Redskins-Cowboys unrivaled for NFL game

RADIO-TV

December 11, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

Think, for a moment, of the great rivalries you've known. G ahead, I'll wait. I'm in no hurry. Doo-dee-doo-dee-doo.

Did you come up with some? Army-Navy (before the Cadets started bribing the officials), Alabama-Auburn, Harvard-Yale, Leno-Hall, Kinsley-Sununu. Funny how you came up with the same ones I did.

It used to be that the NFL was full of similar rivalries. Packers-Lions, Rams-49ers, Raiders-Chiefs, Colts-Dolphins -- nearly every week, it seemed, you could see two teams that just plain didn't like each other. Yessiree, when those two teams got together, you could throw out the records.

Now, of course, you'd have to throw out the compact discs. And it's not so much that two teams don't like each other, it's just that they're not communicating their needs and that each suffers from a lack of self-esteem.

Sunday from RFK Stadium, however, CBS (channels 11, 9, 4 p.m.) will fill television screens -- and you didn't think I'd get around to mentioning television so quickly, did you? -- with perhaps the league's best rivalry, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

"It's a good rivalry. It's always going to be a good rivalry," said CBS analyst John Madden, who will work the game with play-by-play partner Pat Summerall. "It's the best rivalry when both teams are good. It diminishes when both teams aren't good."

As it works out, both teams have been good in recent seasons, reheating a competition that Madden traces to the Cowboys' entrance into the NFL in 1960.

"I think it goes all the way back to when there were no teams in the South," he said, "and the Redskins were the team for fans in the South before the Cowboys."

And there are all sorts of memories to stir up. Clint Longley coming off the bench to ruin many a Redskins fan's Thanksgiving dinner. George Allen supposedly spying on Cowboys practices from a motel room. John Riggins and pals outfitted in camouflage for battle with Dallas. Tom Landry dressed in an Elvis-style white jumpsuit, singing "Suspicious Minds" at halftime to fire up his team.

OK, Landry didn't do that last thing -- maybe he sang "Burning Love" -- but this rivalry is something the NFL could use more of.

"I always thought we ought to have two weekends a year devoted torivalries," Madden said.

Familiarity breeds contempt, as my wife would say, so Madden said it's important for rivals to face each other twice a season. When he coached the Oakland Raiders, Madden said, his team had a spirited relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the two often wouldn't meet unless it was in the playoffs.

For CBS, the game is the kind of ratings-grabber that helps give the network's NFC games bigger audiences than NBC's AFC offerings. (In fact, the network moved the game to 4 p.m. to get more viewers.) Think of an AFC rivalry rivaling the Redskins-Cowboys in national attention. No, I won't wait this time. There isn't one. So CBS doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles for this game.

"It's one of those games that really takes care of itself. It's all there in front of you," said CBS producer Bob Stenner. "My feeling has been, 'Don't get in the way of the game.' "

Sounds like a good idea, Bob. So, you think maybe you could get Madden to lose the Coach's Clicker? After a few too many back-and-forth clicks with that thing, I feel the room start to spin. And my stomach vs. the Clicker really isn't such a compelling rivalry.

Step up to the mike

WBAL Radio (1090 AM) is close to naming an Orioles announcer to replace Joe Angel, who left Baltimore to join the Florida Marlins. Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL station manager and vice president, said the announcement could come next week.

Thanksgiving leftover

For those who wonder why WBAL didn't carry the City-Poly and Calvert Hall-Loyola Thanksgiving football games last month, here's the explanation from Beauchamp: WBAL formerly had lines at Memorial Stadium for Orioles broadcasts. While the club was playing there, it kept those wires in year-round, paying rent for their presence. Because the Orioles left Memorial Stadium and the Thanksgiving games appear headed away from the stadium, WBAL decided it wasn't worth it to keep paying rent on lines that would be used just one more time, so they were taken out. And it also would have been too costly to install the lines for a one-time broadcast.

Ink-stained wretches on TV

For political pundits and reporters, television offers a chance to face the nation on Sundays. For sports pundits and reporters, ESPN also provides a forum on Sundays -- "The Sports Reporters" at 11 a.m.

In fact, other than actually becoming part of a network sports operation -- as the Boston Globe's Will McDonough did first with CBS and now with NBC -- Schaap's show offers a sportswriter his biggest exposure. It's sort of like a musician getting on the cover of Rolling Stone. To wit, in the grand tradition of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show:

Well, we're big sportswriters,

Covering pitchers and fighters,

And we hop a flight to go see a game.

Though we sit in press boxes,

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