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Hey, TV guys .. just give us some good ol' football

October 08, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

So what happens when you get fooled for a third and fourth time? Let's call it habitually gullible.

That's the only reason - or excuse - television can have for allowing the Rush Limbaugh-Donovan McNabb incident to happen.

Television, for some reason, can't leave well enough alone.

Directors and producers of the world can't believe that when fans turn on football, all they want to see is football. They don't want social commentary. They don't want cutting edge political views. They don't want the cares of the world horning in on the one afternoon of fun and fantasy that forces everything to stop in its tracks.

For most football fans, culture is only in the back of their fridge.

But TV doesn't get it.

First, there was Howard Cosell and his comments about Alvin Garrett.

Then, Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder and his views on the physical attributes of black athletes.

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More recently, it was ABC's attempt to put some punch into its coverage with the comic commentary of Dennis Miller. It lasted two years.

And now it's Rush - which would describe the manner in which ESPN led its latest commentator to the door.

That guy slouched on the couch scratching himself, with a beer near his right hand, chips on his right and heart-attack-on-a-plate-nachos right in front of him, doesn't want to be educated. If he did, 'Meet the Press' and 'Face the Nation' are on right before all the football preview shows.

In all four attempts, men who never were pro athletes made the idiotic remarks. Cosell was a lawyer who made his niche covering boxing and carried it over to other sports casting. Snyder was an oddsmaker. Miller is a comedian/political humorist. And Limbaugh is a highly conservative political commentator.

In each case, no matter how much they knew about the game, all four were just hobbyists trying their hand at something most fans would love to try. All got their chances because of their fame. And all found out that covering sports isn't as easy as it looks.

So, you have to wonder what the world of sports commentary would be like if the TV types hired a regular guy to step into the booth:

"Welcome to NFL on CBS. This is Dick Stockedwell calling today's game with our newest color man, Joe Schbotnick, a local plumber.

Welcome, Joe."

"Thanks, Dick. It's great to be here."

"So Joe, what do you see in today's game."

"Well, Dick. The winner of this game will have a pipeline to the playoffs. I look for the defenses to clog up the middle and the offense to drain their plays to the outside.

"The middle linebackers will be real stoppers today, as they flush the quarterbacks out of the pocket.

"Look for some wrenching tackles and a couple of plungers off tackle to soften things up."

"Good job, Joe. So, tell us a little about yourself. Who's your favorite player?"

"Isn't that obvious, Dick? Jake "The Snake" Plummer."

If you think about it, the TV guys might have something to redeem themselves ... until they get the bill to find out they got charged by the hour.

Think about it. Get bakers to talk about roll-outs. And window replacement guys to describe screens. Or seamstresses to talk about patterns. There's nothing controversial there.

Of course, that could get television in trouble with the FBI when they get that one guy who knows it all about bootlegs.




Bob Parasiliti is a sportswriter for The Herald-Mail. His column normally appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2310 or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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