Sure, they're first impressions, but they're the only ones I have:
Glitz will draw some to NFL Fox Sunday, but the information-seeking fans will ultimately find ESPN's Game-day to their liking.The Fox debut had all the big names - Jimmy Johnson, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long - but the new kids on the block overplayed their entertainment card. Yes, Bradshaw is refreshingly honest, but he works best when he in analyzing rather than doing stunts like traveling to Hollywood on horseback. I'll tune in The Simpsons if I want to be entertained.
As for the rest of the kids: James Brown gains the first week's irritating award for starting every other sentence with the word "now;" Johnson will probably never let his hair down, but he will bring us valuable subtleties; Long is polished for a first-year broadcaster; and the best thing to be said about interviewer Lonnie Lardner is that she isn't Downtown Julie Brown.
On NBC's revamped studio show, Mike Ditka is inexplicably losing airtime to Joe Gibbs. Gibbs' knowledge of the game is a given, but he delivers none of the emotion that makes Ditka a television natural. Last Saturday's preview program had Gibbs talking to Greg Gumbel and Ditka sharing exchanges with Ahmad Rashad. Why not have Ditka bring some life out of Gibbs?
Heads are still being scratched over NBC's decision to bring in former CBS staffer Jim Gray as a reporter. Few have more inside league information than Will McDonough, so why is NBC giving up valuable McDonough time for a relative lightweight like Gray?
Over an ESPN, Chris Berman and his gang roll on with the fewest changes. Phil Simms and Lesley Visser are key additions, but diehard fans of the NFL tune in for Berman's consistency, Tom Jackson's insights and Chris Mortensen's read on the league.
Berman calls Fox's decision to go one-hour each week a compliment, and says the pre-game shakeout will come before Halloween.
"There's a curiosity factor," he remarks. "If I was a fan, I'd tune in to see what everyone was doing. By Week 6 or Week 7, by mid-October, we'll get an accurate read on what people are watching."