Thursday, July 3, 2008

Evernham Involved In His Own Silly Season


It was the Monday after Loudon and the week before Daytona. The heart of the Sprint Cup season was here and ESPN brought-out their big guns for the Monday edition of NASCAR Now.

This one hour show that host Allen Bestwick refers to as "the roundtable" has become a weekly jewel for the network. On this Monday, Bestwick was seated alongside new ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett, veteran reporter Mike Massaro and part-time ESPN commentator Ray Evernham. The "A team" was in town.

Jarrett was refreshed after his vacation and did not miss a beat in contributing his views to the program. There is no doubt that Jarrett is the star of the NASCAR show for the network and on this program he was surrounded by exactly the right group.

Bestwick has cemented himself as the ESPN ironman and this program bears his personal signature. Each week he deals with a new mix of personalities that have included ESPN on-air talent, retired NASCAR drivers and current NASCAR personalities. This has been a challenge to which Bestwick has risen quite well.

One strong aspect of this program has been the addition of both live guests and contributions from the ESPN NASCAR reporters. On this show, Shannon Spake updated the Montoya vs. Busch situation in just the type of quick and concise report that works well.

It was Loudon winner Kurt Busch who appeared as the first guest and Bestwick did an outstanding job of covering all the bases with this surprise winner. Busch has matured and Bestwick let him talk about his day and how Penske Racing is grinding their way through this tough season. It was a good follow-up to the big news of the weekend.

We have been critical of NASCAR Now for not allowing all three panelists to ask questions of the guests this season. ESPN has been very nice in responding and informing us that due to the scheduling of the panelists on other ESPN media outlets they are sometimes not available when some liveshots are taped. Happy to get that issue cleared-up for this season.

As this show progressed, it was clear that this classic mix of a driver, crew chief and reporter worked very well in making the conversation flow. One good segment was Bestwick leading a discussion about the silly season and how it works for drivers who are now suddenly unemployed.

Jarrett and Evernham were the right duo to address this topic and Massaro was perfect to update the media aspect of the topic. Bestwick introduced the issue of agents in the sport and how the mechanics of contracts worked. Evernham stated that his company was negotiating with several drivers, but he had never talked to any of them. Agents were now a way of business in the sport.

That leads to a good question for next season where Evernham is concerned. Introduced at Daytona in February as a surprise new member of the ESPN NASCAR team, there is no doubt that Evernham and ESPN have a good relationship. Working with Jarrett, Evernham is a natural on TV and has very good technical knowledge.

As a current NASCAR owner, rumors have been around for a while that Evernham will step away from the ownership role and consider a full-time role in the media. Fans saw Dale Jarrett work part-time for the network last season and then step into a full-time role for 2008. Perhaps, this is the same process Evernham is going through as ESPN works him in a variety of commentary and analyst roles in the network's NASCAR coverage.

A slick and professional program like this Monday edition of NASCAR Now goes a long way toward perhaps pointing Evernham in the TV direction. In a way, ESPN is a perfect choice for him because of the large amount of NASCAR content that need to be generated for the various ESPN media outlets.

The Monday program features a retrospective of the races at Daytona. This single topic really showed-off the strength of the panel ESPN had assembled for this program. Multiple Daytona winners Jarrett and Evernham spoke from positions of experience, and Massaro and Bestwick added the media and historical perspective.

The bottom line for this episode of NASCAR Now was that there was a whole lot of NASCAR history on the set, and all four of these personalities are set to play key roles in the network's coverage of the sport down the stretch.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

42 comments:

Lisa Hogan said...

The Monday night edition of Nascar Now is the only one that I make a point to try to catch.

I always enjoy Bestwick and Jarrett. I seldom enjoy Massaro or Evernham. Massaro seems to think he is the main attraction.

Have to disagree with you, JD. I don't consider this the A team. Two A's and two D's for me.

Poor Shannon Spake. Her second season and she still sounds like she is reading everytime she is on TV. No personality.

Newracefan said...

Good show as usual, I enjoy DJ's insight. It's funny that Ray usually refers to his time with JG as a crew chief more than as a car owner but I'm ok with that. If I can't have Marty I'll take Mike. I still haven't figured out Shannon yet, I'm not that impressed with her pit reporter coverage she rushes and tells me nothing. Her reporter bits are informative but seem too stiff or something.

Anonymous said...

Ray Evernham is not an honorable man and not someone I want to watch on any show. His affair with Erin Crocker negatively influenced the advancement of women in NASCAR. I sincerely hope he does not move into televison full time.

Nan S said...

