Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Tom Jones Two Cents: TV sports weekend in review

Worst luck

You have to feel a little for Fox. For the second straight season, it got a raw deal because of the NFL's flex scheduling.

Last season, Fox was scheduled to show the Giants-Cowboys season finale that was to decide the NFC East title, but NBC opted to take that game for its Sunday Night Football telecast. It happened again Sunday. NBC scooped up the Redskins-Cowboys game that decided the NFC East crown.

Worst analysis

ESPN NFL analyst Merrill Hoge is so far past the line of objectivity when talking about Jets quarterback Tim Tebow that it's mind-boggling that ESPN even allows Hoge to say Tebow's name, let alone offer analysis about the guy.

It's one thing to question whether or not Tebow is a good quarterback. Lots of analysts do that. But it's clear that Hoge's attacks have become personal. It appears that he takes glee whenever Tebow is not successful.

The latest incident was when Hoge called Tebow a "phony'' after sketchy reports that Tebow begged out of playing the wildcat offense in last week's game.

"To me it smells like three-day old fish. I think he's as phony as a $3 bill," Hoge said on ESPN's SportsCenter. "All of a sudden now it's unacceptable? All of a sudden now I want to play quarterback and I don't want to play the wildcat? There shouldn't even be this story. … I think this shows really what he's about."

Subsequent reports seem clear that Tebow never quit on the Jets or refused to do what he was told by coaches.

You can say a lot of things about Tebow. You can say he can't play quarterback, you can say that he can't throw a football properly, all of that. But every person who knows Tebow says he is authentic, genuine, real. In other words, not a phony.

Hoge's credibility is shot when it comes to Tebow, and ESPN needs to recognize that. In fact, I'll go farther. Because of how he has handled himself regarding Tebow, Hoge's credibility about everything he says is shot. I simply don't trust anything this guy says anymore.

Strangest story

This Lomas Brown story is just flat-out bizarre. Brown, of course, is the former Gator, Buccaneer and longtime NFL offensive lineman. Brown admitted last week on ESPN that once, while with the Lions, he didn't block his man in hopes that his quarterback, Scott Mitchell, would get hurt. Brown apparently was frustrated with how poorly Mitchell was playing.

Well, Mitchell suffered a broken wrist during the game.

Immediately last week, Brown, a regular on ESPN's NFL coverage, was roundly criticized by current and former players. Brown apologized late last week, but also said he didn't feel bad at the time.

I guess you have to at least respect that he didn't back down from his original story. What baffles me is why he would say it in the first place. One theory is that there is so much time to fill on ESPN, and analysts are trying to be provocative, so Brown let slip a story that he never intended to make public.

Worst channel

The biggest game, on paper anyway, over the weekend was actually a women's basketball game as the two top-ranked college teams in the country met on Saturday. The game turned out to be a dud as No. 2 UConn demolished No. 1 Stanford 61-35.

What was disappointing was that the game was on ESPNU. It would have been nice to see this game get a little higher profile on ESPN, ESPN2 or even ABC instead of being relegated to one of the lesser-watched stations in ESPN's stable.

Rumor the day

Rumors are swirling that former Bucs coach Jon Gruden will be the next Eagles coach. I still think it's a long shot, particularly because Philly doesn't have an elite QB. I could be wrong, but I think it will take a better job than Philly to pry Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth.

The thing about Gruden, below, is that if he leaves to coach, he can always go back to broadcasting down the road. But he can't necessarily go back to Monday Night Football. That's a special broadcasting job, and he's not going to give it up for just any old NFL job.

Best credit

CBS aired a couple of episodes of its show 75 Years of March Madness over the weekend. The first show featured announcers Clark Kellogg, Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Greg Anthony and host Greg Gumbel.

There have been plenty of theories about why the NCAA basketball tournament has become so popular. Some credit the 1979 championship between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Some credit office pool sheets. But Raftery had his own theory: He credited broadcasters Dick Enberg, Al McGuire and Billy Packer for turning the country on to just how special March Madness was. Good theory.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Considering he played with a mediocre QB and every team puts together a game plan to specifically stop him, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is my pick for the NFL's most valuable player.

2. With the defending champion Giants eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday, we now won't have a back-to-back NFL champion for the eighth consecutive season — the second-longest such streak in NFL history.

3. Let's hope that the Lightning will play its season opener in three weeks.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Usually, when an athlete has one of his records broken, you hear him or her say that they're fine with it, that records are made to be broken, blah blah blah. So give former NFL great Eric Dickerson a little credit for being honest in saying he didn't want Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to break his single-season NFL rushing record. But he did it in a graceful way Sunday morning when he spoke on the NFL Network's First on the Field.

"I don't go around saying 'Oh my, if he breaks my record, what am I going to do?' '' Dickerson, 52, said. "If anyone deserves a record like that, it is Adrian Peterson because he is that kind of player. I wouldn't be sad about it … but I don't want him to break it. I want to hold onto that record as long as I possibly can.'' Dickerson did, by 9 yards.

Most honest

We can all agree that there are too many college bowl games, especially when you see team such as 7-5 Texas Tech taking on 6-6 Minnesota. But not only aren't there enough teams for all these bowls, there aren't enough cities. Last week, there were bowl games in Washington, D.C. and New York City, where temperatures were in the low 30s. In fact, Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium was played in a snowstorm. And this is a reward for college teams? To play in the cold and snow? There was a bowl game last week in Charlotte, N.C., where temperatures were in the high 40s. Look, Charlotte is a fine city, but who wants to go there in December? Kids on bowl teams want to go to beaches and amusement parks. They want to wear shorts and sunglasses, not parkas and ear muffs. College bowl games and Super Bowls shouldn't be played in cold weather. My rule of thumb would be this: If you can't grow a palm tree, you shouldn't host a bowl game or a Super Bowl.

Worst locations

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