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"As a woman in sports, I already know I HAVE to push harder." ABC Sports Reporter Dionne Miller

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"As a woman in sports, I already know I HAVE to push harder." ABC Sports Reporter Dionne Miller

BY DIONNE MILLER & CSN Chicago

What experience had the biggest impact on your life and career in sports and why?
It’s hard to point to just one experience, I mean I have loved sports for as long as I can remember. Honestly, I cried when John Elway led “the Drive” to beat my Browns! Actual tears!! That was the moment I knew sports meant more to me than just entertainment. As I got older, I realized sports is just like real life… sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but the next day, the next play we all try our best to be a little bit better. This is why I love sports!! But my plan was never broadcasting. My plan was teaching- English Lit- to high school kids. I think watched “Dead Poets Society” a dozen too many times and wanted to see kids standing on desks citing poetry. Clearly, I took a detour!!  It was actually thru some pretty big real-life struggles in college, and taking a semester off – that I realized how much I wanted to be a writer- not creative writing but a journalist!! I attended a small private liberal arts school that had no professional writing program to speak of, so they sort of created curriculum for me- what a gift!!

On my way to becoming a magazine columnist, I had to fulfill a communications requirement. On a whim, I signed up for TV Broadcasting. One of my first assignmentswas to report from a “Fire” for our faux news cast. I prepared, researched, took my place in front of the “Fire” back drop, and the red light went on. Game. Changer. I have no clue what I said, but I remember what I was wearing when I realized what I wanted to do with my life. I left the class, called my parents and immediately added a minor in communications. Though it honestly never crossed my mind to do news. I was already talking about sports, and binge watching ESPN. Sports just made sense.

Who’s had the biggest impact and why?  
Because I didn’t attend a Journalism school, I graduated knowing precious little about this job I wanted so badly. I was advised to pursue an internship, which I did at WWSB ABC7 in my hometown of Sarasota, FL. I walked in the first day, wide-eyed and so eager to learn all I could. I had the best teacher in Kevin Neghandi. Kevin was the weekend sports anchor at the time and honestly taught me everything. Everything. Shawn McClintock (VP Root Sports Pittsburgh) I met Shawn when I took it upon myself to show up in his news room and interview for a position I wanted. He didn’thire me, told me to accept a job offer I had in San Diego (which I did) and then told me to keep in touch. Less than a year later, I was let go from my job in California. I had never dreamed I would be fired. Let alone for no other reason than new management wanted someone else. I called Shawn. He not only encouraged me through that time, but led me to the two jobs that would change my life forever.

He told me he had a college friend who was at a start- up station in Columbus, Ohio and they were looking for a female anchor. Shawn also said he wanted to send my reel to Fox Sports Ohio as he was good friends with the bosses there. Well, that “college friend” not only helped get me hired in Columbus, he became my husband. And after the station we met at folded, Fox Sports Ohio hired me. That job with FSO led me to Big Ten Network, which led me to Chicago and here we are.

What are some of the funniest moments you’ve experienced as a woman in sports?
When I was hired at FOX 32 in Chicago, they sent a station wide email welcoming “Dionne Miller to the Sports Department”… I was told later they all thought I was an African- American man. This cracks me up.

What was the most negative moment you’ve experienced? The one that got youfired up or perhaps made you think about quitting.
Losing my job sucked! I pride myself on being a team player, I work my butt off, & I did everything I was asked to do and then some. But it wasn’t enough. Still makes me mad! I see now what a gift it was that this happened. I had so many more blessings as a result. And I can truly say it NEVER made me want to quit. It only drove me to push harder.
And as a woman in sports, I already know I HAVE to push harder. I have to know more, I have to research more, I have to work harder. I can’t make as many mistakes. I am fully aware of this fact and it’s a drag sometimes. But it will never make me want to quit. I know what I signed up for. I pray that one day there is more equality in Sports Broadcasting- especially when it comes to pay. But no job is perfect. And I love mine!

