Super Bowl special: The sports sectionPosted: Sunday, February 3, 2008
If you hadn’t heard the news, Lisa Olsen, the Daily News columnist, resigned sometime in between the Jints’ NFC and Super Bowl championships these last two weeks. Probably unrelated, but six years ago, Mark Kriegel was fired from the News.
First, to the Olsen resignation: Speculation on two somewhat “meh” sites is rampant that wee author Mike Lupica, the name-brand sports columnist with the Napoleon complex, had a hand in undermining Olsen to the point of making her quit. Without any better sources than the rival New York Post and the sports blog The Big Lead, where this rumor appeared, I’ll merely repeat the rumor (I just did), but can’t put full stock in it because of the sources (it’s like the old journalism saw: It’s a story so good, you’d hate to check it out). Olsen (at least, someone claiming to be her) said nothing about this and denied another rumor about mistreatment at the News because of her gender while otherwise confirming her resignation on sportsjournalists.com.
If you remember, more than six years ago, the excellent Mark Kriegel was fired by the Daily News. Rumors then had it that Lupica had “blood on his hands,” according to this old New York Observer report (last item in the linked report). Kriegel has since written two well-received biographies (I recently finished his Pistol Pete) and is now a national columnist for Fox Sports online.
To be truthful, I wasn’t a huge fan of Lisa Olsen’s writing, but I respected her writing, and her reporting skills were said to be top-notch. I read her stuff if I bought the News that day, but didn’t seek out her work online. I respected her for persevering after what she’d been through with the Patriots and sexual harassment (and one of the reasons I still dislike the Pats).
Meanwhile, Lupica’s work reads like he’s writing most of his columns (except for, say, really Big-Ticket events) off the TV coverage from his living room in Connecticut (rather than actually going to the game sites, like, um, a real journo — at least, that’s how his columns read to me). Is it me, or when was the last time he had a good quote in the paper that wasn’t pulled from a press conference?
Nothing was like the final late-heyday of the News in the late 1990s. Pete Hamill edited it for a time and it was a classy tabloid, a workingman’s Times, something it never was again after Hamill was fired. It was a place where the late Mike MacAlary won a Pulitzer (I believe that happened after Hamill’s tenure, but I feel his influence lived on). Even still, the sports section still flourished until Kriegel was canned around August 2001. But during that stretch, the Daily News sports section was the newspaper-world version of the Yankees (1996-2000).
If there is any justice on the planet, Kriegel would still be at the News and Lupica would be hanging with Wee Man and trying to land a role in The Hobbit, maybe as Gollum’s special private “preciousssss.”