Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Sep 2006

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Highlight

I think most Football Outsiders readers would easily pick Bob Costas over Chris Berman, but would you pick NBC's new Football Night in America over ESPN's old NFL Primetime? Robert Weintraub from Slate thinks not, and I agree. Thanks to reader Jimmy Ryals for the tip.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 20 Sep 2006

71 comments, Last at 25 Sep 2006, 3:03am by Jerry


by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:49am

The link at the top doesn't work, it just comes back to this article...

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:51am

Link is to this Extra Point, not to the article. Try my name. I haven't watched the NFL Network highlights show yet, either the early one or the late one that airs after SNF. Is it any good?

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:57am

I agree too. Yeah, Berman's schtick wears thin, but he and Tom Jackson did an excellent job with NFL Primetime.

I stopped watching ESPN pre-game years ago (don't remember why, but Michael Irvin keeps me away). But I've always watched NFL Primetime after the games, because I knew I'd get some real insights from Chris Berman and Tom Jackson. After two weeks of Football Night in America, I want NFL Primetime back.

The Blitz is interspersed into SportsCenter, and that's kinda like NFL Primetime, but it's piecemeal. I want my highlights in one sitting. :-)

by admin :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:03pm

Link fixed. Also, I think I've said this before, but I like Berman's schtick for football, I think it works. It's exciting, it's goofy, but at the same time, he does understand the game. He's horrible doing baseball play-by-play, though. Just awful.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:08pm

I agree with the Slate article--(although it's only been 2 weeks for NBC), the major complaint is "too much blather--not enuff highlights"

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:10pm

NFL Primetime still runs Monday Nights... in fact Ron Jaworski is on it now.

by Riceloft (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:10pm

Can we petition ESPN to bring back NFL PrimeTime?

by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:11pm

I agree with Aaron, I like the voices and nicknames and stuff, it gets old hearing the same ones every time, but I look forward to hearing what his nicknames will be for new players. And who doesn't like he...could...go...all...the...way...?

by jds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:29pm

“too much blather–not enuff highlights� - Bang on.

Primetime had it down perfect. All the appropriate highlights, both scoring and game changing events, and the commentary then relating to those. I get the sense NBC is doing it backwards - it seems they set out the amount of commentary they want to do, and then add in the highligts.

Plus, I'm going to accuse them of east coast media bias. Primetime would have led with Giants - Eagles last week as well, but they wouldn't have given it the same amount of time as NBC did, which then restricted time for other games. Damit, I watched Giants - Eagles, I don't need 12 minutes of coverage on that, to the detriment of not showing me the SF - Rams highligts. I never would have watched that second game, but I could count on Primetime to give me at least 3 minutes from that game to tell me what went on.

by GBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:31pm

Petitioning ESPN won't do any good. NBC was given exclusinve rights to airing Sunday night highlights by their recent broadcast deal with the NFL.

ESPN was forced to take down Primetime.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:34pm

7: Not without forcing them to violate a contract.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:42pm

And who doesn’t like he…could…go…all…the…way…?

the ghost of Howard Cosell

by peterB (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:49pm

He’s horrible doing baseball play-by-play, though. Just awful.

:: Aaron Schatz — 9/20/2006 @ 11:03 am

"It's back, back, backbackbackbackback... and Jeter hauls it in for the thrid out."

God I hate hearing Berman during baseball season. >.

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:53pm

NFL Network's highlights show doesn't do much for me, either. I watched for an hour or so Sunday night, and I would sum it up as: T.O., Giants-Eagles, repeat. Maybe I missed some of the other highlights when I was flipping, but it seemed like it was all about T.O. and that amazing, remarkable, Eli-break-out game. Meh.

Mariucci looks uncomfortable, and I have never liked Deion Sanders' on-screen persona so there's not much draw for me. Rich Eisen seems extremely understated on the show, maybe that's intentional. There's just not a lot of chemistry yet.

I didn't stay up for all segments of the Blitz, but at least they acknowledged that there were other games for the day. *And* they showed highlights from those games.

