Anyone else get a sneaking suspicion Bill Cowher was not dispatched to Indianapolis this week to interview Jeff Saturday for Sunday’s edition of CBS’ “The NFL Today?”
That particular pregame studio was the scene of Cowher’s ranting soliloquy on the evils of James Irsay’s decision to hire Saturday, a former player without any NFL coaching experience, to work the Colts’ sideline. From strictly a TV standpoint, the former Steelers’ coach fiery monologue was brilliant.
Delivered with the proper amount of hiss and vinegar, Cowher painted his picture of the coaching lifestyle and how downtrodden Indy assistant coaches were shafted by Irsay, another rich owner who elected to anoint his fair-haired bobo, Saturday, as interim head coach.
Cowher projected an angry sincerity. Jaw-jutting and glaring into the camera, he declared: “I’m speaking on behalf of the coaching profession.” Cowher made anyone watching believe he actually had the weight of that world on his shoulders.
He said Irsay’s decision was “a disgrace to the coaching profession.” Cowher kept doubling down with lines like: “What happened in Indianapolis was a travesty.” CBS should have let him deliver the spiel while pacing the room. For as TV rants go, this would have served to be a great halftime speech, Cowher’s finest moment — and one of the show’s finest — since he joined CBS Sports in 2007.
Yet the test of any TV sermon is the response it generates. Cowher pissed off plenty of big-name Gasbags, like Pat McAfee and Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo.
They made it personal. McAfee, the former Colts punter, told Cowher to “shut the f—k up,” with Dog — on his SXM afternoon-drive show — saying: “You know what’s a disgrace? Cowher walking into the CBS studio (16 years ago) and getting a broadcast job with no experience.” Russo hammered Cowher for three days on the radio and took his beef to national TV on ESPN’s “First Take.”
While Cowher is another former coach-turned-analyst who regularly fuels the fantasy that coaching in the NFL is akin to brain surgery, he was just following a long line of players, and coaches, who went into TV with no previous broadcasting experience. They are not paid to anchor a telecast or be instantly proficient in the mechanics of the gig. They are paid for their personality/star power and capacity to analyze the game.
Yet the argument can be made for former players-turned-analysts working regional telecasts, who were passed over by recently retired players or coaches perceived to be bigger stars. Like Tony Romo who, with no TV or analyst experience, was immediately elevated to CBS’ No.1 NFL game analyst, by-passing other deserving voices on CBS’ NFL roster and sweeping out incumbent Phil Simms.
These types of hiring practices happen in a variety of professions. Cowher could have brought a tad of balance to his rant by pointing this fact out. Or mentioning that Irsay, the owner, is putting up the money and taking all the financial risk. Like any owner he has the right (as long as he abides by NFL rules) to hire the head coach he wants.
Nonetheless, the former coach’s mission was not about injecting fairness into his argument. It was about bringing verbal heat and passion to the microphone. Cowher succeeded.
If they haven’t already, the NFL’s TV partners, might want to assign an isolated camera to Giants coach Brian Daboll.
No doubt, the network brainiacs have figured out the seemingly mild-mannered Daboll is always one play away from his next sideline outburst. Last Sunday (Texans-Giants), CBS had its Daboll-Cam (aka D-Cam) at the ready to catch the coach wigging on Giants offensive lineman Jack Anderson, who had just been flagged for a false start.
In week No. 1, D-Cam caught the coach in a testy exchange with quarterback Daniel Jones who was sitting on the bench. After last week’s sideline show, Daboll indicated he isn’t thrilled with his Sunday afternoon demeanor.
“You see it and you’re like, ‘I wish I didn’t do that’ sometimes,” Daboll told boss scribes.
Easier said than done. Yet Daboll’s tendency to get excited is a blessing for networks that often rely on cliché shots when there’s a lull in the action. And as long as the Giants keep winning, Daboll’s outbursts will be portrayed as a welcome element of his coaching style.
MIKE HIM UP
Kevin Durant wants to get closer to the media. And if that means wearing a microphone while he’s playing, well, he’s all for it.
“I’m really having a good time. I wish y’all could hear me talk during the games,” Durant told Bleacher Report. “If I got miked up more people stop asking me if I’m happy or not.”
Sounds like an open invitation from Durant to YES, TNT, ABC and ESPN to slap a microphone on him, right?
Not only would we find out if he’s “happy,” listening to some of his conversations with Kyrie Irving would be fascinating too.
Going into its Seahawks-Bucs telecast from Germany, NFL Network’s decision to use a four-man booth looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Three is a crowd, but four? And four of the biggest mouths in the business.
Michael Irvin, Rich Eisen, Kurt Warner and Steve Mariucci. Yet with Eisen combining play-by-play and his well-established anchoring abilities, the game telecast was both smooth and compelling. It had the feel of their studio show, minus the shtick.
The foursome, working on the fly and unscripted, managed to stay out of each other’s way. They also did not try to intrude on the incredible scene inside the stadium. They let the pictures/sounds tell the story. Very impressive.
AROUND THE DIAL
Could it be the secret to keeping “The Michael Kay Show” on the air for 20 years (and counting) is the host treating callers like dirt? Some listeners to ESPN-98.7 might actually find this entertaining. Like last week, when a caller accused Kay of “jinxing” no-hitters. Kay responded by calling the fan “a fool.” Must be Big Head’s way of making friends. … For someone who has lectured the Free World about the “coarseness and incivility” in our society, it was jarring to hear Bob (Rapping Roberto) Costas, actually blurt out the word “s—t” on the latest episode of HBO’s “Back On the Record.” Say it ain’t so! … NBC’s Peter King, appearing in his regular Tuesday spot with SXM’s Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo, had heard enough. Doggie, no fan of the NFL playing games overseas, kept creating reasons why these games are a detriment to fans in the USA. Dog insinuated Bucs loyalists were being financially ripped off. A highly agitated King, who went to Germany for the game and enjoyed the experience, called Russo out: “Chris, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” There was more friction before things settled down. Very compelling stuff.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: NFL
For making its Thanksgiving telecasts an annual celebration of the late John Madden. With his talk of turducken, and his turkey telestrator, the big man could turn even a bad Thanksgiving matchup into an anticipated event. Roger Goodell put it well when he said: “….Thanksgiving Day brings all the elements significant to John to life—family, football, food and fun.”
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: MARK DAVIS
You don’t gain any credibility with your fan base when the owner says his new head coach — Josh McDaniels — is doing “a fantastic job.” A playoff team a year ago, the Raiders are locked in the cellar with a 2-7 mark this season.
What Zach Wilson said: “It’s frustrating, but for me, my mindset this week is taking one play at a time.”
What Zach Wilson meant to say: “For me, it’s about not throwing any dumb interceptions or letting Bill Belichick get in my head.”