ESPN Might Restore Faith On "Monday Night Football" (Hill, That Is)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear not, football fans: Faith Hill, legs and all, may once again be gracing TV screens before football games - perhaps on ESPN, which revolutionized the form with Hank Williams, Jr. on "Monday Night Football."

Fear not, football fans: Faith Hill, legs and all, may once again be gracing TV screens before football games – perhaps on ESPN, which revolutionized the form with Hank Williams, Jr. on “Monday Night Football.”

Last month, Faith Hill announced a “difficult decision” to depart as the artist performing prior to “Sunday Night Football” on NBC for six seasons.

On Tuesday, NBC announced that another country recording artist, Carrie Underwood, would replace Hill on the broadcasts starting with the season kickoff game on September 5.

I would not be surprised if this news did not sit well with Faith Hill. This video from a country music award show tells you all you need to know:

Anyway, I have a gut feeling that Faith will eventually be back in the game before long.

Because there are two other nationally televised weekly football broadcasts that could definitely use her services as an upgrade.

And who are ESPN and NFL Network to say no to the woman who belted out a loose version of a Joan Jett song customized for the opponents of that night’s game on the top-rated show in primetime?

Last year, in conjunction with “Thursday Night Football” expanding from eight games per season to thirteen, NFLN brought in Cee Lo Green to perform a theme song to the beat of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” As far as we know, the deal is for at least one season.

But with Faith Hill being a free agent, NFLN could very well tell Cee Lo, “forget you” – or something similar, anyway.

Then, there’s ESPN, whose “Monday Night Football” was for years the model for this device, with Hank Williams, Jr. being known for asking that burning question to viewers, “Are you ready for some football?” The song had been performed before “MNF” starting in 1989 on its original network, ABC, carrying over to ESPN in 2006, until he decided to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler on the morning of October 3, 2011 – which happened to be a Monday; his intro was yanked from that night’s Buccaneers/Colts game. ESPN would later drop the singer from their “MNF” broadcasts altogether. Since then, they’ve been leaning on production pieces (similar to the “Journey” series on Fox’s NFL pregame show) and comedy bits airing before the game.

It’s clear that they can’t go this route forever; the current period of pregame pieces should act as a buffer between Hank Jr.’s tenure on “MNF” and his eventual replacement; further, there would be less backlash to let time subside before deciding on a new “MNF” artist, as opposed to just dragging a singer off the street to replace Hank Jr. on the October 10, 2011 broadcast. Certainly, Hank Jr., with his updated version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” being crooned into living rooms and bars for over two decades, has etched himself into football lore, and ESPN respects that.

And now that Bocephus is pretty much out of the football picture (his recent doubling down on Obama will all but cement that), it’s easier for ESPN to move on to a new artist for the “Monday Night Football” intro.

Could you imagine the innovator of the primetime football game open standing pat with generic intros, while the weekly primetime NFL broadcasts on NBC and NFL Network have artists belting one out?

I say, ESPN shouldn’t stand for being upstaged by the likes of Cee Lo Green. And by hiring Faith Hill to continue her career as an NFL kickoff singer, that would mean NFL Network will have to stand for, well, Cee Lo Green.

Of course, this is all contingent on whether or not Faith Hill’s schedule can accommodate getting back into the grind of recording a song for several weeks. She’d likely need to learn a new one, no doubt. She could also decide to take a year or two off from the NFL.

But something tells me the selection of Carrie Underwood to replace her on NBC is going to speed up this process rather quickly.

Are you ready for some… catfight?

A Ringing Endorsement For Warren Sapp

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp will be inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Ring of Honor on Monday, November 11. Sapp played defenstive tackle for the Bucs for nine seasons.

NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp will be inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor on Monday, November 11. Sapp played defensive tackle for the Bucs for nine seasons.

2013 is turning out to be a banner year for Warren Sapp.

And a welcome one, considering the hellish 2012 he’s endured.