I'm going to have to start taping NFL Primetime on Mondays, I guess, since I can't be home by 3pm PST.

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:55pm

I just want to applaud Robert Weintraub for the headline. That's good stuff right there.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:02pm

What was good about Berman and Jackson was that they actually were able to convey the flow, the ups and downs, of a game in a very compressed period, by showing a ton of plays. When PrimeTime was done with a game, you actually felt as if you had a good idea as to how the game unfolded. Now, it feels as if you have some insight as to how highly the yappers regard themselves.

"Footbal Night" has extremely high production values (Ebersol-designed shows simply excel in this area), but it is not designed to grab the viewer who is intensely interested in football, who is taken for granted, but instead is supposed to attract the much more casual fan.

Well, now that my curiosity is satisfied, I doubt I'll watch it all that regularly; I've plenty of things to do, and I'll just start the TiVo at 9 P.M. at the kickoff with Michaels and Madden.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:05pm

I think that Costas' gravitas is itself a part of the problem - nearly everything about FNIA screams pretension, including the title; and yet, for all that pretense, there's very little substance to their coverage on the day's games. As the article states, Primetime didn't just give you highlights, it also gave you context, making it inidispensible to everybody who didn't already have Sunday Ticket.

by DWL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:15pm

Concur w/ all re: ESPN's Primetime.

Question/Thought: Has the new television contract harmed football? Moving MNF to ESPN and Sun night to NBC, eliminating Prime Time etc?

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:21pm

Berman is better with football than other sports, but he absolutely needs to stop saying "the Raiders" that way. Is anyone entertained by it, except maybe Al Davis?

I'm also with Independent George that the name "Football Night in America" is really, really stupid.

by James G (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:26pm

Now, I really wish I had NFL network. Why, oh, why did I have to move to the state of New York?

by gat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:30pm

I tivo'ed the "new" NFL Primetime which was on at 6 PM eastern on ESPN on Monday, expecting it to be like the old NFL Primetime, only a day later. But no, it was AWFUL. The idiot announcers were screaming at the top of their lungs, there was no in-depth analysis at all, and they had a crowd of people screaming in the background from AllTel stadium. I couldn't even watch the whole thing, it was giving me a headache.

I guess I picked the wrong show -- I'll have to Tivo "the blitz" instead.

I agree that NBC's FNIA blows. I just want a show like the old NFL Primetime!

by Sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:36pm

This is actually one of two pro football articles currently up on Slate. The other ridicules pro coaches who never sleep because they work so hard. It's also a good read. (Click my name for link.)

by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:37pm

19. Agreed on "Tha Raidas!" I hate it.

And does anyone like Stuart A Scott? I don't just mean viewers, but it seems like everyone else on the set just can't stand the guy. He will say some silly catch-phrase, and everyone else will just kind of look away like they didn't hear it. Maybe it is just me, but I can't stand him.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:43pm

In a lot of ways the scrolling text at the bottom of the screen during games and the internet had already killed Primetime for me. I used to watch it religiously, anticipating a highlight featuring one of the players on my fantasy team. I watched it begining to end and calculated my score as the show went along. Now I already know how my team is doing as the games progress, so the only reason to watch a highlight show is for the entertainment and the analysis. Primetime had a good balance of both, FNIA has neither. I hate Collinsworth. He is the worst football commentator on television. Worse then Joey Theisman, worse than Michael Irvin, worse than Deion Sanders. I won't watch him, so I don't watch FNIA.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:44pm

Slate doesn't often throw out Sportsnut columns, but when they do, they're pretty good. This gave some decent insight into the production process, as well as the low level of rewards for the guys who do the grunt work in Bristol--If you do a really good job somebody notices and says "atta boy." Better than a sharp stick in the eye, I suppose.

