If there's one thing that makes sitting through the telecasts of the NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football" and all the Matt Millen/Joe Theismann-produced unintentional comedy that tends to happen as a result, it's the postgame interviews done by the crew of Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, and Deion Sanders. While Tweedledum and Tweedledee are up in the booth forcing everyone in the world to find their "mute" buttons, the postgame guys are putting together questions that bring real insight into what just happened on the field.
After the Indianapolis Colts won a 30-28 squeaker over the Tennessee Titans this last Thursday, Peyton Manning(notes) came over to talk to the A-team, and the result was some of the most insightful analysis of a team in transition you'll ever see.
(Note: It's also fun to watch Deion wearing 12 coats and 34 blankets whenever the temperature drops below 50. You can take the Prime Time out of Florida...)
After the perfunctory "How did it feel to win the game?" stuff, the guys got down to brass tacks. Mariucci asked Manning something I've been wondering of late -- with all the injuries to the Colts' offensive skill players, do they have to pare down the offense to facilitate production from the replacements? Manning said that they certainly did revise the playbook in this instance, adding in the short prep time for the Thursday tight turnaround, but "we really expect our guys to learn -- they get a lot of reps during the week, we throw a lot at them, and I'm really proud of their efforts. They're just learning on the run -- so much in critical situations, and I really appreciate how hard they're working."
The video is well worth checking out, especially if your primary perception of Peyton Manning is of the petulant superstar who threw his offensive line under the bus a few years back. This Manning is clearly more of a leader than ever, and with a skeleton crew on the offensive roster and some questions about just how "dynamic" the team's coaching is these days, that kind of leadership has never held more value for the Colts. Manning had not been playing well of late, but he's been a standup guy about it to a degree that may have surprised a lot of people.
And as for you, NFL Network, take heed: The guys on the turf are the ones who should be in the booth. You've got this whole thing backward.