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Playback

Fox NFL Sunday: Some Say It's Fine

This week Playback decided to review a pregame show instead of a game broadcast. And since the pregame shows use so many on-air personalities, we followed suit and assigned three people to review Fox NFL Sunday.

First, each will share his or her overall impressions. Then, in a tribute to our pals at the Sunday Line, we present the transcript of their live chat, held as Curt, Terry, Jimmy, Howie and Michael held court on national television.

The cast of characters on-air, of course, is:

- Curt Menefee (the host)
- Jimmy Johnson (expert ex-coach analysis, impressive hair)
- Michael Strahan (expert former player analysis)
- Howie Long (expert former player analysis, 1980s division)
- Terry Bradshaw (comic relief)
- Jay Glazer (info guy)
- Jillian Barberie (weather gal)
- Frank Caliendo (comic relief, "my stand-up act is much better" division)

C.J. Holley, Sports Producer

There was a time when Fox's Sunday pregame show was appointment viewing for me. I made sure to watch every minute of every weekly installment and would miss the show almost as much as the games themselves during the offseason.

Unfortunately, things changed. The show went on a backslide and I started to sleep in later, waking up just in time for the 1 p.m. games (I'm nocturnal, sue me).

There was a chance that intently watching Fox's Week 12 production would convince me to put the show back in my oh-so-booked calendar.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Sadly, Fox's five-man studio show (plus guests!) is a caricature of its former self. It's a spectacle that, despite claiming to be "built Ford tough," resembles a sputtering clown car. One absurd performance is followed by another, then by an even more staggeringly unfunny and uninformative segment (and that's just a Terry Bradshaw interview).

An over-the-top critique? Perhaps. But let's just say I'd much rather be sleeping than watching bad jokes interspersed with tiny nuggets of information. I already provide plenty of that in my own life.

Dan Steinberg, D.C. Sports Bogger

I've spent most Sundays for the past two years inside NFL stadiums, getting ready to cover NFL games and feasting on NFL media pregame spreads. This has deprived me the chance to watch any of the pregame shows. This weekend, I got that opportunity. Having been on a sports gab show (Washington Post Live!), I know that it's hard work, that it often feels funnier on the set than it looks to a viewer, and that your strongest content often gets jammed somewhere between your brain and your mouth and never escapes. And working for a media company that depends on advertising, I know that it's nice to make sure your checks cash every week.

All that being said, this Fox pregame show was a horror. Fifty percent of it was forced jocularity between men who aren't particularly witty. Ten percent was Jay Glazer providing information, but I don't see why I wouldn't rather read Glazer's information online and spare my eyes. Forty percent was sponsored segments that weren't interesting, enlightening or entertaining. I'm not joking to say that some of the real ads (Coors Light, for example) were better than the ads masquerading as content (BK's Fired Up, for example).

Cringing at pregame shows may not be terribly new, and media reviews often veer toward exaggeration to make a point, but I can honestly say that my life would be more satisfying if I never have to watch a similar display of useless, painful and corporate-sponsored babbling again.

Lindsay Applebaum, Sports Producer

I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Fox's Sunday pregame show doesn't really bother me. Yeah, that's right; IT'S FINE.

Look, what am I supposed to say?

Should I grumble that few things are more depressing and less informative than watching middle- and more-than-middle-aged ex-football players and coaches with vaguely matching ties and pocket squares creak and wheeze around a fake mini-football field?

Should I say that I'm offended by the staggering amount of corporate sponsorship? Or that Frank Caliendo is a comedian in the same way that I'm a brain surgeon?

Am I supposed to complain Terry Bradshaw is as skilled an interviewer as Sarah Palin is an interviewee?

Well, you know what? I'm not going to say any of those things, at least not again. I'm going to take this one at face value, because I'm not watching Fox's pregame show for inside football knowledge or extremely witty banter. I'm watching the show because it's on before the 1 p.m. football game, and as waiting room material, IT'S FINE.

Live, (Mostly) Unedited Commentary

Dan: Obviously these guys didn't read several stories this week (including mine) that indicated dozens if not hundreds of NFL players don't know the overtime rule.

Dan: Thank you Strahan for pointing that out.

CJ: mcnabb made a fine point in his shell-shocked interview, it doesn't happen at any other level, why the nfl?

