To Liven Up NFL Pregame Shows, Take A Cue From 'The View'?

Dec 4, 2013
Originally published on December 4, 2013 12:39 pm

The Sunday pregame shows feature interchangeable ex-players and ex-coaches saying the same banal things, one after another.

"They've got to cut down on turnovers."

"They've got to convert more third-down situations."

And so on. There's no human interaction, just mirthless recitations. But on female-centered shows like The View and The Talk, the hosts actually discuss, argue, hash things out, laugh for real and behave like flesh-and-blood human beings. And they dare do it all without a net, before a live audience.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

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Of course, Mike Pesca, there's no guarantee that Peyton Manning will dazzle viewers in that game. There's not much the NFL or TV networks can really do about the quality of the play. There is something they could do about something else: The quality of NFL pre-game, half-time and post-game shows.

Commentator Frank Deford thinks they could try a little harder.

FRANK DEFORD: You know those MacArthur Awards, where they hand out $625,000 to people who are geniuses? Here's what I'd like the MacArthur folks to do: Keep their eyes open for a genius who could figure out a way to improve NFL studio shows. Never mind that those boilerplate, pro forma ensembles are legion, cluttering up the air all Sunday but all are with interchangeable ex-players and ex-coaches, saying the same banal things, one after another.

They've got to cut down on turnovers.

They can't put the ball on the ground - that means don't fumble. Thank you very much.

They've got to convert more third-down situations.

And so on. There is no human interaction, just mirthless recitations first Terry, then Howie, then who's-it, then the other one except, of course, for the embarrassing forced laughter.


DEFORD: Well, I have an idea, which is women. All you have to do is watch the boys on NFL shows and the girls on their chat shows, like "The View" and "The Talk," and you can learn everything you need to know about the sexes. The studio guys just recite, one after another, like birds on a wire, looking smug, telling us they have to protect the quarterback better.

Aren't men supposed to be the confrontational gender, the tough guys? But on the NFL shows, all these hard-nosed football types just have to bloviate, be the proclaimed expert that nobody contradicts. In a word, they're scaredy-cats. Let me tell you, there's never any concussions on NFL shows - nobody gets hit.

And the coaches, they are the worst. Every pretentious chestnut they utter is treated like a pearl from the voice of God or, at least, the voice of Dr. Phil. My most excruciatingly painful moment comes on CBS, when James Brown, the interlocutor, hopelessly obsequious, as are all pre-game hosts, introduces his experts as - now get this: Dan, Coach Cowher, Shannon and Boomer.

In the football world, even old ex-coaches have to always be addressed by title. Even on studio shows, ex-coaches are worshipped. The other poor guys don't even have last names. Thank you, Announcer Brown, for presenting us with the eminent Coach Cowher.

Now, on the other hand, watch the gals: They actually discuss, argue, hash things out, laugh for real, behave like flesh-and-blood human beings. And ladies and gentlemen, they do it all without a net before a live audience.

I tell you what: this NFL Sunday, give me Whoopi Goldberg, Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne and Barbara Walters together, talking pigskin smack, energized, with a live audience, actually acting normal, conversing like real people. And I promise I'll even listen to the Cialis commercials, too.

Thank you. And the MacArthur Foundation can overnight that $625,000 check to me tomorrow.

GREENE: I'm sure that check is in the mail, Frank. Frank Deford, you hear him most Wednesdays in our MORNING EDITION.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.