Shooting from the lip/Sept. 13 edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Best NFL analysis
When Fox announced that it would include a full-time rules analyst for its NFL coverage, one had to wonder if there was going to be enough for him to do. But the hiring of Mike Pereira, the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004 to 2009, turned out to be a genius move right out of the gate. The end of the Lions-Bears game turned controversial when it appeared Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught a go-ahead touchdown. But after making the apparent catch, Johnson rolled over and the ball came out of his hand.
The official NFL rule (Rule 8, Section 1, Article 4) states: "If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.''
While there was an official booth replay, Fox poured over replays while Pereira, live from Fox's studios in Los Angeles, explained the rule to viewers and correctly predicted that the pass would be ruled incomplete. At that point, viewers were left to wonder why no one thought of hiring a rule analyst before now? By the way: the NFL should be embarrassed by the rule that wiped out Johnson's touchdown. Any reasonable person would agree that was a catch.
Man, it seems that Fox NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw really has it in for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Bradshaw, a former Steelers QB himself, spent half the offseason ripping into Big Ben and then took another major shot at him during the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show:
"Listen Ben Roethlisberger, some fans think I've been too hard on you. ... For years you acted recklessly, you hung out at college bars and you disrespected women. The Steelers got rid of Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes for failing a substance abuse test but they should have dumped you. What you did in my eyes was a lot worse. If I had owned the Steelers, hear me loud and clear, you would not be a Steeler. What you did in my eyes is absolutely unacceptable.''
Amusing line from CBS NFL Today analyst Bill Cowher, talking about Broncos and former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow: "He's a great kid I would love to have as my son-in-law, but not my starting quarterback.''
It's always somewhat surprising to listen to Warren Sapp on the NFL Network and then realize that he's not half-bad. We've known all along, even back when he was playing here, that Sapp is a bright guy, but he always came off as someone too surly to make it on television. But like his old boss -- former Bucs coach Jon Gruden -- Sapp has discovered the secret to being good on TV: have an opinion, say it with conviction using strong superlatives and say it in a tight sound bite. For example, some of Sapp's gems Sunday including this comment about the Redskins' Albert Hayneworth: "Someone in the organization thought you were Reggie White.'' And this one: "The best receiving corps in the league is in Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers will find them.''
The NFL Network game day shows are almost really good. Analyst Steve Mariucci is a bit of a cheerleader and Michael Irvin tries to be smart and funny and outrageous, but just comes off as silly. Sapp and, especially, Marshall Faulk are stars. Too bad Bright House customers aren't able to see them because the cable company and the NFL Network still hasn't come to terms. And I wouldn't hold my breath about a deal getting done anytime soon.
The Fox NFL Sunday pregame show was barely underway and what got pushed in our face? A clip of analyst Jimmy Johnson appearing in CBS's show, Survivor. It wasn't a part of a commercial break, it was a part of the actual pregame show. It was shameful and, quite frankly, surprising considering it was another network. But more than anything, it was annoying.
Best college analysis
Anyone who watched the Florida-USF game on Saturday had to be impressed with SEC Network analyst Andre Ware. I always thought Ware was pretty good on television, but I don't remember him being as good as he was Saturday. Particularly impressive was how he predicted and criticized some of USF's play-calling because he could tell how exhausted quarterback B.J. Daniels was. He was calling interceptions before they even happened.
Here's why CBS's John McEnroe is so good as a tennis analyst. While giving complete and full credit to Novak Djokovic for upsetting Roger Federer in Saturday's U.S. Open men’s semifinal, he correctly pointed out that it would have been better for the sport if Federer had won and faced Rafael Nadal in the men's final. A lot of analysts would've tried to sell viewers a bill of goods by saying how a Djokovic-Nadal final was just as good as Federer-Nadal. Instead, McEnroe was honest and said what everybody else was thinking: it was disappointing that Federer didn't get to the final.
It wasn't a great opening week for the new afternoon radio show on 1040-AM. Ronnie "Night Train'' Lane and former Bucs receiver Mark Carrier have replaced former afternoon guy Marc Benarzyk. For starters, last week probably wasn't the best week to start a new show. There was no show on Monday because of Labor Day and then Wednesday's show started late because of an afternoon Yankees game and ended early because of a (huh?) mixed martial arts show. With the show disrupted on two of the first three days of the week, 1040 might have been wise to delay the show's debut until this week. So with only three-and-a-half shows, it's too early to expect Lane and Carrier to be in full stride. But the troubling trend so far is too much national talk and not enough local, whether or not they will be critical, particularly about the Bucs, and just a lack of strong opinions. They do deserve more time to find their voices together and set a personality for the show. But, fellas, do it quickly.
Three things that popped into my head
1 Suddenly Boise State's victory over Virginia Tech doesn’t seem so impressive after Virginia Tech lost at home to James Madison on Saturday.
2 ACC fans need to sit over there and be quite for a while after Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech -- arguably the four best teams in the conference -- all lost on Saturday.
3 Isn't it great to turn on a Rays game and see Rocco Baldelli in uniform?
(Photo of Mike Pereira: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)