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Must Win TV? NBC unleashes the hype machine

National Football Post


If the timer on my DVR is correct, and I have no reason to doubt it's accuracy, it took a mere four minutes into NBC's first pre-game show for someone to declare that the very first game of a very long season was a must win for the Dallas Cowboys. It's the sort of declaration the frenzied fan will make, that those knee jerk reactionary radio talk show hosts will get up on their soapbox and shout (I've done it), and that people inside the game (players, coaches and front office folk) will shake their heads at in a condescending way. If you are not in the game, you have no way of knowing.

So who uttered that game one was a must win for the Dallas Cowboys? It was Rodney Harrison. He played the game, and now he talks about it. He's a pretty good analyst. He says what's on his mind and is now an official member of the media. He should know better. Saying game one a must win for the Cowboys is one of those silly, bordering-on-stupid statements that all of us who talk for a living make from time to time. Why do we do it? It's part of the job.


When Bob Costas tossed it to Dan Patrick on the field early on Wednesday night, Dan remarked that there was a playoff atmosphere at the Meadowlands. However, as he said it (about fifty minutes before the game) there were few people in the stands. That long before game time, people are mulling in the concourses, guzzling beer and making deposits in the restrooms. Hype is part of the job, too. Even mild-mannered Tony Dungy got caught up in it. He told us his cab driver missed the exit for the stadium not once but twice. His concentration was apparently wrecked by the sheer excitement and anticipation of the Giants-Cowboys matchup. If Tony Dungy (my former radio playoff analyst) says something, I believe it. However, my take on his taxi travails goes like this: Every cabbie I've ever had in the New York City area is listening to NPR and has no idea where he's going.


The former Pittsburgh Steeler and Super Bowl MVP debuted on the NBC pre-game show the other night. Why in the world do the people who produce the game think I want to hear from Hines Ward the reporter? I don’t. I want to hear from Hines Ward the football player, and I think you do too. Hines told us that an un-named Giants player said Tony Romo was a good but not an elite quarterback (not exactly breaking news). Advice to the producers: Tell Hines to tell us what he thinks of Romo and explain why he thinks it. Leave the un-named sources in the locker room and have Ward use his locker room and playing experiences to teach the viewers some football lessons.

View photo

Hines Ward
ICONHines Ward's insights as a former player? Yes, please. As a reporter? Not so much.


The Cowboys win over the Giants attracted nearly 24 million viewers. That’s a huge number. Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention may have brought the partisans to their feet but Bubba was no match for the pigskin.


Not much new for the season. At FOX, comedian Frank Caliendo is out and Rob Riggle is in. During games, FOX unveils new graphics to identify players on the field.

CBS replaces information man and former NFL general manager Charley Casserly with Jason LaCanfora.
CBS has the Super Bowl this season and 90 percent of the ad time has already been sold.

By my count, ESPN will use 16 people on their Sunday pre-game show but on Monday Night just two in the booth. It’s Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden. More air time for the latter to fawn over coaches and use the word “great.”

The NFL Network has 13 games this season up from 8 a year ago. Set your alarm clock for 7am Eastern time Sunday. Believe it or not, that’s when their pre-game show begins. All six hours of it.

Happy viewing.

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