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The Good Sports of CBS

Aug 14, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The gathering at which CBS Sports’ NFL talent and producers reunite late each summer is always a fun one, but last week’s seemed especially infused with good cheer, good will and good looks (or at least new looks).

Dan Marino was receiving compliments for his sleek physique and telling folks he’d dropped 20-plus pounds on his NutriSystem for Men diet. (The before and after photos on NutriSystem’s Web site do not do justice to the Marino.)

Lesley Visser still was being congratulated for having become the first woman recognized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame just two days before.

There was no way she could have boiled her 30 years of covering the National Football League down to a three-minute speech, so Ms. Visser focused on recognizing role models and friends who were important to her.

“I always say you don’t land on Normandy by yourself,” Ms. Visser told The Insider. She’s quite sure none of the others in the Hall of Fame have cited tennis legend Billie Jean King as an influence, but Ms. King’s defeat of Bobby Riggs in 1973 was, Ms. Visser said, “a core moment for me.”

The Hall of Fame event hadn’t been all frothy glory for Ms. Visser. Sitting beside her in an open convertible during the parade was her husband, Fox Sportscaster Dick Stockton. From Ms. Visser’s bubbly account of the parade, the crowd reaction was sort of, Who’s that woman sitting next to Dick Stockton?

Of course, if they’d looked at the sign on the car they’d have thought it was “Leslie” Visser. That’s a spelling D, not spelling B, for someone.

NFL analyst Randy Cross was still feeling the effect of his trip to Afghanistan with sports talk show host Ron Barr in late May and early June to spend time with American troops stationed there. So powerful was the impact of that trek on the former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman, he’s already decided he’ll make a similar trip next February.

The Insider picked up one fun fact from Mr. Cross about a region in which there’s not much fun to be had: Fantasy football is bi-i-i-i-i-i-i-ig with the troops.

The Insider also got a private fashion show from NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira, who just happened to have the new shirts and pants the referees are to wear this season tucked into a bag in the coat room.

The black and white stripes on the shirts have bulked up, but the black stripes get wider at the shoulders of the long-sleeved cool-weather shirt and the short-sleeved warm-weather shirt. There’s a wide white stripe down the outside of the pants leg, which will replace the familiar white knickers in cold weather.

The refs’ numbers and positions are on the back and much smaller now. On the front is “NFL.”

There have been some snarky reviews of the new shirt, which debuted last week at the New York Giants summer camp. But the redesign by Reebok (which sells the uniforms but hasn’t put them up on the Web site yet) was driven by function, not fashion. The materials used are more lightweight and efficient.

“I’m just happy officials on the field will be more comfortable,” said Mr. Pereira.

The Insider wondered aloud why Reebok and the NFL hadn’t turned the redesign into a challenge on “Project Runway.”

Can you imagine wacky Vincent’s vision of the men in stripes? Or rosette-addicted Angela’s doodadded design? Or pageant veteran Kayne’s ruched look?

There’s no way they’d be able to make it work, but it would be a fascinating hour.