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Dottie Pepper leaves NBC Sports after 8 years

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Dottie Pepper leaves NBC Sports after 8 years

Dottie Pepper learned the art of retirement at an early age.

In a practice round during her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, she wound up behind someone Pepper would describe as an aging veteran who had no business being out there. Pepper turned to her sister, who caddied for her that summer, and told her, ``Don't ever let me get to that point.''

Two years after her first shoulder surgery, when those blue eyes didn't blaze with quite as much intensity and Pepper began to realize there was more to life than chasing around a little white golf ball, she announced her retirement at the 2004 U.S. Women's Open when she was 38.

Her retirement Sunday after eight years with NBC Sports was not much different.

``I would have to say this is similar to when Barry Sanders retired because she's going out on top of her game,'' said Tommy Roy, NBC's executive producer of golf who gave Pepper a chance, coached and critiqued her, and was sorry to see her go. ``Her work this year on the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup was impeccable. You could take her work and make a `how-to' tape for future broadcasters.''

Her last day at work was Sunday at the Father-Son Challenge in Orlando, Fla., the end of a ride that Pepper, 47, could not have imagined.

It was former NBC staffer John Goldstein who persuaded Roy to give her a shot at the `04 Women's Open, and Pepper took it from there. She started work in 2005 during the Florida swing on the PGA Tour, and then got her big break at her first U.S. Open that summer. She was assigned the next-to-last group, and walked the final round at Pinehurst No. 2 with the champion, Michael Campbell.

``You can't dream up an assignment like that,'' Pepper said. ``My very first Open and I walk in the winner.''

Just like her retirement from playing, however, Pepper caught herself pulled in another direction.

She was tired of the travel, for one thing, and she found her passion shifting to junior golf. The PGA of America called on her again, and this time, Pepper listened. She decided at the Ryder Cup to leave her role as the most prominent female golf analyst and join the PGA of America's board of directors, where she can work on developing junior golf programs.

Roy was effusive with praise.

``The great thing about Dottie is not many players could come over from the LPGA and analyze in a critical way how the PGA Tour players and still be respected by those players,'' he said. ``She garnered so much respect from the players. She came over and fit right in.''

That's all Pepper really wanted.

Roy said he would like to have another LPGA Tour player work the U.S. Women's Open next summer on Long Island, though it is not imperative for the NBC team to find another woman to fill Pepper's role. It was never about gender, and Pepper never saw it that way.

``It's been the greatest thing because I was treated as a reporter and an analyst, not because I was a woman,'' she said. ``I was expected to toe the line. No matter how bad the weather was, how tough the walk was, I was to do everything the guys did. And that's how I wanted it.''

She was never lacking in intensity and honesty, sometimes to a fault. She once was criticized for shouting, ``Yes!'' when her opponent missed a putt in the Solheim Cup. Roy laughed when recalling her early years with NBC. ``Everyone on the NBC golf team was scared to death of her from when she was a player,'' he said.

That intensity, however, led to her lowest moment in broadcasting.

Pepper was working the Solheim Cup for Golf Channel in 2007 when the Americans kept missing one pivotal putt after another. They had gone to a commercial break, but someone forgot to hit the switch. Thinking they were off the air, Pepper said, ``Choking, freakin' dogs!''

Only they weren't off the air, and her commentary got back to the Americans. Pepper didn't remember saying it and she didn't even find out about it until six hours later, when the telecast was over and a producer closed the door behind him and said, ``We've got a problem.''

``An enormously sick feeling,'' Pepper said. ``The thing that still stings about that is that there were people at Golf Channel who had already packed my bags. They had issued my resignation. And (senior programming director) Don McGuire said, `No, that won't be the case. That was our fault.' I'll always be appreciative of him for that.''

Her sin wasn't being honest, rather it was being a cheerleader.

``That's what hurt the most,'' she said. ``I was bleeding with them, and as a broadcaster, you can't do that. You call your sport.''

Pepper wasn't sure she would recover from that, and there are still a few American players who won't speak to her. Once a shoo-in as a Solheim Cup captain, Pepper quickly became an afterthought except in the booth. That changed this year when Meg Mallon chose Pepper as one of her assistant captains for the 2013 matches in Colorado.

Will she be a captain someday?

``Only if I'm wanted,'' she said. ``People have to want you to be a captain.''

But she says her decision to leave broadcasting was in no way related to her future in the Solheim Cup.

It was simply time to move on to something else, which in this case is developing young American players at an early age. She has created a mascot called ``Bogey,'' a big range ball who is tired of his dead-end job and wants to be a player. Pepper is bringing ``Bogey'' to the PGA show next month. She describes him as ``a bridge so that golf isn't so scary to kids.''

Pepper has no idea how long her stint with the PGA of America will last, but odds are she'll get out when she's ready and not a moment too late.

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Capitals at Blackhawks Game 10: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals at Blackhawks Game 10: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Capitals are riding a two-game winning streak, and are looking to continue their winning ways as they start a five-game road swing.