Dan: Terry: "You know, the tie with his likeness on it.....Don't you think that's a good idea?" Hmmm. No, Terry, I don't.

CJ: but then again, it never comes up. why? because you PLAY TO WIN THE GAME

Lindsay: because it does

Lindsay: mr. clean

Dan: And JJ spouting off about "knuckleheads" in the League who don't know the rules....gimme a break. Not being a loser who watches NFL football 12 hours a day doesn't make you a knucklehead.

Dan: What are those pins on their lapels?

Lindsay: Obama pins?

CJ: is that a dolphins logo?

Lindsay: They don't read blogs, they think the election's next month

CJ: I feel like ace ventura trying to count the jewels in the ring

Dan: "State Farm covers the field?" Ok, I shouldn't make fun, since we could use the ads, but still, did they need the TWO massive logos?

CJ: just once, I'd love a former player to get a 'Nam style flashback and lay someone out on these fake fields

Dan: "Battle of the Big Men?" You know, defensive players don't actually face each other.

CJ: "Battle of the Big Men" this happens every week, it's professional football!

Lindsay: Oh, Strahan with the gap jokes.

Dan: I'd rather see a tackling dummy that JJ bending over in his suit.

CJ: at least JJ's hair aint moving

CJ: he's got that going for him

Dan: Is there anything more awkward than 50-something men in suits pretending to play football?

CJ: us playing fantasy football?

Dan: That was not enlightening in any way.

CJ: and here's our BCS tie-in

Lindsay: If they play Maryland highlights I'm outta here

Dan: Seriously. If I wanted to watch college football, I'd turn on my TV on Saturday. Or Thursday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. But not Sunday. Except for South Florida-UConn.

CJ: there were no highlights, that game didn't happen

Dan: Guys, we're objective journalists here. Thanks.

Dan: Built Ford Tough BCS tie-in. So that's BFTBCS.

Lindsay: No, you're an objective journalist

CJ: denis leary will explain the tie-in

Dan: Can I uninstall this crap after we finish? There's already pop up nonsense all over my computer.

CJ: wait, nope, same schtick he's been trotting out since '94

Lindsay: I'm not even saying anything, I'm distracted by the TV...they call this ADD

CJ: I'm usually still sleeping

CJ: I try to avoid the shows

CJ: they also support the whole fox pregame show BFTFPS

CJ: what is jillian barberie's face made out of? because that's not natural

Dan: Joking that weather bimbo looks like Heidi? She says JB was funny? "Who the hell dresses this woman?" asks a co-worker.

Dan: "You gotta shake it up every once in a while?"

Lindsay: This exchange always seems so awkward, like they're desperately trying not to cross some line but be funny at the same time

Dan: FedEx air & ground players to watch, and then commercial. So, that was actual advertisements, weather chick jokes, weather report, weather chick jokes, and FedEx advertisement, followed by more actual advertisements.

Lindsay: Just ignore the ads. Then the bad guys don't win.

CJ: but the whole segment was an ad

Lindsay: Except ads on washingtonpost.com

Lindsay: you can click those

CJ: click as many as possible

CJ: twice.

Lindsay: But not too much, it'll look suspicious

Dan: I hate ads on Washingtonpost.com too. They should turn Fox into a football-related non-profit, with no ads.

Lindsay: I like how we have all these Legally Blonde! The Musical! ads popping up in sports content

CJ: a part of me dies everytime I see those

Lindsay: we really cater to our audience

CJ: I hope one pops up for this one

CJ: oooh, the WebMD injury report

Lindsay: WebMD creepy skeletor injury report

CJ: this thing's got more sponsors than a NASCAR

Dan: WebMD injury tracker? I'll admit, usually I'm at football stadiums during the pregame shows, but this is awful. the only good parts involve Jay Glazer, but I can just read him online.

Lindsay: Menefee said Chad Johnson

Dan: And frankly, Jay Glazer is better when you don't have to see his face.

CJ: better than siragusa

Lindsay: That's a face? thought it was an egg with a marker beard

CJ: mr. potato head

CJ: hey look, some actual information here

Dan: Glazer's Edge is supposed to be a pun with Razor, right? I woulda gone with Glazer Tag. Or, "Don't Glaze Me, Bro."

