. Give the League credit, though. It halted opening orgies like the absurd pre-game Britney Spears concert resembling a 15-year-old boy’s wet dream from several years ago. But, in all seriousness, the NFL opens its season once again as the unquestioned kingpin of sports leagues. Somehow, somewhere, on the timeline of American history, professional football mutated from an athletic competition into some sort of warped religion and elevated itself above any challengers. Baseball may be America’s pastime, but football is its true love.Need proof? Take a drive a couple of hours north, where the Kool-Aid is served green and gold and any sort of clothing item can be made from Styrofoam cheese (or whatever that material is). The ultimate fan-to-team love affair can only be found in or around the city of Green Bay. Yes, Packers fans truly are hooked on their franchise more than life itself. And it is truly amazing. Sometimes strange and almost perverse? That too.The Packers have captivated followers with a mix of small-town fan appeal and a winning tradition over the last 10-plus years. It appears, however, the strategies used to maintain those winning ways over the past several seasons may be catching up with the green and gold.After a downright pathetic-looking preseason (granted, it is the preseason) in which the team somehow bumbled its way to two wins, 2005 looks much less promising for the Packers. Yes, Brett Favre is still under center for Mike Sherman’s team. But over the course of the last couple of years, Favre has seen the talent around him deteriorate.The Green Bay defense is in shambles, and the offense took two large hits with the losses (via free agency) of guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera. Maybe it truly is impossible to stay on top. But, when viewing some of the Packers’ decisions in the relatively recent past, it’s not that hard to see why lean years could be on the horizon.Joe Johnson. Hardy Nickerson. Cletidus Hunt. That’s just to name a few. Want more? How about signing backup fullback Nick Luchey to a seven-year contract. While teams such as the Patriots and Eagles avoid overspending for the most part, the Packers have carelessly thrown money around. The team allowed overpaid veterans such as Lawyer Milloy and Jeremiah Trotter to leave, relying on their systems and player development to take over. More accurately, former general manager and current head coach Mike Sherman has spent that cash in numerous quick-fix attempts. That shortsightedness has left the cupboard around Favre somewhat bare. After giving up a third-round pick to acquire troubled receiver Terry Glenn and seeing him battle nagging injuries, Sherman sent him packing for relatively nothing (a sixth-round choice). Oddly enough, Glenn had over 800 yards receiving in his one year at Lambeau. Not a very good turnaround value. However, Glenn’s story is just one example of Sherman and the organization’s failure to take a down-the-road approach. Trading away draft picks to reach for needs is another example (B.J. Sander, anyone?). Moves like these show a lack of patience and foresight.Now, that’s not to say Sherman has done everything wrong and the team is doomed. New general manager Ted Thompson has shown a refreshing, patient approach in his first half-year on the job. And Sherman draft picks Nick Barnett and Javon Walker have developed into fine players.Walker, Favre, Ahman Green and the Packers offense carried the franchise to another division title and a 10-6 record a season ago. And, if things go just right, Favre could lead the team to another winning campaign in 2005. Great players elevate those around them, and Favre is most certainly a great player.However, improved competition within the NFC North and Green Bay’s abysmal defense certainly cloud those optimistic hopes. If Sherman’s offense plays like it did a year ago (which is a lot to ask), the Packers could stay afloat for at least another season. But if Favre shows his age the slightest bit, the past several years of ineptitude in personnel management may step to the forefront.