Is it safe to admit that I am a closet lover of Berman's nicknames? He was a history major at Brown, no? I love the history/literary references more than the pop culture ones. All-time fave: Terry "Pit and the" Pendelton.

by KJ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:49pm

Does anyone have HBO? Instead of just bringing Costas over, NBC should have found a way to bring the entire "Inside the NFL" show over. That's the best show IMHO, but I will admit Inside and Prime Time had different niches.

I haven't seen the show yet, so I don't know how it compares to Inside, but am I the only one who likes the name: Football Night in America? It's somehow classy yet tongue in cheek at the same time. And it's not some crazy name Costas invented. It's based on the venerable Hockey Night in Canada.

by DMP (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:50pm

As soon as I saw that the name of the show would be "Football Night In America," I was bracing myself for it to suck. What a dumb name. Even worse, it sounds like a rip-off from "Hockey Night in Canada" on CBC, which is actually an awesome name for their purpose. I can't explain why I feel differently about each name, it just is what it is.

by DMP (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:55pm

Looks like #26 posted while I was typing...

Funny how we feel completely different about the name even though we both like the Canadian show name.

I don't know. NBC pays many producers a lot of money. Seems to me they could have come up with something original.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 1:56pm

As somebody who can afford a cheap cable package to get stations like NBC, but can't afford an expensive package to get ESPN, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE that the highlight show is now on NBC. I realize that if you get ESPN, you really aren't thinking about people like me. But without it, people who don't get ESPN for financial reasons have trouble getting any highlights at all.

by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:03pm

I'm going to sound like an old fogey, but highlights in general have gone completely downhill, and ESPN is as much to blame as anyone, with that stupid "Ultimate Highlight" thing during sportscenter... These highlights are cut so short that you have absolutely no way to understand what you're watching.

I can't remember what network I was watching on Sunday that showed highlights that went something like this: show 1 second of Warrick Dunn cutting through the line of scrimmage (he's already taken the highlight), then freeze frame, then do some funky graphics thing where they "flash" outline Dunn's silouette, then go back to his run for a few frames. WTF is that? It's like some odd movie trailer where the network appears to think that flashing a still shot of a "brand name player" is what I want to see. But how do they suppose that guy got to be a brand name? B/c people have seen legit highlights of his runs for years and years now!

Gimme my old-school highlights where they show the entire play!

by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:08pm

Correction for 30:
"(he’s already taken the highlight)"

"highlight" is Spanish for "handoff"

by Darrel Michaud (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:11pm

Stewie Griffin: "Do not go gentle into that good night," to quote Bob Dylan.


No, no, Dylan Thomas.

by Tracy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:23pm

Re 18:

"Has the new television contract harmed football? Moving MNF to ESPN and Sun night to NBC, eliminating Prime Time etc?"

I don't think so and here's why:

1. Very few people who don't get ESPN were watching Monday Night Football during the past several seasons. So giving that contract to ESPN probably doesn't hurt ratings at all.
2. Sunday Night Football now has a flexible scheduling format, whereby they won't decide who plays the night game until a few weeks out. This increases the chances that the most heavily watched game of the week features a compelling matchup.

I think the fact that NBC's show isn't as good as NFL Primetime hurts the hardcore fan a little bit, but I don't think it hurts the game's popularity at all. In any case, if you want NFL Primetime back (or a reasonable facsimile), don't watch FNIA and let NBC know why you're not watching. They've got too much invested in rights fees to accept poor ratings.

by Manteo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:33pm

Glad to know that there's in-depth, quality coverage on NFL Network, since I was starting to forget just how much I hate the jackasses at Time Warner Cable.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:38pm

All-time fave: Terry “Pit and the� Pendelton.

Mine: "Temple" Bethel Johnson

by Larry (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:52pm

This is really a great article and reflects exactly the thought that came to mind when I tuned in the first Sunday night to see what NBC would do. Their highlights give you no idea what actually happenned in the game. They don't even flash a full stat graphic with the final score. So all you end up knowing is who scored touchdowns. I don't recall finding anything interesting about the commentary either. I do miss Primetime.