Just three months after he was voted into this year’s class of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, the team that made his NFL career possible, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted him 12th overall in 1995, is inducting him into their Ring of Honor – a ring whose occupants will actually double, with the late Lee Roy Selmon being its lone inductee (2009).

Sapp will have his number 99 retired during the Buccaneers’ first Monday night game since the post-Hank Williams, Jr. era abruptly began. The ceremony will take place at halftime of the Bucs’ matchup with the Miami Dolphins on November 11. Everything about this is symbolic, not only because Sapp’s alma mater was the University of Miami, but Sapp is also known to tweet “11:11 Yes Zirr” at 11:11 local time on any given day.

“Full circle for me,” Sapp, currently an NFL Network analyst, opined on “NFL Total Access” last week. “11/11, 99 in the rafters… hanging over the stadium… what can be better than that?”

One thing that doesn’t top it is the New York Jets’ current quarterback situation. During Sapp’s appearance on “Total Access” on the day of the Ring of Honor announcement, host Andrew Siciliano threw some red meat at him in the form of the circus that is Gang Green.

“I tell all my Jet fans, relax: you have a Florida boy at the helm,” Sapp said of recently drafted quarterback Geno Smith. “Don’t worry, Geno got you covered. You’re in good hands, Rich,” he added, tweaking colleague Rich Eisen.

One thing that would make this year a true blessing for Sapp is if the network extended his contract long term. You may recall around this time last year that NFLN was reportedly dropping him from their squad; obviously, that never materialized. I would think this is the perfect time for NFLN and Sapp to agree to a new deal that would give him financial security for the foreseeable future, now that his bankruptcy case is behind him. I think he’s learned his lesson for calling players “snitches” on their air.

But you know what the best thing about being inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor is?

Unlike the Super Bowl and national championship rings he won with the Bucs and the Miami Hurricanes, respectively, Warren Sapp can’t lose this one.

2013 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Broncos, Falcons, 49ers, Giants, Patriots, Redskins Have Five Games Each

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Here is the list of all the primetime games scheduled for the 2013 NFL season.

Commentary to follow… Actually, I’ll get the back-patting out of the way early: I called the Ravens/Broncos opener on September 5, and I called the Washington Redskins getting five primetime games this season, up from just one last year.

And here are the games:

Thursday, September 5 – Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 8 – New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 9 – Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins – 7:10 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 9 –  Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers – 10:20 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 12 – New York Jets @ New England Patriots – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 15 – San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 16 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 19 – Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 22 – Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 23 – Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 26 – San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 29 – New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcoms – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 30 – Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 3 – Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 6 – Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 7 – New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 10 – New York Giants @ Chicago Bears – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 13 – Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 14 – Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 17 – Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 20 – Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 21 – Minnesota Vikings @ New York Giants – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 24 – Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 27 – Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 28 – Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 31 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 3 – Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 4 – Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 7 – Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 10 – Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 11 – Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 14 –Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 17 – Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 18 – New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 21 – New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 24 – Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 25 – San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving) – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 1 – New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 2 – New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 5 – Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 8 – Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 9 – Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 12 – San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 15 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 16 – Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 22 – New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 23 – Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 29 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans.

———————————————————————————————————————-

OBSERVATIONS: So, let me get this straight: The Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, yet the runner-up gets one more primetime game in the ensuing season than the World Champions? Explain that to me.

Also, explain to me how the NFL didn’t greenlight the Denver Broncos going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. This was a given when the AFC opponents for the Cowboys were released at the top of the year. Or so I thought. Now, it’s going to be a chance to pass out with tryptophan in between another Packers/Lions matinee and the Ravens hosting another Thanksgiving night game, this time against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

I wonder if Peyton Manning not getting a Thanksgiving date with Tony Romo was a byproduct of the Broncos actually hosting the NFL kickoff game.

Predictably, the Eagles/Chiefs game with Andy Reid bringing a new squad into Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is an NFL Network Thursday night affair.

Predictably, that’s the Chiefs’ lone primetime game. The Jaguars’ sole primetime tilt in 2013 is also on NFLN, as was the case last year. Ditto for the Browns and the Bills, who actually play each other on an NFLN game; the Bills and the Dolphins killed two birds with one Thursday night primetime stone last season.

