Tag Archives: Green Bay Packers

Paving the way for women sports writers in the locker room

The Baseball Hall of Fame saluted a pioneering female sports reporter the other day in noting that a couple of her press passes from the late 1970s will be on display in a new exhibit on women in baseball.

The reporter was Melissa Ludtke, who was writing for Sports Illustrated during the 1977 World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers. The Dodgers were going to let her into the locker room to do her job interviewing coaches and players. But Major League Baseball said no. Sports Illustrated and its parent company, Time Inc., sued and won, giving female reporters equal access to reporting from baseball locker rooms.

That controversy caused a commotion back in the late 70s as I was entering grad school in journalism. Although I’ve written hundreds if not thousands of sports stories over my career, I only set foot in a pro locker room once. And that was enough.

I was helping cover a Raiders-Packers game at County Stadium in Milwaukee, probably in 1982, when I was sent down from the press box to catch some quotes after the game. My impressions? Hey – there are a lot of naked guys in here snapping towels at each other, and it doesn’t really smell too good.

I was part of a cluster of reporters huddled around Raiders (they were the L.A. Raiders then) coach Tom Flores, who — I still remember with relief — was fully clothed. I also got to chat with Jim Plunkett, which was cool. I remember watching the locker room interviews on TV that night and telling my wife something along the lines of: “See that guy? HE’S TOTALLY NAKED.”

Suffice it to say I was not a big fan of cruising a professional sports team’s locker room for quotes. But that’s where much of sports reporting happens, and it was absolutely right and proper for baseball and the other pro sports to grant access to reporters who happened to be women.

While I got the Raiders assignment, a colleague got the opportunity to run quotes from the Brewers’ locker room during the 1982 World Series.  I can’t recall if it was she who told me or one of the other guys on the staff who was there. But as the reporter arrived, one of the Brewers’ relief pitchers spotted her and, pointing this way and that, said, “There’s a naked one.”

As intimidated and somewhat repulsed as I was at setting foot in the locker room, I can only imagine what my colleague, Melissa Ludtke and other women who dared to enter these man caves must have experienced. They had more guts than I ever did.

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A great matchup for Super Bowl XLV

The best teams in football advanced to the Super Bowl today – Green Bay and Pittsburgh. On paper this appears to be an epic matchup between franchises with great legacies, and it’s likely to draw a huge TV audience in the U.S. and around the world.

The pairing of the Packers and Steelers also underscores my point from a few days ago that football, unlike baseball, has a universal appeal among fans. If the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates were facing one another in the World Series (and that will never happen unless the Brewers go back to the American League, and even then…), network executives in New York would be flinging themselves from office towers in despair.

When they straggle in to work tomorrow morning, Fox Sports executives will likely be sobering up after celebrating their good fortune tonight.

Let the hype begin.

Try as I might, I can’t get behind the Green Bay Packers

You’d think someone who spent a significant chunk of his life in Wisconsin, met his wife there and has two cheesehead children would be backing the Green Bay Packers in the NFL playoffs. But that’s not the case with me.

I tried to like the Packers when I lived in Milwaukee in the late 70s and early 80s. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. My allegiance to the Browns was still strong then, and the Packers under coach Bart Starr stunk.

I’d prefer that the Packers beat Atlanta today, my only connection to the Falcons being that I played on a grade school flag football team named for the 1966 expansion franchise. If the Packers lose, I’ll be a bit disappointed but won’t really care.

So who will I back? Certainly not the hated Steelers or ex-Browns Ravens. I tilted toward the Giants when I worked in New York, so forget the Jets and the Patriots. I had Seahawks’ season tickets for four seasons but today’s team leaves me cold.

Which leaves the Packers’ ancient rivals, the Chicago Bears. And I’m hoping they win it all.

The Bears have every bit as great a tradition as the Packers, and Chicago is a manly city full of passionate fans.  For this batch of playoffs, Da Bears are my team.

Football Night in America – sacrilege

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The show has been around on NBC for a few seasons, but only today as I awoke from a snooze brought on by 49ers, Raiders and Packers losses did I discover Football Night in America. It’s the show that airs before the Sunday night NFL game of the week, and I can’t recall watching it before.

The show, featuring the entertaining Dan Patrick, Peter King from Sports Illustrated and others, is pretty good. But I object to the title, a thinly veiled rip-off of the great, long-running CBC series, Hockey Night in Canada.

NBC, can’t you come up with something a little more original, eh?

The Twins win, and we’re stuck with more games in that horrid dome

Twins win

Twins win

The Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings Tuesday night to win the American League Central title, and I’m not happy.

Not because the Twins won per se. They’ve been a terrific story this season, charging from behind to tie the Tigers and force the one-game playoff for the division title.

What irritates me is the prospect of at least one more baseball game being played in the  abomination that is the Metrodome. Although I’ve never set foot in it, I’ve loathed that dome for years.

When the Brewers were in the American League and played there, I hated it on general principles.

When Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek and that generation of Twins were in their heyday, I hated it for the homer hankies the fans waved. (I’ve always hated any team whose fans in an act of mass silliness wave hankies or towels or – please, God, no – thundersticks.)

I even hate the dome in football season, as in the past two weeks when the 49ers and Packers lost in succession to the Vikings.

Why do I find the dome so revolting? I don’t begrudge the Twins and Vikings fans a warm place to sit when it’s freezing outside. But the Metrodome is an over-the-top artificial environment, a chamber of Nordic screams designed to rile and rattle the opposing team. The building is a huge advantage for the home squad, and unfairly so.

There are other domes in professional sports. I’ve been in Skydome or whatever it’s now called in Toronto and the old Kingdome in Seattle (inset), for which I had a minimal, grudging tolerance. I’ve also been in Miller Park in Milwaukee, with the roof open and closed. None of those parks approaches the Metrodome in affecting the outcome of a game.

Quirky differences among ballparks parks add to baseball’s appeal — the Green Monster at Fenway Park, the ivy at Wrigley Field, McCovey Cove in San Francisco, the arches at Yankee stadia, old and new. Those features constitute charm and give the home team a bit of a boost. But they don’t loom oppressively over the game as does the Metrodome.

That the Twins are moving to the new Target Field next season is good news. It can’t come soon enough.

Brett Favre exacts a measure of vengeance on the Packers

We doubted his word. We doubted his motives. But as the Minnesota Vikings have surged to a 4-0 record this season, no one doubts that Brett Favre has the drive and the talent to succeed for his new team. Favre shone again Monday night as the Vikes defeated his old team, the Green Bay Packers, 30-23.

I’m betting the TV ratings for the game were high as curious Americans tuned in to watch Favre attack the Pack. Although he wore his familiar No. 4 jersey, it was purple instead of the usual Packers’ green and gold. Didn’t matter. Favre performed like a man half his 40 39 years of age.

I wasn’t surprised. A week ago, I watched Favre shred the San Francisco secondary on a last-minute drive that he punctuated with a 32-yard touchdown strike to the end zone with 2 seconds left.

I lived in Wisconsin during the Bart Starr coaching era when the Packers were awful. At the time I appreciated the Packers for their heritage but could not fully embrace the team. In recent years the Pack returned to some measure of glory, and Favre deservedly got much of the credit.

The Monday night loss to the rival Vikings will be even more bitter for Packers fans, who rightly felt jilted and betrayed when Favre “retired” only to sign last season with the New York Jets. His outrageous, teasing courtship dance with Vikings over the summer makes his performance with them in this first quarter of the season even more remarkable.

Call him what you will. But Brett Favre has delivered on his promise.