As for Berman, his shtick is old, and very, very predictible. There's no wit in repeating the same shtick over and over with the same nicknames and the same cliches. And I could really do without all the 'Whoop!'s, they are very grating.

Maybe NBC will modify what they're doing. I can hope.

by george (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 2:53pm

NBC definitely has some kinks to work out, but I didn't like didn't like some of the production in the later days of Primetime. When they wanted to point out a certain player, it's like they would set off a bomb on the screen. I always preferred the old days of just shading out the rest of the picture around the desired player. But ESPN's highlight music destroys NBC.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:03pm

33: That's what SO many people assume, and I haven't done any statistical polling to know for sure, but I don't think it's true.

In the past four years, I and most of my friends, who are mostly hardcore football fans, have made the choice to live without a cable package featuring ESPN. The reason has always been largely financial. From the past four years, I can think of at least four separate households that DID NOT have ESPN for a lengthy period of time but did watch MNF because we love football. Currently that's down to three households.

All I'm saying is that I don't know that many people, and I know of three current households, including my own, of diehard football fans that don't get ESPN for financial reasons.

Most commentators assume that everybody is in the same economic class and gets cable, but that simply isn't the case.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:27pm

I can't listen to their commentary during highlights. I think Collinsworth is a decent analyst but he sucks at highlights. "Moss makes a great grab but it looks like Owens has an answer to that" and such are awful. Don't put words in people's mouths and don't be so smarmy. Shannon Sharpe does the same awful schtick - admittedly his badness is compounded by his inability to speak without marbles. Also, Bettis could be replaced by Inanimate Carbon Rod and I don't anyone would notice - unfortunately that might leave him with even more free time to "drop in" on every freakin' football game on the weekends.

Oh well, I don't really watch the highlight shows anyway, but I figured I should give this one a shot.

by DGL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:44pm


...whoever he was. The man ain't got no culture.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:55pm

"Football Night in America" sounds like its some sort of fancy-pants gala, and I can expect to listen to commentary from Joan Rivers as we watch clips of Jake Gyllenhaal walking down the red carpet, following Bruce Willis, who is dangerously close to Demi Moore while Ashton Kutcher shmoozes with his publicist a few yards away.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:16pm

Sources I found suggest that ESPN is available in 83% of U.S. households.

by vijay (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:21pm

Let's start with the obvious. Primetime was the best highlight show of its kind - so good that I hardly noticed Berman's crap after a while.

Now onto FNIA. I seem to recall reading somewhere that it seems that there might be some sort of language in the contract with the NFL that limits their ability to show highlights until every game is over. If you notice, they will "retire" to the TV room only after the last game goes final. I think that has limited their ability to start the show with a bang and just get going. Because they have to wait, they have a lot of fluff, interviews, and just score panels instead of footage.

Once the last game is done, all of that is immediately thrown out and they go straight to the games. The fact that they don't do highlights from moment one may be a contact problem.

That being said, I think their highlight delivery is very shallow. As has been mentioned, the reason that Primetime was great was the fact that they put their highlights together in order to tell the story of the game. And oh yeah, they would show the TDs. But the key was that they wanted to delivery a story for the game, ie, the Cowboys decided to game-plan to focus on the safeties, or the Defense decided to not allow the offense to run the ball at all. So they would define the football story of the game and then tailor their highlights to help you understand how that played out.

On FNIA, they have fallen into the trap that the only things that matter in understanding a game is the scoring plays. The story plays out over 60 minutes and the football story of the game dictates the final score more often than not.

What I'm hoping is that they can start moving in that direction. But, if what I read was true and they can't show highlights until the last game is done, I'm not sure how they can get rid of the fluff and focus more of the presentation on the highlights...

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:47pm

It is a great article - I liked the shot he took at the Uncalled Personal Fouls segment, er, I mean "Jacked Up" too.

I don't think NBC does anything sports-related very well, so it doesn't surprise me that they can't do a recap show either. I can understand that they may be aiming for a slightly less-educated audience (with respect to football) than ESPN, but if you've got an exclusive highlight show and you choose to scorn the more knowledgeable, it's your own fault.