Published on January 21, 2020 at 11:27 pm Contact Mitchell: email@example.com UPDATED: Jan. 23, 2020 at 2:18 p.m.Posing for a photograph near mid-court with her legs crossed and hands on her knee, Beth Mowins yelled through a smile.“You ever think you’d see this day?” Mowins asked Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota, who sat a few rows up in the empty Carrier Dome stands.“Long time coming,” Ditota responded.Mowins was surrounded by the ACC Network’s broadcast team for SU’s Jan. 16 women’s basketball game against Georgia Tech. Color analyst Isis Young was to her right, producer Mackenzie Pearce to her left. Seventeen other women surrounded the trio, too.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I remember when it was just me and Sue in the room,” Mowins said to Ditota.The 21 women laughed. But it wasn’t really a joke. The truth is the sports media industry has been dominated by men. Mowins and Sue Edson, Syracuse Athletics’ chief communications officer, were the only women in their 1989 sports broadcasting class at Newhouse, Edson said. A 2015 SAGE journal report found that 95% of analyzed sports-news shows had male anchors. In 2017, Mowins became the first female announcer to call an NFL game since 1987, and the first to ever call a nationally televised game.“I’ve always kind of felt comfortable in situations where you may have been the only woman in the room,” Mowins said. “That’s okay. That’s just kind of the way that I’ve always lived my life.”But last Thursday, that all flipped. For the first time in the ACC Network’s three-year history, a broadcast — from producer to director to pregame, halftime and postgame show — would be led by women in every lead position. It may have been a first, but Olivia Stomski, director of the Newhouse Sports Media Center, hopes one day an all-women’s broadcast wouldn’t be an ordeal at all – no need for press conferences, photo ops and media releases.Roshan Fernandez | Asst. Digital Editor“I want it to be normal that both male and female students are used to having women in these powerful positions and are used to having women call the shots,” Stomski said.• • •With an hour before tipoff, Young and Mowins sat behind their desk at center court. While Young scribbled into a notepad, bouncing to the Carrier Dome’s music — “Dior” by Pop Smoke — Mowins reviewed her pink-and-yellow highlighted cue cards and the Syracuse–Georgia Tech stat sheet.When Edson, producer Kristin Hennessey and senior producer Scott Hecht were discussing the upcoming ACC Network broadcasts in late December, they realized the Jan. 16 broadcast was shaping up to be led by a staff of women. Everyone was doing jobs they’d done before. They simply took the opportunity to “blow it out of the water,” Hennessey said, bringing in Young and Mowins and completing the all-female leading crew.Mowins, the 2015 Marty Glickman Award for Leadership in Sports Media recipient, and Young had met several times before the Georgia Tech game but had never shared a booth. After the 2017 espnW: Women + Sports Summit panel, Young rushed up to Mowins, the first to talk to her, and asked “just about everything,” Young said. Throughout her career, Mowins has embraced the role of mentor for young women trying to get into sports media. She understands the importance of seeing people that look like themselves in leadership roles and positions of power, she said.“I think there are millions of young women out there — Isis is one of them — that have dreams that are way bigger than mine,” Mowins said.With 12 minutes to tipoff, Syracuse Director of Athletics John Wildhack walked across the court, leaned over the desk and monitors and reached out his hand to shake Mowins’.“Thanks for doing this,” Wildhack said.Thanks for calling the game? Mowins had done that before. She’s called NFL, World Cup, college football and college basketball games. Wildhack’s thank you was for more.If somebody’s got to be the one to kind of walk through the door and hold it open andhopefully encourage other people to dream whatever dreams they have, thenthat’s great.- Beth Mowins“If somebody’s got to be the one to kind of walk through the door and hold it open and hopefully encourage other people to dream whatever dreams they have,” Mowins said, “then that’s great.”• • •A few minutes into the second quarter, with the Orange down 18-15, Syracuse’s cheerleading team jogged out to center court during a TV timeout. Hoisted on to each other’s shoulders, they led the crowd in a chant.“Let’s go, Orange!” *CLAP-CLAP-CLAP CLAP CLAP*Under the courtside desk, Mowins clapped along. “Let’s go Orange,” she mouthed under her breath. *CLAP-CLAP-CLAP CLAP CLAP*Both Mowins and Young graduated from Newhouse – Mowins as a graduate student in 1990 and Young, with both an undergraduate and graduate degree, in 2019 after playing basketball for the Orange. Sixteen of the 20 women involved in Thursday’s production went or go to Syracuse, Hennessey said. Because of Newhouse and the Dick Clark Studios, Syracuse is uniquely positioned to produce events like Thursday night’s. It’s the only school in the ACC that regularly uses students as on-air talent and the only school that cuts to a student-run studio for halftime, said Hennessey.“There’s just so much history here,” Mowins said of SU and Newhouse. “It’s really cool to be number one, and to be a part of something that you know is a special place and somewhat of a mecca that other people aspire to be a part of.”At halftime, Mowins and Young kept their headsets on, watching the studio show being shot back at Dick Clark Studios on their monitors. Junior Jenna Fink and senior Nicole Weaving brought in graduate student Michelle Knezovic to present a story on Amaya Finklea-Guity’s love of drawing and painting.In the adjacent control room three SU students, including director Maria Trivelpiece, directed and produced the pregame, halftime and postgame shows.Mitchell Bannon | Asst. Sports EditorWith three minutes remaining in the game and the Orange down 79-63, the postgame show crew returned to their positions.“Walk them through what they’re doing,” Stomski said to the team.Fink and Weaving discussed the Orange’s upcoming schedule from their studio desk while producer Mackenzie Pearce counted down the remaining seconds into their ears: Thirty, then 20, then 10. “I’m going to drop this on you,” a voice from the control room said.As Pearce finished her countdown, a photo of all the women involved in Thursday’s production flashed onto the screen, panning out from Mowins and Young, revealing all 20 women.“When we were sitting at the Dome I said that’s the shot we’re going to end with,” Hennessey said. “I was kind of joking … but I thought it was fitting to end with that.”As the screen closed to black the control room applauded. Everyone started to file out of the room. Maybe not together, but they will do it all again soon.CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this post, it wasn’t specified that Isis Young completed undergraduate and graduate school at SU. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+