Jim O'Donnell: Dan McNeil just 'did his business' and got fired
IF THE 16-YEAR-OLD SHEEPDOG -- glassy-eyed, halting of gait, incontinent -- suddenly shuffles into the living room and "does his business," does the family fire faithful ol' Shep?
Or does the question arise -- who allowed the struggling canine into the living room?
No mitigation arose this week at WSCR-AM (670) when ol' Dan McNeil went on Twitter, did his business regarding the "Monday Night Football" attire of ESPN reporter Maria Taylor and was fired.
McNeil was guilty of absolutely nothing out of character or unpredictable.
He was sexist, he was impulsive and he generated a line that in days of yore would have called for backslapping guffaws and a round of Malört's at the old Mill Gate Inn in his native Northwest Indiana.
The keenly telegenic Taylor was fashionably dressed to chill while on the sideline of the Steelers-Giants telecast.
As a sports journalist on the job, her sartorial statement was one that a Michele Tafoya or seasoned Erin Andrews would quite likely never go near.
So, McNeil tweeted:
"NFL sideline reporter or a host for the AVN annual awards presentation?"
AVN -- Adult Video News -- is a variant of a yearly industry show.
McNeil -- a fellow who has built his broadcast career on low-hanging fruit -- overlooked the mine-laden crossroads of stagnant sports talk radio in Chicago and the ceaseless third rails of paralyzingly spooked America 2020.
He was working at an Entercom/Chicago station that has lost close to 40 percent of its audience from last year.
"The Score" is also down key personnel, imagination and -- perhaps most important -- access to major live events, where many sales to malleable advertisers are fostered.
The situation is no better at rival ESPN AM (1000), where a new engine stuck in "neutral" dominates.
The critical difference is that WSCR bosses continue to wheeze out the claim of being "Chicago's sports talk leader."
AM 1000's Mike Thomas retains the pandemic-sustained benefit of clearly marking his station as one being in a state of "rebuild."
And Dan McNeil is again out of a job.
STREET-BEATIN': For five shining weeks, a majority of Big Ten university presidents and chancellors -- such as Northwestern's Morty Schapiro and Dr. Mark Schlissel of Michigan -- looked special. Now they're back to common. (And some medical professionals are projecting that full impact of the decision to resume football won't be felt until players are back among more susceptible relatives during the holidays.) ...
Prior to Labor Day, there had only been six instances in the modern history of American TV when all four major sports leagues had regular-season or playoffs games on the same day. In September alone, there will be 11. (That's called "audience fragmentation.") ...
Jimmy Butler may have become an insufferable diva with the Bulls, but he has emerged as the MVP of the NBA's bubble. Chicago fatalists are writing it off as merely another residual from Jerry Reinsdorf's ceaseless "Curse of the Breakup." (Game 2, Butler and the Heat vs. Boston, Thursday, ESPN, 6 p.m.) ...
Also bubbling, it's impossible not to note that lead assistant Wes Unseld Jr. and the Nuggets have come back from successive 1-3 deficits to beat the Jazz and the Clippers and advance to the Western Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Lakers (G1, Friday, TNT, 8 p.m.). If Unseld isn't the next HC of the Bulls, it's just more West Madison Street melancholia. ...
AM 1000's Marc Silverman and Tom Waddle are evincing more pep in their pipes with Mike Greenberg's professional ESPN national show as new lead-in. ...
Down the dial, informed speculation that Leila Rahimi will emerge as fresh afternoon co-host at WSCR continues to circulate. (Putting out the West Coast wildfires would be an easier assignment.) ...
One sure bet for the weekend: Tiger Woods (45-1) will not win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. (Nor will Hale Irwin. Golf Channel begins coverage Thursday at 6:30 a.m. with NBC to follow.) ...
Hopefully the Bears gave Detroit's Matt Patricia a game ball after last Sunday's adrenaline drainer. (He's Charlie Weis without the fake shillelagh.) ...
And memory-foam mattress reader Meg Westland inadvertently deadpanned: "I love listening to Cubs games with Pat Hughes at night. His voice puts me to sleep."
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com.