Rime of the Ancient NFL Fan it ain't, but here you go ...


The Kickoff

September 15, 2006|By RAY FRAGER

Let us go then, you and I

Where the football is spread out over the tube

Like a plate of nachos on the coffee table ...

On the air men come and go

Speaking all about T.O.

Yes, the return of the NFL is enough to inspire the poet in all of us. As I apologize to lovers of T.S. Eliot for what I just did to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, let's take a look back at the first weekend:

If the Ravens build on the promise they showed in their opener, we might not be hearing more from Rich Gannon, who's down on CBS' analyst depth chart. Other announcers likely would know to pronounce running back Musa Smith's first name as "MOOSE-ah," not Gannon's "MOOSH-ah," nor would we hear first-round pick Haloti Ngata (hah-LOW-tee NAH-tah) called "hah-LOT-tee no-TAH-tah." And a hakuna matata to you, Rich. (By the way, Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker call Sunday's Ravens-Oakland Raiders game.)

Another thing that might change if the Ravens continue to win is the availability of their games on high-definition television on CBS. The network doesn't yet do all of its games in HD. This Sunday, for example, it has three - Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos and New England Patriots-New York Jets. (And here's the Frager household update: still no HDTV.)

NBC's Sunday Night Football appropriated the former Monday Night Football device of having each starter on offense and defense introduce himself and name his college (LaVar Arrington's "School of Hard Knocks" must have made the Penn State people so proud). So on Monday Night Football, ESPN switched it a bit, having a single player on offense and defense supposedly handle introducing his teammates. The move didn't necessarily work out that way - more of a monologue in some cases - but MNF obviously was trying to differentiate its telecast.

Speaking of differentiating, NBC's Football Night in America pre-game/highlight show put its studio crew at a desk for a while and then sat its members around a low table in big, soft chairs for a while. Definitely different from ESPN's NFL PrimeTime, where there wasn't an overstuffed chair in sight. For some reason, it reminded me of that Monty Python routine where they were going to torture someone by putting her in the "comfy chair."

Joe Buck looked comfortable replacing James Brown as Fox NFL Sunday host. At one point, Terry Bradshaw presented as fact that the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Vick and the Carolina Panthers' Jake Delhomme were the two worst quarterbacks in the league under pressure, though Bradshaw didn't actually cite any kind of statistic to back up his statement. Buck replied: "I haven't been around very long, but that's a lie."

Over on CBS' The NFL Today, Shannon Sharpe had his game mouth on. Asked about advising then-holdout wide receiver Deion Branch, Sharpe said: "Deion Branch don't want advice. Deion Branch wants cheese. Deion Branch say, `I got two Super Bowl rings, but I can't eat rings.'" Hence the need for cheese.

Colleagues who play fantasy football say Fox is being helpful with its whip-around to game analysts near kickoff to name a top fantasy player in each game. In leagues where you can make last-minute changes, the analysts might make you change your selection or just leave you feeling more confident in your picks.

Hello, I must be going

As many of you are no doubt aware, sports talk station WNST (1570 AM) is planning a protest at Thursday's Orioles game, as a way of expressing fan dissatisfaction with the manner in which the franchise is run and frustration over nine straight losing seasons. The station is trying to organize a large group to attend the game, then walk out about an hour into it and stage a rally outside the stadium, according to its Web site.

Maybe this rubs some of you the wrong way. Maybe you think this is nothing but a promotional vehicle for the station. Maybe you think it's all kind of pointless.

Regardless of whatever opinion you have, just consider this: Suppose the station were running a "Back the Birds" rally, trying to rouse support for a moribund team. That would be OK, right? Even if such a rally were - at its base - nothing more than a way to promote the station.

I can't say I endorse what WNST is doing, but so what? WNST's protest might help fans blow off some steam and give the station a boost at the same time. What's more American than that?


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