Madden takes Super look ahead

November 11, 1994|By PHIL JACKMAN

The TV Repairman:

John Madden calls it "taking the temperature," thinking ahead weeks to the NFL's second season, the stretch run of the regular season, the playoffs and Super Bowl. And, quite frankly, to him it appears as if the answer to this "whodunit" will be determined in advance of the final chapter once again.

Madden will be on hand for the biggie Sunday, Cowboys at 49ers at 4 p.m. on Fox, and it's difficult to tell if he's "up" for the game, or slightly "down" about where the season goes from here.

From day one Madden has preached Dallas and San Francisco as being on their own plateau, alias dominant, "and then there's a gap." Yawning most of the time because, as John points out and projecting to the Super Bowl, "things seem to change every week in the AFC. Miami, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, who's it going to be? And you think they're going to lose anyway."

So what's new?

Meantime, considering there are 11 more weekends before Jan. 29 and Joe Robbie Stadium, perhaps Madden could lie to us a little bit and make as though the race didn't include Citation, Secretariat and a bunch of $3,000 claimers. Naw, the beauty of John is that he has always said exactly what he thinks.

"I'll take Dallas [Sunday]," he says, explaining, "I'm a guy who believes a team's a champion until it has been beaten on the field. And the Cowboys have won the last three times these two teams have met. As good as the 49ers are, they have to prove they can get on the field and beat Dallas."

Decision time Sunday at 1 p.m., Chargers-Chiefs (Ch. 2), Browns-Eagles (Ch. 4) and Bears-Dolphins (Ch. 45) all figuring to be competitive. Or how about taking a walk?

* There's a gang of interesting conference battles on ABC and ESPN tomorrow, although you can't tell by the point spreads floating around. For instance, both network games, Florida State-Notre Dame (noon) and Penn State-Illinois (3:30 p.m.) see the teams named first solid 12-point favorites. Same goes for the Auburn-Georgia meeting on ESPN (7 p.m.) and Ohio State-Indiana (12:30 p.m.).

* What made NBC's coverage of the Breeders' Cup last Saturday so enjoyable, aside from the terrific competition, was the easy manner and apparent fun all the voices were having dispensing information, opinions and one-liners. The net didn't overload us with soft features either.

* Awful boxing decisions have become such an integral part of the game that bystanders are to the point of yawning. And it's actually worse than even the most devout skeptic lets on. For example, on the CBS "Eye on Sports" bout last Saturday (which Channel 11 didn't run), challenger Adolpho Washington thoroughly wasted champ David Izeqwire before the fight was stopped. Despite beating him inside, outside, in the power department, etc., poor Washington was behind on the cards of two officials before he rained 21 straight blows on Izeqwire and the slaughter was halted.

* The "What I Watch" feature in TV Guide is the greatest. Week after week the phonys say they watch C-Span, the "MacNeil-Lehrer Report," "Discovery" and "Masterpiece Theatre." Then along comes George Foreman with the truth: "I'm stuck on reruns from my youth. 'Gunsmoke.' 'Beverly Hillbillies.' 'Andy Griffith.' 'Wagon Train.' I love anything with a horse in it."

Last week, Oprah Winfrey answered, "I don't watch television." Douse the lamp, Diogenes, we've found her.

* The second half of "Ice Wars," the CBS figure skating showdown between the best pro skaters the United States has to offer against the world's best, plays tomorrow with long programs of the eight competitors from 9-11 p.m.

What prompted this venture is not only the fact that the Eye lost pro football and several other things, but that the women's short program in the Lillehammer Olympics in February drew the sixth highest rating in TV sports history (48.5).

Of course, Tonya Harding made it all possible, so she should have been given a cameo role in this show at least. Maybe a little arm-wrestling against the men's winner.

There's a big difference between CBS Sports president Dave Kenin saying, "We're treating this [Ice Wars] as an athletic event, not as a soap opera," and a show coming out that way. Fans go for the double axels and the triple toe loops, but they also want the skinny on the athletes, too. Watch yourself, Nancy Kerrigan. If this leaves you in the dark, pick up the Enquirer or Star at the supermarket.

Channel 11, which has been ducking all CBS sports for weeks, will be tuned in for this one, bless its penurial little heart.

* About the only person, program, special, technician or support personnel at ESPN not nominated for an Emmy is the guy who delivers the pizza to Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick on the late-night "SportsCenter" set. And, oh yeah, Olbermann. Can you believe it?

* Program note: Tomorrow morning, 10 o'clock, DePauw vs. Wabash, NCAA Division XVIII football on ESPN2, be there!

* Last Sunday evening, WBAL-TV didn't have a word about the New York City Marathon during the sports segment, figuring it was covered by pointing out that a runner had collapsed and died at the finish line earlier in the half-hour.

Then, come sports and with a zillion things screaming for coverage, the lead was a promo for a "Phil Regan in winter ball in Venezuela" series to run six days hence. Come on, Vince, straighten them out.

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