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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

CBS or Cowboys, Donahue Is in Limbo

January 30, 1998|LARRY STEWART

Jerry Jones hasn't even hired Terry Donahue and he is already toying with him. While Jones takes his time in selecting a new coach for his Dallas Cowboys, he leaves Donahue, the leading candidate, in limbo.

And it's not a good time for that.

While Donahue waits for Jones to make up his mind, CBS, Donahue's current employer, is busy putting together its lineup of NFL announcers.

CBS announced Thursday that, as expected, its No. 1 team on the NFL will be Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms. It also named Jim Nantz as the host of the new "NFL Today" show.

Terry Ewert, CBS Sports' executive producer who is in Pebble Beach this week for the AT&T National Pro-Am, was asked about Donahue.

"What's the latest?" Ewert said.

Told Donahue still hasn't been hired by Jones, Ewert said, "I told him to call as soon as he heard something."

The latest is, Jones is supposed to decide early next week, possibly by Monday.

Ewert said Donahue had expressed interest in being involved with CBS' new NFL package if things with the Cowboys don't work out, but Ewert indicated that Sean McDonough and Donahue would stay on college football.

That may not be what Donahue wants, but he is hardly in a position to argue.

"We think Terry has grown and become a terrific broadcaster, but we want to build up our college football separately from NFL football," Ewert said.

Ewert said Randy Cross has been hired but it has not been determined if he will work games or in the studio with Nantz.

Of reports about Marcus Allen becoming a studio host, Ewert said, "As far as we know, Marcus has not retired from football, but if he does, there is interest on our part."

Ewert said CBS has talked to just about everybody, from Sam Wyche to Bob Trumpy, who became free agents after NBC lost the AFC package to CBS. But he said many decisions will have to wait until after the Winter Olympics. One problem is that Eric Mann, the producer of "NFL Today," is producing CBS' prime-time coverage from Nagano, Japan.

Ewert said he had a phone conversation with Pat Haden on Wednesday and plans to meet with him "in a couple of weeks."

Simms said he is going to miss his NBC partners, Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire, but he is looking forward to working in a two-man booth with Gumbel.

Fox earlier this week announced it had hired Cris Collinsworth to work on the pregame show, which means Ronnie Lott gets bumped out and will become a game commentator.

"Whatever they want me to do is OK by me," Lott said.

Gumbel, asked about his new play-by-play role, said, "After a while, studio work, although a lot of fun, becomes a grind. So this switch is a welcome one."

EMOTIONAL PLEA

Charles Haley, the tough guy who won five Super Bowls with San Francisco and Dallas, made an emotional plea on Jim Rome's radio show Thursday for more African Americans to donate blood for bone-marrow transplants. Haley's 6-year-old daughter has leukemia and needs such a transplant. Her chances are not good because among those in the pool of donors, only 8% are African American.

SHORT WAVES

The NFL Films-produced Super Bowl video is due out Feb. 17. It would have been out even earlier but NFL Films was dealt a setback when the Denver Broncos won. Steve Sabol, the president of NFL Films, said all the pre-production work on the video was geared toward a Green Bay Packer victory. "I'm not complaining," Sabol said. "The way things turned out, we'll probably do even better than we did last year, when we sold a record 300,000 copies." . . . Classic Sports Network will focus on African American athletes in February to commemorate Black History Month. Arthur Ashe will be profiled Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Jackie Robinson Wednesday at 7 p.m. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be a studio guest Feb. 22.

Sunday's Pro Bowl on ABC will be Frank Gifford's final game in the booth. He begins doing a new pregame show from a New York studio next season. . . . ESPN's "Outside the Lines" examines the issue of weight and athletics in the wake of the deaths of three college wrestlers. The show, which airs today at 5:30 p.m., also includes a segment on jockeys, who use self-induced vomiting, extreme dieting and saunas to lose weight.

King announcer Bob Miller will be honored during the first intermission of Saturday's noon game with the Chicago Blackhawks, which Fox is televising. Miller is in his 25th season with the team. . . . ESPN will put a microphone on both linesmen during the Chicago-Mighty Duck game at Anaheim on Sunday. It is the first time an NHL linesman will wear a mike during a national broadcast.

Event Entertainment's Rick Kulis, who promoted 27 women's boxing matches this last year, mainly on three pay-per-view cards, is finding that the sport works on mainstream television as well. The USA network will open its weekly boxing show Tuesday at 9 p.m. with a Kulis-promoted title match between Cynthia Prouder and Deborah Nichols, who on Jan. 6 won elimination matches on USA. Kulis has an all-female card set for ESPN2 on Feb. 15.

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