Have you had any teachable moments?  i.e. someone made an ignorant comment, but had no idea you were offended– until you said something?
I remember one of my first college football experiences, I interviewed the coach at Montana State University. I asked a question about his failing secondary and he basically answered me like I didn’t know that his team played football. It stuck with me. Especially because the next question came from a male reporter who asked virtually the same thing and got a specific football answer. Annoying.

Any awkward moments?   
Let’s face it, every time I march into a locker room, it’s awkward.  It just is. Athletes have gotten comfortable with it, and truthfully so have I. We all understand I am there to do a job, but it took some getting used to. I always wonder how I would feel if men came into my bathroom while I’m trying to get dressed or undressed. AWKWARD! But show respect, get respect. That’s kind of how approach it.

What are you most proud of?
I’m a mom of little people… sometimes I’m most proud that I am awake for work at10pm, and dressed! Kidding aside I am most proud to be a working wife and mom in a city I can’t believe I get to call home, at a station that gives me the opportunity to do so many amazing things, and continue to sharpen my skills. Six months into my first job in Billings, Montana, I was filming a HS Football game for work. Got tackled and broke my leg in 3 places. Never once during months off the air, rehab and being thousands of miles from home, did I consider quitting. Not once. I am so proud of where I am and my journey to get here. Because it’s MY story. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Many girls look up to you--any advice for those that want to get into sportsmedia?
1st- NO JOB IS BENEATH YOU! I feel like I need to shout this at young girls wanting to get into the business. Try everything, trust your talents and dive in. If someone offers you an opportunity you think isn’t “ideal”, remember that it could open a door you never imagined if you just go for it. Trust me, you will not be stuck in “Montana”--Nothing will last forever and you will not die. Also, understand what the landscape of the business is. Yes, we will always be outnumbered. Yes we will be judged by our dress, hair, and make up before anyone actually hears the words we say. None of this is a surprise. I’m not saying just accept ignorance. Not at all. But to act like this isn’t happening is ridiculous. It is. And its not just in TV. It happens in every job.

BE KIND! To your co-workers, your competition and yourself! First of all, you need absolutely everyone in the building you work in to make you look good on the air. DO not take this for granted. Be kind to your competition- especially other women. Yes, work hard to get your story correct and the best it can be. But do not tear down others on the way. This business is small. Everyone knows everyone. A bad reputation will ruin a stellar resume and incredible on-air talent. Male or female. And be kind to yourself. You will make mistakes. You will. I do. It’s ok. It will always be ok. Nothing is ever as bad as you think or as good. Stay humble, but don’t beat yourself up. If you make a mistake, or miss a story- learn, make a change and know you’ll do better next time… there is always another show coming.

How has social media changed how easily fans can reach out to you? Do you let it bother you?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  I love it for keeping me connectedwith what’s going on all over the sports world. But I hate that if I have one slip up on the air, I get immediate comment on twitter. Or if I show personality and it rubs someone the wrong way, I get an email attack. It’s the worst when someone attacks my clothes and hair… um- did you even hear what I said??? Yes.. It sucks. And honestly, sometimes it does bother me. But I am working towards letting that stuff go. I have to remind myself that the people who use social media to attack me, don’t know me. I know the men I work with get comments too, so I never feel singled out. I just wish people would pause before they lash out. Social media gives us no reason to filter. People are mean. But we can rise above.

Hroniss Grasu injury hurts Bears on multiple levels

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Hroniss Grasu injury hurts Bears on multiple levels

BOURBONNAIS — When center Hroniss Grasu went down Saturday with what is expected to be a season-ending right-knee injury, a shock wave went through the Bears organization.

The immediate concern was — and is — for Grasu, already a core member of a young offensive line coming together for what the Bears have planned on being a long-term part of their foundation. No one had worked harder than the young lineman from Oregon at his craft, at his physical development, at settling into an offense necessarily changing from exactly what it had been last year when Grasu started eight games after an injury to another center, Will Montgomery.

