1. The NFL just made a paltry $10 billion in new television deals, so naturally, it needs advice from a nobody like me on how to improve.
While the league is doing just fine for itself, there is always room for improvement when it comes to taking care of fans. NFL diehards are going to watch games no matter what, especially when there’s a betting line offered, but that doesn’t mean certain things won’t make us even happier.
We have five requests for the NFL and some of its broadcast partners:
Use the Good Morning Football crew for a watch-along broadcast on Thursday nights
With Thursday Night Football set to air exclusively on Amazon Prime, there will be one telecast of the week when the league can experiment. NFL Network will no longer show TNF, but the network can still be part of the action. The Good Morning Football crew of Kay Adams, Nate Burleson, Peter Schrager and Kyle Brandt have won over NFL fans. If there is one word to describe GMFB, it’s “fun.”
But “fun” is not a word you’d use to describe NFL telecasts, so why not broadcast their reactions to the game live? We are in the era of “second-screen viewing,” so viewers would easily be able to have Prime on one device and the GMFB crew on another device.
Hire Brent Musburger for betting commentary
The NFL has long pretended gambling doesn’t exist. That era is over. Even Roger Goodell mentioned last week the league was ready to work with networks on betting coverage. Who better to weigh in on point spreads and over/unders than the legendary Musburger, who was talking betting on TV (in a roundabout way) long before anyone else? It doesn't matter if it's CBS, Fox, NBC or ESPN—one network needs to hire this man.
Get the Sunday Ticket situation straightened out as soon as possible
When the new TV deals came down last week, fans cared about one thing: What is happening with NFL Sunday Ticket? Those of us in the media couldn’t get enough of the logistics and finances behind the new deals, but fans don’t care about that stuff. They just want a way to subscribe to Sunday Ticket without having to have DirecTV.
All indications are ESPN+ and Amazon will be players for Sunday Ticket. However, DirecTV’s exclusivity on airing every single NFL game each Sunday will remain for the 2021 season.
Move the Christmas Day game to prime time
As part of the new TV deals, Fox will have the rights to air a game on Christmas Day when the schedule allows. Fox aired Vikings-Saints last Christmas at 4:30 p.m. ET. Now, I totally get that by 4:30 in the afternoon, we’re all sick of our families and need a distraction. But 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. is also around the time a lot of people sit down for Christmas dinner. Ideally, I’d love this game to kick off at 8 p.m. ET, but I’d be fine with even a 7 p.m. ET start.
ESPN should use Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit on all its doubleheaders
ESPN will get four doubleheaders a season with the new TV deal; three on Mondays and one on the last Saturday of the regular season. My own personal prediction is that if ESPN can’t get Peyton Manning in the booth in the next year or two, the network will eventually move Fowler and Herbstreit to Monday Night Football, especially since ABC will now air Super Bowls. Fowler and Herbstreit were extremely impressive in shifting from college football to the NFL for a game last season. ESPN shouldn’t get cute with the broadcast crews for the doubleheaders as it has in years past, using everyone from Mike and Mike (Greenberg and Golic) to Rex Ryan, and a cast of thousands.
Fowler and Herbstreit worked to perfection. Stick with what works.
• BONUS: I’ve said this on Twitter a few times and I know it will never happen, but the NFL really needs to air a 9 a.m. ET London game on the Friday after Thanksgiving. A ton of people are off from work that day, smart people who want to stay home and avoid the Black Friday traffic only get a handful of college football games beginning at noon ET. The NFL should fill that 9 a.m.–noon void.
2. CBS's Ian Eagle quoting Megan Thee Stallion this weekend was simply wonderful.
3. Arkansas men's basketball coach Eric Musselman went after CBS's Todd Fuhrman after the Razorbacks beat Texas Tech, 68–66, on Sunday.
On a CBS internet show, Fuhrman said before the game, "When I look at the head coaches in this game, I think it's one of the biggest mismatches we're going to see in the Round of 32. We talked going into the game versus Utah State about what Chris Beard's record looks like in the NCAA tournament—well he has to be licking his chops."
Following his team's win, Mussleman ripped into Fuhrman, saying:
"I was alerted before the game about somebody on CBS who said something about the coaching matchup so I was a little shocked that we could actually win a close game based on his comments. Whoever that guy is, I've never heard of him in my entire life so his credibility is absolutely zero."
I know Musselman was trying to make Fuhrman look bad here, but my take is that Musselman looks completely foolish. One, your team just won an NCAA tournament game and you're thinking about what someone said on an internet show? Two, you can't play the "I don't know who this guy is; I've never heard of him card" while you're going out of your way to angrily react to what he said.
Props to Fuhrman for handling the situation well.
4. I was expecting baseball fans to give the Astros a hard time this year over the cheating scandal since they didn't get a chance to do it last year, but now security guards are getting in on the action.
5. Diabetes or COVID-19? You make the call.
6. I taped the latest Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Sports Business Journal's Austin Karp a few hours before the NFL deals were officially announced. We covered the deals and what could happen with Sunday Ticket. We also talked about college basketball's ratings problem going into the NCAA Tournament, the new NHL/ESPN deal and the ups and downs of broadcast television
You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy 69th Birthday to Bob Costas.
Full interview below:
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.