Dan: Not a pun, a play-on, I meant.

Lindsay: Zing!

CJ: jay glazer, the show's only saving grace?

CJ: oh dear god, we're talking about Terry's conception? I quit.

CJ: breeston? fail.

Dan: Nine months after last Cardinals win, Terry Bradshaw was born. I know I'm self-referential a lot, but I don't care about that.

Lindsay: Breeston??

Dan: Uh, Breeston? Broodshaw?

CJ: bradshaw continues his bumbling interview tactics

CJ: this pains me as someone w/ a degree in journalism

Dan: See, "Greatest Show on Dirt or Grass" doesn't really make sense, because "Greatest Show on Turf" was supposed to rhyme with "earth." But, if you wanna talk dirt/grass, you could actually go with "Greatest Show on Earth"

CJ: I wonder if matt leinart's working the boom mic for this interview

CJ: terry's not gonna make that leap in logic, dan

Dan: "By the grace of God" Anquan Boldin only missed two games. God: Too busy to fix Iraq, but plenty o' time to fix up Anquan Boldin for Week 10.

CJ: he works in mysterious ways and built boldin a new face

Dan: Anquan Boldin's hat is crooked.

Lindsay: On purpose

Dan: The Cardinals are gonna get wrecked today.

Dan: Visor, sorry.

CJ: but the logo's right at the camera

Dan: Terry's showing a lot of chest, there.

CJ: great product placement by boldin, perhaps

Lindsay: Four nice people! Good!

Dan: "Those are four really nice people." Thanks Terry, that's interesting.

CJ: that was neat, terry

Lindsay: Who does Terry think is mean?

CJ: us

CJ: strahan? no pocket square? bold choice on this set, sir

Dan: "To say they're committed to running the football would be an understatement." Howie Sez. So what would be a proper statement? "The Giants believe the forward pass should be abolished."

Dan: Washington Post Live isn't as bad as I thought next to this dreck.

CJ: russ thaler's job is secure

CJ: frank caliendo is FAARR from a fan favorite

Dan: "They know that the world is watching," Menefee says. Haven't we decided at some point that the world doesn't give a pocket square about the NFL.

Dan: Wow, now Strahan is doing the actual ads too. I'd rather just look at my fantasy football lineup.

CJ: ahhh, sears heroes at home, does this explain the pin, finally?

Lindsay: Can we make jokes about "Heroes at Home?" I'm guessing not.

CJ: hahaha

CJ: "I can't imagine that many stories. Can you share one with us?"

Lindsay: Strahan with the pocket square in this ad.

CJ: at least strahan wasn't reading a prompter when he said it

Lindsay: He was reading marker on his hand

CJ: he probably used his pocket square to clean out the gap betwixt his teeth

Lindsay: Theeeeere's the gap joke

Lindsay: Gotta mind the gap

CJ: a Sears-Strahan ad followed by an actual Sears ad

CJ: Sears, Ford, Web MD sponsor this whole thing

Lindsay: And Mastercard

Dan: You know, readers are tired of journalists complaining about product placement.

Dan: But I don't care.

Lindsay: I didn't know readers were tired of that.

CJ: I accept ads, I just don't want to be beat about the head with them

Lindsay: I do. Bring 'em on.

CJ: a detroit bail out joke, nice

Dan: Why do they have to run ads for the Fox games during the Fox pre game show? If we're watching the pre game show, we're obviously interested.

Lindsay: Each one of these guys should be sponsored by something

CJ: strahan sponsored by Saiontz, Kirk and Miles

Dan: JJ's pocket thing doesn't quite match his tie.

CJ: see, I avoided a gap joke and went with a divorce one

Lindsay: It's a challenge flag pocket square

CJ: that's actually a dinner napkin

CJ: JJ mad... JJ smash....

Dan: I just don't want to watch [jerks] in suits joking with each other.

Lindsay: So we're done here?

Dan: Ex coach says McNabb should be gone, Reid should be back. Thanks, JJ.

Dan: Rapid Fire doesn't have a sponsor? Timex?

CJ: coaches stick up for each other, that's cool

CJ: swatch

Lindsay: Serious oversight there

CJ: a 3-minute rapid fire?

CJ: that's like a band called the lone rangers

Dan: Is there a rule that every sports show has to have at least one segment with a running clock? Thanks, PTI.