“Last year, he was very reserved and almost a little understated, I would say,” right guard Kyle Long said of Grasu as camp opened. “He was afraid to kind of ruffle some feathers. I think Hroniss has done a great job of getting back to who he is. You move all the football stuff aside, he’s a great guy, he’s got a great personality, he gets along with everybody, he’s funny, he works hard, he’s a blue-collar guy. But then you put in that learning curve with football and you’re going to see a guy who’s on the ascent here for a long time in Chicago.”

That is the overarching loss, at least until Grasu is back. And “getting back” should be the assumption until circumstances prove otherwise. Roberto Garza gave the Bears a decade of superb play, first at guard, then at center, without an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

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Reports: Bears' Grasu tears ACL, likely done for the season

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Reports: Bears' Grasu tears ACL, likely done for the season

Bears training camp has been beset by injuries that had as many as 16 players with some sort of injury. None, however, had reached the level as a torn right ACL reportedly suffered by center Hroniss Grasu during Saturday’s Bears practice at Soldier Field, sources said.

Grasu had made significant progress through the offseason and early going of camp, moving to secure the center position after rookie season that saw him start eight games but miss three games with a neck injury and then game 16 with a knee injury.

A torn ACL typically marks the end for the season, and whether Grasu is done for 2016 or could return, the Bears will be making roster tweaking. 

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Bulls trade Derrick Rose to Knicks

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Bulls trade Derrick Rose to Knicks

The Derrick Rose era is over in Chicago.

The Bulls sent their native son to the New York Knicks in a trade, sending Rose, Justin Holiday and a second-round pick in next June’s draft for center Robin Lopez, point guard Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant, according to sources close to the situation.

Rose was entering the final year of his contract in Chicago, and the Bulls faced the prospect of Rose playing his best basketball — then leaving in free agency for nothing in return.

The last several seasons for Rose has been marred with injuries, controversies and only flashes of the player who won MVP in the 2010-11 season, as he battled three debilitating knee surgeries starting in the 2012 season.

And as time went on, aided by the emergence of Jimmy Butler, it became obvious there wasn’t enough space in the backcourt for the two stars — though on separate trajectories as Rose tried to reclaim his previous form and was hit with setback after setback.

Rose’s first season under Fred Hoiberg was an up-and-down one, starting with fracturing his orbital bone on the first day of training camp, and it took until midseason for him to fully come to form.

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Bears' hogs beginning to settle in

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Bears' hogs beginning to settle in

Linemen – offensive and defensive – aren’t really allowed to hit each other or anyone else in earnest this time of year, even in the closing days of the pre-training-camp phase of the 2016 offseason. That includes this week’s mandatory three-day minicamp, expected to be the first real sighting of Alshon Jeffery after the wide receiver has chosen to stay away from Halas Hall amid stalled talks on a new contract.
 
But for one group in particular this time is critical, contact or no contact, because it is about laying the foundation of coordination.
 
Of the five current starting offensive linemen, only one – right guard Kyle Long – is in the same position he was this time a year ago, and Long spent the 2015 season at right tackle. Only one – left tackle Charles Leno Jr. – is in the same position he was at the finish of 2015.
 
Right tackle Bobby Massie and left guard Ted Larsen were playing those positions last offseason. It’s just that they were playing them in Arizona.
 
Turnover and change is not necessarily an issue for offensive lines. The 2005 Bears’ line had only two of the 2004 starters in the same spot and improved by six wins and made the playoffs. The 2006 group brought in another new starter and reached the Super Bowl.
 
The choreography that is axiomatic for success is under serious development right now, regardless of how live the action is. The contact embargo still may be in place, but getting up to speed, literally, and still being in right places at that next-level speed has been the focus since the walk-throughs against inverted trash cans through the offseason.
 
“It’s a lot different when you’re lined up in the spring and there are trash cans across from you and then when you’ve got these big fast d-linemen across from you,” Long said. “There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve.