Thr Dolphins improve from one primetime game last year to three this year. Same with the Vikings. The Colts go from one primetime game last season to four this season. And I’ve already told you about the Redskins’ maxing out at five games, up from one last year.

Further proof NBC loves the NFC East: The Cowboys and Giants open the “Sunday Night Football” 2013 campaign. The Cowboys will appear on “SNF” three times this year, as will the Giants. Two of the Redskins’ five night contests are on NBC; two of them will air on ESPN. Eagles? Nowhere to be found on NBC’s initial schedule. Of course, the latter half of the season allows flex scheduling, so if the Eagles are actually a good team, they’ll likely see more than just the two games (down from five last year() they’ve been scheduled this year. In other words: the Cowboys/Eagles game that was not flexed out late last season might be the last time in awhile you’ll hear Al Michaels working an Eagles game.

And for the first time in recent memory, there are no Saturday games scheduled. The Bay City Rollers will now have to find alternate ways to be preoccupied this year.

Ravens To Open 2013-14 Season On Road… In Denver?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peyton Manning might get a chance to avenge his loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the recent NFL playoffs, as the Ravens are forced to play their season opener, scheduled for Thursday, September 5, on the road due to the Orioles citing their inability to reschedule their home game with the White Sox that same night.

Peyton Manning might get a chance to avenge his loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the recent NFL playoffs, as the Ravens are forced to play their season opener, scheduled for Thursday, September 5, on the road due to the Orioles citing their inability to reschedule their home game with the White Sox that same night.

For the first time since the Super Bowl champion was anointed the host of a season kickoff game at home, the Baltimore Ravens will be unable to continue this tradition, as the baseball team in town, the Orioles – who haven’t won a World Series in three decades – has decided to be a killjoy.

In a statement, the O’s claim all teams and leagues involved have done “everything possible to work with us to explore all options to reschedule the September 5 game.

“Given the limited options available to reschedule the game at that late date in the season, the parties jointly determined that even an earlier start time would still create such enormous logistical difficulties that it would greatly diminish the fan experience for both events which all parties realized would not be in the interest of their fans or the City.”

September 5 is the first Thursday of the month, on which the NFL has designated it its season “kickoff” night. The only exception was last year, when the New York Giants/Dallas Cowboys tilt was rescheduled to the Wednesday of that week, due to President Obama’s keynote presentation on the final night of the four-night Democratic National Convention, which was the Thursday of that week. (For the record, the Yankees and Mets were both on the road that day, but given their home stadiums are located outside the Giants’ field in New Jersey, there probably wouldn’t be that much of a brouhaha.)

And by the way, the first Wednesday of September this year is Rosh Hashanah, and the league had expressed at league meetings in Arizona this week their desire not to reschedule a Ravens’ home opener to that night. The Orioles would be finishing a three-game series in Cleveland that night, before embarking on a four-game homestand against the White Sox.

“While we are disappointed for the fans in Baltimore, we appreciate the efforts of the Ravens, Orioles and Major League Baseball and understand the logistical problems in trying to schedule the teams on the same day,” said the Ravens in their own team statement. “The Ravens will open the season on the road on Thursday night, September 5, in our annual NFL Kickoff Game on NBC.”

Unconfirmed to this point is whose stadium they will be invading on opening night.

Just as I speculated on which team I thought the Ravens would be hosting on September 5 on the day after they won the Super Bowl, I am now going to predict which team will host the Super Bowl champions on that night.

I will admit that a lot of research and thinking went into that post, but upon taking a good look at the eight teams they’re scheduled to play on the road this season, this time around, I invested as much time in my prediction as you did in reading this sentence.

Broncos.

Yes, the Denver Broncos, who hosted the divisional round playoff game in which the Ravens vanquished them in overtime en route to their second Lombardi Trophy, is the odd team outside of the three rivals in their division, half of another division in the AFC (Bills, Dolphins) and half of an NFC division (Bears, Lions) that the Ravens will be facing away from M&T Bank Stadium.

