After NBC drops NFL ball, Enberg catches on at CBS


September 08, 2000|By MILTON KENT

Sometime toward the end of the 1998 NFL season, NBC's first without professional football in more than three decades, the dull throb of missing the NFL became a certified ache in the pit of Dick Enberg's gut and he knew he had to do something, anything, to make it go away.

"That first year, I had trouble sitting through games, and late that year, I heard some announcer say, `I talked with Dan Marino yesterday.' And I bolted up in my chair, and I said, `That's what I used to do. I'd say, `I talked with Dan Marino,' " Enberg said.

The name of the Miami quarterback may now be Jay Fiedler, but Enberg will get back into the NFL game starting next week, when he pairs with Dan Dierdorf as CBS' No. 2 football announcing team for the Buffalo Bills-New York Jets game.

"I so missed that part of the job, being in a stadium on a Sunday and doing games. You take for granted those things that become a habit, but I am looking forward to getting back to the game," said Enberg, who was with NBC for 25 years before coming to CBS earlier this year.

Before he gets to football, Enberg will be back at a Grand Slam tennis event, but on these shores, at this weekend's U.S. Open semifinals and finals. Enberg called Wimbledon for 20 years and the French Open for 17, but this will be his first time professionally at Flushing Meadow and the difference couldn't be more striking.

"In Paris, Roland Garros [stadium] reflects the ambience and the feel of the city, and, in London, Wimbledon is pristine and reverential and, here, the stadium is loud and it's big and it's raucous, just like New York," said Enberg.

The 12-time Emmy winner will be flanked by analysts Mary Carillo and John McEnroe for today's women's semifinals at 11 a.m., tomorrow's women's finals and the men's semifinals, also at 11 a.m., and the men's finals at 4 p.m. Sunday, all seen locally on Channel 13.

The Mayne game

ESPN's Kenny Mayne is about to tread on ground that Enberg has already plowed: host of a game show.

Mayne, the "SportsCenter" anchor, will be host of "2-Minute Drill," the latest creation of Michael Davies, the man in charge of ABC's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," starting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Mayne, whose offbeat, occasionally surrealistic sense of humor has made him a cult favorite, said he has some concerns that his credibility as an anchor could take a hit, but both jobs can co-exist.

"In a typical `SportsCenter' show, we might do a story with some humor, and then three stories later, we have a story about a death or an arrest, and you try to treat that with the right respect," Mayne said.

The show will feature ESPN on-air personnel, sports figures and celebrities asking questions of a panel of three contestants, who compete to move through a 26-show tournament that culminates on Christmas with a final match that could pay $100,000.

Enberg, host of the 1970s show "Sports Challenge," which still airs in reruns on ESPN Classic, said Mayne hadn't called him for advice, but he would be happy to offer it.

The one thing Enberg won't give him is those flashy sport jackets he wore on "Challenge." That's because Enberg's wife systematically gave them away to charity while he was out on assignments.

"I loved some of those coats. It pains me to say I don't have one of them left," Enberg said sheepishly. "I would come back from trips and notice they were missing, and I'd say, `Honey, have you seen my jackets?' and she'd say, `No.' My 16-year-old daughter will look at the reruns and say, `Dad, you were such a dork.'"

Tribe has spoken

On our "Media Watch" island of sports television and radio personnel, CBS pre-game analyst Jerry Glanville gets voted off for his continued buffoonery.

Glanville, who inexplicably has returned for a second season on "The NFL Today," is attempting to play the Terry Bradshaw "aw shucks" role, but with half the intelligence and none of the charm.

No guts, no glory

It was disappointing to hear Ed Goren and Sean McManus, the respective sports presidents of Fox and CBS, kowtow to the NFL on its antiquated blackout policy, which mandates that a game be sold out 72 hours before kickoff to be shown in a home market.

Both network presidents were asked their feelings on the decades-old policy recently, and though Goren at least offered mild opposition, McManus completely rolled over, saying that because the blackout was a part of the deal CBS signed, "we don't think we should change."

By that logic, CBS shouldn't use the umpire cameras or take advantage of the new doubleheader plan, because those weren't negotiated either.

Around the dial

Maryland football returns to the radio with tomorrow's season opener with Temple, heard locally on WBAL (1090 AM), which will join the game at 6 p.m., after the Orioles game. Play-by-play man Johnny Holliday and sideline reporter Tim Strachan begin another campaign, joined by new analyst Jonathan Claiborne, son of former Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne.

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