You probably missed the big lunchtime presser at the Jets’ fieldhouse introducing the new second-string quarterback phenomenon Tim Tebow. Maybe you DVR’ed it, like I have. And if you did, your choice of which network’s coverage to record might have been NFL Network, if your cable provider is privileged to carry it.
It’s days like today when more people may start to gravitate toward NFL Network for their football news, as opposed to ESPN’s family of networks. Today, ESPN proved why they are the Goofus to NFLN’s Gallant.
Like NFL Network, ESPN carried the Tebow press conference from Florham Park, NJ. But it was the coverage of the same press conference on ESPN2 – home of the daily “First Take” program featuring Tebow apologist Skip Bayless – that really drew everyone’s attention, for all the wrong reasons.
In a widely panned move, ESPN aired a split screen with Tebow on the top left, and Bayless in a window underneath him from the ESPN studio… tweeting! And the right half of the screen consisted of tweets submitted by Bayless for the duration of the presser.
“There’s a bird chirping inside the indoor practice facility,” read one tweet. “Even the birds are excited.”
I’m so excited, I’m about to vomit.
If this is an example of going overboard, then the Worldwide Leader is still drying themselves off tonight.
They say Tebow’s addition to the Jets could turn the team into a circus. Well, ESPN is the big top in the Tebowmania sports media circus. And it’s no secret that Bayless, recently nominated for a Sports Emmy award, is the number one Tebow fan in the entire world. In fact, there was a special edition of “First Take” last Friday night dedicated to Tebow joining the Jets. To show Bayless live tweeting the Tebow presser is the height of overkill.
Compare it to NFL Network, and their coverage. Their occasional split screens included footage of Tebow with the Broncos, Jets first-string (for now) quarterback Mark Sanchez, and Jets coach Rex Ryan (including the memorable clip where he threw his headset to the ground… an interesting selection when shown next to the cool and calm Tebow).
In fact, guess what the top story was on “Total Access”? No, not Tebow, but the rumor that Bill Parcells could be stepping in for the suspended Sean Payton for the Saints. Even co-host Lindsay Rhodes (nee Soto) acknowledged that it was “about the only story that could bump this one out of lead story status.”
NFL Network knows how to take a story or a talking point and not wring every ounce of worth out of it.
At least they didn’t show Michael Irvin sitting in a studio in L.A. tweeting about Tebow’s press conference.
And the fact that the “Skip Screen” of the Tebow presser was on ESPN2, and not ESPN, is beside the point. The fact that this idea was even fathomed by a cable network available in virtually all households, let alone executed, is ludicrous. ESPN basically gave the Tebow presser the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” treatment, albeit in tweet form.
Wouldn’t it just be more convenient for us to fire up our computers or smartphones and open the @RealSkipBayless feed as we watched the Tim Tebow press conference live? When did ESPN decide that they would be the arbiter of how we’re going to watch breaking sports news at it happens – in this case, through Skip Bayless?
Our only hope is that, when all is said and done, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences comes knocking for inductees for next year’s Sports Emmy Awards, ESPN submits this footage from today to the Academy for their consideration.
Keep it Goofus, ESPN!