I can't watch this show when Evernham is on. He just makes my skin crawl. I guess ESPN is willing to lose viewers such as myself.

JD, you're probably right about him moving out of the race team since he only owns 20% and isn't involved in running the show anymore. I just wish he would take his money and smarmy vibe and go somewhere that doesn't make me have to even accidentally see him on my tv.

Karen said...

Anon said...
Ray Evernham is not an honorable man and not someone I want to watch on any show. His affair with Erin Crocker negatively influenced the advancement of women in NASCAR.


Takes two to tango.

Ritchie said...

I enjoyed this hour as usual. NASCAR Now may be the single most important hour of NASCAR related programming on the air today.

As for Ray Evernham, I'm not sure that he would have to give up ownership to continue his role at ESPN. We have seen Rusty grow into his role and the good Lord knows we have put up with a lot in terms of the Waltrips and all of their affiliations. There probably just needs to be some rules set up to control conflicts of interest.

I know there are a lot of people upset about Erin Crocker and Mr. Evernham, but honestly what do people want? A public apology during a prime-time race? Everybody is human and everybody makes mistakes. Just because his happens to be more public than the average person is no reason to destroy the man.

Daly Planet Editor said...

ritchie,

I think that all depends on the perspective of the person watching the program. These public figures have to balance themselves professionally and personally.

Ray is well-spoken and wonderful where technical and managerial issues are concerned. The problem is the continuing perception of many fans that he violated a fundamental rule of both society and perhaps religion.

As I told the ESPN guys back in February, I believed that his biggest battle was going to be for personal rather than professional credibility with the NASCAR audience.

I will try to keep the remainder of the posts here limited to mostly TV-related issues, but it is clear that Evernham has some work remaining to do with the fans.

JD

missouriracefan said...

Mr. Daly,
The Ray Evernham/Erin Crocker affair is a TV-related issue. Character is what you display when no one is looking. Evernham showed a lack of character in his personal life and takes that lack of character with him to television. He and Crocker violated the rules of the workplace - that same place he comments about on television.

Daly Planet Editor said...

mrf,

As I mentioned in my commment, Ray has a group of fans with whom he has to build his personal credibility.

JD

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Anonymous said...

Hey, let's lay off all the Ray bashing. Sure, in some folks eyes, he made a mistake, but he's not the first. The racin fraternity ain't no Sunday School class folks. Truth be known, there's been worse happen, we just haven't heard 'bout it..........

Anonymous said...

Adultery is not a "mistake". Its a deliberate choice to do evil.

Adultery is bad enough, but a boss having an affair with a junior employee is even worse. It breaks the number one commandment of business management -- Thou Shalt Treat Thy Employees Equally According To Their Merits.

In one fell swoop Evernham destroyed his marriage, his family, and his company. And when Erin finally gives up and realizes that her racing career is toast she can still take everything Ray has in the sexual harassment lawsuit. The power any Nascar owner has over a driver's future makes it impossible for a woman to refuse without damaging her career.

Evernham has no credibility as a human being. A real man sacrifices for his family's benefit, not sacrifices his family for his personal pleasure.

Evernham has no credibility as a Nascar owner. A successful businessman keeps his hands off the hired help.

Anonymous said...

It seems tge unfortunate byproduct of being a "fan friendly" sport is they hear all the dirty laundry. In 15 years of following the sport, I've heard divorce rumors about probably 60% of the drivers and crew chiefs. People say it's a traveling circus, I say it's more of a traveling middle school with money. That and a good portion of the people involved in the sport are playing king of the mountain.

I think a lot of the Ray bashing is carry over from the jealousy of his time at Hendrick. He was one of the first crew chiefs that got as much media play as drivers did in the mid 90's, and it seems has paid dearly for it. He's one of the few that actually got caught and made mainstream media. Adultery has been around since more than 2 people on Earth have existed. Unfortunately for Ray, he hired a driver who had no problem bringing out the dirty laundry and a girl who was a bit in over her head as far as her progression in the sport. So was Casey Atwood too, so maybe something could be said for their development in that everyone thought Evernham was the master developer of drivers.

Hell, the way some of you fans are, Tim Richmond would have never stood a chance. You take out Mayfield opening his mouth and no one would really know for sure what was going on and they'd be applauding Evernham as a pioneer for advancement of women in NASCAR. If memory serves, didn't Mayfield kind of as they say in the business "trade up" from his first win to his second?

Bottom line, I kinda get tired of the Evernham bashing based solely on his extracurriculars with a former driver. He's one of the few who actually got caught and got it splashed in court. No one derides Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Jeremy Mayfield, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett, Matt Kenseth had a kid out of wedlock, or any of the other drivers who have divorced because they did not get tried through the media as Evernham did. hell, it seems some are already lining up Michael Waltrip for his time on the stake.

