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Chet Simmons



  This isn't a blog that normally delves into matters relating to sports television - Newsday already has an outstanding blog by Neil Best - but this is an unusual and notable exception: Chet Simmons has died.

  Chet Simmons: One of the real legends of the business, sports or otherwise, who was the first president of a little network tucked away in the hills of Connecticut known as "E.S.P.N" way back in 1979 at launch.

  But Simmons did so much else: Before ESPN he was a top producer and executive at NBC Sports, involved in just about everything NBC Sports did then and stood for, which was plenty; ESPN's bio says he was "involved" in the creation of the "instant replay" but I think (could be wrong, but...) that  he was the father of "instant replay."

  He was just a remarkable part of this business, and so my condolences to his family. The industry has lost a major major figure. Here are some excerpts from ESPN's obit, which is quite good:

  "...was instrumental in the development of Wide World of Sports.  He became President of NBC Sports and later of ESPN, and was founding Commissioner of the USFL.
 "Simmons influenced or launched the commentating careers of Jim Simpson, Merlin Olsen, Greg and Bryant Gumbel, Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, Joe Gargiola, Sandy Koufax, Vin Scully, Donna de Varona, George Grande, Tom Mees, Dick Vitale, Cliff Drysdale, Tim Ryan, and Jack Buck; Sharon Smith, Leandra Reilly and Rhonda Glenn in the early years of ESPN; and many more.

  "Simmons joined ESPN as president and chief operating officer on July 31, 1979, just prior to the network’s launch September 7.  Back then Simmons said: “There’s no question that cable television sports is at the same stage right now that network sports was 15 or 20 years ago, I’ve lived through the evolution of sports on television, and what lies ahead for cable television is incalculable at this point.  I was there during the inception of ABC Sports and the rebirth of NBC Sports, and I see many similarities between those beginnings and the beginning of ESPN and 24-hours-a-day televised sports.”




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