Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Sep 2005

Get Tim McGraw off MNF, Please

Now here's a column I can endorse wholeheartedly. Why is it that they can't just show us plain old highlights on Monday Night Football, maybe with Michaels and Madden offering commentary, instead of turning it into a music video for some guy who would make me change the station if he were on the radio? And why do they splice in scenes of people sitting at a bar singing along? What is going on?

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 14 Sep 2005

47 comments, Last at 27 Sep 2005, 3:47pm by zlionsfan


by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:12pm

See my comment from the Open thread: I never thought I'd wish for the return of "Punk'd." I still don't know which is worse though, McGraw or Kimmel

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:28pm

How can you possibly question whether or not Kimmel's worse? McGraw is at least a passable performer. Note that I said "passable" and not "good".

Kimmel has absolutely no stage presence whatsoever. His jokes have poor timing and ridiculously predictable. Method 1: pick two random people in pop culture recently and stick them together. Method 2: make a gay/nerd joke.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:35pm

Yes, but Kimmel's "performances" are shorter.

by Greg (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:45pm

Again, another lame attempt of MNF to be hip and/or irreverent. The only extras anyone ever watched were Cosell's highlights. Since then it's been a parade of bad ideas, shameless promos, and a bunch of old guys trying to figure out "what the youngsters like."

You know what we like? Football. Shut up and broadcast.

by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:51pm

I'm sure lots of folks enjoy his music, but personally Tim McGraw's singing makes my ears want to vomit. Thank god for the mute button.

Bring back the singin' Gramatica brothers. Now THAT was halftime comedy!

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:56pm

When I was in college I was the only student member of a committee that was looking into developing a campus magazine with students as the target audience. All the other members of the committee would give their ideas of what students wanted, and when I would tell them students weren't interested in stuff like that, they'd explain to me that I was wrong.

I imagine similar meetings happen every time they try to find a new way to make MNF edgy and cool. There's probably a big football fan sitting among the Disney execs saying, "I know the target audience because I am the target audience. Just concentrate on the game and the fans will be there." But everyone ignores him. Then they all complain at the end of the season when ratings have declined.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:00pm

No, no, no, the execs don't care about football fans because they'll put up with anything to get their fix. They're trying to target "everyone else" which is a pretty bad idea because I know I wouldn't sit through an hour and a half of something just to watch less than 10 minutes of something I like.

Hopefully ESPN will do a truncated "action from Sunday" show for halftime next year. Better yet just let Jaws do his thing and dissect a play or two.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:13pm

By chance I happened to flip to ESPNews during halftime and they are doing a special NFL segment during every MNF halftime, complete with a timer telling you how long until the second half starts. I'll be flipping there every week now instead of having to endure whatever ABC shows.

by keefebert (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:13pm

I totally agree with the awfulness of the half-time song, and of McGraw's voice on the vocals. However, to be fair, the 2 McGraw concerts I've been to have been some of the best I've seen across numerous genres. He's just another good performer selling his soul to the NFL.

by kris (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:14pm

You guys are all wrong. I'm living proof that these halftime gimmicks bring new fans to the NFL.

I had never heard of football until flipping through channels two years ago I caught Doug Flutie playing the drums and Kyle Turley playing some sweet bad-ass bass-lines. They were really cool.

I learned shortly thereafter that these guys were not, in fact, full-time professional musicians, but pro football players! I had to see if they were equally good at that, whatever 'football' was.

The rest is history, my friends. It's been a love affair ever since!

by Patrick Bateman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:35pm

What a horrible idea...Nashville pop-country does not nearly share the same wide spectrum of followers as does pro football, and attempting to graft a genre of music that I'm willing to bet at least half the audience does not like onto something they've probably already seen (via ESPN or just watching the games)is only going to drive people away. Do a segment on each team's undrafted rookies who made the team, or something...a human interest story? Just show highlights without the hideous, soulless faux-country music? Gah.

by SLB1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:44pm

Wait a minute. They are not going to use the Tim McGraw song every week, are they? I assumed that they would bring in someone else next week to make a total jackass of themselves in front of the nation. Are they seriously going to use Tim McGraw and the SAME SONG EVERY WEEK?

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:45pm

I'm going to sick Samir Suleiman on you.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:01pm

I like the music of Faith Hill's husband. I even like the song they use for the highlights in its original form.

I hate the idea. Give us highlights of the games (although I don't need them as much - I've probably seen most of the big plays already) without any window dressing.

Thanks to kris for the reminder - this is, at least, better than that horrible Monday Night at the Mic thing.

Which was better than Jimmy Kimmel is. I have to believe that the irony in showing him is that a good portion of the audience to which they're trying to appeal is probably out late on Monday night in places that don't have the audio on for the game. They're not likely to notice him on screen during the 10 hours that his segment lasts.

