When NBC Sports suits signed Drew Brees to a full-time contract, they didn’t do all they could to discourage a storyline that almost guaranteed him the replacement of Cris Collinsworth as network analyst Sunday Night Football.
Then, as now, we’d be hard-pressed to make the case for any current NFL analyst (including Tony Romo and Troy Aikman) replacing the fearless, compelling, and credible Collinsworth. Yet the Peacock Brains anointed Brees their heir apparent while he still wore a Saints helmet; even before burping into a microphone.
During his first season working for NBC, the likeable quarterback quickly revealed the obvious: when it comes to broadcasting, Drew Brees is no Cris Collinsworth. Even Collinsworth’s first draft was better than Brees. Apparently, the network and Brees have now decided to go their separate ways (Brees claims he hasn’t made up his mind) after what amounted to a blind date at the cafe. Stunning? No. Embarrassing ? Oh yeah!
At least NBC Sports, despite its attempt at self-sabotage, is keeping The Collinsworth. NBC Sports is off the hook. He even extended Collinsworth’s contract until 2026.
Yet the arrogant nature of NBC’s Brees bet now plays out at much higher financial and wacky levels with Fox’s decision to hire Tom Brady after his retirement. His 10-year contract is said to be worth $37.5 million per year. Fox has yet to pick the guy lucky enough to keep Brady’s seat warm.
The often mentioned name to fill Fox’s No. 1 analyst role is Greg Olsen, who has teamed up with Kevin Burkhardt (he will move to the No. 1 play-by-play role replacing Joe Buck who joins Aikman at ESPN ) on Fox’s No. 2 team last season. Olsen has shown potential but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. He could become a No. 1 voice, but with Brady looking over his shoulder, waiting to pounce when he wants, what chance does Olsen really have?
And how the Foxies aggressively sell and market Olsen as the #1 analyst while touting Brady as their savior awaiting release. Now that’s a hard sell. Olsen has an unknown window to prove he has the goods.
Unfortunately, he’s going to spend time struggling with the perception that he’s nothing more than the footballing version of a substitute teacher. Not only does Olsen have the pressure to prove himself to the unwashed masses, but also the burden of wondering how many openings will be available on networks and streaming services after Brady decides to parachute in.
A producer with NFL connections said the only thing he would say to Olsen is, “This season, you’re our #1 analyst. You will make our biggest games with the most exposure. Here’s your chance to shine and show everyone how good you are. How will entertainment-first Roger Goodell & Co. view Fox’s No. 1 team of Olsen & Burkhardt? No doubt the NFL will put its beak in this situation if it has not already done so.
Remember, Fox is airing Super Bowl LVII adding another layer of pressure for its new No. 1 team to grow quickly. What about Burkhardt’s gig as host of Fox’s MLB studio? Will he be able to leave the NFL stand in October to anchor MLB’s post-season studio? Or will it be necessary to give up this mission to continue working with Olsen, trying to polish and build a unique image every Sunday.
Both voices have some catching up to do with the competition, especially Olsen – if he gets the gig. As unlikely as it may seem today, Fox has options, other than Olsen, for its Super Bowl LVII stand. And if the NFL wants more of a buzz factor and big-game atmosphere, the Foxies could bring in, well, Michael Strahan and Howie Long to join Burkhardt.
Who thought a tense Brady would accept Fox’s offer?
Very disappointing and very weak that ESPN’s “First Take” did not feature the rematch between Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo and JJ Redick last Wednesday when The Dog returned to the show after a week’s vacation in Ireland. . With Russo back on the scene, Redick was nowhere to be found. I have to believe Doggie wants a chance at redemption after Redick turned on him, winning a lopsided debate while accusing Russo’s ‘Shut up and play, please’ directive to Draymond Green of containing not-so-subtle racial nuances. Russo was reacting to Green’s backlash against Grizzlies fans in the first round of the playoffs. Anyway, maybe Redick had a medical excuse. Like going to the doctor to get your mouth sealed permanently. Seriously, only a medical emergency or a family matter should have kept him from another confrontation with Russo. There is no need for a cooling-off period. Clearly, Russo hasn’t forgotten what happened. On his SiriusXM show last week, an agitated Russo said he wouldn’t let any former athlete verbally push him anymore. Additionally, on air, Russo said while on vacation in Ireland, Stephen A. Smith contacted him. “He said, ‘Doggie, we’re behind you 1000%. “”Surprisingly, Russo said Redick called him too. “He reached out to me,” Russo said on the satellite. “Not the opposite.”
If nothing else Patrick Beverley on his ESPN Diss Tour has managed to set the bar for himself this high, he may struggle to hit it again in future appearances. While his negative takes, particularly the one on Chris Paul, have made some memories, could the T-Wolves sidekick deliver a steady stream of controversy and insight should he become a permanent fixture on ESPN’s NBA coverage? ? His early appearances will be hard to top. Will the fire brought by Beverly compensate for her rather austere attitude? Beverley needed to relax and focus on showing at least a little sympathy. He should remember that there are viewers who really like to laugh. A constant state of seriousness is not the way to go. Smiles often work better than grimaces.
What took them so long? Rob Parker, former Daily News sportswriter and current co-host of Fox SportsRadio’s “The Odd Couple” gabfest, graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens 40 years ago. Finally, the powers that be at MVBHS recognized his achievements in life and journalism and inducted him into the school’s Hall of Fame. For Parker, who has always cherished his roots, this is something special. “I’m humbled by this honor,” Parker said. “When I went to high school in 1978, I wanted to be a sports journalist. I could not have imagined the career I had in newspapers, television and radio. It is equally important that Parker sponsors more than 50 college students looking for media jobs. Parker counts Bob Murphy, the voice of Mets radio, as one of his heroes. You think Parker will insert Murph’s famous line: “That’s why they put erasers on the pencils” in his induction speech?
There was some turmoil and a lack of chemistry during YES Yankees shows featuring Cameron Maybin, Paul O’Neill and Michael Kay. Part of that is because Maybin has gotten used to the job and his new partners. Under normal circumstances, this would be difficult. With O’Neill still working from home (unvaccinated), it’s even harder to generate a stream. Too bad. … Every time we read these radio ratings updates, they always pit WFAN against ESPN-98.7. However, aren’t these stations in competition with ALL the stations on the market? And to date, none of the “all sports” stations is number 1 on the market. Very revealing.
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MAN OF THE WEEK: BOB COUSY
The iconic Celtics Hall of Famer, now 93, took issue with ESPN’s JJ Redick who, in “First Take,” said Cousy was guarded by “plumbers and firefighters.” Cousy told NBA Radio’s Justin Termine, “People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing others…” Cousy defended “firefighters and plumbers.” Like Bill Russell (“not too bad a player”), Wilt Chamberlain (“he must have fought fires too”). Cousy went on to name Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Sam and KC Jones and others. Said Cousy: “We had to have the best firefighters and plumbers on the planet.”
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: NHL AND NBA SCHEDULERS
In South Florida, the Panthers and Heat played on the same nights this week. Very lame. Imagine this happening in New York? Then again, we’d be hard pressed to find two adequate teams to be alive this far into the playoffs.
What Dominique Smith said: “When someone calls me [on to play]I do my best, then stay ready for when I’m called again.
What Dominique Smith meant, “I just want to be an everyday player.”