Simms connects with Gumbel in and out of the CBS booth

Media Watch

November 27, 1998|By Milton Kent

It only took a couple of months for Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms to do the kind of mock bickering that old broadcasting couples master after years together.

"I hate him. And I know the feeling is mutual," Gumbel said the other day over the phone.

All you have to do is listen to CBS' top NFL pair to know that Gumbel's only kidding. The two have obviously developed a warmth and natural comfort level with one another that comes through the screen and makes the experience of watching and listening to them all the more pleasurable.

"I've enjoyed it so far. I like the fact that Greg and I, we stand there, we look at each other, we talk about football and other things," said Simms, the former New York Giants quarterback. "It's been very enjoyable. I can say I look forward to going to the games, seeing Greg, doing all the work and preparing for it."

Though pairing Simms and Gumbel, who worked yesterday's Pittsburgh-Detroit game, now seems logical, it wasn't seen in some circles as the obvious thing to do a few months ago.

For one thing, Gumbel hadn't worked in an NFL booth in years, having been host of NBC's NFL pre-game show, while Simms, who had teamed with Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire at NBC, hadn't been in a two-man booth before.

But they've come together nicely now.

"I told whoever asked that question prior to the season that I really didn't expect anything other than that we would become closer friends in the booth as well as away from the stadium, in addition to learning to work with each other. And I think that's happened," Gumbel said.

Of course, not every moment is filled with magic.

"What do you mean, you like it 'so far'?" Gumbel said, with mock outrage.

Said Simms: "Well, you never know. It's like a quarterback. You have to deliver every week."

So far, so good.

Back to the nest

Having helped ABC Sports President Steve Bornstein set things right there, Steve Anderson will return to head up remote and studio production at ESPN.

Anderson, who joined ESPN in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become managing editor and then senior vice president of production in 1994, took the same position at ABC in 1996, just after Bornstein, who is the chairman of ESPN, took over ABC Sports.

Anderson will return to ESPN in January, after the Bowl Championship Series is over.

Hee-haw

By now, you've heard that the NBA has canceled games through Christmas, thus knocking out the usual NBC holiday doubleheader.

The network will instead air "It's a Wonderful Life," a movie about how different the world would be if one guy weren't around.

Sound familiar, commissioner David Stern? Ring a bell, Patrick Ewing? If it does, you can be sure there won't be any angels getting their wings.

Around the dial

The Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally, is one of the strongest for sports viewing, and this year is no exception.

It starts with a slate of college football games today, as Texas, and the presumptive Heisman Trophy winner, running back Ricky Williams, is host to Texas A&M at the unfortunate hour of 11 a.m. (Channel 2), which is 10 a.m. Texas time. ABC should be ashamed, but we're not holding our breath for the remorse. The rTC network's second game, Colorado-Nebraska, airs at 2: 30 p.m. on Channel 2. Tomorrow, ABC will air the Michigan State-Penn State game at 1 p.m. in place of the North Carolina-N.C. State game, and we are thankful.

CBS (Channel 13) has a regional game to show today, as West Virginia meets Pittsburgh (yawn) at 2: 30 p.m., and a national doubleheader tomorrow, kicking off with Georgia host to Georgia Tech at noon, followed by Miami at Syracuse at 3: 30 p.m.. NBC (Channel 11) meanwhile, has the annual Bayou Classic, pitting Grambling State against Southern from New Orleans at 2 p.m. Don't miss the halftime, as the two schools' respective bands' performances will probably be more entertaining than the game itself.

On the college basketball front, tonight's preseason National Invitation Tournament championship game from Madison Square Garden is the men's highlight of the weekend, and Monday night's clash of the two titans, Tennessee and Louisiana Tech, that met last season for the women's championship should be worth a gander (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).

The docket for Sunday's NFL pre-game shows include an "NFL Today" (Channel 13, noon) feature on the history of pro football in Charm City in advance of the meeting of our once and current NFL teams at 1 p.m. Fox's pre-game festival (Channel 45, noon) will have a Suzy Kolber sighting, as she chats with Denver running back Terrell Davis, and ESPN's show pledges a feature with Davis' teammate, John Elway.

Finally, it's same-day tape of the Skins Game, with Tom Lehman, Fred Couples, Mark O'Meara and Greg Norman tomorrow at about 4: 30 and Sunday at 3: 30, both on Channel 2.

Pub Date: 11/27/98

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