Daytona 500, NBA All Star Game Headline Weekend

This weekend brings us two high-profile sports events in the Daytona 500 and the NBA All Star Weekend.

The 50th Daytona 500 

FOX brings us a number of new technological advances to their broadcast, two being outlined in the exceprts from their press releases below:

On Sunday, February 17 (2:00 PM ET), FOX Sports proudly presents the 50th running of the Daytona 500 with an electrifying 80 minute prerace show to celebrate the races history and most memorable moments from the past 49 races. Hosted by Chris Myers along with analysts Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip the show is a special tribute to living racing legends who have won the Daytona 500 including Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and FOX’s very own Waltrip. In addition to previewing Sunday’s race, FOX welcomes motorsports broadcasting legend Ken Squier as a special contributor to the broadcast, adding historical perspective. It was Squier who called the first live televised Daytona 500 back in 1979 and who coined the phrase “The Great American Race.” Also in the prerace, NASCAR on FOX analyst Larry McReynolds takes a look back at the late Dale Earnhardt’s first and only Daytona 500 win in 1998 where he served as crew chief.

GOPHER CAM PROVIDES “HOLE” NEW PERSPECTIVE — Imagine that your ultimate wish is to stand trackside at the world’s most famous superspeedway, inches away as the best drivers anywhere whiz by at a breathless 185 miles per hour during the nation’s most prestigious auto race.  That’s the view Gopher Cam provides at the 50th Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17 (2:00 PM ET) and beyond.

Gopher Cam is a small, stationary high-definition point-of-view camera buried underneath the asphalt track surface, inches below the yellow line at Daytona International Speedway.  There are four Gopher Cams in-place for the 50th Daytona 500, one in each of the track’s four turns.  This is the first instance where a camera has been installed below the surface of a superspeedway, and this is the first time that a sub-track surface camera is HD caliber.  The cameras have also been paired with high quality condenser microphones, another first, for an unbelievably realistic audio/video experience.

“Television’s never-ending goal is to bring the viewer as close to the action as possible,” said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill.  “We’ve had great past success with Catcher-Cam and Diamond-Cam in our MLB coverage and Grass Cam and Wall-Cam in NASCAR on FOX broadcasts.  However, Gopher Cam, and forgive us for having some fun with the name, is different. These are HD cameras developed specifically for this use.  The pictures are phenomenal, and the audio that the mikes provide is mean and loud.  It’s a tremendous complement to our Emmy-caliber NASCAR broadcasts.” 

The camera hardware and electronics have been installed six inches below the asphalt, and is housed in a cylindrical stainless steel fixture.  The lens is less than a half-inch in diameter, and camera is angled slightly to see oncoming traffic.  The assembly is covered by a protective dome that is four-inches in diameter and rises less than one-quarter inch above the track surface.  Cars rolling over them will have no idea of their presence. The cameras are connected to FOX’s mobile production units outside DIS via copper wiring that was trenched in below the track and grass and run to where it meets up with the network’s advanced fiber optic wiring system. 

Live Online Q&A System To be Launched

This virtual Q&A is unlike others that may have preceded it.  On FOXSports.com, NASCAR on FOX analysts Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds, three of the sport’s most knowledgeable experts, can answer viewer’s questions in real time.  Each individual has been recorded providing simple, concise explanations to hundreds of potential questions that might arise during a NASCAR on FOX race.

“Every sport, including NASCAR, is loaded with unique terminology that many core viewers understand, but sometimes has others scratching their heads,” said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill.  “Our virtual Q&A is designed to enhance the viewing experience by helping the curious fan better understand what they’re seeing while they’re seeing it.”

FOX’s virtual Q&A is an adaptation of patented technology called Synthetic Interviews developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Penn., by Scott Stevens, Ph.D. and Michael Christel, Ph.D., computer researchers in CMU’s School of Computer Science and Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). 

“By enabling fans to interact with their favorite on-air personalities online, FOX Sports and FOXSports.com are delivering the type of engaging, multi-platform experience that users have come to expect from sports event coverage,” said Brian Grey, SVP and GM of FOX Sports Interactive.  “It’s these types of multi-platform programming experiences that deliver a new level of engagement for sports fans and also resonate with brand advertisers.”

