November 20, 2009
Stating that "there's nothing else to say", Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has refused a Bob Costas interview request in anticipation of the Bears Sunday Night Football game. Jay Cutler(notes) and Bears general manager Jerry Angelo will also be unavailable to the network.
It sounds like a simple enough decision. The Bears have already been on NBC three times this year. They're in the midst of a difficult year and probably don't feel like answering any more questions aboout it. Blow off the interview, say it's because you want to focus and no big deal, right?Not really.
Look, we know these pre-game interviews are next-to-worthless. Costas (or whomever) lobs in some softball questions, the athlete or coach talks about working hard and the desire to win and how the next opponent will be tough, there's a jokey question or two and then it's over. In almost all of these talks, nothing remotely interesting ever happens.
But doing these interviews are part of the job. NBC pays hundreds of millions to broadcast games, money which ends up in the very deep pockets of Cutler, Angelo and Smith. The least they can do is throw a bone to Costas and give NBC some soundbites. (For what it's worth, Costas says he doesn't mind.)
An obligation to a television partner isn't the biggest problem. This thing was so foolish because it was so obviously going to become a problem. Instead of answering questions about the game for a few minutes, they're going to have to answer questions about not answering questions for the next three days. They should have thought of it like going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. You'd rather do something else, but you know the fallout would be too great, so you suck it up and do it.
It's also a bad decision by Smith and Angelo to bring Cutler into the fold on this one. Like the new Bears quarterback doesn't have enough image problems in that city and nationwide. Now he needs to be pegged as a petulant, pampered star who won't talk to the media because he had a bad game against the 49ers? The last thing Cutler needs is to give the public more reasons to dislike him.
Thanks, The Sporting Blog
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