Dan Fouts’ week ahead includes flying from his home in central Oregon to visit the Chargers’ Costa Mesa practice facility Tuesday, then joining the TV broadcast booth in Arizona on Thursday night as the team opens its exhibition season.
Friday morning, Fouts — the former San Diego Chargers great and a color commentator on CBS NFL broadcasts — will head to San Francisco to say goodbye to his father during a funeral at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Bob Fouts died July 9 at 97. The elder Fouts had logged two decades calling San Francisco 49ers TV and radio games when the team joined the NFL in 1950 and was a legendary Bay Area broadcaster whose work included college basketball, the NBA and local TV sportscasts.
As Bob Fouts’ health weakened last fall, Dan Fouts excused himself from the Chargers’ exhibition season TV crew to help care for him. During the 2018 NFL season, Dan’s travel to his CBS assignments paired with Ian Eagle included calling his dad prior to kickoff to give him an update on the teams and weather conditions, and to give him a feel of the broadcast prep.
When Fouts was in Canton, Ohio, last weekend to be part of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame celebration — the former Chargers quarterback was inducted in 1993, a few years after his 1987 retirement — those offering condolences and stories about his dad were plentiful, he said.
That has helped him throughthe grieving as he returns to the Chargers’ KABC-Channel 7 exhibition broadcast team with Spero Dedes and LaDainian Tomlinson.
“I know my dad would want me to get back into the saddle,” Fouts said Saturday by phone, heading home before the player induction ceremony in Canton so he can have more time for the memorial preparations.
“A lot of people knew him. A lot of people listened to him. The words I kept hearing most often was how he was a good man and a true gentleman. He was a pro’s pro, and people loved having him around. I’m going to miss calling him four times a week and talking about the games I’m doing.”
For more than 20 seasons, Bob Fouts called 49ers games with Lon Simmons, and also was with the University of San Francisco basketball teams during their Bill Russell-led NCAA titles run in the 1950s.
In the early ‘90s, Bob and Dan Fouts became the first father-and-son broadcasting team to call an NFL game together during the Chargers’ exhibition season.
In the mid-1990s, Dan Fouts left game-calling to become the sports director at KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. When Dan took time off, Bob filled in.
“When I came back to work, everyone would say, ‘Why aren’t you more like your dad? He’s really good,’ ” Fouts said with a laugh.
Having grown up as a 49ers ballboy and stat keeper for his dad at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park, Fouts said he appreciated the times he had with his father and that he used lessons learned from him to this day.
“It was a very unique relationship to share two careers with him,” Fouts said. “Preparation was always key for him. When we drove to games — 49ers, Warriors, any of them — I would sit in the car and quiz him on player numbers, just to keep him sharp. When I listened to him as a child doing games, I could tell his interest and his investment not only in the teams he was calling but in the work he was doing.
“I learned from him the value of a good spotting board. He was a good critic for the use of proper language and syntax. He didn’t want me to fall into the trap of saying things the same way over and over again.
“He actually wanted me to do voice lessons, but I didn’t. I always told him that Keith Jackson taught me the best sports vernacular.”
Fouts, 68, says his father’s passing hasn’t really caused him to consider how much longer he might continue his broadcasting career. His run includes two years in ABC’s “Monday Night Football” booth with Al Michaels and Dennis Miller, doing play-by-play on college games for ABC and ESPN, and play-by-play on Chargers’ exhibition games with Billy Ray Smith when they were in San Diego.
“I still enjoy it,” Fouts said, “and I don’t see that [career decision] anytime on the horizon.”
‘Hard Knocks’ zeroes in on the Raiders
The Oakland Raiders’ participation in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” launches with the first episode of the reality show’s 14th season on Tuesday, and no doubt attention will be paid to their exhibition opener against the Rams when the second episode airs Aug. 13.
Saturday’s 5 p.m. contest in Oakland goes into the L.A. market with both the Rams’ feed on KCBS-Channel 2 and the Raiders’ feed on KTLA-Channel 5. Another interesting twist: One can hear Beth Mowins’ call of the Raiders as she does play-by-play, while ESPN’s Mina Kimes has been added to the Rams’ exhibition TV coverage as a game analyst with Andrew Siciliano and Nate Burleson.
A ‘red-shirt’ season
Former USC All-American tackle Shaun Cody, part of the Trojans football pre- and post-game radio coverage the last few seasons, has been asked to fill in as the game analyst this fall for John Jackson Jr., who continues his recovery from a life-threatening stroke suffered late in 2018.
Jackson, part of the Trojans’ radio broadcast since 2003, will have a limited role in game coverage, perhaps with pre-game or halftime commentary and be situated in the radio booth. USC officials have told him not to worry about losing his job and to “take a red-shirt year, get healthy” and watch his son, Trojan freshman receiver John Jackson III play, USC spokesman Tim Tessalone said.
As Trojans games move to KABC-AM 790 this fall for the first of a five-year deal, Pete Arbogast returns on play-by-play with Jordan Moore on the sidelines. Cody will stay on the two-hour pre- and post-game shows, both of which will add former USC quarterback Max Browne to the conversation.
Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket, meanwhile, has not finalized a plan for how it plans to set up its broadcast booth for its high school game of the week. Jackson has been the primary game analyst there since 1997.
‘Ocho’ over easy
ESPN2’s annual conversion to “The Ocho,” an irreverent homage to the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” that mocks the network’s unending number of channels, has been moved from its appropriate Aug. 8 spot because of a commitment to live coverage involving Little League, pro tennis, the WNBA and the Professional Fighters League.
“We are confident that the integrity of ESPN8: The Ocho will remain intact,” the network said in a statement.
A 24-hour span between 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday will feature the 2004 Fox film starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Rip Torn, and including ESPN8 broadcasters Cotton McKnight (Gary Cole) and Pepper Brooks (Jason Bateman), as bookends for the quasi-sports coverage.
This year, that lineup includes its first live event, the World Cornhole Organization championship (Wednesday, 5 p.m.) from Valley Forge, Penn., along with ax throwing, chess boxing, combat juggling, acrobatic pizza making, school bus Figure 8, European tram driving, cherry pit spitting, lawn mower racing, sign spinning, and the Stupid Robot Fighting League.
And, of course, real dodgeball.