Synthetic Interviews is a technology that allows users to ask questions and receive video answers as if they were engaged in a face-to-face conversation with a live person.  Specifically regarding this effort, one of the three NASCAR on FOX experts appears to answer the question or explain the term as though speaking directly to the viewer.  When the project is launched on

Sunday, over 300 terms frequently used during race coverage, such as wedge, marbles or camber can be explained by the FOX Sports Answer Man.  While not every possible question can be anticipated, items featured can be refreshed and updated based on demand.  

NBA All Star Weekend on TNT

TNT’s coverage of NBA All-Star Weekend festivities tips off Friday, February 15 at 9 p.m. ET with the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam. Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley will be courtside to call the action with Craig Sager reporting from the sidelines. Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai will follow with Johnson, Smith and Barkley.

The excitement continues on Saturday, February 16, when Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai tips off an exciting night at 5 p.m. ET. TNT guest analyst Magic Johnson and NBA Insider David Aldridge will join Ernie Johnson, Smith and Barkley live from the historic French Quarter of New Orleans. At 7 p.m. ET, TNT will present NBA’s Greatest Slam Dunk Contest: Airborne. Through first-person interviews of players and TNT announcers, ‘Airborne’ reflects on memorable NBA dunk contests and the host cities that served as backdrops to the dunks that made history. Beginning at 8 p.m. ET, TNT will televise exclusive live coverage of NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, which includes the Haier Shooting Stars competition, the Playstation Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, and the Sprite Slam Dunk. The evening will be capped off by the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2008 presented on TNT by Old Spice Pro Strength at 11 p.m. ET/10:30 p.m. PT.

TNT’s All-Star coverage takes center stage on Sunday, February 17 at 8 p.m. ET with the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. Play-by-play announcer Marv Albert and analysts Doug Collins and Reggie Miller will be courtside with Craig Sager reporting from the sidelines.

Weekend Watch – NFL Opening Weekend 2007

It’s opening weekend for rest of the NFL this Sunday, and the Patriots get things started with a matchup with the New York Jets in the Meadowlands.

WBZ-TV is your Boston destination for the game, as they kick things off tonight with a Patriots season preview at 7:00pm. On Sunday, they have Patriots GameDay at 11:30am, followed by CBS’ NFL Today at Noon and the Patriots/Jets game at 1:00. Following the game, Patriots 5th Quarter will air on sister station TV-38.

The Patriots/Jets matchup is the national game for CBS, with number one crew Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action.

FOX has the NFL Doubleheader Sunday with Eagles/Packers at 1:00 and Bears/Chargers at 4:15. FOX NFL Sunday at noon welcomes new full-time host Curt Menefee. Menefee joins the cast of co-host Terry Bradshaw and analysts Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson. Also new this year, former Oklahoma Sooners and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer is paired with fellow National Championship and Super Bowl-winning coach Johnson in a segment called “Grumpy Old Coaches.” Bradshaw moderates/referees this segment. NFL Insider, Jay Glazer joins FOX NFL SUNDAY in the studio this season, reporting the latest news and notes from around the league. Weather forecaster Jillian Reynolds (not Barberie) returns and comedic prognosticator Frank Caliendo contributes his weekly “Frank’s Picks” segment.

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown will have a feature on Eric Mangini – What will the second-year Jets coach do for an encore after turning a 4-12 squad into a playoff team that helped launch the “Man-genius” label, a cameo on “The Sopranos” and a spirited rivalry with the New England Patriots and his mentor, Bill Belichick. Reporter Wendi Nix gets an inside look at Mangini’s life on and off-the-field, highlighted by his “take your family to work day” at the Jets headquarters.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football game is Giants/Cowboys at 8:15pm.

For the rest of the country, here are your NFL Coverage Maps for CBS, Fox Game One and Fox Game Two.

(Also back for another year is the College Football TV Schedule.)

Patriots Daily will have you covered on the college games tomorrow, plus the Sunday morning links, game blog and Game Day Rear View. You can check out the NY coverage on the New York Sports Pages, as well as JetsLinks.com.

The Red Sox are in Baltimore this weekend, continuing their series with the Orioles. Keep up with the action on RedSoxLinks.com.

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WEEI’s Glenn Ordway promised an “announcement” at 5:00pm today, (which really means closer to 5:30) but David Scott says that it likely won’t be a new deal for Dennis & Callahan.

Mike Zhe reports on UNH backup quarterback Hank Hendricks being charged with murder.

Pink Hat Hell has the review of Sox Appeal Episode 6.

Bill Simmons has his two-part NFL Preview, and in the first part, he ranks teams 32-12 and in the second part teams 11-1 and has his week one picks.