I rarely watch highlight shows because I've either been watching Sunday Ticket or I simply catch up online, but it sure would be nice to have an alternative for those for whom my options are not available (for whatever reasons).

Yes, I think it's a ripoff of Hockey Night in Canada. HNIC is cool. FNIA is not.

Do I think the new setup has harmed/will harm the NFL's popularity?

Among ardent fans, possibly, simply because MNF at home may no longer be an option for them. At least when it was Sunday night, you could have spent the previous 3-6 hours watching games.

Among casual fans? Not so much. They'll watch when they feel like it as long as they get the channel, but if they don't, no big deal.

I think the NFL Network deal is going to be more costly, because you're talking about taking games away from CBS and Fox and putting them on cable/satellite. I think the NFL overestimates the average person's desire to spend money to watch, well, anything. The addicts are already buying whatever they can to watch the games; all this will do is anger the people who can't get NFLN, and as we've seen before, customers generally don't care which side is at fault during a dispute. They just know they can't watch the game because of something stupid and it makes them very mad.

The other Slate article is even better than this one. I have always thought that the notion that more work equals better work is a stupid one. I suspect that in some cases, it's because they can't necessarily do a better job, but they can certainly put in more time at it, and somehow GMs, owners, and fans came to assume that it was the same thing.

I don't understand why some people coach if the only way they can keep the job is by working themselves to death (in some cases, literally). My dream job would definitely not involve 140-hour weeks and isolating myself from everyone I know each season ...

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:51pm

On a related note, will those Thursday night NFL Network games be simulcast locally for the teams playing, or will every bar that gets the NFL Network in the Twin Cities be packed beyond capacity when the Vikings play the Packers?

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:55pm

To answer my own damn question, it looks like yes, NFL Network games should be on broadcast locally.

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 4:59pm

I was interested in this quote from the article:

To compound this oversight, Jerome Bettis delivered a garbled warning about how the Pats should be worried about their 2-0 start, as they aren't the same team that won back-to-back Super Bowls. Those teams rarely blew out anybody either, Bus. They won games in the fourth quarter by making clutch plays.

Isn't the FO approach more on Bettis's side in this argument?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:20pm

As much as I hate the "Jacked Up" segment (because, as mentioned above, they focus on uncalled (or sometimes called!) personal fouls instead of clean, legit, hard hits), I must admit I was very amused Sunday at the sports bar, hearing ~120 people shout in unison "Chad Johnson - you got JACKED UP!!!"

I agree with everyone who's said Hockey Night in Canada works as a name, Football Night in America doesn't. And no, I don't know why either, it just rubs me the wrong way. Also, I despise the show itself. I despise Collinsworth, yet I'd rather have three of him than one of Bettis. Cannot frickin' stand Bettis. So, I think the only reasonable thing to do is, get rid of those two, and replace them with Don Cherry.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 5:36pm

I think a lot of the problem with highlight shows also stems from the poor level of analysis. I'm old enough to remember when John Madden's commentary was coherent and applicable to the game at hand. Tom Jackson and Jawarski usually give great insights into the nuts and bolts aspects of plays and are preferable to the homogenized talking heads that seem to pervade the pregame sets. I love Jerome Bettis as a player. I know he isn't stupid. But all of those guys sound like morons when they keep spewing the same crap ad nauseum. One of the things that made the old NBC pregame show great was guys like Will McDonough who would give you some great insight combined with an informed opinion.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 6:10pm

Re: 43

I've heard the exact same thing about NBC not being allowed to show any highlights while games are still being played. And that may be the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I could understand not being able to show highlights of the 4:15 games because that would be taking viewers away from CBS and Fox. But showing highlights of the 1 o'clock games would have absolutely no effect on either of the other networks.

by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 7:00pm

I can't stand Bob Costas, and I can't stand Cris Collinsworth. I've tried FNIA twice, and haven't lasted more than five seconds either time.

by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 7:32pm

I agree wholeheartedly with this article and the consensus that FNIA is pretentious and does a horrible job with highlights.

