Will NFL remain same on Fox?


August 12, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

When you're a big-time sportscaster, you have to make sacrifices. Take Pat Summerall and John Madden, for instance.

They'd love to be at Woodstock, I bet, especially now that Alvin Lee and Ten Years After should be just about finished with their rendition of "Goin' Home" that they started 25 years ago. But, no, Summerall and Madden will be in San Francisco tonight, announcing Fox's first football game, a 49ers-Broncos exhibition p.m., Channel 45).

"It's something new for me," Summerall said in a news conference this week. "I haven't done a lot of preseason games in recent years, because I'd be doing golf and tennis [for CBS]."

And though he's on Fox, Summerall will not become Bart Simpson.

"I don't have any intention of approaching anything differently," he said.

Fox has been saying that it will carry the NFL with a new attitude, but Fox Sports president David Hill said that is a reference to "the way the game is promoted."

"Our job is to cover the game, to present the game as it's played," Madden said. "If we change, it's because the game changes.

"You can't cover the game the same way as you covered it five years ago, because it's not the same game."

If there is any difference in the look of Fox's games, it may be that, by the regular season, they should be a little more polished than what we're accustomed to on CBS and NBC. Because football is the network's only sport, all of its resources will go into each week of games.

Executive producer Ed Goren, like Summerall and Madden a CBS alumnus, said the No. 1 games will have 12 cameras and eight tape machines, numbers that CBS usually brought out only for championship games. And each regular-season game will be covered by a minimum of six cameras. At CBS, he said, secondary games sometimes were shot by four.

One thing viewers shouldn't expect is coverage of other sports news, such as a baseball strike.

"We see our arena as covering football, and that's it," Hill said.

Orioles' greatest hits

If there is a baseball strike this weekend, WBAL Radio (1090 AM) will broadcast tapes of the Orioles-Athletics 1971 American League Championship Series from noon to 6 p.m. tomorrow and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. Chuck Thompson and Bill O'Donnell were the announcers. . . .

You've seen the tabloids, now buy the video. "A Question of Evidence: The O. J. Simpson Hearing" is coming in two weeks, courtesy of MPI Home Video and Court TV. What will they do when there is actually a trial? . . . So he didn't win the British Open, but at least Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik gets a consolation prize. He will star in a commercial for a hotel chain in which he repeats their 800 number for reservations, making fun of his failure to check important numbers at the British -- the ones that showed he was leading the tournament.

Stick a fork in me

And now, the end is near,

and so I face the final curtain. . . .

Quoting, of course, from the Sid Vicious reading of "My Way," I have some good news for the long-suffering readers of Baltimore: This is the last TV sports column from me.

After seven years, I turn the remote control over to the eminently capable Milton Kent, who will begin a five-days-a-week column in this very sports section on Monday. (The remote, he can have. But Milton has to buy his own Cheez-Its. And speaking of Cheez-Its, I've mentioned that snack food numerous times in the past few years, and do you think I've received so much as one free box? Maybe this isn't such a great gig after all. I thought there would be much more graft.)

(But I digress.) (For the last time.)

As I head for that great big-screen TV in the sky, allow me to be even more self-indulgent than usual, if that's possible. Here are my "SportsCenter" highlights:

* I have seen CBS pay $1 billion for baseball, then tuck the sport away in the attic, like Ross Perot's crazy old aunt.

* I have seen that Bob Costas is short enough for me to post up.

* I have seen Brent Musburger go from host of "The NFL Today," voice of the Final Four and Zelig-like presence at every major sporting event to calling the stroke-by-stroke on ESPN's telecast of the Curtis Cup.

* I have seen Jon Miller work up to five consecutive Orioles games.

* I have seen the telephone practically turn green as one of Miller's fellow Baltimore sportscasters launched into envy-filled monologues about the way the Orioles and WBAL Radio accommodate Miller, only the most talented baseball announcer the country.

* I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked. . . . OK, so I digressed again. Big deal.

* I have seen sportscasters who think nothing of ridiculing an athlete on the air somehow find it not so funny when they are the butt of a joke in the newspaper.

* I have seen Jack Buck in a CBS production meeting, chain-smoking and wearing a full Cleveland (white belt and white shoes).

* I have seen the ball on at least a few of Channel 2's Orioles road telecasts.

* I have seen -- I swear this is true -- Jeff Rimer wear clothing that didn't contain a team logo.

* I have seen that, no matter what occurred today, some talk-show caller will say he knew yesterday that it was going to happen.

* I have seen to it that practically every member of my immediate family has had his or her name in print.

So that's it. But don't cry for me, Sharon "The Ratings Maven" Walz. I want to leave everyone with one final thought, something that has gotten me through many a Gary Bender telecast:

Ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program. Shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use.

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