Pat Kirwan has 10 things to watch for this weekend.

Don Banks has week one matchups, storylines and predictions.

Aaron Schatz for Slate, tells us how to watch Pro Football.

JT the Brick has the Patriots as his preseason favorites.

The Media Circus examines Sean Salisbury’s unhealthy obsession with predicting the NFL MVP.

Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated has a story you simply must read about University of Miami football coach Randy Shannon.

Jessica Camerato has 10 things you won’t see from the Celtics this season.

Sam Smith says that Kevin Garnett will make it work in Boston, partially by deferring to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen when the game is on the line.

Chad Finn goes nine innings for FoxSports.

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New England
Susan Bickelhaupt has Dan Dierdorf talking about the Patriots being the favorites. Bill Doyle has Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo changing his philosophy on-the-fly during the Clay Buchholz game about talking about a no-hitter in progress. David Scott offers up a WEEI fantasy draft. John Molori says that Jim Nantz has carved a classy niche for himself in the broadcaster pantheon.

New York
Phil Mushnick says that Keith Hernandez’s “arrogance, condescending manner, impatience, sarcasm, naughtiness, knowledge, and brutal candor would make him both cherished and scorned.” Justin Terranova has John Madden saying that Eli Manning has what it takes to win. He also has five questions with Phil Simms about this Sunday’s Jets/Patriots game. Neil Best has Kenny Albert’s long tenure at FOX finally paying off. Bob Raissman says that NBC is counting on Tiki Barber to “swing the axe” and stir things up. Richard Sandomir has a look at the new stadium for the Jets and Giants.

More East Coast
Michael Hiestand has rookie analyst Barber taking some heat from fellow analysts for telling “secrets” about his former team. Chris Zelkovich has the NFL trying to put a bad offseason behind it. Laura Nachman has a game plan for Eagles TV and Radio this season. Leonard Shapiro offers up some analysis of the NFL analysts. Jim Williams talks to John Madden and the NBC crew about opening night.

South
Dave Darling lets it be known that he dislikes Thursday night football. Immensely. He asserts that the NFL season should start on Sunday. David Barron has Austin dropping the Texans game this weekend in favor of Vince Young and the Titans. Barry Jackson has the Miami Dolphins radio crew getting ready for their regular season debut as a three man booth. He also looks at FOX’s Grumpy Old Coaches pregame segment.

Midwest
Judd Zulgad has the Clippers swooping in to grab the Timberwolves Radio play-by-play man. Teddy Greenstein says that having Ron Jaworski on board will be key to Tony Kornheiser’s second season on Monday Night Football. Bob Wolfley has Emmitt Smith talking about Brett Favre approaching Dan Marino’s passing records. Jeffrey Flanagan has the Missouri Tigers falling victim to the SEC’s television contracts. Dan Caesar says that KSDK whiffed by not carrying the Deutsche Bank Championship last weekend.

West Coast
Jay Posner has Troy Aikman saying that he won’t give his former offensive coordinator Norv Turner a free ride in his analysis of the Chargers/Bears game on Sunday. John Maffei has more on the Aikman/Tuner dynamic on Sunday. Larry Stewart looks at Tiki Barber stirring up controversy by ripping his former team. Stewart’s notebook has the networks pulling out all the stops for the NFL. Tom Hoffarth has “the stuff you need to know about the 2007 NFL TV season but were afraid to hear the answer.” He has more media notes in his blog.

Weekend Watch – Labor Day Weekend 2007

Can it possibly be Labor Day Weekend already?

It’s our last weekend before the NFL regular season kicks in, and one last chance to spend some quality time with your family on a Sunday afternoon.

The Red Sox look to get back on the winning side of things starting tonight at Fenway in the first of a three game series with the Orioles. Keep up with the news this weekend on RedSoxLinks.com.

The Patriots have started their preparation for next Sunday’s season opener against the division rival Jets down in New York. Saturday will mark cutdown day as the team needs to trim down to the regular season limit of 53 players (though they have an extra spot until Asante Samuel is actually ready to play). Keep up with the news on Patriots Daily. Tomorrow we’ll have a college football breakdown, with an eye towards players that might be in the Patriots future. Sunday will also bring another edition of the Sunday Links.

Will Gerry Callahan and John Dennis magically reappear on the WEEI airwaves Tuesday morning? It wouldn’t be the biggest upset of the year if they did.

