Rise and shine, football fans.
Presenting a new program from NFL Network, the league-run channel that senses “all you want is football.”
They’ve probably done some research and discovered you don’t want day-old “NFL Total Access” reruns in the morning.
NFLN has announced a brand new morning show, “NFL AM,” which will air weekday mornings starting July 30 – right after training camps have opened for the 2012 season – from 6 to 10 AM Eastern Time – or 3 to 7 AM in Culver City, CA, where NFL Network is based.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand, who first broke the story, has details on the talent that will host the new NFLN morning show – and luckily, all of them have spent plenty of time in the Pacific Time Zone, so they shouldn’t have any issues akin to a West Coast team playing a Sunday early game on the East Coast.
First, there’s Brian Webber, whom NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger is dubbing the show’s “quarterback.” (I wonder if NFLN will give him the ol’ franchise tag in a couple of years.) Webber comes to NFLN from Fox Sports, including many years at the FSN regional sports channels in Seattle and the Bay Area, as well as Fox Sports Radio. Webber has also appeared on The Tennis Channel.
Then, there’s the token Super Bowl champion making up the football morning show ensemble, Eric Davis, who spent roughly the first half of his career with the San Francisco 49ers and was part of the squad that won Super Bowl XXIX. He also brings an impressive resume off the football field, as well. Last year, not only has he taken over as the color commentator for 49ers radio broadcasts, heard locally on KNBR-AM, but that same year, he had started co-hosting a sports radio talk show alongside New York import Brandon Tierney on another San Francisco sports radio station, KGMZ/”95.7 The Game.” While Davis will hang up his headphones at “The Game” to concentrate on his game face on NFLN every morning, he is expected to retain the color analyst gig with the 49ers (and the awkwardness of moonlighting at two rival sports stations in the Bay Area shall subside).
Finally, there’s a female component of the “NFL AM” crew – and it’s someone we’ve told you plenty about late last week upon her hire. Yes, as it turns out, the “high profile” anchor gig for Nicole Zaloumis will indeed be on NFLN’s brand new morning show. Originally, I speculated that she would be the new lead female anchor on “Total Access.” And that was based on logic – at the time, it was the only program on the channel outside of “Gameday” with an “anchor” position.
Not to say that a four-hour morning show about football news and discussion is far-fetched. Certainly, Eric Weinberger doesn’t think so. “How can you fill up four hours dedicated to the NFL each morning?,” he hypothetically asks USAT’s Hiestand. “It’s surprisingly easier than it sounds… It’s mind-boggling how much content is out there.”
And we know just how brilliant NFL Network can be at creating content, don’t we, kids?
Which reminds me: I guess with the advent of a new NFLN morning show, the folks at Wolfgang Puck are probably chomping at the bit to construct a new breakfast menu at the NFL Cafe.
Here are a few suggestions:
“Big Ben Bagels.”
“The Manning Mimosa.”
“Ray Rice Krispies.”
“Vix” cereal (as in Michael Vick meets “Trix”).
Or, if you prefer, “Arian Foster Flakes.”
And, of course, “Tebow Toast.”
(You can send me the check later, Puck.)
Now, I’m hungry… Anyway, back on topic: Weinberger is envisioning many ways to fill four hours on “NFL AM”. He promises “heavy debate,” which will consist of incumbent NFLN staffer, resident reporter and journalist Steve Wyche, going toe-to-toe against author Mark Kriegel, another new NFLN hire who, like Webber, comes to the network by way of Fox Sports. The program, Weinberger says, also hopes to snag interviews with coaches and players “before they start their days.” And if there are any major events in other sports leagues, Webber, Davis and Zaloumis will find an entertaining way to correlate it to football.
And if you aren’t an early bird but still want to catch the show, an instant replay of “NFL AM” will air starting at 10 AM ET/7 AM PT, starting on Labor Day. (Which means you can say goodbye to extra showings of “Top 10” reruns and the like.)
So by the time the 2012 NFL season officially kicks off, the league’s network will already have their new morning show in place, airing for one-third of the broadcast day during the week. “High profile,” indeed.
Senior Vice President of NFL Network Mark Quenzel had this to say about their new daybreak franchise: “We know that our fans are looking for more football and we are excited to provide a personality-driven show which focuses on football and everything around it. There will be no better way to start their day.”
The concept sounds promising, and should lead the football-minded sports viewer to tune away from “SportsCenter” and sample the new show. Of course, that’s provided the network is available on their local cable system.
But this development further contributes to how serious television broadcasters have been taking the morning daypart. There was a time ESPN aired a two-hour business program in the morning. Meanwhile, in your area, I’m sure there are at least a couple of broadcast stations airing a newscast starting at 5 AM – if not 4 AM.
It’s because more and more people have been turning on the tube in the morning, whether they’re preparing for work, or whatever the case may be. The viewers are there – and who better to fill a void of a football-oriented morning show than the NFL Network.
I wish “NFL AM” success. Sure sounds more promising than “Wake Up With Warren Sapp.”
UPDATE: A rather jovial update on this item: NFLN contributor Charles Davis obviously keeps up with news at the network. On Friday’s “Total Access,” Steve Wyche prefaced his comments in a discussion about Donovan McNabb by announcing that he was “radically overdressed for this segment.” Davis, making what appeared to be his first live appearance on the network since the draft, pulled back the curtain and unloaded a tremendous comeback zing when it was his turn to talk: “You’re radically overdressed because you’re preparing to get up early in the morning at the end of the month, so we know why; you’re getting set for that; you look great.”