Airwaves: Fox pregame show still reigns supreme

A huge part of NFL coverage on Sundays is the pregame shows. I have written about them in the past, but we all must remember things change on a yearly basis. New personalities come into the mix and some analysts get better while others show some slippage.

For my money, the reigning champion of the pregame has been “Fox NFL Sunday.” Even after losing the talented James Brown to rival CBS, Fox has stayed at a high level. However, it needs to be careful. Michael Strahan, last year’s bright new star, does not seem to be as up to date as he was a year ago. After last year’s great rookie season, Fox decided to put him as a co-star on their new comedy series “Brothers.”

He is perfect for the part as an ex-NFL star going through changes is his life. That being said, he needs to make sure that is not taking away from his main job, analyzing football.

Host Curt Menefee, a virtual unknown a few years back, appears to be talking more and at times, too much. Both Michael and Curt need to realize that co-host Terry Bradshaw, analyst Howie Long and ex-coach Jimmy Johnson are the stars. These three are in midseason form. The behind-the-scenes crew of Fox President Ed Goren, Executive producer Scott Ackerson and assistant Producer and information guru John Czarnecki give this group great guidance and outstanding material in which to bring to the TV audience.

Bottom line here is that Strahan needs to be aware that football is his foundation. Menefee needs to back off a bit, and the other three guys keep being what you are, super on the show.

– The conclusion of the Tom Cable versus Randy Hanson incident should be interesting. I keep hearing the Napa police will press charges against Cable and then the NFL will be required to sniff around, which can’t be good for Cable. Can you imagine after all that has happened in Raiderville already this year, if the head coach were to get suspended for punching an assistant? Only in Alameda!

– Too bad Frank Gore will miss some playing time. He really takes the heat off Shaun Hill. So far, so good for offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. He is doing an excellent job of calling plays for the 49ers. Speaking of calling plays, the Broncos’ Mike Nolan wins the defensive coach of the first three weeks of the season. Maybe Nolan is just better as an assistant coach and can’t sit in the No. 1 chair.

So often this has become the norm in the NFL. The reason is there are not enough quality head coaching candidates around. All we do is have to look across the Bay to realize that.

Fitz and Brooks are a solid pair

Great job Tuesday by KNBR hosts Bob Fitzgerald and Rod Brooks. The great Jerry Rice was in the studio during the 1 p.m. hour and he was most interesting.

Rice was there to talk 49ers and Raiders football, as well as announce his formation and partnering with a charitable foundation.

That being said, and Rice is a generous and humble man, Rod and Fitz asked some great questions and brought out some interesting thoughts from the receiving legend.

Rice talked about how indebted he was to Bill Walsh for taking a chance on him and how he never wanted to let Bill, Eddie D or his parents down. This was the single greatest motivation that drove him to perfection on the field and in his training routine to become a champion.

Fitz and Brooksie often get overlooked on the radio. Fitz does a great job as the play-by-play man for the Warriors. He also does numerous NFL games on the radio. In fact, when I first jumped into the broadcasting world, Fitz and the great Grant Napear were my original partners and they both taught me the tricks of the trade.

Rod seemingly has been in the Bay Area for 15 years. He is excellent as the sideline reporter for the 49ers radio broadcast on KNBR. I am not a fan of sideline people, but Brooks is one I like. While with KNBR (1050 AM) when the station broadcasted the Raiders games, Rod was a constant and respected figure around the team.

The biggest issue for this broadcasting team is they are sandwiched in between the two giants of the station — Gary Radnich, who ends his show at noon, and Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert, who start theirs at 3 p.m. In addition, the noon-to-3 p.m. slot is when most people are at work and hopefully doing their respective jobs.

I don’t know, nor care, what the ratings say, this is just a fact. However, it should not be a reflection of the talent, because this pair has developed into an outstanding duo.

– Radnich is having a great season with many interesting topics and guests. Of course, some material is served on a silver platter, like in Silver and Black, as well as Mike Singletary’s crew’s nice start. Barbieri and Tolbert are as entertaining and interesting as always.

From the point spreads to an in-depth look at a topic, this is also great radio.

In fact, I enjoy Tolbert’s predictions so much I never fill out my own football pools anymore. I ride Tom’s wave.

On target

ESPN did a smart thing this past week by hiring Ex-MLB manager Bobby Valentine as an analyst for the playoffs. This colorful and opinionated character has been managing in Japan the last few years. During a recent interview, he talked about loving life in Japan, but would like to manage in the big leagues again. I think the guy deserves another chance, and here’s hoping he gets one!

Who said it

James Carville
“One thing I pull for more than anything is that the BCS just turns into a big rotten mess,” the political strategist said during a CBS Sports interview this past week. Gee, isn’t that nice. Of course, Carville is an LSU fan. Hey Jimbo, stick to grits and politics. My question is, why do we allow so many rednecks to roam around Washington, D.C.?

Tony Dungy
“Every single thing he does has meaning. Every movement, every gesture, he is getting information to the players,” the former Indianapolis Colts coach said about Peyton Manning. Manning is off to a great start this year on the field, leading the Colts to a 3-0 start. Dungy is also off to a good start in his rookie broadcasting year for NBC.

One to watch

It’s a huge day today for both the Raiders and the 49ers. At 10 a.m., CBS (KPIX, Ch. 5) will bring us the Raiders versus the Houston Texans. High-energy Gus Johnson will make the call along with Steve Tasker. The 49ers take the field for a 1:15 p.m. kickoff versus the horrific St. Louis Rams. Ron Pitts and broadcasting newcomer John Lynch will provide the voices to this game. Both games are pivotal. A Raiders loss begins the season-long nose dive. A Niners win makes them feel great about themselves at 3-1.

By the numbers

0 2009 wins by 2008 NFL division winners Miami, Tennessee and Carolina

0 Chances of me ever getting a date with Sharon Stone

0 Chances of the newly formed UFL to survive

Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at

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