Thursday, June 04, 2009

Rodney Harrison, Post No. 1

Rodney Harrison was an admirable football player, and I salute the good sense he showed in announcing his retirement. Football collisions are not zero-sum transactions, and a player who makes his living pushing the outside of the violence envelope, as Harrison did, is well-advised to hang 'em up after lost-time injury number two. The time lapse between major owies decreases logarithmically.

Harrison should do a good job as a TV commentator. As an interview, I always found Harrison not only to be candid, but informative. That is, one very often ended a conversation with Harrison knowing more about football than before entering it.

I find it unfortunate, however, for both Harrison and the TV audience that he has signed with NBC-who are sort of the Yankees of football color commentary. A "name" guy hits the market and they ink him to a pact. Tony Dungy, Keith Olbermann-it's all the same to Dick Ebersol.

Since NBC only broadcasts one game and one 1 hour, 45 minute highlight/preview show each week, Harrison isn't going to get a chance to say much. He won't be battling Cris Collinsworth for the mike, which should help a little, but really, he's never going to develop as a broadcasting talent at a one sentence per game day pace.

Besides, there are other networks whose need for accomplished commentators, or even commentators who simply don't suck, is far more pressing than NBC's. Those third- and fourth-tier broadcasting teams at Fox, which New England is sometimes exposed to when NFC teams visit Foxboro, are a trial to the soul. That's a network where Tony Siragusa is considered a big star, after all.

Of course, there's always the NFL Network. Their team of commentators is more than halfway down the highway to the Slough of Despond. Jamie Dukes is baseball's secret marketing weapon. But that network prefers its former players to be guys who TALK REALLY LOUD!!! And who laugh at each other's remarks in lieu of speaking English sentences.

So my proposal for Bob Kraft and the broadcasting committee of the NFL owners is this. The next time contract time rolls around, you guys should insist on a commentators draft for your network partners. It works for your teams, it should work for your TV shows.

Rick Eisen, you're on the clock.


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