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Friday, October 25, 2013

Memories of the Amazin', WNEW-FM and St. Peter's College

There were two news items that occurred in a span of 48 hours this week that brought back some incredible memories of my days as the Sports Information Director at St. Peter's College.

From 1986 through 1990, I worked at SPC as a statistician, public relations person, conduit to the athletes, you name it. I did everything, bleeding Peacock blue.

Part of my job was to try to promote our athletic teams, most prominently the men's basketball team, which was pretty good back then. We would challenge for top honors in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference every year, thanks to the brilliance of head coach Ted Fiore and the hard work and diligence of the constantly overachieving players.

So I would do practically anything and everything to get publicity for the Peacocks.

One of those instances took place in 1989, when I called WFAN to see if I could get a spot for Fiore to be interviewed. The producers agreed to put Fiore on with Bill Mazer, who died Wednesday at the age of 92.

Mazer earned the nickname as "The Amazin'" for his impeccable ability to know sports trivia answers off the cuff. Mazer was the sports anchor on Channel 5 for more than 20 years and began every broadcast with a trivia question asked by news anchor John Roland.

Mazer was also the host of "Sports Extra," which was the first show of its kind, on every Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. reviewing the events of the previous week with Lee Leonard, John Dockery and my good friend Jerry Izenberg. It was a great show, one that I couldn't wait to watch every Sunday, a great lead in to my fanaticism for Monty Python's Flying Circus, which also made my Sunday nights wonderful.

Anyway, I get the producers at WFAN to give Fiore a slot. Mazer did his show at Mickey Mantle's Restaurant near Central Park, so I had to take Fiore to Mickey Mantle's. We left SPC with what I thought was enough time, but of course, we hit rush hour traffic and it looked as if we were not going to get there on time.

We finally get to Mickey Mantle's around 9:50, 10 minutes before Mazer was set to go on the air. I told Fiore to go inside, to tell the producers he was there and I would take care of parking the car.

So I found a parking spot on the street that I thought was fine. I put four quarters in the meter and went inside.

As Fiore is sitting with Mazer, I looked out the window to see a tow truck taking the car away.

Fiore looks at me and notices that I was upset. He mouths to me, "What's wrong?" I mouthed back, "The car was towed."

Fiore thought I said that the car was totaled. So now he was upset. He became more angry when Mazer didn't ask him many questions about his team. He wanted to talk about Jersey City, about Bobby Hurley, about St. Anthony, about the old Jersey City Armory and Calvin Murphy, but not much about the Peacocks.

When Fiore is done with his 20 minutes of fame, he comes over to me and I then let him know that the car was fine, but it was in a municipal lot clear across town. We get in a cab, go get the car and paid an incredible fine. All in the course of getting positive publicity for the Peacocks. It was a substantial hit, especially for someone making $17,500 a year.

But the incident certainly was good for a few laughs back then at my expense _ literally _ and remained a good memory for the years I spent with Fiore and St. Peter's.

There's another memory about my days at SPC that came about after the news of the week, about the horrific arrest of former WNEW-FM disc jockey Dave Herman.

Herman was arrested Thursday and charged with attempting to arrange a sexual encounter with an apparent 7-year-old girl in St. Croix. Herman apparently was part of a sting operation conducted by Bergen County Prosecutor's investigators. There was no actual little girl, rather a detective posing as the girl on the Internet.

Herman wanted to arrange a sexual meeting with the child,  because he "found girls that age incredibly sexy." It's an awful, horrific story, a sick tale.

Anyway, Herman's arrest made me remember another attempt to bring positive publicity for the men's basketball team.

In 1988, I was a contestant on a sports trivia television game show called "Grandstand." The host of the show was Curt Chaplin, who also did the sports on Herman's "Rock and Roll Morning Show" on WNEW-FM.

I got to talk to Chaplin before the taping and he asked what I did for a living. I said I was the Sports Information Director at St. Peter's and he found it fascinating.

After getting destroyed on the game show _ I finished second and won a television and a boom box _ I maintained a relationship with Chaplin. He told me that he wanted to adopt the Peacocks as the college basketball team of the "Rock and Roll Morning Show."

