NFL Network returned Thursday with the 4th incarnation of its announcing team in five seasons. And to be honest, the official TV network of the National Football League which has done tremendously in producing original programming such as America’s Game, Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players, NFL Game of the Week, NFL Replay, NFL Total Access, NFL GameDay Final and other shows, somehow falls short when it comes to live game production.
And the announcing teams starting with Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth in 2006 and 2007, Bob Papa and Collinsworth in 2008, Papa with Matt Millen last season and Papa, Millen and Joe Theismann have not been up to par with other network teams. While Papa is a drastic improvement over Gumbel, he’s been saddled with pedestrian partners, excepting Collinsworth with whom he forged a very strong team. But it only lasted one season after John Madden retired from Sunday Night Football. Now you have NFL Network bringing back Theismann whose brief one game stint on NBC during Wild Card playoff weekend was an out-and-out disaster.
NFL Network which had hired Theismann last year to be an analyst on its Playbook show decided to bring him back to game analysis this season and judging from Thursday’s Baltimore-Atlanta game, the pairing of Millen and Theismann may turn out to be a very bad one.
I was not a fan of Millen’s return to the booth last season and he’s proven to be a lightning rod among Detroit Lions fans who have still not forgiven him for his horrible stint as General Manager. And he’s taken to shouting to get his points heard, especially in the wake of working with Theismann.
To say Theismann is verbose is like saying an arsonist sets things on fire. There were several occasions where he could not wait for Bob Papa to finish his point and would talk over him to start an extremely long-winded analysis. Then he started to contradict Millen just for argument’s sake and that’s never good.
For his part, Millen stated the obvious and never spotted trends or challenged Theismann. He seemed to kowtow to the former Washington quarterback. To make matters worse, the two talked incessantly after every play. Millen would ask a rhetorical question only to have Theismann jump in and answer it. This got be tedious.
It’s never easy for NFL Network to jump into the season during Week 10 and try to hit the ground running. However, with a new production crew, there were some mistakes such as the audio not being synced properly with the video. There’s still time to correct the audio and video errors, but as for Theismann, it’s tough to teach an old dog new tricks.