Yes, despite his struggles in that game, Peyton Manning is still ratings gold. In fact, his Broncos debut opened the “Sunday Night Football” season last year.

And yes, there could be a new rivarly budding between Manning and Joe Flacco, he of the record contract he signed in the offseason. Manning vs. Tom Brady it isn’t, but NBC will take it.

Heck, NBC would gladly take a rematch of an overtime playoff game in which the eventual Super Bowl champions prevailed – a game that was played on CBS, by the way.

So is Ravens/Broncos on September 5 in the bag? Not right away. Remember, CBS, the NFL’s AFC broadcast partner, has owned-and-operated television stations in Denver (KCNC-TV) as well as Baltimore (WJZ-TV). I’ll remind you how CBS was as defensive against NBC swiping away a regular season NFL game between the New England Patriots (CBS also owns WBZ-TV in Boston) and the Tim Tebow-led Broncos, as the Orioles appear to be for the right to play a regular season baseball game as scheduled, at a point in the season where either the O’s or the White Sox may be well out of playoff contention by the time the first pitch in that game is thrown.

For the Orioles’ sake, I just hope there isn’t rain in the forecast on the evening of September 5.

But who knows? It might be raining touchdowns in Denver that night.

And the big winner would be NBC.

Stay tuned.

Joe Buck, Skip Bayless Get 2013 Sports Emmy Snubs

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nominations for the 34th Sports Emmy Awards are out, and it's not a misprint: Fox's Joe Buck, who won the award for Outstanding Play-By-Play Announcer last year, is nowhere to be found on the list this year.

The nominations for the 34th Sports Emmy Awards are out, and it’s not a misprint: Fox’s Joe Buck, who won the award for Outstanding Play-By-Play Announcer last year, is nowhere to be found on the list this year.

In addition to the annual “March madness” tradition that accompanies college basketball every year, so to is the version of “March madness” in sports media – of course, I’m talking about the release of the nominations for the Sports Emmy Awards.

The list of nominees for the 34th edition, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 7th at Frederick P. Rose Hall, was made public today by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

But there’s a couple of glaring omissions that may make some people, well, mad.

For instance, the nominees for Outstanding Sports Personality, Play-By-Play was whittled down to four this year from five last year; the nominees were Marv Albert, Mike Emrick, Al Michaels, Jim Nantz, and the winner, Joe Buck. This year, Emrick, Michaels and Nantz get another nod, while Albert does not, and ABC/ESPN NBA announcer Mike Breen is nominated.

That has to be a mistake. After all, not only is Joe Buck one of the top sportscasters in the business today, but determination is his middle name. Who can forget last October, when he doubled up in San Francisco to work a New York Giants/49ers regular season NFL game, then take a trolley to AT&T Park to call Game 4 of the World Series between the San Francisco baseball Giants and the Detroit Tigers? You mean, that doesn’t even earn him an “Outstanding New Approaches [In] Sports Programming” nomination? What gives?

Meanwhile, there’s another name that didn’t carry over from the previous year’s nominations, and we wouldn’t be surprised if there’s not that much outcry over this one: Skip Bayless.

Yes, last year, Bayless was among seven people nominated for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio Analyst, along with Cris Collinsworth (also nominated for his analyst work on “Sunday Night Football”), Trent Dilfer, Kirk Herbstreit, Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds, and your winner, Charles Barkley.

This year, not only has the field in this category decreased by one yet again, but it looks way different: Joining Barkley and Reynolds this year will be Tony Dungy (NBC), Boomer Esiason (CBS) and Kurt Warner (NFL Network), along with Reynolds’ MLB Network colleague, Bill Ripken.

So no Skip Bayless Emmy nod this year. Bummer. I really thought his live-tweeting the Tim Tebow introductory press conference would have been sports broadcasting gold in the eyes of the Academy!