CJ: watch your back, "cheese boy"

Dan: Glad curt's card says "Rapid Fire," so he knows what segment they're doing.

CJ: JJ talking about giving chances to players?

CJ: Jimmie, I read Boys Will Be Boys, you don't have a leg to stand on

Dan: "KP in Texas": asks a tough question about Goodell and Adam Jones, Jimmy Johnson says "everybody needs a 13th chance." This show is worthless.

CJ: poor 11-year old that's a Bengals fan

Dan: [in response to a Bradshaw mis-pronunciation] "Ocho Chinco?"

Lindsay: OCHO CHINCO

CJ: why would you do that to your kid

Dan: OCHO CHINCO!!!!!!

Lindsay: CHINCO.

CJ: this show is an absolute embarrassment

Dan: It's a bad sign when a rapid fire segment can't keep my attention.

Lindsay: Frank is in RARE FORM guys!

CJ: torry holt's still in the league? that's cute

Lindsay: You hear that?

CJ: rare form = finally funny?

Lindsay: I can't wait to not laugh at Frank this week

Dan: You know it makes me feel better when the hosts on these roundtable shows drink their coffee together. These guys aren't drinking their coffee.

CJ: does that show a lack of camaraderie?

Dan: Those Coors Lite ads are actually the best part of the pre game show.

Dan: Maybe the guys should be drinking Coors lite.

Lindsay: Can we get a Zorn ad already

CJ: denny green has brought a lot to the Coors Lite ad table

CJ: the many faces of Jim Zorn would work

CJ: you're sitting on a gold mine, dan!

Dan: Torry Holt told everyone "Happy Thanksgiving" as they went to commercial. I firmly believe Thanksgiving is the sort of holiday that does not require a five-day early advance greeting.

Dan: I want to quit my job. I'm so sick of writing about D.C. area sports teams and their goddamned quirky stars.

CJ: those quirky stars are gonna put your kid through public school

Lindsay: Good thing nobody's going to be reading this, eh?

Dan: Has there been one mention of the Washington Redskins yet, through 43 minutes? I heard one question about whether Portis would be playing. But no answer.

CJ: there's a chance, I didn't say she'd be rubbing elbows w/ the obama sisters

CJ: the Redskins may be on CBS

Lindsay: The Redskins are officially irrelevant

CJ: Fox only cares about their games

Lindsay: No, they're on Fox

CJ: well then yes, the redskins are irrelevant

CJ: thankfully there was a live look-in for Bawlmer

Dan: Why turn game highlights into comic books? All anyone really cares about is their fantasy football lineups, and which teams to bet on.

CJ: they really should stream line this thing

CJ: what are they laughing at?

Dan: Strahan: Nearly chokes, and the show immediately halts for four hours of choking jokes.

CJ: did howie just give strahan the heimlich?

Lindsay: There's way too much laughing and grunting and guffawing going on

CJ: strahan's done, if only we were so lucky

Lindsay: It's making me highly uncomfortable

Dan: Plus a joke about Strahan flossing his teeth.

Dan: Get it? Because he has a big gap, so he really doesn't need to floss. Hiiiiiiiiilarious!

CJ: strahan's back for more

Dan: Howie Long talking about last place teams finishing first. I don't understand.

Dan: Terry Bradshaw reminds me of Mike Wise. It's always always always about him.

CJ: they're both bald too

Lindsay: Steinberg holds nothing back

Dan: Jay Glazer in or out: completely, completely useful. This show should be 60 minutes of Jay Glazer talking into a camera. He doesn't need Menefee.

Dan: Portis is starting! But I still don't think they mentioned the Redskins.

CJ: jay glazer is a welcome respite from the idiotic jocularity of everyone else

Dan: He's a bit too proud of himself for knowing things, but on the other hand, at least he knows things.

CJ: follow that up w/ Frank Caliendo

CJ: this show is going off the cliff

Lindsay: Frank Caliendo as The Donald. It hurts.

Dan: He doesn't really sound like Donald Trump.

Dan: Tryptophan jokes are more tired than Frank Caliendo.

CJ: the car is on fire in a ditch

Dan: 11:10, which coincidentally is my bed time. I don't understand why that's funny.

CJ: should there be a laugh track?

