NFL

A wild weekend: Shocking events at MetLife; We remember 9/11, 22 years ago; Rodgers goes down

LATE UPDATE

It took only four snaps before Aaron Rodgers went down. He was taken to a hospital where he is being examined. Still, Zach Wilson replaced him and miraculously led the club to an OT win over Buffalo.

9/11

9/11 and the tragedy that occurred 22 years ago today will never be forgotten. The terrorists who struck our great country will never be forgiven. Later that day, I was scheduled to takeoff for Memphis but everything stopped cold. The United States took a wicked hit. Some three-thousand Americans were killed inside our shores. The Major sports were rocked to a halt. The stories of the 3,000 deaths stirred on American territory still punish us.

A Wild NFL Week One

An unexpected NFL Sunday!

Unforeseen blowouts, highlighted by the one that was particularly forehead-puckering. The visiting Cowboys, shut out the promising Giants 40-0 in lachrymose MetLife Stadium. Earlier in the day, the Steelers, generally a winning team, lost badly at home to the Niners, 30-7. In Cleveland, the Browns showed their prowess over the Bengals, 24-7.

The home team Los Angeles Chargers couldn’t protect their homefield, losing to the Miami Dolphins in a nail-biter. It turned into a diaphanous thriller, 36-34.

NFL telecasts from top down were hard to nail-down yesterday. For many the Sunday Ticket was almost impossible to find. I still don’t have it. So I dialed into the local radio broadcasts, aired by local announcers, descriptive and stylized. So I did, the teams, through, their radio play-by-players. The TVers’ presentation can sound like melancholy, be they underscored or a blowout.

Merrill Reese, the legendary Voice of the Eagles, holds the NFL record locally, 46 seasons. Reese is as sharp as they come. Even at 81, he hardly makes a mistake. The depth of his sound is cogent.

It couldn’t have been any worse for the Giants. A depressing 40-0 loss in the season opener. Mike Tirico was seeking to make something out of nothing which was clearly ridiculous. Smack the Giants around a bit. Partner Cris Collinsworth, a youthful 64, wasn’t about to hold back. Mike said nothing or little of consequence. Viewers might have wondered about the dialogue between Mike and Collinsworth.

Was he thinking where’s Al Michaels? It’s a good question for NBC. The Al-Cris partnership, all those years that made them good, be there chuckles when triggered or blowouts or games that go down to the wire. Last night, while Tirico, who has improved significantly, showed little facility for asking difficult questions. I hope he learned a lesson. Arrive in the booth with more data, profile-by-profile. Bring pertinent material along. Games go beyond just down and distance. Mike will in-time beef up on the historical. Start with Don Criqui’s call of the ugliest moment in Giant Stadium. It made Herm Edwards famous. Think of NBC’s golden past; beginning with Mel Allen, Curt Gowdy, Dick Enberg and so many more.

After a nasty night, during which Collinsworth had to digest an exhausting and onerous matchup, he made it clear that he still maintains his thoughts that yes, the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants will contend for the division.

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Chris Lewis made his debut Sunday on NFL play-by-play broadcasts, assigned by CBS for the Tennessee-Saints game in New Orleans. Lewis is essentially succeeding veteran Greg Gumbel, 77, who was dropped from his NFL work. Greg will be retained for his soft and confident voice in the college basketball studio. For a first game yesterday, Chris sounded assured. 

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As expected, Kevin Harlan sounded as though he was in his mid-season rhythm at 64. The last first-half play concluded with  criticism for Trent Green. When a last play question was quickly sought by Harlan , Trent sounded like he was asleep at the switch. Goodness! He had no idea what the final play was! The basics! He might have lost track of the game. All Trent can do is spew out the old Jackie Gleason line, “Hamina-Hamina…..”

* * * * *

JJ Watt is confident, funny and makes pertinent comments. His humor is somewhat unique. And yes he has the audacity to challenge the experienced ex-NFLers in the studio, be they Bill Cowher, Phil Simms or Boomer Esiason.

“Escaped with a win,” generally means the team should have played better….Between the rain, the Giants terrible performance and many empty seats at MetLife Stadium, there couldn’t be a worse way to open the season.

In Philly, Merrill Reese is a Spirit of Fall. He moved into the WIP studio in 1977 doing color behind Charlie Swift. Toward the end of the season, Swift committed suicide.

Reese was promoted and he hasn’t missed a game since. During that preventative period of Covid, games on the road were called off video sets. So technically, he’s missed being at the games themselves but never a single broadcast. He also called Big Five Basketball in Philly. When the Eagles won their 2018 Super Bowl, the first man he acknowledged was Bill Campbell a Philly broadcast institution.

Merrill is  right there in Philly with: Campbell, Harry Kalas, Andy Musser, Merrill Reese, By Saam (top of my head – There are others).

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
7 months ago

The Tirico-Collinsworth broadcast reminds me of a story about the 1983 MLB All-Star Game. It was a rout. Joe Garagiola later said it was his first BIG game with his new partner, Vin Scully, and he wondered what approach Vin might take. Joe thought to himself, we need to get funny about this. And Vin turned to him and said, “Do you think they should put a keg at each base?” And they were off. Bob Prince said he and Jim Woods would stick to the game on Pirates broadcasts if it was close and if not, they’d wander. Inform… Read more »