'MNF' alum Gifford not a huge fan of modern NFL broadcasting
By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAYFrank Gifford
, when he joined Don Meredith
and Howard Cosell
in the booth of ABC's Monday Night Football
in 1971, was in on the start of live TV games becoming show biz.
But Gifford, who replaced Keith Jackson
, isn't completely thrilled with how that concept has evolved.
When it comes to announcers, he says, "it's hard for me to be critical of people doing what I used to do. … But I think they're being pushed too far to do too much. One thing we didn't do, we never hyped a game. Howard would rip it, Don might go to sleep. Now, they have to try to turn it into an exciting event. One problem now is producers trying to make things better than they really are."
Although that's understandable, given how much more networks pay today to carry NFL
games and how much more competition they face from the ever-growing mobs of cable channels.
Long before MNF
figured NFL game coverage should include cameos by entertainers such as Jimmy Kimmel
and Christian Slater, MNF
on ABC puts lots of celebrities on-air, including having Ronald Reagan
and John Lennon (separately) dropping in.
But what's changed on TV games generally, suggests Gifford, is the tone. "Today, there's so much screaming, talking over each other. I don't think we did that. People always tell me, 'I can't believe how many times Don put Howard down.' But it wasn't that way. It was just the contrast between the two of them. … We were not competing."
Gifford, 79, recently taped historical MNF
vignettes that ESPN will sprinkle in this season's, uh, shows. Watching those old games reminded Gifford, retired in Connecticut, of the concurrent chapters in his own life. Which, he suggests, left him amused: "In 27 (MNF
) years I never missed a game even though, God almighty, I had all
kinds of things going on in my life."
Gifford says the technology deployed on today's TV sports doesn't "intrigue" him — "I just want a good game" — and in some ways suggests more-sophisticated coverage makes things harder for today's announcers: "We were teaching people how to watch TV. Now they're all critics." Even though, alarmingly, they haven't been officially licensed.Job growth
The NFL Network
Monday will formally announce that it will add ex-coach Mike Martz
for a new Monday night NFL Head Coaches
show as well as studio work, and ex-quarterback (and incoming Fox game analyst) Trent Green
for studio work.
Which shows there's at least one occupation where jobs can't be outsourced overseas. NFLN, reaching about 48 million households heading into its sixth season, now employs 17 analysts — and hopes to soon sign Michael Irvin
Some, such as Deion Sanders
and Sterling Sharpe
, were picked up after being dropped by other networks. But most of these former players and coaches are getting a sort of on-air vocational training at the league's own channel. NFLN executive producer Eric Weinberger says it's okay if some of its analysts get exposure on the network and move on, such as new NBC
analyst Rodney Harrison and Fox analyst John Lynch — who were each guest analysts last season. "It's a neat thing, which might be a different philosophy than at the other networks. … This is almost like an extension of the NFL's broadcasting boot camp."
Sort of like an NFL combine, except it's fine to wear (TV) makeup.Video board's a hit
Two punts hit the giant video screen hanging over the field in the Dallas Cowboys
' preseason opener in the team's opulent new stadium Friday, including one during the game. In response, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
says he sees no need to raise it.
The No Fun League
presumably will insist it be moved for the mundane reason it could affect play. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Saturday the league is deciding if it needs to take action.
But Jones' reasoning offers so many consumer-friendly possibilities. How about strapping cameramen — for interesting new shots — onto goalposts? They probably wouldn't divert all that many field goals.Reality TV that might be interestingJohn Madden
, on Sirius Satellite Radio
, explains how he'll be spending Sundays now that he's retired from calling TV football: "I have nine 63-inch monitors and I'm going to stack 'em and put all the NFL games on. … I think I'm going to be able to watch every NFL game every Sunday."
So why not just set up cameras to show Madden reacting to live games and turn that into a TV show? While there might be issues involving NFL TV rights and conflicts with Madden's old NBC contract, it might be pretty good TV.
There'd be no travel for Madden. Potential sponsors could find lots of possibilities for product placements in Madden's TV room. And viewers who like Madden could still hear him without having to sit through any games that had turned into blowouts.Spice rack
Always nice when sportscasters avoid clichés. Like CBS' Mary Carillo
Sunday as she summed up Roger Federer
's win over Novak Djokovic in a U.S. Open Series tournament in Cincinnati. "This has really been the year of Federer
as the Godfather, a year of reckoning
, an evening of the score, like the Five Families. This (win) is like finally knocking off the Tattaglias." Huh? Shouldn't Carillo be worried Federer will skip CBS' upcoming U.S. Open because he's gone to the mattresses?http://www.usatoday.com/sports/colum...roadcast_N.htm