PLAYMAKER FIRES BACK Omar Gooding, whose forceful turn as the
thuggish, cocaine-addicted running back Demetrius Harris on
ESPN's Playmakers is a big part of what rankles the NFL about the
show (SI, Nov. 24), says he's shocked by the league's continuing
criticism. On Dec. 3 commissioner Paul Tagliabue said on HBO's
Inside the NFL that Playmakers "was one-dimensional and traded in
racial stereotypes" and then added, "I didn't think that was
either appropriate for ESPN or right for our players." As the
network weighs whether to renew the highly rated series in the
face of the NFL's unhappiness, Gooding, 27, says, "Let [someone]
do a documentary on what's really going on [in the NFL]. That
would open some eyes. At least with us you can say, 'Well, it's
just a TV show.' They could list all the [NFL players] that have
gotten in trouble or get newspaper reports of everybody who has
been busted, and that would probably shed a lot more negative
light on them than what we're doing."
BYE, GEORGE Citing the desire to be with his family, George
Foreman is leaving HBO Sports after 12 years as a boxing
commentator. He'll work his last fight in February. "I'm going to
dedicate a few years [to his 10 children] before they grow up and
make a rap video about me: Daddy Wasn't There," said Foreman.
Replacement candidates include trainer Emanuel Steward and boxer
Roy Jones Jr., both of whom have worked as analysts.... TNT has
told Alonzo Mourning, who retired recently because of ongoing
kidney problems, that he has an open invitation to join Charles
Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA.
Mourning was a guest analyst last year. Says his agent, Jeff
Wechsler, "I don't know when he'll be able to do that. We're
focusing on getting Alonzo healthy."