October 04, 2009
Rich Gannon and Donovan McNabb(notes) have a lot in common. Both played quarterback in a Super Bowl loss, both have lived in Philadelphia at some point in their lives and neither has any idea how the NFL's overtime rules work.
One year after McNabb infamously expressed surprise that professional games could end deadlocked, Gannon, the former Raiders quarterback-turned-CBS analyst, made a similar slip-up at the end of the Cincinnati Bengals-Cleveland Browns game, in which he was providing color commentary.
With seven seconds left in overtime, the Bengals called a timeout to prepare for the potential game-winning field goal, to be kicked by Shayne Graham(notes). It was an easy decision for head coach Marvin Lewis: Since the clock was running, calling a timeout allowed Graham and the field goal team to take their time instead of having to rush the kick. Gannon, though, took exception.
Why, you ask? Did he think a miss would give the Browns too much time to run a Hail Mary? Was it his belief that the timeout could unintentionally lead to a self-inflicted icing of Graham? Nope. Both those things would be somewhat reasonable (if still misguided).
No, Gannon didn't like the timeout because he thought that if Graham hit the field goal, it would leave too much time for dangerous Cleveland return man Joshua Cribbs(notes) to take back the subsequent kickoff for a touchdown. You know, that dreaded post-score overtime kickoff that has felled so many teams throughout history.
Gannon's partner in the booth, Ian Eagle, quickly and politely informed Gannon that the game would be over if Graham successfully converted the field goal, since NFL overtime is sudden death. Gannon laughed and apologized for his mistake. Awesomely, Eagle then asked if McNabb had infiltrated the broadcast booth. Nah, Ian, if that were true, Gannon would have vomited when the game got down to crunch time. (Rimshot!)
It was a ridiculous mistake, but unlike McNabb's ignorance of overtime rules (and his continued defense of said ignorance later in the week), we'll give Gannon the benefit of the doubt and say this was more likely a slip of the tongue than a complete misunderstanding of how overtime works. But, of course, it didn't seem possible that McNabb wouldn't know about ties, so maybe we're giving Gannon too much credit.
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