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The Red Sox may make more headlines and have their own Nation, but the Patriots are showing that they are no slouches at PR and media production either, as they announced today this season’s offerings on the Patriots Football Network, which spans TV, Radio, Print and the Internet. The new season will include a complete re-design of Patriots.com, set to debut on September 4th. Here’s a breakdown of all the PFN programming for this season:

PATRIOTS on TV

Patriots All Access (Premiering LIVE Friday, Sept. 7 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. on WCVB in Boston)
Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 10:00 a.m. on WCVB in Boston; Sundays at 1:30 a.m. on WPRI in Providence; Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. on WFXQ in Springfield and anytime on Comcast On Demand

Patriots All Access, winner of the 2007 New England Emmy Award for best Sports Series, airs weekly throughout the season. Patriots All Access features weekly sit-downs with Coach Bill Belichick including the popular “Belestrator” segment where the coach breaks down upcoming opponents.

Kristina Akra
Patriots Today (NEW – Premiering Sept. 4 on Patriots.com)
Daily at Patriots.com and on Comcast On Demand
Patriots Today, the team’s newest media offering, gives fans a daily, in-depth look at the club that is unmatched by any other outlet. The show is hosted by Kristina Akra and features daily reports from Brian Lowe and twice-weekly analysis from PFW’s Paul Perillo. Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman John Hannah will also offer his expertise throughout the season. This daily half-hour webcast is dedicated exclusively to the Patriots and provides daily features, reports and commentary that will satisfy every fan’s daily Patriots fix.

Patriots This Week (NEW – Premiering Sept. 15 at 10:30 p.m. on WSBK)
Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. on WSBK Channel 38
Patriots This Week, airing on Channel 38 every Saturday night, provides a thorough recap of each week’s developments to get fans up-to-date and excited for the next day’s game. Hosted by Kristina Akra, the show delivers fans everything they need to know, with the week’s best stories, quotes and analysis.

Totally Patriots (Premiering Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. on WCVB in Boston)
Sundays at 11:00 a.m. on WCVB in Boston; Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on WNAC in Providence; Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. on WFXQ in Springfield and anytime on Comcast On Demand

Totally Patriots, a weekly youth-oriented football show is back for its third season on WCVB, Channel 5 in Boston. Hosted by Kerry Connolly, Totally Patriots allows the next generation of Patriots fans unprecedented access to their favorites players, enabling them to ask questions in a relaxed, informal setting. The program also includes football tips from Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett and a current Patriots player, and the opportunity to win college scholarships by writing weekly essays on the Patriots.

Patriots Football Weekly (TV)
Tuesday nights at 11 p.m. during the season on NECN
Every week during the season on New England Cable News, the writers from Patriots Football Weekly gather to discuss everything Patriots. They’ll review Sunday’s game and look forward to New England’s next opponent. It’s a great half hour of Patriots talk on TV. Every Tuesday night at 11 p.m. hosted by NECN’s Chris Collins. Replayed at 11:30 p.m.

Patriots 5th Quarter
Immediately following each game on WBZ-TV/TV38
WBZ-TV and TV38 team up to broadcast Patriots 5th Quarter immediately following each Patriots game. WBZ-TV Sports Director Bob Lobel and WBZ-TV Sports Reporter Steve Burton join former Patriots players Scott Zolak and Steve DeOssie to provide instant reaction and analysis in studio and at the stadium. Patriots 5th Quarter also features exclusive live coverage of the Patriots post-game press conferences with Coach Belichick and Tom Brady.

PATRIOTS on RADIO

Patriots Monday
Mondays during the season on WEEI Sports Radio 850 AM (Boston); 103.7 FM (Providence); 1440 AM (Worcester); 105.5 FM (Springfield).

WEEI Sports Radio broadcasts Patriots Monday each week, offering fans the chance to hear from Coach Belichick, Tom Brady and the players of the game.

Patriots Friday
Fridays during the season on 890 ESPN Boston
890 ESPN Boston has the exclusive rights to broadcast Patriots Friday from Gillette Stadium each week during the season. Kevin Winter delivers Patriots updates throughout the day, and ESPN Boston’s Mike Felger hosts The Mike Felger Show from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. from Gillette Stadium, where he is joined by prominent Patriots players each week.

