One-stop shopping. Five minutes and out.
That’s all one needs to know about Roger Goodell’s “It’s all about our fans” claim. Sunday afternoon on CBS, for example. The man is relentlessly, shamelessly full of it. Good work — for a reported $63 million per — if you can get it.
Sunday, in a must-win, can’t-lose, can’t-tie game between the Steelers and Ravens, the last minutes of overtime were lost to viewers in several cities, including the nation’s largest TV market — that’s us! — after audiences had invested 3 hours and 20 minutes in it.
Similar incidents have happened and for many years, yet this one was different, begging for cutting viewers a break, as sticking with the usual plan benefitted no one.
Most everyone could see this coming, as games including Jets-Bills and Patriots-Dolphins were soon to start. Surely, the NFL, this being the final week of the season within a league known for last-minute TV schedule flexing, would on this day be flexible.
Or, if not, CBS would defy illogical broadcasting rules to allow its audience to witness the final three minutes in a big game and, as advertised, perhaps the last game played by Ben Roethlisberger.
Whatever, I’d have chosen common sense over abuse of an audience that had already invested more than three hours in watching a game’s outcome to throw in a few more minutes to complete its mission and tacit promise.
What was Goodell going to do, publicly complain that CBS treated its viewers right by best serving all audiences? Punish CBS by not cashing its checks?
Here, en route to the kickoff of Jets-Bills, viewers who had the Steelers-Ravens yanked from beneath them, next had to watch three commercials — two of them for NFL-certified gambling operations, further establishing those who’d been watching Steelers-Ravens as Goodell Era suckers.
And just before CBS was forced to leave that OT game, Mike Tomlin’s Steelers again risked losing — or not winning — a game to a player who had no better idea of what was going on other than his bloated sense of self.
With 3:27 left in OT, Pittsburgh receiver Diontae Johnson, after being shoved out of bounds by safety Geno Stone, tried to start a sideline fight! The game? Didn’t matter to him!
For what it’s worth, that sideline carried Goodell’s latest social messaging reminding viewers, for a second straight season, that those who watch NFL games are mostly presumed to be uncivilized bigots.
The day before, Goodell’s “It’s All About Our Fans” also was on display. Two games were played, Chiefs at Broncos at 4:30, Cowboys at Eagles at 8:20. Both, logically, on behalf of “Our Fans,” should have started several hours earlier — especially before a Saturday, mostly at home, winter audience.
The Eagles, condemned by the NFL and ESPN to play a late-night winter game instead of an afternoon game on a wide-open Saturday, are among those Goodell “good investments” PSL teams.
This playoff weekend, more “It’s All About Our Fans”:
The best eligible climate in which to play an outdoor January night game, Tampa, will host Eagles-Buccaneers on Sunday — at 1 p.m. Huh?
The worst climate to play an outdoor January night game, Buffalo, will host Patriots-Bills on Saturday — at 8:15 p.m., when it’s expected to be no warmer than 10 degrees. Brilliant, Roger, brilliant!
At more than $60 million per year to reach such decisions, if Goodell were any better to NFL fans, he’d buy back their “good investments” PSLs at 3 cents on the dollar.
Who’s Rex to Judge anyone?
ESPN’s Rex Ryan this week ripped Joe Judge for a lack of class. That’s rich.
Ryan’s class included the episode that happened after he became head coach of the Bills following his seasons with the Jets. After Jets QB Geno Smith’s jaw was broken by a sucker punch from teammate IK Enemkpali, Ryan’s Bills signed the defensive end.
Ryan then sent Enemkpali, a two-seasons NFL sub, to serve as a coin-toss captain for the Bills before a game against the Jets — a classless, unprofessional, childish move.
Post-play preening has become so obligatory that Saturday, after his team retained the ball on a roughing-the-kicker call, Broncos punter Sam Martin rose to perform a first-down gesture. Wonder if he’d have done the same while being wheeled off on a gurney?
Naturally, this NIL (name, image, likeness) ruling — anything that involves money — has driven college sports lower, more seedy. NIL has allegedly already been misapplied by colleges as free-agent pools for high school recruits. It’s a new form of payola that will further render college athletics a scam.
I wonder how many NBA broadcasters — TV and radio, local and national — recognize that the NBA is sinking under the weight of 3-point bombings, that they’ve replaced strategic basketball, but are unable to say so. Put it this way: How does one classify a game with 80-90 3s a good, well-played game?
CBS is still posting color-coded, vertically boxed graphics giving viewers about 12 seconds to read a list of a QB’s previous 10 passes and whether they were complete (and for how far) or incomplete. Apparently, saying, “He’s eight-for-his-past-10” would be too easy.
With Dobie gone, it won’t be the same down at the Gillis Grocery Store. Think I’ll go downtown with Maynard and watch ’em tear down the old Endicott Building.
Too many useless analysts, too few good ones
Our Man of the Week is Fox’s understated and steady Chris Myers. During Washington-Giants, he risked further employment by eschewing the opportunity to say that Antonio Gibson “is running downhill” to go with “straight ahead.” Imagine!
Myers also took a needed late-game swipe at Giants WR Kenny Golladay for stepping out of bounds after catching a pass with no one near him. Myers’ booth mate, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, who hadn’t stopped speaking all game — often noting that the Giants have no offense — had chosen silence after Golladay’s premature surrender.
That brings us to ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, a former plain-talker who has transitioned to genuine pigskin gibberish. Saturday during Chiefs-Broncos, he substituted 2-yard and 3-yard “gains” with the long-form vague, “made positive yardage.”
He first explained Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP: “[Coach] Andy Reid has developed this offense around Patrick Mahomes’ versatility.” Who knew?
After the game, ESPN analyst Randy Moss noted the Chiefs’ go-ahead touchdown was “a game-changer.”
Two nights later, during the Georgia-Alabama CFP championship, Herbstreit chose to talk the entire game, rendering anything that might have been worth hearing lost to his own devices.
But there are now more analysts like that than ever before. Why? If I knew, you’d be the second to know!
It’s hard to explain to those unfamiliar with both, but before the Raiders had Fred Biletnikoff, the Jets had Don Maynard. Both were lanky, almost scrawny big-play, deep-end, sure-hands, mostly sideline receivers.
And both had the same style — no style. They just caught the ball. And if you didn’t realize how good they were after that, that wasn’t their problem.
But that was well before TV showed receivers making 6-yard catches, then rising to make first-down gestures, in slow-mo replays — before TV mindlessly decided to try to destroy the game.