Two @LandonDonovan interviews in a week! Thank you to the Skin Cancer Foundation for giving Landon the opportunity to share his experience with us and also, talk soccer. We had a lot of fun.

Looks like the city is ready to run. Wishing everyone here in Boston a happy and safe Marathon Monday. It’s the best day of the year in this city, hands down.

To all of the new followers of PepperOnSports.com, welcome and thanks for hopping on board!  I wanted to share this post with you.  This story embodies what I love most about sports.  Please watch the video and enjoy.  

pepperonsports:

             Tragedy inspires magical NCAA Tournament run 

Sometimes the athletic competitions we love transcend sports to strike a deeper chord with a widespread audience.  

When Loyola Marymount University’s star basketball player Hank Gathers died of a heart attack during a game on March 4, 1990, the athletic community was devastated.  The incident was a nightmare not only for those who knew Gathers personally, but also for the NCAA and professional leagues as the worst possible outcome at a sporting event, once unimaginable, became a sickening reality.

The game in which Gathers died would be the LMU Lions’ last before the start of March Madness.  The video above chronicles the emotional journey of Gathers’ teammates as they played the Tourney of their lives with heavy hearts, transfixing the nation with every miracle win and implementing a breathtaking tribute that made their story the most moving in NCAA Tournament history.  

24 years after Gathers’ death, his LMU teammates reunited on the Loyola campus to not only talk about their fallen friend and gut-wrenching Tourney run, but also to reconnect with the son of Hank Gathers, who the team had last seen as a 6-year-old at his father’s funeral.  

via Yahoo Sports

Hey everyone!  You can catch me along with Jill Painter and Fred Roggin on a special NHL edition of Going Roggin.  We’ll be on NBC immediately following Game 2 of Blackhawks vs. Blues here in L.A.  If you aren’t in Southern California or don’t have access to KNBC on your TV, I believe you can watch the live stream on the KNBC website.  If you miss us today, you can tune in at midnight  PST (Sunday night/Monday morning) and watch the show then.  To watch us at that time online, click this link!  Thanks everyone and have a great weekend

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Going-Roggin-249053701.html

pepperonsports:

It’s about that time…for another episode of #GoingRoggin on KNBC ch4 here in LA. We’ll be on NBC immediately following the NHL playoff game this Saturday and again at midnight, Sunday night/Monday morning. LA Daily News’ award-winning columnist Jill Painter and I are taking the gloves off and going at it, talking all things hockey as Fred Roggjn has generously offered to officiate. Please join us and tweet me during the show @jackie_pepper. As always, thanks for watching!

It’s about that time…for another episode of #GoingRoggin on KNBC ch4 here in LA. We’ll be on NBC immediately following the NHL playoff game this Saturday and again at midnight, Sunday night/Monday morning. LA Daily News’ award-winning columnist Jill Painter and I are taking the gloves off and going at it, talking all things hockey as Fred Roggjn has generously offered to officiate. Please join us and tweet me during the show @jackie_pepper. As always, thanks for watching!

Today we sat down with Team USA’s @LandonDonovan. It was fun listening to Landon discuss his favorite #WorldCup memories, expectations for Brazil 2014, taking on those pesky aliens as a member of Samsung’s Galaxy 11 and much more. Oh ya, plus, Landon took a photo of me interviewing him using his James Bond-esque wrist watch/phone/camera. Technology. What a trip.

                  Teammate Behind Epic Baseball Prank Tells All!

There is no place like a baseball clubhouse.  The amount of time players (and media, for that matter) spend inside of a clubhouse dwarfs that of the boys of summer’s counterparts in football, basketball and hockey.  The “locker room” culture of sports is something that could easily be studied within the social science disciplines of sociology and psychology.  Spending one afternoon inside of a baseball clubhouse, you’re likely to experience displays of hard work, friendship, indifference, energy, animosity, routine, boredom, exhaustion, and humor.  

Cody Decker, the first baseman for the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres Triple-A affiliate), produced his fifth baseball-related short flick and this one is a doozy.  “On Jeff Ears” takes us inside the dugout, clubhouse and meeting room as the Chihuahuas play a hilarious prank on teammate Jeff Francouer.  

The veteran outfielder signed with San Diego in March and hey, why not prank a guy who has made around $25 million in his career and is back in the minors?  Here’s a summary.  Francouer’s teammates spent WEEKS pretending that Chihuahuas pitcher Jorge Reyes was deaf.  Coaches, players, and all kinds of folk in El Paso were in on the joke.  Decker’s film takes us inside the prank and the big reveal where Francouer learns that he’s been SO punked!

Decker shot all of the interviews in one day during a rain delay using his iPhone and edited using iMovie on his laptop over the course of a few days.  See kids, you too can make movies at home!  Decker told me that as a filmmaker, he had a clear vision for the film and knew exactly what he wanted from each player and coach when he interviewed them.

