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Second Shock Hit Closer to Home

January 21, 1994|LARRY STEWART

Bob Stenner's life was sailing along.

He has a great job. As the lead football producer for CBS, he gets to travel to a big NFL game every week. Pat Summerall and John Madden are his buddies. So are a lot of current and former football players.

Stenner, a bachelor, lives in a picturesque area of Southern California. His New York colleagues, enduring freezing temperatures, were envious of the warm winter he was enjoying.

Things were looking particularly good in early December, when Stenner signed a four-year contract with his network.

Then Stenner learned on Dec. 17 that CBS had lost its portion of the NFL television package to Fox. His great job suddenly didn't look so great.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, January 22, 2014 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
Northridge earthquake: An article in the Jan. 17 Section A reflecting on the Northridge earthquake 20 years earlier said neighbors had identified a Sherman Oaks couple killed in the collapse of their home as Mark Yupp and his fiancee, Kerry. Their names were Marc Yobs and Karen Osterholt.

Exactly a month later, on his 53rd birthday, he got an even bigger jolt. His home in the Mulholland-Beverly Glen area of Sherman Oaks was severely damaged in Monday's earthquake.

His power and telephone were out all day Monday. A reporter got through on Tuesday. "You're my first call," he said.

Like so many others, though, Stenner was glad to be alive.

A young couple on his street wasn't as lucky. Entertainment executive Mark Yupp, 31, and his fiance, Kerry, 32, were killed when their home went crashing down a hillside.

Another home in the area was knocked off its stilts and down the side of a canyon, killing a 4-year-old girl.

After the quake, the first thing Stenner did was jump into his truck and speed to the aid of a neighbor. He knew Janet Gretzky's husband, Wayne, was not at home because the Kings had played the night before in Philadelphia.

Although the Gretzky home has a Beverly Hills address, it is only "a good nine-iron" up a hill from Stenner's home, he said.

"Their home was in worse shape than mine, and Janet was really shaken. I was glad I was there to help out."

When Stenner returned home, another neighbor and close friend, Fred Dryer, came over to help him clean up. They were still at it on Tuesday.


Add Stenner: On Wednesday he left for Dallas, where he will produce the coverage of Sunday's NFC championship game between the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

Stenner still has a job with CBS. He will work the Winter Olympics, the NCAA basketball tournament and the Daytona 500, but he's not sure what the future holds. When CBS lost football, he became a free agent because of an escape clause in his new contract.

"It's the uncertainty that gets to you," he said. "I imagine I will be producing football for someone. But I could be working in a restaurant or driving a truck."

Stenner, who grew up in New York, started with CBS as a mail clerk in 1959 and began producing football in 1967. He worked with Summerall and Tom Brookshier from 1975-80.

For four games at the start of the 1981 season, Madden, who had joined CBS in 1979, was paired with Vin Scully. Summerall worked with Hank Stram.

Then they flip-flopped, and after four more weeks it was determined that Summerall and Madden would be the A team, with Stenner the producer and Sandy Grossman the director. Those four have been together ever since.

The team will probably be broken up after Sunday. Although it wouldn't be a bad move for Fox to hire this team intact, that's not likely.


Madden's Memories: In a conference call with reporters, Madden at first said he hadn't even thought about Sunday's game being the last one for this crew.

"The game is the thing, not the people there to cover it," he said. "And this one is as good as it gets."

But then he started reminiscing about the good times, the laughs, the poker games, the camaraderie.

He talked about when the 49ers played the Cowboys in Dallas last October and how Summerall, who had moved to the Dallas area from Florida in 1992, invited the crew to his house.

All 13 of them jumped in the back of Summerall's pickup truck and went to a Mexican restaurant for a night of frivolity.

"You start talking about this stuff and you start getting that feeling," he said. "I haven't had it before right now. Until now, all I've been thinking about is football.

"But I know I'm going to really miss working with these guys. This is not going to be that easy.

"I'm sure I'll be doing football somewhere next season. The sad part is you won't be working with the same people you've worked with so long."

Said Summerall: "What I wish more than anything else is that John and I can continue to work together. I think what a lot of people don't realize is just how hard he works, how hard he prepares. He doesn't just show up and do his thing."

Madden on Summerall: "He is so professional. He's always under control. He always brings it back and puts a period on things. He can say in three, four or five words what it takes me to say in three, four or five paragraphs. Or three, four or five days."


Rumor Department: Two weeks ago, it was reported that it was all but a done deal that Madden was headed for ABC's "Monday Night Football." Thursday, there were reports that Madden is headed for NBC, to replace Bob Trumpy.

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