Every day, Chaplin gave updates on how well the Peacocks were doing. He would end his report with "Gotta love those Peacocks." And Herman would echo that saying every day.

Chaplin, who now is the interviewer of the plaintiffs and defendants on "The People's Court," came to SPC and was an honorary assistant coach one game against Holy Cross. The game that Chaplin attended was one of the most thrilling games ever at Yanitelli Center, an overtime win that saw point guard and Jersey City native Jasper Walker set a MAAC record (and third all-time in NCAA history) with 20 assists.

After that game, Chaplin invited Fiore and team captain Willie Haynes (who unfortunately has now passed away after a battle with cancer) to visit the WNEW-FM studios and appear live on air with Chaplin and Herman right before the Peacocks were going to face MAAC rival LaSalle.

It was a fun appearance and brought more attention to our program.

Herman's arrest and Mazer's death brought those memories back, reliving a wonderful time in my life and my career. Nothing will ever diminish the time I spent working at SPC, being with the great athletes, the great coaches and the great people.


I had a phone conversation today with New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick about my recent blog about Adrian Peterson. Needless to say, the conversation became very heated. Let's say we agreed to disagree about practically everything.

But I give Mushnick credit. After reading the blog, he wrote an e-mail to me and told me to call him, which I did. He told me that I was wrong several times, especially saying that he didn't know much about Jersey City.

Mushnick said that his wife is from Jersey City, that he lived in Jersey City for a few years and that he had been to Jersey City, including covering St. Peter's games when Ted Fiore was the coach.

He said he didn't remember me, even though I was the SID at the time. Maybe I wasn't. Maybe he went there when my successor Tim Camp was the SID.

In any case, I was wrong to write that Mushnick didn't know Jersey City. I admitted to him that I was wrong to write that and I'm apologizing here now.

As for my stance about what he wrote then and recently, no, I won't change my opinion there. He then said the truest words.

"Jim, you're as stubborn as I am," Mushnick said.

Yes, I am. No doubting that. Stubborn is one of my born traits.

In any case, I give him a lot of credit for reaching out to contact me. It shows that Mushnick is not afraid of confrontation and it proves that people do indeed read this blog.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now 0-7 and there are articles and columns from writers from all over the country calling for the head of coach Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers coach.

There are billboards calling for his firing. There was a rhythmic chant from fans, singing "Fire Schiano."

Most people who know me know that I was never a fan of Schiano when he was the coach at Rutgers. He lied to me several times about kids he was recruiting, especially local kids that I had a relationship with.

Schiano lied to me at least five times, so that put him on my doo-doo list. One time, I had a heated confrontation with him about lying to me and lying to kids.

Now it looks as if his pro coaching career is coming to an end. I can't say that I'm shedding any tears.


As for the World Series, I have two words: "Go Cardinals."


You can read more of my work at,, and

There's no change in my physical condition, so I am out of commission for covering events for an undetermined amount of time. I thank all of those who have sent get well wishes and positive greetings. Believe me, it means a lot, especially at a time now where I am truly missing my usual routine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mushnick gone way overboard

There's no question that New York Post sports columnist (or drivel contributor, as I'd prefer to call it) Phil Mushnick has angered me to no end about things he's spewed on the wasted space of the Post.

I am not one to just simply write off the Post as being a bad newspaper. I have good friends like Mike Vaccaro, Fred Kerber, George King, George Willis, Mark Cannizzaro and Dave Satriano who do a great job writing and reporting for the Post. They are all excellent journalists and credits to the craft.

But Mushnick is an embarrassment to journalists everywhere. He constantly spews venom, crap that makes absolutely no sense.

A few years ago, he ripped Jersey City and St. Peter's College's Yanitelli Center as being in a crime-ridden area and that it was unsafe to hold high school basketball games there at night. I wrote an e-mail to him, criticizing that column and he admitted to me that he had never been there! How could have he written such a scathing picture of Jersey City and especially Yanitelli if he had never even been there? It blew me away.

Anyway, Monday morning, Post readers of Mushnick got the chance to glance upon these pearls of journalistic wisdom, thrown at Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, just a few days after it was learned that Peterson's 2-year-old son was murdered by the man who was involved with the child's mother.