What? You said it's only a minute? Oh. It seems much longer ...

by jimmo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:01pm

who watches the halftime show anyway?

Even Sean Salisbury on ESPNN (per Jim A #8) is better, if only because of the timer. It ran over Monday night, by the way...

by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:02pm

I didn't mind the player music competion that kris is talking about. My wife certainly liked it. Joey Harrington was her favorite player after watching that. Then she found out that he stinks, and now her favorite player is Peyton Manning. ;^)

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:09pm


My wife suggested I go downstairs and change the laundry over when it came on. I said no, no, I want to see if it's as bad as last week. After staring at it for about 30 seconds with a blank look, wondering why this guy thinks he's funny, I decided my wife was right, and went downstairs and changed the laundry over.

Jimmy Kimmel: less fun than domestic chores.

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:42pm

When MNF moves to ESPN, I'd like ESPN1 to do a standard appeal-to-the-non-football-fan hype fest while ESPN2 does a hard-core fan broadcast where there is an announcer supported by an OC and DC commentator (former coaches, not retired loudmouth star players, clueless comedians, or broadcasting school pretty boys) who actually analyze what's going on during the game and at halftime, perhaps supported by the cameras filming the coaches' tapes. I bet the ESPN2 show would beat (in the ratings) whatever they'd otherwise counter-program with.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:53pm

Why would ESPN cannabilize thier own ratings like that?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:57pm

Why would ESPN cannabilize thier own ratings like that?
To persuade people who didn't like the halftime show, to switch to ESPN2 (and back, presumably) rather than switch to another neywork conglomerate's channel, from which they might not switch back.

by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:04pm

Why would ESPN cannabilize thier own ratings like that?

To persuade people who didn’t like the halftime show, to switch to ESPN2 (and back, presumably) rather than switch to another neywork conglomerate’s channel, from which they might not switch back.

Furthermore, the Salisbury bit on ESPN2 is already "cannibalizing" ABC's ratings, 'cause they're all part of the Disney conglomerate.

(And speaking of Salisbury, leave it to ESPN to have a good idea like giving us a choice of what to watch during MNF halftime then ruining it by getting their most useless waste of oxygen to host it.)

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:11pm

I thought he meant a second broadcast of the whole game, not just halftime.

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:24pm

I thought he meant a second broadcast of the whole game, not just halftime.

I did. From a corporate standpoint, the question is would the net revenue of ESPN plus ESPN2 under the "traditional model" (MNF on ESPN and something else on ESPN2) be more or less than my proposal (wide-appeal broadcast on ESPN, hard-core presentation on ESPN2)? If it's more, they should do it. I realize it's probably less but they won't know if the don't try and at least we'd have one season of something different.

BTW, one way to improve the ratings of MNF, particularly at the time it REALLY matters, would be for Disney to work with advertisers to debut their new commercials on MNF and hype them like they do for the Super Bowl (on a lesser scale of course). Some people would tune in for that - people watch infomercials and shopping channels. A few good commercials on MNF would be better television than most of what's in prime time...

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:29pm

That's a good idea, MRH. I once watched a show solely because I heard that one of the commercials was going to be the first airing of a trailer for a movie I wanted to see. (Now I don't remember the show or the movie.) You'd think the networks and Madison Avenue would love that.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:41pm

MRH: I hate to burst your bubble, but it's unreasonable to expect the total ratings to increase with a split audience. Anybody who would watch the "hardcore" broaccast on ESPN2 is likely to watch the regular broadcast on ESPN1 if they have not other option. Of course, if the audiences are demographically split in some way that makes ESPN attractive to one type of advertiser, and ESPN2 attractive to another, then it could work.

by zach (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:58pm

they ought to do something interactive for MNF halftime. like, maybe, the "Monday Night Football Halftime Drinking Game!". they could change the games every week.

by EKP (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:06pm

I cannot believe that Tim McGraw would sabotage his career like that..he should be embarassed. His music career has tanked because he turned "pop" and this is all he has going right now (and this is coming from a Tim McGraw FAN).

The WORST part is the fact that he creates a new one each Monday based on the week's games!! Picturing him sitting there with NFL headlines every Sunday night and sticking them into "I Like It, I Love It" is hysterical.

God awful. Great article.

by melissa (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:07pm

Actually the thing I liked least about halftime is that the video of the highlights sucked. I think it would be better if they did a Sportscenter-esque top ten plays where they give you some context. Even the football they showed was mostly just celebrations. I don't care what horrible music they put over it if the highlights are intersting, but they just pissed me off. I must confess I don't remember the old days, but surely there was a time when they actually showed entire plays rather than just half second clips of players jumping into each others' arms?

