Thursday, March 22, 2018
TV and Radio_sports

Shooting from the lip

Harshest criticism

No analyst on Sunday was harder on Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman than Fox's Terry Bradshaw, who said he was disappointed.

"(Coach Greg) Schiano knew what kind of quarterback they had, and they put (Freeman) on a short leash from the beginning of the season," Bradshaw said. "To be late for meetings as the quarterback is inexcusable. To miss the team picture that's on a Saturday — how in the world does that happen? The fact that he didn't put in the time to study and prepare himself just proves that they had to sit him down. I'm disappointed in Josh for him wanting out so easily. Have you heard about fighting for your job? Have you heard of going in early and staying late? You dream of this opportunity when you are a child, and to go to the side like this, you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Biggest disagreement

It was interesting to see how various analysts reacted to the demotion of Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. Most of the NFL GameDay Morning crew on the NFL Network seemed to disagree with the move.

Former Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp said, "Something is wrong with the philosophy. It's not the quarterback because the team I'm seeing on the football field is not the team that they talk about that they are or the identity (they want) to be."

Meantime, Kurt Warner said, "I don't think the answer is changing the quarterback. It's the easy move to make. 'We're having problems. It has to be all about the quarterback.' I don't think that's the case in this situation."

Worst decision

I'm a big fan of Fox announcer Sam Rosen, who called Sunday's Bucs-Cardinals game. And his analyst partner, Heath Evans, does a fine job. But Sunday's game seemed like a perfect occasion to assign either of the former Bucs-turned-analysts — John Lynch or Ronde Barber — to the game.

Look, I understand you can't put those guys on every Bucs game, but seeing as how the Josh Freeman story line was such a big part of Sunday's game, it seemed like Fox should have had a former Buc in the booth.

Barber, a longtime teammate of Freeman's and someone who still has strong connections to the Bucs, should have been on this game.

By the way, Barber did speak on the pregame show and said, "I can't find one guy in the locker room that will publicly say that they disagree with this decision. It almost feels like it was a matter of when and not if Josh was going to get benched."

Best premonition

Man, I really like Paul Finebaum on ESPN's College GameDay. He knows his stuff and comes up with a beauty line every week. Check out what he said Saturday about Southern Cal coach Lane Kiffin:

"In some respects, Lane Kiffin is the Miley Cyrus (below) of college football. He has very little talent, but we simply can't keep our eyes off of him."

Actually, we should refer to Kiffin as the former USC coach. He was fired after Saturday night's loss to Arizona State. It was a firing Finebaum predicted — albeit his timing was a little off.

"I think Kiffin will be gone at the end of the season," Finebaum said Saturday morning. "For the sake of SC fans, I hope this time around, the school will hire an adult to be its next head coach."

Best feature

One of the more interesting and humorous aspects of ESPN's College GameDay is the signs fans hold up behind the set. They are insulting, clever, funny and occasionally offensive. But you can't help but look at them.

GameDay produced the best sports feature of the weekend: a Tom Rinaldi piece on the origin and history of GameDay signs. It started on the third show on the road, in 1993. But because of the reflection of the sun, you can't tell what that sign said.

According to the feature, the sign thing blew up with Florida fans mocking Florida State's Peter Warrick after Warrick was arrested for shoplifting in 1999.

Later, signs made fun of the weight problems of coaches such as Charlie Weis and Mark Mangino, and, of course, the intelligence of the opponent's student body. Example: "Even Forrest Gump got into Alabama."

And yes, there have even been marriage proposals. One man proposed with a GameDay sign, and today the couple are married. They just had their first child, a boy. His name? Espn.

"What's his middle name?" analyst Desmond Howard said. "GameDay?"

Worst scheduling

My annual complaint: The NFL sends two teams to England to play a game, and the game isn't nationally televised. I know the game is meant for the international audience. But if the NFL wants to someday expand across the Atlantic, why not help U.S. fans get on board with the idea by showing them how cool it is to have games over there?

Three things that popped into my head

1. Lane Kiffin, let go by USC early Sunday, doesn't seem to be much of a head coach, and I have no idea what kind of man he is. But firing a guy on an airport tarmac in the wee hours of the morning seems awfully cold.

2. Alabama over Texas A&M 49-42. Texas A&M over Arkansas 45-33. Georgia over LSU 44-41. Georgia over South Carolina, 41-30. Looks like the days of 9-6 scores in the SEC are over, eh?

3. Between all this wild Rays wild-card stuff and the Josh Freeman circus, this has come up fast: The NHL cranks up this week.

Biggest interview

The Josh Freeman interview on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown didn't break new ground. There was nothing in it we didn't know.

Reporter Josina Anderson should be given credit for bringing up Freeman's issues with being late. Other than that, she did not broach (or ESPN did not air her broaching) the off-the-field issues surrounding Freeman, something ESPN analysts did mention.

The interview was the jumping off point for a roundtable discussion about Freeman and coach Greg Schiano. Former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson was critical of Schiano's discipline, to which Mike Ditka quickly named a list of successful coaches, such as Vince Lombardi, who were disciplinarians.

Cris Carter, however, had the best (and funniest) line about Freeman.

"At the end of the day, you're responsible for your own career," Carter said. "Now this is what I guarantee you about Greg Schiano: He's not so much of a control freak that when the ball leaves Josh Freeman's hand, he is directing it to roll on the ground or go over the receiver's head."

tom jones' two cents

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

tom jones' two cents


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