View the complete list of nominations here. Overall, NBC Sports Group leads all nominees with a whopping fifty-eight – including nine attached to NBC Sports Network, which has two figures (Bob Costas, Dan Patrick) aaccompanying CBS’ James Brown, NFLN’s Rich Eisen and Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson in the Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio Host category (last year, the field was the same, with the exception of Bryant Gumbel in lieu of Eisen; Costas won). The 2012 London Olympics buoyed NBC to the top of the nominees list. The perennial award nominations leader, ESPN, is second this year with 43.

And none, unfortunately, for Skip Bayless.

UPDATE: Fox Sports Vice President of Communications Dan Bell confirms my suspicion, saying: “Joe is happy for his colleagues who were nominated and wishes them all good luck.”

Donovan McNabb Wants The Overtime Rules Back The Way They Were

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Network analyst Donovan McNabb is calling for a carbon copy of the original overtime rules. As for ties, he would vow to "just play football" until somebody wins.

NFL Network analyst Donovan McNabb is calling for a carbon copy of the original overtime rules. As for ties, he would vow to “just play football” until somebody wins.

We all remember when Donovan McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals – and how he thought the game would continue after that one and only 15-minute overtime period.

Suddenly, the retired quarterback and now NFL Network analyst (who, by the way, you’ll be hearing a lot from on NBC Sports Radio – you’ve been warned) has become an expert on overtime in the NFL: he basically wants the overtime rules, which were modified to give the team losing the coin toss at least one possession for OT in the playoffs in 2010, and eventually the regular season as well, two years later, reinstated to its previous form.

This during a roundtable segment on Saturday’s “NFL Total Access” program on NFL Network, in which host Andrew Siciliano asked panelists which rule they would change if they were NFL commissioner for a day. Analyst Brian Baldinger made a case for simplifying “overlitigated” plays that may be ruled differently by officials, and guest analyst, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney, wants an end to “cut blocks” from offensive linemen or tight ends.

But McNabb, well, he wants to go back to the future.

Transcript below:

DONOVAN McNABB: You know what? I know everyone will probably entertain themselves with mine. You know, and my Twitter followers, you’ll love this one, but I’m going to talk about the overtime rules. I’d rather — let’s get back to normal football, and if it goes to overtime, hey, first — first touchdown, first field goal wins, and the game is over. We all know, hey, if you score a touchdown, it’s over; if you kick a field goal, do you kick an onside kick, then it’s like, they have possession of the ball, game is [over]…

BRIAN BALDINGER: Do you play it all through the season, all the way until someone wins?

McNABB: Regular season — you know, you get into overtime in the regular season, you kick a field goal, the game is over.

ANDREW SICILIANO: I’ll ask: what about ties?

McNABB: [Laughter] Well, well, ties, hey, in the regular season, I was part of a tie —

SICILIANO: But, do you want to ban ties? I’d ban ties.

McNABB: You know what, let’s just play football. Let’s continue to play football. We have nowhere to go, the fans have nowhere to go, hey, let’s — whoever kicks a field goal or scores a touchdown, game is over.

BALDINGER: Injuries, injuries that happen in the second overtime?

McNABB: We’re, we are never, in the NFL, worried about injuries. We’re worried about ratings. And money. So it’s not that, how long it goes, and, you know, if somebody gets hurt — play till somebody wins.

Fox Sports War With ESPN Gets Upfront And Personal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox Sports will likely use the money reserved for a potential regional sports network deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers (who have since agreed to a deal with Time Warner Cable) and beef up the resources for their new Fox Sports 1 and 2 networks, which will launch in August. (Pictured: News Corp. chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch and then-Dodgers owner/president Peter O'Malley, who left the team the year this photo was taken in 1998; credit: NY Times.)

Fox Sports will likely use the money reserved for a potential regional sports network deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers (who have since agreed to a deal with Time Warner Cable) and beef up the resources for their new Fox Sports 1 and 2 networks, which will launch in August. (Pictured: News Corp. chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch and then-Dodgers owner/president Peter O’Malley, who left the team the year this photo was taken in 1998; credit: NY Times.)

