The Feud Continues; FOX vs. the World, especially NBC

11Jul08

Jason Whitlock, notably a former guest on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, has a front page story on FoxSports.com completely trashing NBC’s line up for Football Night in America, basically the Sunday night game, and a wrap-up of the day in the league. Whitlock has been controversial figure in the past for his remarks about Sean Taylor being killed by the black KKK, as well as other suggestions that young blacks live in a “morally bankrupt” culture (Full Disclosure: Whitlock is black). Call his views an emphasis on black self-reliance, but even if it is that, it is a conservative, “take responsiblity for your own actions even if you never learn how to, have nothing to live for, and no one to guide you,” attitude. Perhaps that’s why Whitlock has opted to become the Juan Williams of sports.

Let’s break the article down a bit. One can tell by the first sentence, something here is awry:

Everyone I mention in today’s column — except Jay Mariotti — is someone I like personally, respect professionally and hope will understand I have a job to do.

First, props for dissing Mariotti, arguably the worst sports journalist in modern history. Secondly, he’s practically telling us he “has to do this to NBC.” It’s his job, even with the qualifier “he likes them.” We already know the hit job is coming.

The last thing “Football Night in America” needed was Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann trying to out-cute each other while highlights play in the back-back-background. The return of The Big Show is going to look, sound and feel like The Big Show-offs, another overdone football distraction.

For those unfamiliar, it was Olbermann, Patrick, Eisen, and Scott that shot SportsCenter into the mainstream in the mid-1990s. There ability to “out-cute” each other got more people to watch, brought more fun into sports, and helped build the ESPN brand as the go to place for all sports information. And out-cute is ridiculous and unfair word to use, especially considering Fox’s policy on hiring anchors. Also, appropo that he mentions Olbermann first. You’d think Whitlock would at least be clever enough to hide the attack on Fox’s worst nightmare, but in true Fox style, he hits you in the face with it early.

Olbermann, a brilliant broadcaster, is a left-wing political pundit. You don’t think football when you see Olbermann. You think Bill O’Reilly. Olbermann’s work on Football Night comes off like he spends an hour each week thinking about the NFL. His disjointed and confusing commentary last season about Michael Vick exposed how out of place he is talking football on a big stage.

Ha! Firstly, you do think football when you see Olbermann. You should! I trust him more with sports than with news. Olbermann is basically a hired, eccentric gun for people who want to go after Bush. His political pundit status is more symbolic than substantive. He was however, great at what he did on Sportscenter, as was previously described. But no, Whitlock even brought the Olbermann-O’Reilly feud up as “the first thing we think when we see him.” Funny, the first thing I think when I see Olbermann is “how does a former Sportscenter anchor make the president look stupid?” Then, I cry for a while.

Jerome Bettis, terrific fullback, should be hosting a pro bowlers studio show. As a broadcaster, he’s not ready for the main stage. He’s not Emmitt Smiff, but Jerome hasn’t mastered the art of speaking in provocative, insightful sound bites.

Bettis was one of the NFL’s most recognizable figures. He also wasn’t a fullback for the majority of his career, but rather a tailback, and it is patently incompetent for a sports journalist not to know that. He had numerous endorsements, had gone out on top, and had career longevity. He’s intelligent, well-mannered, and one of the warmest people in the history of the league. You have to be kidding me, Whitlock. Insightful sound bites? You mean ones you make your living ripping apart? Sorry, the Bus doesn’t work for Fox too.

I’m sure all these guys are football fans. Hell, they probably operate great fantasy teams. But they’ll all contribute to one big, sloppy mess on Sunday nights. In terms of relevance and chemistry, the NBC show will lose more ground to Terry, Howie, Jimmy and Curt Menefee.

Shocker, he plugs Fox. Terry, the walking headache; Howie the walking steroid; Jimmy, the coach who can only win if he’s given a collection of the most elite players of his generation; and Curt Me–wait, who the fuck Curt Menefree?

I’m not pimping Fox’s studio show because I work for FOXSports.com. I don’t roll like that. Just about everyone in the industry agrees that Fox’s studio show is the best in football. The reason it’s the best is because the main guys are all still football men first. They still love the game and follow it with tremendous passion. Or at least that’s how they appear on Sunday afternoons. They act like they’d rather watch football on Sundays than grill George W. Bush about his Iraq policy.

Ah yes, you don’t roll like that. Perhaps you could take this opportunity to criticize them on something to prove your point. I guess not. Furthermore, loving the game is but one qualification to be a co-host on a football panel. Hunter S. Thompson loved football so much, he killed himself after the Superbowl. Would you want him co-anchoring? (Actually, I would) Oh, your boys would rather watch football than grill GWB on his Iraq policy? That’s how we got to this point in the first place, that’s why people are dying, that’s why my generation is being wasted. But gee, I guess the football games on, so I can just ignore all of that. This is everything that is wrong with America, Fox, and Republicans. Thanks for contributing, go eat another cheeseburger, but please stop pretending you can comment on sports and politics, and just own up to the fact that your little more than a hired gun.

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