Naturally — and annually — all are cautioned not to overreact to NFL Week 1 results. Naturally — and annually — everyone does anyway.
In 2003, the Patriots did what they did this season — they lost their opener, and big. The 2003 Pats, off a 9-7 2002, lost 31-0 to the Bills.
On ESPN, NFL expert analyst Tom Jackson reported that Bill Belichick, starting his fourth year as the Pats’ head coach, “Has lost this team,” adding that his sources tell him his players “hate him.”
Well, the Pats then won 14 of their next 15, then two playoff games, then the Super Bowl. Thus, in the season when Belichick’s Pats won their second of five Super Bowls in seven Supe appearances, a national TV audience was told, after that 31-0 Week 1 loss to Buffalo, that this was the end of Belichick.
How did those 2003 Bills make out? They finished 6-10. In the season’s opener they beat the Pats, 31-0; in the season’s closer they lost to the Pats, 31-0.
But bad football habits aren’t just tough to shake, they lead to more. What TV has done to football and football fans, for example, defies the most far-flung borders of common and civil sense.
Sunday’s Jets-Bills telecast on CBS was both bad TV and standard TV.
In the first quarter, Buffalo running back Mike Tolbert hit a hole then ran for a first down. It was worth seeing again. But the replay CBS chose to show — and in slow-motion, for emphasis — was Tolbert’s post-play demonstrations of excessive self-regard, his me-dancing.
What was the point? Where was the upside? At a time when youth sports leagues are losing qualified refs and umpires because they no longer will suffer the uncivilized behavior of self-absorbed parents, coaches and kids, why is TV so eager to keep churning out more young creeps?
The telecast included CBS’ colorful vertical eye chart, the graphic listing a QB’s last 10 throws and the results. CBS still doesn’t understand that even if it were worth reading, viewers aren’t given the time to read it.
Then there was CBS’ longtime specialty — cuts to the live scene of adults, in reckless disregard of the contents of their beer cups in one hand, and kids banging their hands against the padding that fronts the lower level. That never gets old.
And CBS still thinks we can watch two things at once, thus it splits the screen to show two shrunken videos rather than one, large clear one. Which one to immediately choose to squint at? Who knows?
Naturally, logical leadership would have canned these “enhancements” before they ever would make live TV. Naturally.
Then there is NBC’s NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth, who worked Sunday night’s Giants-Cowboys and Thursday’s Texans-Bengals, and was once valued for his succinct observations.
Now? He delivers an annoying, windy speech after every play. He now talks so much he is hard to hear. Why and how did this happen?
The most common and consistent complaint I receive from TV viewers is about the escalating numbers of broadcast booth speakers who don’t allow TV to be TV. They turn TV into talk radio, as if viewers tuned in to hear endless prattle from two or more experts of varying and often dubious expertise.
The tag-team talk from ESPN’s Late Sunday Night Baseball trio — Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone — would be banned by the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners. But ESPN must like what its viewers can’t stomach.
So on and on it goes, on and on it grows. TV folks know what’s best for us. Naturally.
Revisiting a Michael & Mantle memory
I didn’t know Gene Michael well, just well enough to like him — especially because he wouldn’t allow George Steinbrenner, the big bully, to bully him.
The last time I saw Mickey Mantle, live, as an active Yankee, he was in the on-deck circle, a physically depleted pinch hitter late in a game in Yankee Stadium in 1968 — Mantle’s last year as a Yankee, Michael’s first as a Yankee.
There was one out and one or two on when Mantle limped into the on-deck circle, the excitement, despite another pending Yankees loss in a lost season, had risen. The Yanks finished 83-79, fifth in the AL — now good enough to reach the World Series as a wild card.
And that’s the last time and place I saw Mickey Mantle, live and still swinging a bat as a Yankee. He was in the on-deck circle when Gene Michael grounded into a double play.
About 10 years ago, I asked Michael if he remembered that, the time he broke my teenage heart. With a thin smile he nodded then said he did, adding, “I didn’t feel too good about it, either.”
Diminished standards are now being replaced by no standards.
The Vikings, as seen Sunday night on ESPN, inducted Randy Moss, the most selfish player in team history — he was sent packing for it — into its Ring of Honor. Small wonder FOX then ESPN hired him.
The Bengals continue to get what they deserve and pay for. Perhaps as a reward for costing them a 2016 playoff win against the Steelers with an absurdly unnecessary late-game hit to Antonio Brown’s head, plus multiple fines and suspensions for misconduct, linebacker Vontaze Burfict has signed a three-year, $38.7 million extension.
And, of course, Bud Selig, who took the money to play blind and stupid as MLB became conspicuously infested with records-smashing drugs, was a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Booger picks a winner
ESPN college football studio analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland, former Buccaneers defensive tackle, might be a keeper. Asked to address early season results in terms of reactions and overreactions, he answered with concise wisdom: “We’re all prisoners of the moment.”
Two guys among many who should ease up on the stats are ESPN college play-by-play man Joe Tessitore and Giants radio voice Bob Papa. It isn’t baseball, in which every play starts with a pitch from 60 feet, 6 inches. There are no “average” plays in football, so why emphasize averages?
Winning at all costs: The state-funded University of Delaware was proud to report it won two women’s field hockey games last weekend, led by Greta Nauck, from Germany, and Femke Strien, one of six delaware players from The Netherlands. Guess no Delaware kids were in need of their scholarships.
The Devils have added former captain Bryce Salvador as a studio analyst on home MSG telecasts.
Please, John Sterling, please: It’s mid-September and the Yanks are in it. Once in a while be a pro and give the score.
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