Their first stop is Chicago against a Blackhawks team that has cracked .500 and is also riding their own two-game winning streak.

Whose streak will come to an end Sunday? Tune in to find out.

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME 10: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

When: Sunday, October 20, 7 pm.

TV Channel: Capitals-Blackhawks will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blackhawks on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals @ Blackhawks (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals:

RW Richard Panik, upper-body injury, week-to-week

Blackhawks:

LW Jonn Quenneville, hip injury, day-to-day

CAPITALS AT BLACKHAWKS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Michal Kempny, D, Capitals (1-0-1)

After returning to the Caps lineup against the New York Rangers Friday night, Kempny felt right at home, potting his first goal of the season. Kempny will look to beat up on the team that traded him back in 2018, and he's had success in the past against them.

Alex DeBrincat, F, Chicago (2-2-4)

Don't be fooled by DeBrincat's 5-7 frame. The shifty forward has a deadly release and notched 41 goals last season, second on the Blackhawks. In the last two seasons, he's also feasted on the Capitals, notching two goals and two assists.

Patrick Kane, R, Chicago (2-5-7)

He doesn't have the nickname "Showtime" for nothing. Kane led the Blackhawks in goals last season with 44, and leads the team in points this season.

CAPITALS at BLACKHAWKS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 99

All-Time Series Record: 44-43-11-1

Last Meeting: Loss 8-5 (1/20/2019)

Last 10: Capitals lead 7-3

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Ravens at Seahawks Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens at Seahawks Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens have four wins already this season, but none stand out as a signature victory.

The Ravens blew the doors of future 0-16 Miami Dolphins, then got past Arizona, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by six, three and six points, respectively. The combined record for those three? 4-13-1.

Now, two of those games weren't really as close as the final score made it look. But for a team with designs on contending in the AFC, it's a little concerning that Baltimore's point-differential would be negative-15 if you take out the 59-0 win in Miami that, frankly, shouldn't count.

All that came against a pretty light schedule. The Ravens have only face two non-terrible teams, but they lost to both. Now? Their schedule takes another step up in difficulty, and the first stage comes in Seattle.

The Ravens are traveling across the country to face the 5-1 Seahawks, who are flying high thanks to their quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson would be something close to the consensus MVP if the season ended today, thanks to his 1,704 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The Seahawks own one of the most fearsome home field advantages in football, making this one of the toughest tests of the Ravens' season. 

This battle looks especially important, considering the gauntlet awaiting Baltimore after their Week 8 bye. Five of their next six games beginning in Week 9 are vs. New England, vs. Houston, at Los Angeles (Rams), vs. San Francisco, and at Buffalo. Those teams are a ridiculous 22-6 this season, so the Ravens need to stock up on as many wins as possible during the rest of their schedule.

They'll look to enter their bye with some momentum behind an MVP candidate of their own, albeit not one quite on Wilson's level just yet, in Lamar Jackson.

Jackson continued his own stellar start to the season in Week 6, becoming the first quarterback to ever pass for 200 yards and rush for 150 in a regular season game. He also became the first player in NFL history to earn both the FedEx Air Player of the Week and Ground Player of the Week in the same season.

His dual-threat dominance has keyed a resurgent Ravens offense, forced to carry a surprisingly-struggling defense. The Ravens are hoping their in-season acquisition of cornerback Marcus Peters will provide a jolt to their injured secondary.

Speaking of the secondary, safety Earl Thomas is making his long-anticipated return to Seattle on Sunday, a reunion you don't want to miss.

This is one of the biggest games on the slate in the NFL this weekend, and it's one of the biggest swing games for the Ravens' season. Two franchises defined by their defenses will be carried by their high-octane offenses in what should be a terrific atmosphere.

Here's everything you need to know about the game. 

RAVENS AT SEAHAWKS WEEK 7:

Who: Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

What: Week 7 of the regular season

When: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, 4:25 p.m. ET

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: FOX Sports, FuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090, 98Rock and 101.5 FM

Weather: High of 53 degrees, 5-10 mph winds, strong chance of rain (80 percent)

RAVENS 2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/8 at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (W, 59-10)

Week 2: Sun., 9/15 vs. Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 3: Sun., 9/22 at Chiefs. 1:00 p.m. (L, 33-28)

Week 4: Sun., 9/29 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m. (L, 40-25)

Week 5: Sun., 10/6 at Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (W (OT), 26-23)

Week 6: Sun., 10/13 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 7: Sun., 10/20 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: BYE week

Week 9: Sun., 11/3 vs. Patriots, 8:20 p.m.

Week 10:  Sun., 11/10 at Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 11: Sun., 11/17 vs. Texans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Mon., 11/25 at Rams, 8:15 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/1 vs. 49ers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/8 at Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Thu., 12/12 vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m.

Week 16: Sun., 12/22 at Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sun., 12/29 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

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