Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Anyone Seen Elliott Sadler on TV?
If a starting NFL quarterback was suddenly fired, TV crews would be camped-out in front of his house in a matter of hours.
If a Major League Baseball starting pitcher was let go right after signing a multi-year contract extension, the media would want answers from the owner, manager and player.
When ESPN's NASCAR Now Lead Reporter Marty Smith first broke the story of Elliott Sadler suddenly being replaced at GEM by AJ Allmendinger he gave us the facts. Allmendinger was in and Sadler was out even after just signing a contract extension.
Smith added that this was a shock to both the team members and even the sponsors. What he was unable to add was any words with either Sadler himself or team owner George Gillett. Smith's story is located here on the ESPN.com website.
TDP has been scanning ESPN, ESPNEWS and SPEED since this story first broke for any sightings of the principals involved in the story. We have been looking for follow-up or reporters digging for exactly why this situation occurred.
Sadler is a well-known spokesperson and a current SPEED on-air talent. He is a panelist on Trackside during the final seventeen Sprint Cup race weekends of the season. He is a media darling and a well-spoken sponsor representative with a history of successful product endorsements.
Checking the NASCAR sections of the SPEEDtv and ESPN websites, we find no video of Sadler being interviewed and no follow-up on this story. At Jayski, we find two updates with lots of information hinting at possible financial issues for Gillett.
Over at ElliottSadler.com, that website sits in stunned silence. The news stories are about Homestead in 2008 and Sadler's most recent Barn Party for charity. Meanwhile, the NASCAR blogs are buzzing and they all want to know the exact same thing. Why release a proven commodity with a valid contract and a good sponsor? What really happened?
When Petty Enterprises closed its doors, TV viewers could have searched all day long for video or interviews surrounding the end of that franchise. They would have found none. Now, combing the cable channels once again for an interview with or a report about Sadler will result in exactly the same frustration.
The NASCAR TV partners are either in this for the long haul or they are not. ESPN is on-air 24-hours a day with multiple networks, including one dedicated solely to sports news. SPEED chose once again to end all the motorsports news shows during the off-season, despite the fan backlash from last year.
As NASCAR enters perhaps the most critical January in the modern history of the sport, it will be up to the NASCAR TV partners to go above and beyond any efforts of the past to bring fans the news about one of the top professional sports in North America as it struggles to survive.
After being treated like Arena Football or Major Indoor Lacrosse for the last two months, no one can blame the NASCAR teams if they are a little bitter when the first TV reporter comes strolling in asking the same old questions about Daytona.
SPEED will break the ice first with The SPEED Report. There are timeslots allocated on January 4th and 11th for motorsports news at 7PM, but the SPEED website is notorious for the lack of updated information. Perhaps, since the Grand-Am cars are testing the network might turn the lights on in the studio once again. TDP will keep you posted.
It looks like February 2nd at 5PM Eastern Time will be the first edition of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 for the new season. No word yet on any possible changes in the on-air line-up or format.
This is the second year where SPEED and ESPN have dropped the NASCAR TV news ball during the off-season in sensational fashion. Website stories do not make-up for the lack of updated NASCAR news on TV. Especially, after a daily show on ESPN2 and extensive weekend programs on SPEED for ten months.
Things have become quite clear to the NASCAR fan base over the past six weeks where SPEED and ESPN are concerned. Either those two networks just don't get it or they just don't care when it comes to the off-season NASCAR stories that require time and effort to report on TV.
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