I spoke with Decker over the phone and here are a few highlights from our Q&A:

Jackie Pepper: How was Jeff Francouer chosen as the butt of this particular joke?

Cody Decker: Basically we thought he was the perfect candidate.  We put the hook in there early to see if he would fall for it and he did.  We picked Jeff because he’s such a high profile guy and he’s such a nice guy that  I don’t think he saw it coming.  He even admitted it was the best and most well executed prank that he’s every seen.  It was a whole team effort.

JP: Early in the film we see Francouer interviewed on camera.  What did you tell him the reason was for the interview? 

CD: I told jeff that I was shooting a short film for Jorge and his wife’s [wedding] anniversary.  That’s why I told him to annunciate his words [so that “deaf” Jorge would be able to read his lips in the video].

JP: At the end, we see the “big reveal” in which Francouer watches the interviews and learns that you’ve fooled him, hard core.  What happened at that moment that wasn’t seen on camera?

CD: We had a full-on 20 minute Q&A where he [Francouer] asked the entire team questions.  It was amazing.  He was laughing.  He said this is unbelievable.  He said i had no reason not to believe this.

JP: Your teammates verbally hammer the guy, calling him an “idiot” throughout the video.  Were you at all concerned, especially in an age where bullying is a key issue, that this joke was going too far?

CD: No.  Never.  Jeff is literally maybe the best teammate that any of us can ever hope for.  He’s an unbelievable leader, he’s fantastic.  He thought this was just as funny as we did and that just shows you what an amazing guy he is.  We weren’t picking on him, it was just a little thing that we just did and he was impressed.  He got a kick out of it and he bought us all dinner the next night.  

Enjoyed speaking with Patrick Willis about topics ranging from his love for teammate NaVorro Bowman to his thoughts about rival Richard Sherman and how he finds inspiration from Amy Purdy.

             Tragedy inspires magical NCAA Tournament run 

Sometimes the athletic competitions we love transcend sports to strike a deeper chord with a widespread audience.  

When Loyola Marymount University’s star basketball player Hank Gathers died of a heart attack during a game on March 4, 1990, the athletic community was devastated.  The incident was a nightmare not only for those who knew Gathers personally, but also for the NCAA and professional leagues as the worst possible outcome at a sporting event, once unimaginable, became a sickening reality.

The game in which Gathers died would be the LMU Lions’ last before the start of March Madness.  The video above chronicles the emotional journey of Gathers’ teammates as they played the Tourney of their lives with heavy hearts, transfixing the nation with every miracle win and implementing a breathtaking tribute that made their story the most moving in NCAA Tournament history.  

24 years after Gathers’ death, his LMU teammates reunited on the Loyola campus to not only talk about their fallen friend and gut-wrenching Tourney run, but also to reconnect with the son of Hank Gathers, who the team had last seen as a 6-year-old at his father’s funeral.  

via Yahoo Sports

 There’s an App for that: Drew Brees, Steve Gleason and technology

via Yahoo! Sports

Clip from our nightly tourney pool update newsletter. I’ve been in this pool for nearly a decade and it looks like I’m on my way to legend status…in a bad way. #LovableLoser

                         Danny Manning and the Miracles

Day 1 of the 2014 NCAA Tournament was epic.  With a record four overtime games and upsets galore, one couldn’t ask for much more from the Round of 64.  

In honor of some of the best games and performances in NCAA Tournament history, Yahoo Sports recalls the most “Memorable Moments” of March Madness.  

The video above explores the 1988 Kansas Jayhawks, an underachieving 6-seed that powered its way through the Tourney thanks to incredible performances by senior big man Danny Manning.

Manning was an absolute beast and was probably deserves the the title of best individual performer in Tourney history.  It’s hard to imagine anyone in this current era of college hoops doing what he did in ‘88.  

Also of note… the 2-seed Kansas Jayhawks are currently in a showdown with 15-seed Eastern Kentucky, it’s a tie game at the half.  Stay tuned.

Later tonight, the 13-seed Tulsa Golden Hurricane take on the 4-seed UCLA Bruins in the Round of 64.  Tulsa is coached by none other than Danny Manning himself.  Tulsa shocked UCLA in 1994, upsetting the Bruins in the first round of Tourney play. 

This is one of the best visual contrasts I’ve seen at the end of a Tourney game. Texas beat ASU with a putback at the buzzer. Epic. For the first time ever, I feel bad for the Sun Devils.

Tourney OT’s and upsets mixed in with a sit-down interview with Drew Brees. I’d say today is going well.

In honor of the start of the NCAA Tournament, here’s a look back at one of the most unlikely National Champions in March Madness history.  The 1997 Arizona Wildcats team is proof of just how intense, surprising and exciting the Tourney can be.  Enjoy watching Lute Olson and Mike Bibby reminisce about their days as the “Cardiac Cats,” barely escaping nearly every Tourney game and becoming the only team in Tourney history to beat three 1-seeds to win the National Championship.