Also, does anyone know why NBC feels it needs to have so many analysts yakking without contribuing anything? It's like NBC followed the Daniel Snyder method of assembling a roster and coaching staff - hiring as many relatively high-profile personalities as they could regardless of whether they actually served a useful purpose or meshed well. Since they're there, they have to be used, but there's just too many of them.

And as for the game coverage, I can't stand it when they have Michaels and Madden talk to someone in the studio while a play is going on, with the play being shown on less than the full screen because they also need to show the talking head in the studio. The music (Pink and John Williams) also is annoying.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 8:22pm

Pacifist Viking - I get what you're saying about how it's better that the Sunday highlight show is on NBC, so that everybody gets it instead of just people with ESPN. My only point is that NFL Primetime set such a high bar that FNIA is barely tolerable for me.

I spent most of my life without ESPN, so I know exacly why you would welcome FNIA so much; it's is a vast improvement on the few seconds of coverage you get in the Fox/CBS wrapups, much less the local news broadcast (particularly if you cheer for someone other than the local team). But my point is that there's a huge gulf in quality between NFL Primetime and FNIA, and it's an incredible letdown for those of us who had grown accustomed to Primetime.

I guess the dream scenario would be if NBC just imported the Primetime staff and resurrected the whole enterprise, but that borders on 'Aaron Brooks: MVP' territory.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 9:04pm

Glad to know that there’s in-depth, quality coverage on NFL Network, since I was starting to forget just how much I hate the jackasses at Time Warner Cable.

Yep. I just discovered that TWC took away my NFL Network after they bought my cable business from Adelphia. It may be time for me to cancel my cable for DirecTV and tell them why I'm doing it.

by JSR (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 10:03pm

I'll agree that his shtick got old quickly but my favorite Berman nickname was always Eric "Sleeping with" Bienemy.

Football Night in America is an awful, awful name if only because it's so obviously unoriginal and pretentious, but I'm glad that the Sunday highlight show has moved to network TV since my dorm doesn't have cable outlets and I'm not permitted to have one installed. That said, every criticism that's been offered of that show in here is on the money. The hosts are all terrible for their own reasons--Costas acts like he deserves to be in Brokaw's chair, Collinsworth is a smart analyst but has never had much to say about action as it happens on the field, Sharpe can't enunciate, though I'll admit I can't stand Bettis because of rooting interests. The show's chaotic editing is almost bad as "Grey's Anatomy", and the fluff feature pieces really need to go (but this is true of most sports shows these days).

But what am I supposed to do? I can't not watch the Sunday night highlights, especially since my team is in another market/time zone from where I currently live. Oh well, at least there's always the internet.

by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Wed, 09/20/2006 - 11:43pm

"Hockey Night in Canada" works because it's 70 years old.

"Football Night in America" doesn't work because it very transparently wants to sound like it's 70 years old.

by Joe Pisarcik Magnet (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:42am

One of the things that made the old NBC pregame show great was guys like Will McDonough who would give you some great insight combined with an informed opinion.

I wish that I was old enough to appreciate Pete Axthelm back then.

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:44am

38: I know quite a few people, but I don't know a single person without ESPN.

by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 8:37am

Speaking of Jerome Bettis: Does anyone else think that if the Colts had scored with his fumble in the playoffs, he'd still have grabbed all of these media and marketing gigs?

My vote: He'd be the newest spokesman for Quality 16...

by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 8:39am

Oh, and speaking of Berman's nicknames, I always liked "Well-dressed" Amani Toomer.

...but maybe that's just me.

by DWL (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:11am

Change is always bad.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:21am

Change is always bad.
Unless you're approaching a toll booth and you don't have EZ-Pass.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 10:23am

53: agreed.

