Just as I did the 1st Annual Fang’s Bites College Football TV Awards earlier this year, it’s time to do the NFL TV Awards as we go into the final weekend of the 2007 regular season.
No quirky nicknames, just the awards, Best and Worst.
Best Play-by-Play – Al Michaels, NBC. He’s still among the best at calling a game. He’s now in his 60′s, but shows no sign of slowing down. He’s always on top of trends. I do wish Al would allow John Madden to show his humor because since joining Michaels, John has been stagnant, but Al’s play-by-play is tops.
Best Game Analyst – Troy Aikman of Fox. He’s understated. Allows the game to breathe and doesn’t force his analysis. Phil Simms of CBS is a close second. Aikman is a bit better to me. Honorable mention: Ron Jaworski, ESPN.
Best Studio Show – Inside the NFL, HBO. I like this show and it has some really interesting features. Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Dan Marino and Chris Carter work very well together and Peter King does his best TV work on this show. Do you notice that he shouts on Football Night in America? Honorable mention – Fox NFL Sunday and NFL Gameday of the NFL Network.
Best Studio Host – James Brown, CBS. JB works well no matter which network he’s on. He did very well when he hosted Fox NFL Sunday and it took two years for that show to get back in the saddle after he left. JB hands off well when he works with the NFL Today crew and has helped Bill Cowher ease into the show. Plus, he’s willing to give his own opinions when warranted. Very good host and I do hope he remains at CBS for a while. Honorable mention – Bob Costas of HBO and NBC.
Best Studio Analyst – Howie Long, Fox. He continues to give pertinent analysis and still defends friend Matt Millen whenever co-hort Jimmy Johnson gets on his case. Plus, Howie is not afraid to get on Terry Bradshaw when necessary. Honorable mention – Tom Jackson, ESPN.
Most Valuable Network – CBS. It’s had two of the highest rated games this season, Patriots-Cowboys early in the season when both teams were undefeated and Patriots-Colts. It’s had the fortune to carry most of the Patriots run for perfection and it gets a bonus of the team’s final game on Saturday against the Giants. For a while, it was the only network to have significant ratings increases from the year before while the other NFL network partners saw decreases. All it needs is to have the Super Bowl to top it off, but the network won’t have the game until 2010. And it gets to air the very last Patriots game against the Giants without having to pay a rights fee. It’s a nice belated Christmas present for CBS.
Most Improved Studio Show – Football Night in America, NBC. Bringing in Keith Olbermann, who showed shades of his glory days in the 1990′s when he was teamed with Dan Patrick on ESPN, and Tiki Barber while getting rid Sterling Sharpe, has helped this show to hit its stride in the middle of the season. Keeping Cris Collinsworth away from the highlights and letting him do analysis with Jerome Bettis and Barber has improved the show dramatically from last season. Having Costas work off Olbermann was a very good idea. If NBC can have Peter King stop shouting, this would be a great show. Right now, it’s good. Not very good, just good.
Best NFL Insider – Jay Glazer, Fox. He somehow got his hands on the Patriots Spygate tape from the NFL offices in New York. He also got the video surveillance tape of Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter getting into a fight with Bengals lineman Levi Jones in a Las Vegas casino back in March. He’s had scoops galore this season giving him a much better year than Peter King. No comes close, not John Clayton or Chris Mortensen of ESPN. Not Peter. No one. Glazer knows his stuff and he’s not afraid to call his contacts to get the latest info. And he’s a MMA fighter. You want to mess with Jay? Be my guest.
Best Announcing Team – Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS. Yeah, they’ve been assigned to too many Patriots games, but that’s because they’re the team to watch this season. Jim and Phil have meshed well in their three seasons together. They don’t talk when they don’t have to. They allow the game to breathe. When CBS took Greg Gumbel off the #1 team three seasons ago, I was afraid the network was messing with chemistry, but the move has worked. Honorable mentions – Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan, Fox and Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, CBS.
Best Sideline Reporter – Pam Oliver, Fox. I like Pam. Plus, she’s not afraid to mix it up with athletes who cross her. And I don’t want to get on her bad side. This is Pam’s until she decides to retire.