Ready for this? It's beyond sickening.
We in the media — especially those working event broadcasts — have a horrible habit of blindly or wishfully reporting great achievers are additionally blessed: They’re great humans.
Among many others, we did it with Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Last year, we began to do it with Adrian Peterson, before, and then after, he was selected the NFL’s MVP. With every big game — 2,037 running yards worth — the media bloated his profile: There runs Superman, a super guy, too.
“We talked with him after practice, and let me tell you this and that about Adrian Peterson.” “Adrian Peterson still finds time to do charity work in the Twin Cities area.” Blah, blah and blah. Good equals goodness.
Thus it was unsurprising Peterson’s downside went ignored. In 2009, he was busted for driving 109 mph in a 55 mph zone. He dismissed that as no big deal, which was doubly disturbing — his older, full brother was killed by a reckless driver.
Last summer, Peterson was in a club when he and friends were informed that it was closing time, past 2 a.m. Apparently, Peterson and pals felt they would decide when it was time to close. The police report noted three cops were needed to subdue Peterson.
He spent the rest of the night in jail, arrested for resisting arrest (a charge that was later dismissed).
Of course, we all have to operate from are our own set of values, our personal sense of right from wrong. Perhaps, given current standards among NFL players — mostly college men, no less — Peterson qualifies as a man of good character.
Still, I’m stuck with what I’ve got. And it’s sickening the NFL’s latest MVP, hours after his son died — allegedly murdered — declared he was “ready to roll,” ready to play football.
Me? I’d be fighting for breath, my knees weak with grief, demanding to know why, who, how. Then, I suspect, I’d seethe with rage, swearing retribution. I even think I’d take off a day or two from work. Maybe a week.
The suspect in the beating murder of Peterson’s 2-year-old is the boyfriend of Peterson’s “baby mama” — now the casual, flippant, detestable and common buzz-phrase for absentee, wham-bam fatherhood.
The accused, Joseph Patterson, previously was hit with domestic assault and abuse charges.
With his resources, how could Peterson, the NFL’s MVP, have allowed his son to remain in such an environment? Did he not know, or not care? Or not care to know? Or not know to care?
Peterson couldn’t have provided his son a better life, a longer life?
Money can’t buy love, but having signed a $96 million deal, he could not have provided his child — apparently his second from a “baby mama” — a safe home?
But given Peterson’s father did hard time for drug money laundering maybe we’re both stuck with the values in which we were born, raised.
On Friday, Peterson said he was “focused” on football. On Sunday, he played. But it’s not as if murder doesn’t now regularly afflict the NFL.
Maybe Peterson’s son is just one more stands-to-reason murder victim, just another child born to just another “baby mama,” one more kid who never had a shot, anyway. Maybe, by now, even if we can’t accept it, we can expect it.
Now, is that sickening or what? How in the world could the Post allow such hurtful and venemous words ever to appear on its pages? The man should be allowed to grieve in his own way. Has anyone seen the pictures of Peterson with his son at training camp in August, kissing the little boy and putting his helmet on the child's head, giving him a football? Those photos are priceless and now rip any good soul's heart out.

That is, any good soul except Phil Mushnick. He chooses to bring up Peterson's past indiscretions _ and those of Peterson's father! _ in a mean spirited pile of shiite written just three days after the child's senseless death.

And then he's throwing around the term "baby mama." Excuse me. If that isn't racist, I don't know what is.

This was clearly the most sickening sports column I've ever read. I'm embarrassed for my friends that work there at the Post. Words can't begin to describe the anger I have for this conglomeration of excrement.


You can read more of my work at, and

Friday, October 11, 2013

A return from the missing in action

Incredibly, it had been since late August that I had written on my blog. I am so embarrassed and upset by that fact.

I have legitimate excuses. At that time, I was totally buried by high school football previews. This marked the 32nd year that I had to focus on heights, weights, years and positions, about high expectations, raising the bar, taking it one day at a time, respecting the opponents and playing within the means. I had to write 44 such previews for three different newspapers. It was definitely time consuming and mind erasing, if you know what I mean.

But if you ask me a question about Hudson, Essex, Bergen and Morris County football, I should have an answer with all the preseason research I did.