If anything, I think Evernham would set himself up for criticism mostly as a team owner, a champion of all things Dodge, and towing the NASCAR line on issues so as to not incur retribution.

I wish the Crocker issue would go away, but some people have long and yet selective memories.

raejr said...

I think Jesus said it best. "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."

Anonymous said...

I thought that DJ and Evernham were outstanding last night. If you listened carefully to the discussions,there were two camps. The "Doers",Dj (driver) and Ray (Crew Chief/Modified Driver). Then we had the "Observers". AB and Massaro try to add perspective about something they've never done. Given a choice, I'd rather listen to the doers.

Ritchie said...

I see how passionate many here are about Mr. Evernham's transgressions. I certainly don't want to get into a discussion as to whether what he did was worse than what other's on NASCAR related programming has done. However, before we brand him with a scarlett 'A' and banish him from the village, let's take a look at what we are giving up as race fans if we don't allow him on our TV.

Ray Evernham is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, crew chiefs of all times. If I am not mistaken, he has the most championships of any crew chief alive today. He has dealt with owning a Cup team during the last ten years, and dealt with the mega mergers that are now an integral part of racing today. He is familiar with (and has inside information about) Hendrick Motorsports, which is the most powerful team in racing today. He has also dealt with two manufacturers, Chevrolet and Dodge.
All of this on top of the fact that he is well spoken and intelligent.

I know many feel passionate about this, but I would ask those of you who are passionate to look at this as a business decision. For your money that you spend on cable TV every month, who else would be better and have more experience than Ray Evernham?

Anonymous said...

OOOOOOOO, come on folks. It's only racin. We need the crew chief/owner view. Let Ray do his job.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Michigan fan,

You are welcome to repost without the MW comment. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

I think it is fair to use the Crocker affair as one aspect to study regarding Ray's character. If you know the man somewhat, the affair is not something that would be considered out of character. Unfortunately, th ereal victim is Crocker but she was an adult and knew very well what she was getting into.

Same as the reason he mentions his times with Gordon 10 times as often as his 8 years or so of ownership.

Both are attempts to hold on to his glory days. Those days are over Ray.

Lisa Hogan said...

Evernham has a lot of non-fans who have no interest in his personal life.

I was a non-fan before he decided to have a mid-life crisis.

I have a horrible vision of the booth next season containing Reid, Jarrett, and Evernham.

I enjoy Petree in the booth so much that I would dislike his leaving.

If Reid and Evernham show up, it will be the radio for me. Not even for Jarrett could I stomach those two all season.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way we can declare a moratorium on the Evernham deal? It seems everytime an article about Evernham's media performance is posted, invariably his personal life gets brought out.

Look guys and gals, public figures allow us to see what THEY want us to see. Unless you're on the inside or some bitter ex-driver spills the beans, we really do not know these people. Do you think Ken Schrader or Michael Waltrip are always happy go lucky like he appears on tv? Shoot, refer to Kyle Petty last year at Sonoma when he did the race coverage from the cockpit and said that really touching prayer on the pace lap, then race starts and he gets hit and drops an "F" bomb on live TV. It's an emotional game.

As for the person that said Crocker was the victim, well, do you really know that for sure? I mean if you've got assets why not use them? Is Danica Patrick or Milka Duno really a better driver than Sarah Fisher or in NASCAR parlance, was Shawna Robinson, Pattie Moise, or Chrissy Wallace now a better driver than say a Tammy Jo Kirk? We don't know, as the real name of the game now is marketability. Chrissy is a darn good driver, but she has a name and a better funded team than most. Danica and Milka obviously profit from their "assets" moreso than Sarah Fisher; Danica with the modeling, Milka with her Venezuelan backing (oil/Citgo) than Sarah who struggled to get a team together for Indy.

Sorry to rant and ramble, but I get really tired of the Evernham bashers who always touch on his personal life. They seldom if ever hammer on his commentary or opinions on the sport and where it has been and where it is going. This site is about media performance and critique of said media members.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:26AM,

I think some of your points are well taken, but Evernham unfortunately crossed a line that the others you mentioned did not.

What most of the posters have been saying, in their own unique ways, is that the two issues of age difference and employee/employer seem to be the hot buttons.

In a transient world like NASCAR, nothing is under strain more than relationships and we have all seen the result of that with many of our favorite personalities.

This year, Evernham has decided to make a move over to the TV side of the business. That is a lot different than just being an owner who sometimes gets interviewed. Even his former Race Wizard TV series was pre-produced and "packaged" for him.

