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Sports TV: weekend in review

tom jones' two cents

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

Worst reaction

Fox NFL Sunday had a lively debate about last week's comments of Colts owner Jim Irsay, who seemed to take a shot at quarterback Peyton Manning for not winning more than one Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Analyst Terry Bradshaw didn't see the big deal, adding that everything Irsay said was true. Analyst Jimmy Johnson grew angry defending Manning and all he did in Indianapolis.

But this isn't about the debate. First, Bradshaw asked Johnson, "Are you okay, old man?" Making it worse was analyst Michael Strahan then reaching over and touching Johnson. I'm not sure if he was trying to calm down Johnson, jokingly acting as if he was checking Johnson's pulse or what.

Bottom line: Johnson was showing passion and making a strong argument, and Bradshaw and especially Strahan turned it into a joke and completely derailed the segment. It's rare these days that Fox NFL Sunday gets into a good debate. And one time it does, Bradshaw and Strahan weren't aware enough to recognize it.

Somebody — such as a producer — needs to start reining in this show.

Funniest line

Check out this beauty from Warren Sapp about Steelers safety Troy Polamalu on NFL Network's GameDay Morning on Sunday:

"Troy Polamalu has one pass defensed. If I'm not watching a Head & Shoulders commercial, I don't see Troy Polamalu."

Best show II

HBO Sports is outstanding, but it does two things especially well: boxing and documentaries. Imagine how good it is when HBO Sports combines them.

That is the result of the latest offering in the series Legendary Nights. It looks at the brutal trilogy of fights between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, the boxer best known for being the basis of the Mark Wahlberg movie The Fighter.

Gatti and Ward fought three times over 13 months 10 years ago. The ninth round of the first fight is considered by many to be the greatest round of boxing ever. All three fights were viciously yet beautifully fought.

What is especially inspiring is watching how emotional announcers Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant get when talking about the fights and the fighters, both of whom had way more heart than talent. In addition, the fighters became extremely close. As Gatti promoter Kathy Duva says in the documentary: Before the first fight, it was "us against them," but by the end, "it was just us," meaning Gatti and Ward.

Gatti died under mysterious circumstances in Brazil in 2009. His death was ruled a suicide, but many believe it was a homicide.

Do yourself a favor and watch this highly emotional and well-done documentary.

Best show I

Check out the newest A Football Life at 9 p.m. Tuesday on the NFL Network. It looks at the late Pat Summerall (right).

Not only did Summerall make the rare transition from NFL player to play-by-play announcer, he went on to become arguably the best football play-by-play announcer of all time.

Frank Gifford, who also went from player to play-by-play announcer, told Newsday, "So many broadcasters I've listened to over the years, without getting into name-calling, they care about themselves and how it flows out of their mouth. Pat had a quality that is rare, particularly rare today. He painted the picture, then stood back."

Worst phrase

Oh, Fox's Kevin Burkhardt, please tell me you didn't actually use the phrase, "Something has got to give" when introducing the Bucs-Falcons game Sunday.

That phrase needs to be banned by broadcasters along with "punched their ticket." "Punched their ticket?" You mean, like a train ride? What is this, 1948?

Three things that popped into my head

1. Oh, great. Cardinals vs. Red Sox in the World Series. I'm not sure which fan base is more smug. Both believe they invented the game.

2. Speaking of the Red Sox, it certainly doesn't stink to be a Boston sports fan these days. Since 2002, the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics have reached the championship series of their sports 12 times, counting the Red Sox this season. Those teams have combined to win seven championships in that span.

3. Who would have ever thought three college football teams from Florida would be ranked in the Top 25 (Florida State, coached by Jimbo Fisher, top; UCF, led by quarterback Blake Bortles, middle; and Miami, bottom, with cornerbacks Ladarius Gunter, left, and Tracy Howard) and not one would be the Gators?

Sports TV: weekend in review 10/20/13 [Last modified: Sunday, October 20, 2013 9:37pm]

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