And with the music I just don't get who they are pitching too. If they are really trying to pitch to young people, then Tim McGraw makes absolutely zero sense. Shouldn't they get Eminem or Kanye West or someone? The only thing I can figure is that the commercial with that song was popular so they thought it would appeal to NFL fans.

by SLB1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:20pm

The Tim McGraw choice (as opposed to Eminem, Kanye, 50 Cent, etc.) is based solely on demographics. The NFL is trying to appeal to women. It is not surprising that the people who post to this site (football fanatics) want hard core analysis as opposed to total horses**t from Kimmell and company. Unfortunately, the NFL already knows that it has us by the jewels, and we'll watch the game regardless of what happens at halftime. Sad, but true.

by Andy L. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:21pm

I think Disney saw the popularity of Sportscenter's "Here's To Football" spots with NFL highlights last year, and figured it would work with MNF's perceived Hank-Williams-country audience. I agree with previous posters, a NFL-Matchup style breakdown with Jaws and Hoge would have MNF viewers salivating, and would be at least 187 times better than this Tim McGraw travesty.

by SLB1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:41pm

Who thought the "Here's to Football" spots that ESPN continues to run are popular or entertaining? Same thing, different channel.

by SteelerBill (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:51pm

Re: #8 - thank you for that update. I'll definitely be switching over at half time from now on. My fiancee has had to listen to me complain about how stupid that segment is for two games now (and we're just beginning)..

I agree, we want football...let me say that again, we want football!

by trevor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:25pm

all of this time, i thought it was just me who thought this sucked. thanks, ya'll. i figured i wasn't their target audience (26 year old black male from NC), and said "oh well".

by Kanye (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:48pm

George Bush hates black people.

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:52pm

I've been toying around with the idea of creating a list of all the advertisers who have commercials during the crap halftime shows (or even the whole programs with jackanape announcers) and getting an internet boycott going. While I seriously doubt I could get nearly enough support for the advertisers to feel a dent in sales, there is still a chance that the idea will scare the advertisers enough to ask the show to change. Of course, I'm leaving the country in 10 days, so I won't see any of this crap for several months, so I guess the point is moot.

by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:21pm

I just like to ask who is Tim McGraw? The highlights would have been more interesting has I known who this person is or the song he was using. Since I knew neither it made the bathroom break all the more needed.

by Chris Rock (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:31am

George Bush hates black people.

Midgets! He hates midgets!

by pcs (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:34am

My favorite halftime show is when some all-American Joe Lunchbucket who found the winning Snickers wrapper or Dr Pepper cap comes in and gets to try to kick a field goal or throw a ball into a garbage can or whatever for like $50,000. It's compelling, and it's the kind of family-friendly happy horsesh-t that target audiences totally groove on. Make that a weekly thing, and people would stick around, I garontee.

by Mentos (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:00am

I'd like to see Madden and Michaels play games during halftime. One week they can play Tic Tac Toe. The next week they can play Tiddlywinks. Then other games. That would be fun.

by Tony Cox (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 8:39am

What did I ever do to George Bush?

by Who Cares (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:06pm

Who cares ??? Get a life , turn the channel when he comes on. Geez

by Jamie T. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:14pm


I'll watch. I promise.

I once happened to be flipping through channels and landed on an NBA game. It was just before half time and the announcer mentioned that at half time, a lucky fan would have a shot at a bunch of money if he could make a basket from the half court line. I set the remote control down, waited through all the commercials and watched in rapt attention as the dude just barely missed out on a dumptruck full of cash. I'd do it again too.

P.S. I hate the NBA.

by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:53pm


I agree completely. The $50,000 field goal was reality tv before reality tv was cool!

by kc (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 1:33am

Jesus! Where does that leave black midgets?

by macdaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 2:14am

Quit Bitchin I along with a crowded bar of people liked the song so remember the world doesnt revolve around you and quit complaining, if you dont like it thats why you have a remote.

by Jen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 2:32pm

I think he is very creative and I like the halftime show. He does a good job showing the highlights, if you don't like it, change the channel. My husband loves football and hates country music and still enjoy's the highlights.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 3:47pm

A lot of us are watching the game somewhere where we can't change the channel; many of these places also play the sound from the TV over their speaker system, so avoiding it completely would mean stepping outside. Nice idea in September, but probably not as appealing in December.

Trying to appeal to a different demographic is fine - I understand that I'm no longer the audience that ABC (or ESPN) wishes to retain. But it seems to me that if ABC wants to build a football audience, halftime isn't the best way to do it. Why wouldn't they put McGraw on ESPN for the pregame show?

By the way, McGraw isn't creative in this respect. He doesn't write the lyrics for the highlights. In fact, my understanding is that that was one of the conditions under which he agreed to do the highlights, that he would not have to come up with the words each week. Why should he? He probably liked the song the way it was originally written.