While I have been surprised by some of the fans, there was no doubt that this issue was going to chase Evernham around because of the specifics involved.

Let's use this comment to end the personal discussions on this post and ask if anyone else has opinions about the Monday NASCAR Now program?

We might see this team on the set a whole lot more as the season continues, so your feedback on the show is welcome.

Thanks,

JD

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

MI fan,

Not going to work with the Mayfield comment. If you want to address the program, please do so.

JD

Anonymous said...

Here's the issue with the TV show and Evernham. If ESPN uses him they will have to accept the fact that they will lose some viewers. Why in this competitive media environment you would want to chase away viewers is beyond me?

As other people have posted, you do have other options during a race, such as radio and you also have the option to avoid commentary programming that contains an objectionable person.

Anonymous said...

If Evernham is becoming the big "star" with ESPN's lineup, one has to wonder if Andy Petree's head will be the next to roll instead of Dr. Jerry Punch if ESPN's ratings don't pick up like Fox's did. I think Punch and Bestwick should swap roles. But ESPN is throwing Punch a bone for being so loyal after ESPN was left out of Cup racing in '01. But I read a lot of comments from people saying Punch is a nice enough guy, but kind of boring as the "play-by-play" man. I tend to agree. But it looks like Punch will get one more year and Petree will be gone before him.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, JD. You did not mention both objections in your first message. Let me try again.

I like Ray Evernham's perspective as a crew chief and an owner. I also think he is better-spoken than most people that move from the sport to the broadcast set.

That doesn't mean that I approve of his private conduct, but it will not stop me from listening to his comments on the sport. He did not seek publicity for his private life. That was forced on him against his will by others.

If we are going to judge Ray Evernham by that standard, we better look into the personal conduct of other participants in the sport and media commentators. We won't have to look hard to find other examples of divorce where there may have been conduct that many find objectionable.

I understand that Evernham's conduct is deeply offensive to some because of serious, moral personal convictions. However, Evernham is hardly alone. You don't have to look far to find other examples in NASCAR and our own personal lives. I wonder if those who choose to shun Evernham would also shun a relative or long time friend who did something similar.

Michigan fan

So, JD, will this one survive?

Daly Planet Editor said...

MI fan,

Nice job! That will be the last one on this topic, however.

JD

KoHoSo said...

Just a though based upon all of these comments regarding Ray Evernham...

I would think that ESPN would have already done at least a little research on how viewers react to him, especially considering the grief they went through from fans last year. Perhaps, perhaps, ESPN found that their desired demographic does not care about Ray's "sins" and that, maybe, maybe, those who did react negatively are the same people who are slowly leaving NASCAR anyway for various reasons (loss of tradition, the CoT, etc.).

The fact is that, when your main goal is to satisfy and attract a certain slice of the population, certain "transgressions" are less important to that demographic than others. Right or wrong, 18-35 or 18-49 year old males in general on a nationwide basis care less about adultery than other segments of the country. And, what your husband, brother, etc. might say to your face is different that what they really think because...well, we're guys and we're pigs, and most of us secretly root for other guys to get as much as they can whether it be money, fame, or women.

What I have said is in no way meant to put down anyone for their personal beliefs on what Evernham did and whether he should be given such a big platform. I don't care for what he did, but I admit that I would have given you a different answer as little as ten years ago. All I am trying to do here is inject some possible reality into this discussion and point out that probably, as far as ESPN is concerned, their targeted audience doesn't care and those who don't like it will either have to like it or lump it.

As always to the esteemed Mr. Daly, please feel free to correct me if my assumptions regarding ESPN are incorrect.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I have been called a lot of things over the past sixteen months, but never "esteemed."

My friends at Daytona back in February were a little surprised when Evernham strolled in with the ESPN guys for the press conference.

As you may remember from my posts back then, I was shocked. Here is a current Cup owner and a person who does not track very well with the female fans (50% of the TV audience) and he is going to be on national TV.

Perhaps, this was a good opportunity for him to go through this type of reaction and then have fans just get used to him. I certainly do not think he was added to serve the younger demographic.

As NASCAR learned last season, the younger gang is not out there right now. They are involved in other sports and online gaming. It is the veteran fans who are keeping this sport on the map and that is why we like to keep tabs on what they are thinking about the TV folks.

As I hinted several times during this thread, it should be very interesting to see if Evernham steps-up to a fulltime ESPN job next season and leaves his minority ownership position.

