Modell's language slips through twice without benefit of editing


About midway through the third quarter of Saturday's exhibition game, Ravens owner Art Modell spoke freely and candidly with Tom Davis and Paul Maguire about his team's performance in the kind of frank terms that some grown-ups use when they're around other grown-ups.

The trouble was that Modell was wearing a headset and microphone, and his conversation was going out over the Channel 54 airwaves. Since virtually all sporting events air live without a tape delay (unless, of course, they're on NBC), there was no way the station could have caught and bleeped out the owner's remarks.

"You don't expect anything out of the ordinary during a sports telecast, and in all truth, I don't think anything out of the ordinary happened. The fact of the matter is that the guy just slipped," said Steve Marks, who programs Channel 54 and is general manager of Channel 45.

Granted, Modell's two indiscretions were nothing on the order of what you might hear on, say, HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," but they weren't terms that could get by on, say, "NYPD Blue," one of prime time's spicier shows.

However, Modell's lapse in judgment was compounded Sunday, when the game was repeated on Channel 45 with the obscenities still intact.

Marks said the stations did not receive complaints about the coarse language, but acknowledged that the obscenities should have been bleeped out for the replay of the game, which was produced by Home Team Sports for the Ravens, who bought the air time.

"It's ultimately the responsibility of the station to remove that kind of thing," said Marks. "If we wanted to explore the possibility of bleeping out something that wasn't in our best interest, I'm sure the Ravens would have no problem with that. We just didn't catch it."

No word yet on whether the next local Ravens telecast on Aug. 17 will advise viewer discretion.

Expecting a Lott

Over his 14-year career, Ronnie Lott garnered a reputation as perhaps the hardest hitting defensive back in NFL history, and he's promising to be just as blunt as a studio analyst on Fox's pre-game show, as he makes his debut during Saturday night's San Francisco-San Diego game.

"I've got to give the viewers every possible edge. If I don't do that, I'm not doing my job. I don't think you hold anything back. You tell it like it is," said Lott, during a teleconference yesterday.

Lott, a 10-time Pro Bowl player best known for his days as a safety for the 49ers, says the Ravens have put whatever residual effects from the move and last year's poor finish behind them.

"They had a team [last year] that everybody expected a lot from. If you look at the big picture, [receiver] Eric Turner and the rest of those guys didn't produce because so many of them were hurt," said Lott.

Even if the team stays healthy, Lott says the key to Baltimore's success is at quarterback.

"Vinny [Testaverde] has to have a good year. If he doesn't, they have to turn the reins over to Eric Zeier," said Lott.

By the way, the Fox folks have taken note of those NBC promos that herald the presence of Jimmy Johnson, whose place Lott fills, in the AFC, as a crew of Peacock movers welcome Johnson to his new home.

"It was a great compliment to us," said pre-game producer Scott Ackerson. "For the network that calls themselves 'the information network,' it sure looks like they're trying to entertain some people, when that was debatable in the past. If Jimmy was going to watch one show, I'd bet my salary that he'd watch our show."

Turner doings

It's a busy day at TNT and TBS, starting with six hours of first-round coverage of the PGA Championship from Louisville, Ky., on TBS at 12: 05 p.m., with Ernie Johnson, Bobby Clampett and Mary Bryan heading up the telecast, with support from the team of CBS announcers that will work this weekend. Jim Nantz will anchor the late night wrap-up show on CBS (Channel 13) tonight and tomorrow at 12: 37 a.m.

At 7: 35 p.m., the requisite Atlanta Braves game on TBS (the Phillies provide nominal opposition) goes against the 8 p.m. season premiere of the NFL on TNT, as the Minnesota Vikings host the Buffalo Bills, with Verne Lundquist and Pat Haden on the call.

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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