Jackass Wide Receiver Night in America

So, the Cowboys-Redskins game yesterday apparently had a wild finish. There were three field goal attempts in the final 31 seconds, one of them blocked and partially returned, with a penalty setting up the game-winning attempt with no time on the clock. Wild stuff, sure to be good highlight fodder, right?

So, I made a point to stay around for halftime in the Pats-Colts game, when the "Football Night in America" crowd on NBC talks about interesting games from earlier in the day. And sure enough, we get highlights from this game: we got to see Terrell Owens catching a touchdown pass, and getting flagged for using the ball as a celebration prop. We got to see Bill Parcells reprimanding Owens, and Owens throwing a tantrum. And we got to see Owens drop a sure touchdown pass, followed by some post-game comments from Owens.

Field goals? What field goals?

The Ravens-Bengals game got the same treatment, with Chad Johnson as the central figure.

I know it's only halfway through the season, but NBC's handling of the highlights really sucks. The last few years of ESPN's highlights show weren't as good as back in the mid-90's, but at least they were about football, not the off-field antics of overpaid jackasses. Give the highlight show back to Berman and Jackson (who still do highlights, on an irregular schedule as part of the late SportsCenter, which means I'll have to try to catch them in the morning reruns...)

And meanwhile, Marvin Harrison caught eight passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. In a just world, he would get twice the coverage, and twice the money of Johnson and Owens combined.

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Dude, we live in a world where entire magazines are devoted to speculations as to whether Angelina is pregnant again. We live in a world where Foley's sexual harassment makes the cover of Newsweek, but the resurgence of the Taliban (in a country that we fought a war against those behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks) isn't. We live in a world where John Kerry's inadvertant slamming of the troops raises more ire than the president's utter mismanagement of them.

Of course antics of the high-end elite royalty are going to be of much more interest to football broadcasters than the actual game that's the reason for them to be there in the first place.

It's all just so sensational. And empty sensational is even better, because we can get all excited and interested watching without having to be depressed by it meaning anything.

What? Is Angelina pregnant again?

I still don't understand why NBC paid to have a highlight show. They had a perfect lead-in program on the East Coast, Friday Night Lights. On the west it would have aired after the game. FNL struggles on Tuesday. The highlights are just painful to watch sometimes. There is literally dead air during the highlight packages. Boomer and TJ were a class act and kept the show moving while actually educating you about the game.

Of course antics of the high-end elite royalty are going to be of much more interest to football broadcasters than the actual game that's the reason for them to be there in the first place.

The thing is, it wasn't that way when ESPN had the highlight show. And, in fact, it wasn't that way on the ESPN highlight show-within-a-show when I caught it this morning: Chris Berman and Tom Jackson did the same cool, professional job they always have, and actually showed highlights that were representative of the game. Owens was there sleeping on the ball and dropping a sure touchdown, but no footage of the tantrum, and they showed all three field goal attempts, which were way more entertaining.

ESPN has lost a lot, but those two are still terrific.

Why is it that when I saw this headline in the RSS feed, I instantly knew it was about Terrell Owens and the Cowboys? I must be psychic or something.

By Scott Simmons (not verified) on 06 Nov 2006 #permalink

I seriously miss NFL Primetime; that show was almost more important than the games. Football Kids in America doesn't have the same cachet, at all.

And speaking of underserved shows, I don't even know the name of it, but have you seen Ron Jaworski's NFL preview show? It's on at some ridiculously early hour in the morning on Sunday -- 5 AM or some such nonsense -- but it's maybe the single most informative show I've ever seen. More actual content in five minutes than in an hour of Howie and Terry shouting over each other.

What? Is Angelina pregnant again?

"The bump is back."

Or so said something sitting in the supermarket checkout line. I only remember because my wife and I shared a brief discussion about despair for humankind.

-Rob

Besides, here in Tennessee, we not only have Head Stomper (whose name I've forgotten), but we've got Pacman Jones, star of the police blotter highlight reel. Wow, now there's quite a generator of columns and letters to the editor and news stories and so forth... that have nothing to do with football.

-Rob

And speaking of underserved shows, I don't even know the name of it, but have you seen Ron Jaworski's NFL preview show?
************************************************

I have caught it. Jaworski is really talented. He should be in the booth for MNF and not Theismann. The only drawback for me on the show is Hodge. Think I catch it around 8am eastern. Do miss watching the games on the West Coast. Get up, turn on NFL Countdown (back before Irvin was on) have Sunday brunch as the games start at 10am. Watch football all day long with a light lunch after the 2nd game starts. Switching to ESPN watching the day's highlights and then the Sunday night game while having dinner & still getting to bed at a reasonable hour to go to work the next day. What a great day to unwind.

Slate had a great article from a former ESPN highlight packager explaining why the ESPN highlights were so good. It actually goes back to a deal made with the NFL in the mid '90s.