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March 8, 2002
by Bill Hogan



I was perusing espn.com the other day when I came across an advertisement that actually made me say to myself Ė out loud Ė Ďnow Iíve seen everythingí.

ESPN Insider is a paid subscription to "premier editorial content". The stuff that stiffs like me canít read on espn.com without coughing up some cash (a.k.a. the stuff I can do without anyway).


And unless youíre retired, unemployed or an insomniac, thereís no way to get through all the sports content that is published on the Internet for free every day. I hope to be retired some day (as long as thereís cable Iíll always find some way to pass the time). I hope never to be unemployed (unless, of course, Iím retired). And I can fall asleep on a picket fence so thereís really no need for me to shoot the lock off my wallet and actually pay ESPN for more information than I can possibly digest.

But ESPN, being the savvy marketers that they are, has dangled the carrot. An offer that's more inspiring than zero percent financing or "no payments until 2004". A concept so intriguing that Iím writing about it.

For a limited time, if you sign up to become an ESPN Insider, you will receive a complementary Dick Vitale bobblehead doll. I canít even write that without saying Ė out loud Ė Ďnow Iíve seen everythingí.

What would I (what would anyone) want with a "Dickie V" bobblehead doll? Where would you put it? This is not a handsome man. Thereís a reason he works behind the camera as an announcer. And the doll itself doesnít do him justice (if thatís possible). It looks like a cross between Vitale and the Addams Familyís Uncle Fester.

The only place in the house that I can really call my own is my nightstand. My wife lets me put anything I want on my nightstand. I could put Dickie V on my nightstand if I wanted, but waking up in the middle of the night eyeball to eyeball with a mutant Uncle Fester would scare the daylights out of me.

Thereís only one reason most of us wake up in the middle of the night and if I saw that bald noggin bobbing up and down thereíd be no reason to walk to the bathroom (but Iíd have to get out of bed to change my shorts).

I think the ESPN marketing crew missed the mark with this lure. The whole idea of watching that melon waggle is, well, disgusting. A bobblehead of a few of the models from the swimsuit issue would have been a heck of a lot more appealing.

Now if the doll actually spoke I may have to reconsider. Vitaleís college basketball commentary is legendary. His catch phrases are classic. And he adds an exciting element to the game. If the doll said "that kidís a prime time player Ė a real P.T.Píer" I might be able to get past the Uncle Fester thing. (Not to mention the added incentive of putting it next to the bed, I could always put a baggie over his head).

The best part of all the Dickie V bobblehead ads at espn.com is that it cuts down on the relentless promotion of "A Season on the Brink" which is, of course, "the first original motion picture from ESPN".

Maybe I watch too much ESPN (and ESPN2 and ESPN Plus and ESPN Classic), but Iíve been bombarded with previews of this movie since Halloween. I realize it is their first. The first time for everything is a big event. But this buildup is worse than the two weeks before a Super Bowl. Letís get on with the show already.

Iíve seen so many clips and so many animated Internet ads for this movie that I feel like Iíve already seen it.

Brian Dennehy as Bobby Knight is a hard concept for me to swallow. I see Brian Dennehy as the dopey sheriff that gave Rambo a hard time in "First Blood". It looks to me like heís too short, too fat and too much like the dopey sheriff that gave Rambo a hard time.

The only thing that ESPN didnít do to promote "A Season on the Brink" is to offer complementary Brian Dennehy bobblehead dolls to all new ESPN Insider subscribers.

Brian Dennehy or Dickie V. Scary.


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