Tuesday
May262009

Fox News Sports Roundtable Puts Vick, A-Rod, Steroids Under Critical Microscope

Roundtable participants (left to right): Barry Janoff, Terry Lyons, John Cirillo, John Mooney, Chris Botta, Mike Straka.May 26, 2009: Michael Vick, steroids, the decline of boxing and fighting in hockey were among the hot topics dissected during an exclusive roundtable at the studios of Fox News in New York last week. An inside the locker room version of "The Strategy Room," broadcast live on FoxNews.com on May 21, featured Chris Botta, former head of communications for the New York Islanders and now one of the NHL's top bloggers; John Cirillo, former svp-communications for Madison Square Garden and now head of Cirillo World public relations; Barry Janoff, former executive editor/sports editor at The Nielsen Company and now executive editor at NYSportsJournalism.com; Terry Lyons, former long-time communications and marketing executive at the NBA and now a sports industry consultant; and John Mooney, principal at JRM Communications and adjunct professor of marketing at Berkeley College. The event was hosted by Fox News' Mike Straka. Among the issues discussed:

• Michael Vick could play again in the NFL, but only if the public believes he truly regrets his actions regarding dog fighting. He also likely would be a better fit with a mid- or smaller-market team that would need a back up. The comments: "Vick is 29, far younger than other quarterbacks in the league, and he should be able to get back into playing condition. But the issues he would bring to any team could be more derisive than the fact that he can throw a football. So even if he finds an ideal situation for him, most teams would seek to avoid such confrontations with their fans."

• The issue of steroids in sports and in particular in baseball, won't go away for at least another generation. The comments: "The public perception is that baseball didn't take a substantially solid position until they were called before Congress. And now you still have such high-calibre players as Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez associated with performance-enhancing drugs. So the kids growing up now watching the game, will remember what happened to the star players."

• Should baseball be held to a higher standard when other sports also are dealing with the use of illegal substances by their players? "Baseball has been and is still regarded by many as America's national pastime. Also, the records in baseball are held in higher regard than those in other sports - the home run record, Cy Young awards, etc. - and players who have been associated with performance-enhancing drugs include the all-time home run leader (Barry Bonds), the man who might surpass that record (Rodriguez) and the man who has more Cy Young awards (7) than any pitcher in major league history (Roger Clemens)."

• Will any of them get into baseball's Hall of Fame? "Remains to be seen. If you look at the era that includes Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemens, Mark McGwire, Ramirez and others, either none get in or they all get it at some point."

• Boxing used to get high ratings on TV and draw huge crowds in the U.S. Now it is struggling. The comments: "Heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko draw tremendous crowds in Europe, but they don't get prime time coverage in the U.S. A lot of the excitement that existed for generations in the heavyweight division, for example, isn't there any more because there aren't fighters such as Muhammad Ali who attracted non-fight fans. Mike Tyson might have hurt the sport of boxing as much as he hurt himself."

• What's with all the fighting in hockey? "It's always been part of the game and fans see it as such. What you don't want to see is fighting just for fighting." One solution: "A guy can have one fight in a game. If he gets into another fight, he's out." Back to Home Page