Ewert faced with daunting task of getting CBS up to NFL speed

Media Watch

August 07, 1998|By Milton Kent

NEW YORK -- It will be a few more weeks yet before Terry Ewert can sleep regular hours again.

Now that CBS Sports president Sean McManus has brought the NFL back home to the network, it's up to Ewert, the executive producer, to get the product out to the audience.

So far, things are moving along at a nice pace. All the announcing and production crews have been hired for both the pre-game show and for game coverage and they've been indoctrinated over the last couple of days in seminars here as to how CBS will do things.

Of course, the other NFL networks do the same sorts of things this time of year, but unlike the other networks, CBS is starting from scratch, winning the rights to the AFC in January after having been out of the professional football telecasting game for the last four years.

"This is tough because it's such a small time frame. We have to make right decisions and you have to make right decisions right away," said Ewert. "I feel good though. We have a great foundation and a foundation we can build on."

Indeed, the network has proven veteran announcers such as Jim Nantz, Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms on hand, along with a core group of producers and directors who were on hand when the network lost the NFL after the 1994 season, and returned when CBS got the rights back.

But the toll of getting the network back up to steam is a taxing one. Ewert said he hasn't slept more than four hours a night for the last few months and doesn't expect to until later this month, after CBS has done a couple of exhibition games. "I'm kind of going on fumes. I do wake up in the middle of the night, and go, 'I think I forgot something,' " said Ewert with a laugh the other day.

An observation

When all else has failed, baseball has always been able to fall back on its rich traditions, one of which holds that players, coaches and managers don't openly discuss a no-hitter while it's in progress.

That, however, does not extend to broadcasters. Let's hope that the next time an Orioles pitcher is in pursuit of such a gem that the television and radio announcers on duty remember that their first responsibility is to the listeners, not to a tradition that they have no part of.

The Fox plan

Fox has finalized its NFL teams for the fall, with its first-ever threesome. Longtime CBS play-by-play man Tim Ryan shifts over to join former Kansas City lineman Bill Maas and former 49ers safety Ronnie Lott.

Lott, who had been on the pre-game show last year, would have remained there had NBC not lost the rights to the AFC, said Fox executive producer Ed Goren. When that happened, pre-game analyst Cris Collinsworth became available, and Fox went after him, freeing up Lott to work in the booth.

"Analysts get into trouble when they're forced to speak, but they have nothing to say," said Goren earlier this week. "This was a way of putting Ronnie in a situation where he, quite frankly, won't have to speak when he doesn't have something to say. The conversation will be hard-core football."

Pat Summerall and John Madden head the list of Fox teams, which includes Dick Stockton-Matt Millen, Sam Rosen-Jerry Glanville, Kenny Albert-Tim Green and Curt Menefee-Brian Baldinger.

In addition, former lineman Ray Bentley will share play-by-play duties with Thom Brennaman with Ron Pitts doing analysis. Because of his baseball responsibilities, which this year include the World Series, Joe Buck won't have a regular football schedule, but will man the Los Angeles studio, when the pre-game show hits the road for four weeks.

Around the dial


The last time a Ravens quarterback took part in the "NFL Quarterback Challenge," it was Vinny Testaverde and he won. We all know how that story ended.

This year's Ravens quarterback Jim Harbaugh is in for this weekend's competition taped a few months ago and airing tomorrow and Sunday (Channel 13, 2 p.m., both days). No need to spoil the surprise, but Harbaugh might not want to make any long-range plans here.

Of course, to see Harbaugh in real action, you need only tune into tomorrow night's Ravens-Chicago Bears preseason opener (Channel 13, 7: 30). WJFK (1300 AM) and WLIF (101.9 FM) will have the radio call as well.

Volleyballer and model Gabrielle Reece will be the subject of Sunday's "Intimate Portrait" documentary (Lifetime, 10 p.m.)

Friday's Lifetime WNBA game of the week finds the league champion Houston Comets traveling to Detroit to meet the expansion Shock at 8 p.m.

NBC (Channel 11) has a WNBA two-fer this weekend with the Los Angeles Sparks meeting the New York Liberty tomorrow at 4 p.m., then hopping a Metroliner train to Washington Sunday to take on the woeful Mystics, also at 4 p.m.

Finally, the Western Conference-leading Comets host the Eastern-leading Charlotte Sting Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, in what could be a preview of the league championship series.

Pub Date: 8/07/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.