I agree with some of the other comments: NFL Primetime creates a narrative for the game, FNIA just shows highlights. I'm glad to get FNIA's highlights (and like the overall format of the show), but Primetime did a superior job showing the story of the individual game.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 11:05am


I'm sorry, but nothing tops Amani "It's not a" Toomer (said with a thick Austrian accent, of course).

by joel in providence (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 11:43am

as an eagles fan, i always loved berman's...

sam "speaker of the house" rayburn"

although temple beth el is a close second.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:15pm

38: I know quite a few people, but I don’t know a single person without ESPN.

No ESPN here. I have to say I really appreciated FNIA last week, as no way in hell was I paying attention to any other game at the bar.

by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:35pm

No ESPN for me either. I don't want to pay for it.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 12:46pm

58: I wonder if that is most people's experience. Just a rough theory, but most people hang out with people in their similar economic class. If you have ESPN, chances are most people you know have ESPN (and 83% of U.S. households do). However, if you don't have ESPN, there's probably a fair chance that some of your friends don't get it, either.

by Bjorn (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 1:02pm


I think there are a few reasons why Hockey Night in Canada works, while Football Night in America doesn't.

As was alluded to before, this program has been around longer than the vast majority of its viewers. It has a (somewhat declining) tradition of having the best broadcasting standards, and has a unique relationship with the NHL that allows it to actually influence scheduling. For instance, Montréal and Toronto play each other eight times over the course of the year (IIRC), and each of those games takes place on Saturday night. That is because Habs vs. Leafs is one of the biggest draws in the NHL, and certainly the biggest north of the border. It's cheesy for NBC to try and use the name format to try and buy some of that tradition, especially for a show in it's first year.

Another reason I can think of is the actual day of the week. When someone says "SATURDAY," what do you immediately think of? Cartoons? Golf? Another night alone? Whatever it is, it certainly isn't universal. I am not a religious man, but when I think of Sunday, I still think of Church and Jesus and such. (I don't mean to ignore the other religions that have their respective holy days on days other than Sunday. But in the USA and Canada, the Church of Jebus is certainly the most widespread, and therefore the most relevant in terms of my so-called argument.) The religious connotation of Sunday makes it tacky to try and pass Sunday night as Football Night, to the apparent exclusion of all else.

My last thought on the matter has to do with the roles that Hockey and Football play in the cultures of their "home" nations. I always knew hockey was important to Canadians, but when we didn't have hockey the year before last, it really hit home. Canadian channels don't have any halfways decent TV on Saturday nights. This didn't really bother me, as I found other stuff to do (go me!), but the fact that competing networks don't even bother says something. And really, I need to do no more than just say that hockey is more central to Canadians than football is to Americans.

Anyways, please forgive me, as I love to rant about hockey.

by Ben (not verified) :: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 3:05pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one missing Primetime. My wife and I always watched Primetime, and we haven't found anything close this year.

FNIA has to much garbage before the clips start (though, from some above comments, this may be out of their control). The clips don't tell a story at all. The guys are all talking over each other, usually about whatever happened 3 clips ago, not the one on the screen currently. They jump around between games, repeat scores at least 3 times, and basically waste that 1:15 they have.

There seems to be two things called Primetime now. I watched the Monday night pregame show this week, with Scott, Jaws, and Ditka. It was annoying with all the screaming fans in the background, you could barely hear what they were saying sometimes. The clips weren't great either. The Colts game (granted it was unexciting) got a single highlight. I don't remember that kind of thing happening with the old Primetime.

There then is a studio show called Primetime with Trey Wingo, Merril Hoge, and Salsbury. It's on Tuesdays, and uses the same clips as the Monday night preview show, I think. They do tend to talk about the games a bit more in between clips.

I haven't tried the NFL Network show yet, mainly because I can't stand Deion Sanders.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 09/25/2006 - 3:03am

Because the Giants-Seahawks game was so awful, I switched over to NBC, and while the first couple of segments were highlight-free, they did start showing highlights before the Fox games were over.

And why didn't Fox switch the national audience from the Seahawks' blowout to a more competitive game?