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NFL Draft Profile: Oregon WR Bralon Addison

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NFL Draft Profile: Oregon WR Bralon Addison

Bralon Addison (WR), Oregon

5’9” | 197 lbs.

2015 stats:

63 receptions, 804 yards, 10 TD

Projection:

3rd Round

Scouting Report:

"Like many skill position players coming out of Oregon, Addison won't fit nicely into a positional box so there will be teams who pass him over regardless of how he performs at the combine. Addison does provide instant competition as a punt returner and a difficult cover for slot corners thanks to his ability to separate. Addison should be more confident with his knee next season and could end up outperforming his draft slot as a pro if he finds the right fit." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

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NFL Draft Profile: Oregon QB Vernon Adams

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NFL Draft Profile: Oregon QB Vernon Adams

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 150 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Vernon Adams (QB), Oregon

5’11” | 200 lbs.

2015 stats:

2,643 YDS, 64.9 CMP%, 26 TD, 6 INT, 179.1 QBR | 83 CAR, 147 YDS, 2 TD

Projection:

7th Round

Scouting Report:

"Extremely undersized for the position, Adams had success at Oregon despite just one season within its scheme. He doesn't have optimal anticipation or field vision and missed big play opportunities as they were opening. Adams can hit deep balls on scramble throws and won't take unnecessary chances, but teams might pass on him due to 'system and size' concerns. I wouldn't close the door on his chances to make a team due to athleticism and play-making potential in packaged plays." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

NFL Draft Profile: Oregon DL DeForest Buckner

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NFL Draft Profile: Oregon DL DeForest Buckner

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 150 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

DeForest Buckner (DL), Oregon

6’7” | 291 lbs.

2015 stats:

83 tackles, 17 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 5 PD, FR

Projection:

1st Round

Scouting Report:

"Where He Wins: Has the tools to be extremely disruptive versus the run and rushing the passer. Right now Buckner shines against the run thanks to his size, length and strength to shed. Those tools can work as a pass rusher, but right now the awareness to shed and create space is not there on a consistent basis. He could play a variety of alignments up front based on personnel packages. He played on 85.5% of the school’s snaps this season." - Josh Norris, Rotoworld.com

Video analysis provided by NBC Sports and Rotoworld NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

 

Bulls can't break Hawks' spell as winning streak ends

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Bulls can't break Hawks' spell as winning streak ends

The Atlanta Hawks have arguably been the most disappointing team in the NBA, but for whatever reason they have cast a spell over these Bulls.

Three games, three double-digit losses they’ve dealt the Bulls this season, and their 103-88 win Friday at Philips Arena broke a three-way tie for fifth place in the East, as the Bulls entered the evening percentage points ahead of the Hawks. But their usual bugaboo appeared, as it usually does in this matchup.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg warned his team of the Hawks’ trapping and aggressive defense, as the Bulls played hot potato in the first two matchups. It led to 21 turnovers this time, a familiar number and a big no-no considering all the impact players the Bulls were without.

“With the amount of games coming our way, everybody’s one or two games out of a seed, we’re jockeying for position,” Taj Gibson said. “We dropped the ball tonight.”

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ProDuck, Bears tackle Kyle Long named to 3rd-straight Pro Bowl

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ProDuck, Bears tackle Kyle Long named to 3rd-straight Pro Bowl

In the days before the 2015 game one against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears decided two-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long would suddenly become a tackle. Later in the season coach John Fox was clear: Kyle Long is a tackle.

The NFL apparently agrees, naming Long to his third straight Pro Bowl, this time as a tackle and replacing Philadelphia’s Jason Peters, who is out because of injury.

Long, who becomes the Bears’ sole representative in the Pro Bowl at this point, was surprised when his cell phone rang on Thursday and it was Fox calling, leaving a message to call him and it was “urgent.”

Long returned Fox's call and was treated to the news that, for all of his struggles at times in his “rookie” year at tackle, he was a Pro Bowl’er again.

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