Best Feature – For those who have DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket’s Red Zone Channel, this is heaven. It takes the viewer to every scoring drive and updates games in progress. Plus, it can cut into CBS and Fox games, something neither network can do. Host Andrew Siciliano is funny and he knows his football. DirecTV has done the fans a tremendous service with this channel. Now if it can make this part of the basic package instead of making this $99 extra for what subscribers are paying, the NFL Sunday Ticket package would be perfect.
Best Game Coverage – Sunday Night Football, NBC. The crew from ABC’s Monday Night Football moved over to NBC last season. Producer Fred Gaudelli and Director Drew Escohoff have kept the look from ABC and have added a few bells and whistles. Overall, it’s a clean look and adding solid reporter Andrea Kraemer to the sidelines has helped the broadcasts.
Rookie of the Year – Ron Jaworski, ESPN. He’s been a very good studio analyst, but with the chance to move into the game broadcasts on Monday Night Football, he’s become an excellent game analyst.
Worst Play-by-Play – Ron Pitts, Fox. I have no idea what he’s calling. I’m watching at home and have no clue what he’s talking about. He was decent at analysis, but having him do play-by-play is like listening to Carrot Top do stand up. It’s a train wreck. I truly believe he’s calling the games from his house.
Worst Game Analyst – Rich Gannon, CBS. Teamed with Kevin Harlan, I truly feel bad for Kevin. Gannon was originally hired to do 8 games two seasons ago, but when Brent Jones suddenly quit CBS, the network gave him a full season pickup. Gannon might improve down the line, but I have yet to see it. He talks too much plus there are times when he talks over his play-by-play guy. Not good. I know Rich wants to show what he knows, but there are times to talk and there are times to be quiet. He has yet to grasp this concept.
Worst Studio Show – Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, ESPN. These two shows are both a half hour too long. In fact, cut an hour off Sunday NFL Countdown and it would be perfect. And Monday Night Countdown with two hosts and two locations is too much. It seems these shows are far removed from the stellar College Gameday and the excellent Baseball Tonight that are produced by the same network. It’s as if ESPN’s NFL production unit has a totally different attitude from the college football and MLB units.
Worst Studio Host – Chris Berman, ESPN. What happened to Boomer? Either he’s resting on his laurels or he’s slipping. I don’t want to think he’s slipping because on NFL Primetime, Chris did very well. But on the Countdown shows, there are too many forced analogies and how many times can Chris say, “Nobody circles the wagons …. LIKE! The Buffalo Bills!” When Berman first did the studio show, he was on a par with Brent Musberger and Bob Costas. Now, he’s fallen way behind JB, Curt Menafee, Bob Costas and Rich Eisen. I don’t understand. And Chris has fallen back on shouting as well. There’s no need to shout in the studio.
Worst Studio Analyst – Emmit Smith, ESPN. What the hell is he talking about? Sterling Sharpe used to be the worst, but now that he’s on the NFL Network, he can’t do as much damage. Emmit seems to make things up on the fly. I hope ESPN does the public a favor and ends the Emmit Smith Experience after this season.
Least Valuable Network – ESPN. While Monday Night Football has set ratings records this season, the production is something to be desired. And the Tony Kornheiser experiment has been a complete failure. I hope ESPN makes the MNF booth a two man affair instead of three. A three man booth has only worked twice, with Frank Gifford, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell and Dick Enberg, Billy Packer and Al McGuire. Al Michaels, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf were ok, but since then, a three man booth has mostly been a disaster and this decade’s version is a train wreck.
Worst Game Coverage – ESPN. Monday Night Football is produced by the old Sunday Night Football crew that worked with Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul McGuire. When ESPN did Sunday nights, the camera work and replays were done very well. But when the crew moved over to Monday Night, the higher ups at ESPN decided to tinker with everything from the graphics which are annoying, to using two sideline reporters which is one too many and a three man booth which I already went into. Camera shots have been too tight at times, and there is no need to distract viewers who want to watch the game with silly interviews which have nothing to do with the action. Imagine watching UFC and listening to Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan interview Christian Slater in the middle of the action. You’d hate it, right? Same thing here, but ESPN thinks the viewing public is stupid. No, we’re smarter than you take us for. Stop the interviews, please. And start covering some football for once. People are watching MNF for the game, not celebrities. Someone send Chuck Liddell into the ESPN offices to clean up.
If you have any reaction, feel free to leave your comments below.