The So-What Reunion

Don’t know how I ended up on an “NFL After the Game”, sports wrap-up show on NBC.  I thought I had read something about this back in June/July.  But now reality settling in, there I was seeing Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, being introduced by the must-be-in-the mix Bob Costas and just one thought came quickly, “oh, Lord.  They didn’t”.  Some sports production exec (Dick Ebersol?) thought that paying a ton a money to re-unite this pair that was popular, original, and damn funny 12 years ago as the “Big Show” would now be a fantastic idea.

After about 30 seconds into their sports news anchorship, a few revelations started to unfold for me:

  1. Why do you need a host for a sports-wrap up show?
  2. Why do you need Bob Costas to host the show?
  3. When in doubt, refer to #1.

Then, a couple more words by Keith Olberman and a few more revelations:

  1. These guys were a lot funnier when they had ESPN story writers, and no production script.
  2. I must have something better to do at this point on Sunday…where did I put the nail clippers?
  3. Aren’t most people so drunk by 4pm (or 7pm eastern) on opening Sunday football day that a show with some babe that knew nothing about football, but wore a bikini standing in front of beach photo, reading verbatim from a tele-prompter would be 1,000 times more popular.
  4. Did I remember to buy carrots at the store? 

I could just hear Dan’s agent talking in the background.  “Dan, quit everything, this will be huge.  You’ll be popular and make more money than ever”.  Nevermind that Dan Patrick’s most recent radio show had been dropping in the ratings.  He also had been writting a column for ESPN The Mag, and he wrote a column for Sports Illustrated, and occasionally humorous.  But, other than that, it’s been a long time since the glory days of the “Big Show” despite being at ESPN for a seemingly quick 18 years.

Olbermann, on other hand, took a much more unpredictable predicament.  Leaving ESPN for a consumerish, political, uncategorizable news job that lacked the punch of his sportscasting days.  Most recent stints includes the Countdown with Keith and co-hosting on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show.  The same one with the falling rankings.  It seemed so weird for Keith to go from the overwhelming popularity on ESPN to the rocky water of general news & politics.  Perhaps he was bored.  Which has now translated to boring.  He was unable to find that edge that Kenny Mayne is now cutting into.

This is the last gasp of desparation for these 2 to work together, led by Dick E. having way too many at the ESPNZone Manhattan one night.  (Probably in celebration that the Olympics were starting soon and NBC was going to be on top of the sports world soon). Somewhere, somebody in the NBC exec neighborhood is so wrapped into their circle of relationships, their lack of creative power leads everyone else to think “where’s the remote”.  To think that I would tune in after already seeing every major highlight of the day during the commercial breaks and in-between huddles of every play in the afternoon game.  This is the worst time slot on gameday Sunday.  Ya know, the time slot where you take a shower, put some fresh clothes on, and check the fridge to see if you have a cold one ready for the Sunday nite game.

Here’s a thought.  Why doesn’t NBC pick 5 homes, apartments, condos, bars, or a parking lot tailgate gathering every week.  At the conclusion of the football games, have a satellite feed and let the real fans do the talking.  Let them talk about their day, their failed last minute line-up changes, their side bets, their nacho recipes.  This would create a social movement around football that would as great as…well, perhaps as great as online fantasy football.  Pick a group of college kids, mid-aged folks, the senior center, the Y, the local bar, whatever and just get people talking. 

You could even have an in-studio anchor run the questions.  Er, just not Bob Costas.

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