Just in the nick of time, NFL Films will devote it's "This Is The NFL" show this weekend to the worsening albeit horrible officiating situation in the league. Expect gobs of cotton candy, however, an NFL release stating "the show will explore the meticulous screening process and rigorous training program of officials . . . evaluation procedures are discussed . . . the sights and sounds at field level are captured." Zzzzzz.
* Hey, so you missed a bit of the action as the Davis Cup final got under way in Lyon, France, this morning (7:30), check out the doubles tomorrow (12:30 p.m.). And be assured, for the second year in a row, the USA is going to bring home the cup.
You have Cliff Drysdale's word on that. He's the guy heading up ESPN's coverage, which concludes with the last two singles Sunday (7:30 a.m. and again at 1 p.m.). "Dynasty is probably too strong a word," he said, "but the young American players are surprisingly good and there's so much depth on all services here, I think the U.S. will dominate for a decade."
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are our mainstays (vs. Guy Forget and Henri Leconte), but there was persistent talk of John McEnroe taking part. "It would have been nice seeing McEnroe on the team as this was probably his last shot at it. But there was absolutely no justification for putting him on the team," said Cliff, hardly a beat-around-the-bush kind of guy.
* Hopefully, one of these days someone at ABC will take a step back and note how tedious the "Monday Night Football" troika has become with its approach to any and all games. Granted, the Rams vs. the 49ers wasn't top drawer material the other night, but three hours reviewing coach John Robinson's situation was a turnoff (alias the mute button).
Meanwhile, the ESPN voices Sunday nights, Joe Theismann and Mike Patrick, are having a banner season, living up to the exciting games they fell heir to. "Quite frankly," said Theismann during Sunday's Atlanta-New Orleans barnburner, "the Falcons are doing a lousy job of tackling." This was apparent from the pictures, but rarely does an analyst trust us with such information.
Of course, calling a game in which Jim "Play It Safe" Mora of the Saints is coaching is a godsend for any announcer worth his opinions.
* Scoop Garceau (Ch. 2) and his fellow TV wowsers were at it again this week, breaking the release time on Cal Ripken winning a Gold Glove. Are these guys going for bonus money or what? Despite the hour head start WMAR-TV gave itself on the Ripken MVP Award announcement last week, the station still lazily went with a still shot of Cal while it revealed the glad tidings. Perhaps to ease its conscience, the station has a special "Cal Ripken Jr: Pride of the Orioles" tomorrow (6:30 p.m.), no doubt to aid agent Ron Shapiro in getting even more money for the shortstop. Ah, isn't conflict of interest wonderful?
* Insult for insult, few can compare with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan when he's on a tear commenting on WWF matches. Within five minutes on USA Network the other night, he bopped Thanksgiving, women, senior citizens as well as his usual targets, the wrasslers wearing white hats. A sampling: "Yes, I believe the Bushwhackers should be put to sleep . . . I like old people; just as long as they're in a home and don't bother me . . . I feel sorry for the snake (a cobra that feasted on Randy Savage's arm) . . . all those bimbos [women] making that stuff [for Thanksgiving dinner] that doesn't taste well."
* Speaking of the flying dropkick set, doesn't the WWF know we're in a recession with its scheduling of two per-per-view events in less than a week? Seems that Wednesday night's main feature of the Survivor Series -- Hulk Hogan losing his title belt to The Undertaker (with a helping hand -- and metal chair -- from Ric Flair) only set up this Tuesday night's fork-over-more-bucks rematch in San Antonio. Your greed is showing, Vince McMahon.
* Leaks that the old ranger Ernie Harwell is set to move into the Yankees radio booth to fill the chair vacated by Joe Angel's return to the Orioles are apparently wrong. Latest word has Lee Mazzilli landing the post.
* "The Final Weekend," the video covering you know what, is in the stores (Greetings & Readings and For The Birds) and is doing land-office business. It's terrific, just amateurish enough to be genuine and the call to the "Field of Dreams" at the end is as moving as the original. For you trivia buffs, the only player in an orange jersey is Don Stanhouse, which explains his nickname "Stan the Man Unusual." The tape goes for $15, and they'll throw in a box of tissues for a buck extra.
* Showtime has the Simon Brown (34-1)-Buddy McGirt (54-2) welterweight title scrap tonight (10) and these are two gentlemen not much on posing or wasting time. Champ Brown, of Germantown, has indicted this is probably his last bout at 147 pounds as he'd like to go after Terry Norris at 154.
* Watching the "Skins Game" tomorrow on ABC (3:30 p.m.), you might be asking yourself how come Curtis Strange is in the foursome, he hasn't won anything since his hair was brown. He's bTC won the most skins two years running, last year piling up $220,000 to runner-up Greg Norman's 90 G's.
* Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who reportedly only leaves his office during the week when an all-out nuclear attack is in progress, is doing a book signing tonight at Tyson's Corner. How many of the Washington stations will cover it as if it's the Inaugural Parade?
* Stan White caught it from New York Giants general manager George Young on WBAL's SportsLine the other night, the ex-coach and teacher from Baltimore regaling listeners with tales of how White was a grouchy complainer from the moment he met him while picking him up at the airport after the Colts had drafted him years ago.