Super Bowl week is normally a time for National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to enjoy a victory lap. This time around, however, I have a feeling he is not looking forward to giving his State of the NFL address and handling the ensuing Q&A with the press.
Goodell will be asked about former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the NFL for releasing his private emails to the media; allegations of sexual harassment in the Washington Commanders corporate culture; and thorniest of all, the class-action lawsuit filed last week by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the NFL and some teams alleging racial bias in their hiring practices.
Dolphins CEO Stephen Ross fired Flores as the team’s head coach despite him getting the best possible results given their paucity of talent. The Dolphins were in the playoff hunt until the last two weeks of the season.
The conventional wisdom was Flores would be in high demand by other NFL clubs needing a new head coach. From the viewpoint of most Jets and Giants fans, Flores looked like the second coming of Vince Lombardi. Giants co-owner John Mara made no secret of his high regard for Flores, a Brooklyn native, and phoned him to make sure he would interview for his team’s head coaching position almost as soon as he gave Joe Judge his pink slip.
Flores might have been named the Giants’ coach if John Mara did not force his general manager, Dave Gettleman, out of his team’s East Rutherford , NJ, headquarters at the same time he gave the boot to Judge. Mara hired Buffalo Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen to replace Gettleman. Schoen was determined to hire his own guy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
The Flores story gets weird at this point. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick got his Brians mixed up and accidentally sent a text message to Flores congratulating him on getting the Giants gig. Flores began to realize Belichick meant to text Daboll. Belichick admitted his mix-up and apologized. The problem was the Giants had not made an announcement about Daboll’s hiring, and Flores was still slated to be interviewed. He feared the Giants were using him merely to check off the Rooney Rule minority interview box. Flores then claimed Ross offered him a bonus of $100,000 for every game his team lost so they could get a better draft position. Ross denies the accusation.
Goodell probably won’t comment on Flores’ suit. He’ll still have to address why the NFL, where 70 percent of players are African-American, had only one Black head coach, the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, going into Super Bowl week.
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Congratulations to former Forest Hills resident and Bergen Record Mets beat writer Justin Toscano. He just joined the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he will be covering the Braves.
Expect to see a lot of Magic Johnson this spring.
First off, the Apple TV+ steaming service will feature a four-part series on his life titled “They Call Me Magic,” which will debut on April 22.
Johnson spoke to media members at the virtual Apple TV+ Television Critics Association Day organized by CTAM (the marketing arm of cable television and streaming networks.) He was asked about the inevitable comparisons with ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary series, “The Last Dance.”
“‘The Last Dance’ concentrated on Michael’s basketball career. This will show all parts of my life,” he replied.
I asked Johnson if “They Call Me Magic” would touch upon his unsuccessful foray into syndicated late-night television, “The Magic Hour.”
“Absolutely. I want to show both the successes and failures of my life. I need to show the audience the importance of getting back on your feet after you’ve been knocked down,” he forthrightly replied.
Johnson’s tenure as the Los Angeles Lakers franchise star of the 1980s will be dramatized this March when HBO launches a limited-run series, “Winning Time.” It was an era when the Lakers were LA’s greatest show, as they were led by Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and charismatic head coach Pat Riley. Actor John C. Reilly portrays flamboyant Lakers owner, Jerry Buss.
Magic Johnson isn’t the only athlete to get a multipart documentary. Snowboarder Shaun White, who is taking part in the Beijing Olympics, will be profiled later this year on Discovery+.
Life and style
Ben Stiller is a very enthusiastic celebrity Knicks fan. Stiller was a panelist at the Apple TV+ CTAM media event as he was promoting his upcoming futuristic workplace sci-fi thriller, “Severance,” which stars Adam Scott, and on which Stiller is serving as the executive producer. When I offered my condolences on what looks a playoff-less season for the Knicks, Stiller quickly replied, “Hey, it’s not over yet!”
South Jamaica native son Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is serving as the executive director of the Starz action series, “Power Book IV: Force.” Jackson says he still has friends and family in Queens and returns home as often as he can.
“I work with Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project in maintaining and beautifying Baisley Park,” he said at the CTAM confab.