Fox Sports is officially putting ESPN on notice in March.

That’s when Fox will be holding their first-ever “upfront” presentation with advertising buyers, with respect to their sports department.

The main focus of the presentation will be the soon-to-be-launched Fox Sports 1 network, as well as a companion Fox Sports 2 channel and the nearly two dozen regional sports networks in their empire.

And Regis Philbin, whom Fox has been reportedly trying to hook to host a daily “The View”-like sports talk show that would air weekday afternoons, is rumored to make a cameo at the presentation.

You know that Fox is planning to convert the Speed channel into Fox Sports 1. But with Fox Sports 2 also being involved in this event, scheduled to take place next month in New York City, it likely signals that both national networks will launch simultaneously. The Fuel network, available in 37 million households, would be sacrificed for Fox Sports 2.

Meanwhile, Speed is available in 87 million homes, which is a footprint 57% larger than Fuel’s distribution, but just 13% less than ESPN’s reach of just over 100 million.

Combined, Speed and Fuel cost just 37 cents per month per subscriber. Fox will be asking for a 400% rate increase for Fox Sports 1 alone, with the going rate for Fox Sports 2 all but expected to rise, especially as it’s available in more households.

Of course, with live sports programming serving as the backbone of these channels, this was a foregone conclusion.

And you can bet that the money that Fox attributed to holding onto their rights to Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasts – the team instead will leave Fox’s Prime Ticket RSN and join forces with Time Warner Cable to form a new regional sports network – will be added to the Fox Sports 1 war chest. Because, let’s face it, Fox is declaring war with ESPN.

And the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader says, bring it on.

“We like our position and the fact that others recognize what we’ve known for a long-time, which is the power of live sports,” taunted ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys.

We know Fox has already locked up programming deals that would bring MLB and college sports broadcasts to Fox Sports 1.

Then there is the NFL. While Fox Broadcasting is about to embark on their twentieth season (and counting) of the NFL, the Thursday night game package, which was expanded from eight games per year on NFL Network to thirteen just last year, is also up for grabs. CBS and NBC might have a reasonable chance to secure that package for their own cable sports networks. And while TNT is currently tied up with the NBA on Thursday nights, I’m sure Turner Sports would love to get back into the NFL broadcasting loop once again.

But the smart money is on the Thursday night package going to Fox Sports when all is said and done.

“If you think Fox Sports 1 won’t pony up the necessary billions of dollars,” writes the Dallas Morning News’ Barry Horn, “you haven’t paid attention to the way Fox Sports has done business over the last twenty years.”

Like Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network before them, Fox Sports 1 and 2 likely will not turn profits immediately upon their launch. An esitmated per-household rate of 90 cents for Fox Sports 1 (that’s only expected to grow over the years) will soften the blow somewhat. But it’ll only be worth the asking price if the programming on Fox Sports 1 is just as good.

Many cable subscribers want an alternative to ESPN. And ESPN, as you can tell by that quote from their spokesperson, welcomes it. They’ve already vanquished a competitor or two. (Remember NewSport?)

Fox Sports 1 will be signing on in six months. The official start date has not yet been confirmed, but I’m speculating August 1 due to it being a Friday and, by the way, the name of the network is Fox Sports 1. Of course, we now have Fox Sports 2 expected to launch at the same time, and both networks planning to hit the ground running with live sports programming starting in August.

Oh, and that new show Regis Philbin will be hosting. Given his co-hosting shows with a female throughout his career, I could see Erin Andrews alongside Regis on this new show. The male/female co-hosting format has basically been in effect on sports cable networks for years (“SportsNation” on ESPN, “Lead-Off” on CBS Sports Network, and most recently, “The Crossover” on NBC Sports Network), so it’s certainly not out of the question here.

It’ll take a lot more than Regis Philbin and Reggie Wayne, but Fox is in this fight for the long haul.

Quoth a Fox Sports exec: “How do you devour a whale? One bite at a time.”