Patriots Pregame and Postgame
Before and after each game on the WBCN Rock Radio Network
WBCN is the Patriots’ flagship station, broadcasting every Patriots game across its FM radio network. Three hours prior to kickoff, during halftime and after the game, host Gary Tanguay is joined by co-hosts Scott Zolak and Andy Gresh among other guests, serving up all the pregame and postgame news and notes, including live sound from the postgame press conferences.

PATRIOTS IN PRINT

Patriots Football Weekly
Subscriptions Available by calling 800-494-PATS
Patriots Football Weekly is the official newspaper of the New England Patriots and the nation’s only full-color football newspaper. PFW is published weekly throughout the season and monthly during the offseason, providing readers with exclusive Patriots coverage. Each issue of Patriots Football Weekly is loaded with the latest news, game previews and reviews, feature stories, contests and full-color posters.

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Pink Hat Hell reviews Sox Appeal Episode 5.

Tony Massarotti notes that it has been 40 years since Carl Yastrzemski became the last triple crown winner in baseball.

Mike Celizic says that the Red Sox will be fine as long as their pitching holds up.

Greg Cosell says that Tom Brady is the most mobile quarterback in the NFL.

Rich Cimini has a Patriots season preview on NFL.com.

Bucky Brooks predicts the best and worst of the upcoming NFL season.

Bill Simmons has his top 50 fantasy football picks.

Tom Curran Tom Curran recently ranked Eli Manning and the 25th best QB in football. He heard from a few Giants fans afterwards.

Steve Greenberg says that Paul Pierce needs to get into the best shape of his life so that he doesn’t wear down late in games this season.

Chris O’Leary of Slam has Paul Pierce among those players who participated in the making of EA Sports NBA Live 08 – a pretty entertaining article, especially reading the talk among the various players.

Frank Isola says that the Kevin Garnett trade will have an impact that will be felt throughout the NBA.

Richard Deitsch talks to Boomer Esiason about his new job taking over for Don Imus on WFAN, which starts next Tuesday.

Matt Casey looks at some of the greatest names in the world of sports.

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New England
David Scott wraps up his experience at the ESPN Media Workshop yesterday. Susan Bickelhaupt checks in with Tommy Roy of NBC sports, who has been nominated for more Emmys than anyone in the history of sports television. Bill Doyle has a look at Worcester Sharks announcer Eric Lindquist, who has a Showcase Showdown victory on The Price is Right under his belt. John Molori had Cris Carter talking about former teammate and new Patriot Randy Moss.

New York
Phil Mushnick knocks ESPN/ABC for using 50 Cent to open the network’s Saturday night college football games. Richard Sandomir has John McEnroe mellowing from “superbratty to cuddly.” Neil Best wonders if college football will ever be relevant in New York City.

More East Coast
Michael Hiestand looks at ESPN/ABC launching into college football with 25 games this weeks, profiles 89 year old Jimmy Wall, who has been a stage manager at CBS for 40 years, and has Faith Hill professing her love for football as she replaces Pink in the intro to NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Leonard Shapiro has Mike Tirico jumping at the chance to cover Virginia Tech’s home opener, the first game since the April 16th tragedy that killed 32 people. Chris Zelkovich notes that Canadians will even watch hockey in the sweltering August heat. Laura Nachman has Comcast and the NFL Network still battling over placement of the network on the Sports Tier.

South
Barry Jackson has former UM coach Larry Coker getting ready to cover his former team this weekend as an analyst for ESPNU. Dave Darling gives us 10 reasons why the BCS works. David Barron has high school football going up against the Texans last night on Houston television. Barry Horn lists out his top 10 NFL announcers.

Midwest
Dan Caesar reports that FOX NFL Sunday will again have a new look for this season. Judd Zulgad notes that KMSP could take a huge hit if the Vikings’ season opener is blacked out, as no other game will be available as a replacement to the station. Teddy Greenstein looks at three new books on college football, and has a few other media items. Bob Wolfley notes that the Big Ten Network is currently only available by satellite TV as Time Warner, Comcast and Charter have not yet made a deal to bring the network on.

West Coast
Jay Posner looks at a possible new competitor for XX Sports Radio. Larry Stewart has a look at the return of college football. Tom Hoffarth has NBC on the Jimmy Clausen watch. John Maffei notes that the new San Diego State radio crew is a bit of a mismatch. Jim Carlisle has a piece on Dr. Jerry Punch and what the Dr. part has to do with his role on television. Carlisle’s notebook has former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter now doing 90 second commentaries on KLAC. Carlise also has a new blog: Jim Carlisle’s Sports Notes.