NFL

Rich Podolsky chimes in on the Super Bowl telecast on Sunday, Tony Romo and more

Podolsky

First let me say that Tony Romo had a great game analyzing Super Bowl 58 for CBS on Sunday. He was fast to spot trends and articulate heady strategy in a way any fan could understand. He went into detail how the 49ers rush was keeping Patrick Mahomes from running outside the pocket where he can be the most dangerous. He explained how the 49ers were successfully attacking the vaunted Chiefs’ defense early in the game. He was “spot on” as one critic put it.

Yet for some reason Romo has become the whipping boy for New York Post critic Andrew Marchand this year. In his post game critique of the broadcast Marchand took Romo apart, mainly complaining that he talked too long after the game’s winning touchdown. Marchand went on and on about how bad Romo was. I know that these reviews are subjective but Marchand never heard Romo utter a phrase that he liked Sunday. It was as if Romo had just shot Tom Brady or something.

Even the media website “Awful Announcing” got into the act with writer Ken Fang attacking Romo constantly before getting deep into his review pointing out how Romo’s analysis was “spot on ” most of the game. Well, Ken, which is it? Marchand attacked Romo for not explaining how the 49ers were keeping Kelce from getting open. But Romo did mention several times that SF was double-teaming Kelce (one in front and one behind) which limited him to just one catch for a single yard in the first half. Maybe Marchand took a potty break during those comments.

And then there was Romo’s good hearted singing during the broadcast. To me this lightened things up. But Awful Announcing hated it while Marchand found it enjoyable, similar to Dandy Don Merdith on the old ABC Monday Night Football broadcasts.

As for the last play of the game, yes Romo did go a tad too long explaining why it worked. But after all, explaining why a winning touchdown worked, is his job. Both Fang and Marchand wanted Romo to shut up as if someone just hit a home run to win the World Series like when Vin Scully clammed up for two minutes straight.

It’s been a tough year for Tony Romo. We even criticized him two weeks ago here. His boss, Sean McManus said he needed to calm down. Well, in Super Bowl 58 Romo was calm and “spot on” most of the game, except that some critics feel they have to find something to criticize. Otherwise, where would those scathing headlines come from?

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By the way, Jim Nantz was his usual, reliable self and again found the perfect word to describe the game’s final play: “jackpot.” He did go a bit over the top pushing for Brent Musburger to get the NFL’s Pete Rozelle (broadcasting) Award, an award presented over a decade ago to Irv Cross. It is kind of curious why Brent has been left out.

Speaking of Brent, Sunday CBS Sports brought him back for the first time in 34 years to co-host the documentary version of my book, ”You Are Looking Live!” Brent, at 84, did not look good. He wore a shirt that looked like something The Greek would have worn in retirement. The documentary brought back some fond memories and the video of Phyllis George throwing a 20-yard spiral pass and punting a football was amazing.

I was surprised CBS was willing to talk about Brent’s fight with The Greek after work one Sunday in 1980. Brent told most of the story but conveniently left out what got The Greek so stirred up. Earlier that day Brent had stolen The Greek’s biggest news scoop of the year and presented it as his own, leaving Jimmy tongue-tied on the air. It’s all in Chapter 10 of the book as told by Hank Goldberg, Ted Shaker and Kevin O’Malley who were there.

The pictures of Jayne Kennedy reminded us how beautiful she was and her story of possible racism by CBS’s Southern affiliates was moving. However, CBS chose not to embarrass Brent and have Jayne talk about the day when Brent blindsided her on the air by asking her to read the scores–something she was unprepared to do, and Brent knew it. It led to the beginning of the end of Jayne’s career at CBS. CBS’ award-winning former director Bob Fishman talked about that incident in his interview for the documentary, according to Fishman, but they never used it.

Other than that, the docu covered the essence of the book’s materials without the warmth. When discussing the Greek’s downfall, there was no one there to tell The Greek’s side when they could have quoted from the book or had either Jimmy’s son or daughter on. Again, it was Brent’s version and Brent always wanted him gone.

At the end the rushed credits said, “Inspired by You Are Looking Live by Rich Podolsky.” This credit rushed by in less than half a second. The idea for the documentary came from myself and former executive producer Ted Shaker. For 15 months I asked the producers to please show the book cover if they weren’t going to interview me. That never happened.

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Rich Podolsky

Rich Podolsky, an established writer and reporter since the 70s, has been a staff writer for CBS and has written for ESPN, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Palm Beach Post, the Wilmington News Journal, College & Pro Football Newsweekly and TV Guide. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers' Keystone Award for writing excellence. A fan of music from the 60s and 70s, he is the author of "Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear," which relates how Kirshner discovered Bobby Darin, Carole King and Neil Sedaka among others, and "Neil Sedaka, Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor,” which tells the inside story of Sedaka’s comeback. His new book, “You Are Looking Live!” is about CBS’ revolutionary pregame show in 1975 which introduced Brent, Phyllis, Irv and The Greek to America.

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Michael Green
14 days ago

Shame on CBS for not including you and Ted Shaker. While I’m at it, they didn’t mention Jack Whitaker, possibly because his gravitas was the opposite of what they were trying to convey. And almost nothing on the later iterations. I’m glad they paid tribute to Brent Musburger, and he DOES deserve the Rozelle award. But the documentary could have been so much better.