Lindsay: And theyre pouring gasoline on it

Dan: Who cares who he thinks will win?

Dan: And how is the Patriots over the Dolphins an upset? They're like one-point dogs, maybe. MAYBE. That is not an upset.

Lindsay: He seems to be doing a Jimmy Johnson impression

Dan: And Caliendo making jokes about the lady who does pedicures? Not funny. I didn't even chuckle once. I didn't even smile.

CJ: there's a robotic dog on camera now

CJ: I frowned, actually

Dan: I hate football. I hate sports. These guys make me hate life.

CJ: the robotic dog has a mustache

Lindsay: That robot dog is the show's only ray of hope

CJ: what the...?

Lindsay: MORE ROBOT DOG

CJ: more gap jokes

CJ: I like mine better

CJ: I also haven't been at this for 12 weeks

Dan: Actually, I take it back, I don't want to know who they're picking. It's dumb content. It's stupid. It adds nothing. The Washington Post runs these picks too, and I don't care there either. Tell me one thing that's interesting about the Redskins-Seahawks game. I mean, why not roll the dice that the people watching your football pre game show actually care about football?

Dan: I mean, Joe Happensteimer from Waldorf could tell me the five teams he thinks will win, and I wouldn't care, so why do I care what some person in a suit thinks?

Lindsay: What about these guys should make me think their predictions are any more valuable than mine?

CJ: dan that was a reasoned, logical suggestion which clearly has no place on the Built Ford Tough Fox NFL Sunday Pre Game Show Sponsored by Seas

CJ: howie long doesn't seem remotely fired up

Dan: Fired up! Presented by Burger King. Howie seems drugged. He does not, in fact, seem fired up.

Lindsay: Burger King! Fired up!

Dan: Damn, jinx

Lindsay: Howie is a Stepford Husband

Dan: If BK burgers were fired up to this level of smoking hot heat, lots of people would be smooching e-coli

CJ: how about fired up with Bill Romanowski?

CJ: that I'd believe

Dan: Although his point is correct. But it could be made in about 10 seconds.

CJ: Howie Long with the letter from the editor

Dan: It's also a totally cliche thought. And now "my man TB" is wearing his McNabb tie.

Dan: The mainstream media deserves to die.

CJ: you follow up some salient points with TB wearing the McNabb tie

CJ: this car is an AMC Gremlin

Lindsay: And what will we do, Steinberg? We can't all go back to selling cheese

Dan: They've already played this exact same BK commercial. And I still prefer it to the pure pain of the actual show.

CJ: with my j-school degree I'm going to ... umm.... eh.... collect unemployment?

CJ: denis leary is still built Ford tough

Dan: If you consider the three options of Sunday football watching--paying hundreds of dollars and sitting in hours of traffic to go to a game, staying home and watching on TV with the sound on and eating leftover beans and rice, or going to a bar and spending maybe $30 to eat fried food and drink beer with the sound down--the latter wins by 742 percent.

CJ: 24: Redemption, my prediction: someone's gonna get shot

Dan: I want some beer.

CJ: I already bought beer

Lindsay: I'll have a wine cooler

CJ: I think I saw Big Daddy Drew there

Lindsay: Are we done?

CJ: and that's actually not a joke

CJ: the show's done

By Jon DeNunzio  |  November 25, 2008; 6:42 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Oh My! Enberg (and Cross) Still Get It Done | Next: Week 13: Rosen, Ryan and Myers

Comments

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Good stuff there, Hey Dan, grab the camcorder and do your own Zorn ad. how bout that? Hey if you need help I got nothing to do.

Posted by: Alex35332 | November 26, 2008 1:28 PM

it's worn. it's like a frat-house warm-up for the homecoming game. very old, very tired. not much better than ESPN (which is the worst pregame show). too many insider jokes & references to how "GREAT" each host WAS. As in "WAS". Other than Howie Long - no insights or criticism of the NFL product.

Posted by: putz | November 26, 2008 3:16 PM

Never mind the pre-gmae. I watched the deadskins - GIANTS game and more than once the two idiots in the booth were so busy describing the replay that the missed part of the live action playing out on the field. The director should be canned as well. Damn inompetent fools.

Posted by: Yuri Lipitzmeov | December 1, 2008 2:00 PM

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