Soon after, the season began and wouldn't you know, I got sick. I'm battling a rare form of diabetic neuropathy that has attacked my legs. Since late June, I've fallen a total of 20 times. I've done more pratfalls than Dick Van Dyke. I've done headers at Red Bull Arena, the Prudential Center and a high school football game, where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was on call to get me off the ground. It's been embarrassing, frustrating and upsetting, all at the same time.

The inability to walk right now has forced me to give up some of my jobs temporarily. I used to joke that I had more jobs than a Jamaican, that I had about 12 different payrolls that I was under. Well, for now, that number has been sliced tremendously.

So those are the reasons why I've been away from blog writing for the last two months. I had to worry about getting the work done for organizations who pay me _ and then I had to deal with my ridiculous inability to stay on my feet.

So here goes, my first attempt at blogging since August.

I know Giants fans are upset that they're 0-6 _ and rightly so. No one could have ever dreamed that Big Blue could be so bad. I know I certainly didn't, even though there was some concern going into the season about their linebackers and the health of their secondary.

I certainly didn't expect Eli Manning to become such a giving soul, turning the ball over to the opponents so many times. Throwing 15 interceptions in the first six games is inexcusable and downright putrid.

But you can't pin the Giants' poor record just on Eli. Sure, he's been awful, but it's not all his fault.

Before last night, when Brandon Jacobs showed us a flashback to 2007, the Giants had no rushing attack at all. David Wilson did not perform as expected and did that silly backflip when he finally scored. If he hurt his neck doing that routine, he should surrender the rest of his salary.

The Giants' offensive line was put together with postage stamps and hinges. Jerry Reese gambled and thought that Will Beatty was the lineman of the future, so Reese gave him a huge contract. Beatty has been dreadful. The entire line couldn't block the Olsen twins. They let Eli get hit time and time again and then now he's gunshy and throwing the ball too soon. There's not enough time for Eli to throw like he used to.

Defensively, the Giants' strength when they won the two Super Bowls was their defensive line, with Justin Tuck and JPP getting sack after sack. Well, where are they now? Tuck is too busy eating Subway sandwiches and JPP is a shell of his former self after back surgery.

So there's a lot of blame to throw around. It's not just Eli.


Talk about bad quarterback play. How much longer can Rutgers allow Gary Nova to be their signal caller?
I have never seen anyone misfire as much as Nova does, throwing to the other team, overthrowing receivers on simple out patterns by 20 yards, hitting the mascot and cheerleaders instead.

The Scarlet Knights had a chance to beat Louisville last night. The nationally ranked Cardinals were trying their best to give the game to Rutgers with fumbles and miscues on field goals. What happens? Nova turns it right back over with an interception, four in all.

And how does Nova handle it? "My's on's my fault."

Yeah, no kidding. The Scarlet Knights will not be a national power with Nova as the quarterback. It's impossible to get that bad of play from your quarterback and expect to be a contender.

Speaking of Rutgers, there's another case of abuse that took place at Louisville under Julie Hermann's watch and the school is doing nothing to question their already embattled athletic director.

The powers-that-be at Rutgers maintain that the case with the Louisville women's lacrosse team in 2012 is a "matter that Louisville must handle and has nothing to do with Rutgers."

But it does have something to do with Rutgers, considering the woman you chose to be your new AD was in charge when these latest cases of abuse took place. Obviously, Hermann turned a blind eye to the abuse being done by the Louisville women's lacrosse coach. Sorry, but Rutgers has do to something to investigate that situation and not blow it off because it didn't happen at Rutgers.

With all the bad publicity the school has received in recent months, they had to at least look into the allegations.

My beloved Mets honored Mike Piazza on his induction to the Mets' Hall of Fame. It was a nice ceremony and it was nice to see Piazza at CitiField with his former teammates Edgardo Alfonso and John Franco. It was also touching to see Piazza recognize his father, Vince, who has been in ill health recently.

However, the Mets really flubbed the day _ as usual _ by choosing not to retire Piazza's No. 31 jersey. Here's the best positional player in the team's history, the man who helped give the franchise credibility again, and they don't honor him permanently? That's just ridiculous.

You can read more of my stuff at,, and I'm going to try to continue to work through my illness, thank God.