By the way, the Monday show was pretty good.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

I believe it is fair to say that Ray E. is knowledgeable and well-spoken and "famous" with a very large segment of NASCAR fans because of his accomplishmnets with Jeff Gordon. Many aspects of his affair with Erin C. were clearly wrong - but, whether I should or should not, I do not feel I know enough of the real facts to be in a position to really judge what all he did that was wrong, beside the employer-employee relationship. For instance, I do recall he had a very seriously ill child and I have no idea what that might have done to his marriage prior to Erin C. I'm not saying he was not wrong, but that all the relevant facts are not, and probably should not be, public.

It does seem to me that ESPN likes to stockpile experts. For instance, ESPN has so many NFL experts that they will not all fit on one set on Sunday morning.

I happen to enjoy Andy Petree more than Ray E. because Andy can often be more humorous than Ray, and still be informative. I would expect that ESPN is likely to keep both Andy P. and Ray E. since they are both knowledgeable and because of the amount of time ESPN needs to fill and Andy's connection and chemistry with DJ.

Since GEM appears to have turned a corner and it appears that Ray no longer needs to be involved in all the day-to-day details, I wonder whether he would really want to do TV full-time.

From Monday's NASCAR Now, I wonder whether Mike M. is being set up to be the fill-in for Allen B. when Allen B. inevitably takes some time off.

Newracefan said...

Richard I had the same thought about Mike and AB. I guess time will tell.
While I don't approve of Ray's personal life choices (I have a friend who did someting similar and I told him to his face that I thought he should have cleaned up one mess before he started another, he knows how I felt at the time, we've both moved on and are still friends). I know even less about Ray's situation, I do see they are still together so it was something more than a work place fling so I am slightly more tolerant but actually it is none of my business and since I have made some poor choices of my own I'm not about to start throwing stones.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:23PM,

If you would like to return and repost without the b word, you are welcome.

JD

Dot said...

To Michigan Fan, ditto.

Let's make this about DJ for a minute. I am sure glad to see him back on TV, on NN and the races.

Anonymous said...

I agree, DJ is very good and someone I look forward to seeing, unlike Evernham.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's anybody's business to judge Ray Evernham. He made a mistake - yes, it was a pretty bad one, but you can't sit there and list reasons to play God. It's not anybody's responsibility but God's to determine Ray's actions. If he asks for forgiveness, it's a person's duty as a Christian to forgive him and God will forgive him, too. You don't have to like him, but you can't be bitter and hold grudges against people either. Besides, it's not a person's actions that count, it's a person's heart.

KoHoSo said...

Mr. Daly, just to be clear, I was not saying that ESPN added Evernham to appeal to a younger demographic, but instead that the younger demographic they desire (whether they're getting it or not) cares less about such personal transgressions than those of us who are older.

And, yes, you are "esteemed" as far as I'm concerned -- not only because you let a hosehead like me chime in whenever I want, but mainly because you have done so much and done it so well when it comes to filling in frustrated fans about the workings of sports television and deflating the fallacies that fans (myself included) believe are facts. I also hold you in esteem because I know full well that it's not easy to do something like your blog and try to "entertain" everybody several times a week with significant entries. And, for all of that, no matter what others say and even during those times I disagree with you, I think a lot of your readers would agree with me that you are indeed "esteemed" as well as highly appreciated.

You put my check in the mail already, right? :-D

Daly Planet Editor said...

kohoso,

I used my last stamp to contact NASCAR. I will hook you up when I get back to the Post Office.

Thanks for the words, its always fun.

JD

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:45

Don't tell the rest of the world what can and cannot be judged by your standards. I judge people every day. I judge Bin Ladin and I judge O.J. Simpson.

You seem to be missing the point, that media viewers have the right to not watch a program using a person they feel is objectionable.

It is not my job to forgive Evernham for adultery and improper employer/employee relations.

It is silly to try and force people not to be guided by their own morals and to try and force your religious viewpoint on others.

I'm not telling you to not watch him, I'm saying I won't watch him, just like I don't watch any Woody Allen movies.

Anonymous said...

My problem with Ray is that he never ASKED for any public or fan forgiveness, nor did Erin. To my knowledge, they acknowledged their relationship only once, when Ray announced to the media that Erin was no longer going to drive for him (shortly before EMS became GEM and Ray became minority owner).

They seemed to blame their bad reputations among some fans as either the media's fault (Ray, who specifically blamed the media for Erin losing sponsorships when announcing Erin's departure) or blame NASCAR (Erin, who this year blamed NASCAR for not supporting her and promoting her so she could get new sponsorships after losing her old one).

The self centeredness that surrounds Evernham (which I perceive, others may not)and Crocker is what makes me not watch him on the air (I skipped the Loudon race).