Airwaves: Highlights and low points from the NFL

Some quotes and notes from around the NFL last week:

– From Boomer Esiason, the talented analyst from the CBS “NFL Today Show” on stoic Browns coach Eric Mangini: “This guy can take the fun out of a 10-year-old’s birthday party with Big Bird.” You are correct Boomer, Mangini needs to chill and realize players are humans, not robots.

– Brian Billick will be the analyst, and underrated Thom Brennaman the play-by-play man when Fox telecasts the 49ers game today at 1 p.m. from the ’Stick. Billick improves with each broadcast and Fox is beginning to utilize him more and more — especially on their informative Web site. The talented Billick just finished a book, “More Than a Game,” about the future of pro football. I read it on a plane this past week and it is very good.

– Speaking of the Niners, it seems like Ted Robinson has made a seamless transition to the seat Joe Starkey filled for so long as the 49ers’ radio play-by-play man. Gary Plummer is his usual steady self. I think the broadcast is solid, but for my taste, they go down to the sidelines far too often. In addition, that was a great drive to end the game last week against the puzzling Cardinals. Shaun Hill was 9-of-13 on the drive. Offensive playcaller Jimmy Raye was outstanding in his decisions and play and formation selection.

– The Raiders can’t lose to Kansas City today, can they? How ugly will it get, if indeed, this does happen? The game will air on CBS at 10 a.m. from the land of the barbecue. Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots will call the action. I thought JaMarcus Russell looked awful against an average Chargers defense Monday night. The Raiders better figure out what to do in the passing game. One thing we are learning very quickly about the NFL is you must throw to win. Didn’t the Silver and Black once have a guy named Randy as a receiver? Isn’t he the same guy who caught 12 passes for 141 yards in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader? The Raiders are three-point dogs with the over-under at 38½ points. Take the Chiefs and the under.

– At Candlestick, the 49ers are 1½-point favorites over Seattle with the over-under at 39. The 49ers are a lock and take the over. Don’t allow that 28-0 win by the ’Hawks against the hapless Rams influence your rational thinking.

– I really like Chris Myers from Fox a lot. I have done many shows with him on TV and on the radio. However, man was he wrong last Sunday while broadcasting the Lions-Saints game. In an attempt at humor, Myers stated linebacker Larry Foote’s signing with the Lions’ after previously playing with the Steelers was like going from “dating Beyonce to dating Whoopi Goldberg.” Now Chris, I know you are smarter than that. Always avoid sexist type comments on the air. Besides, I would date Whoopi any time she wants. If she was good enough for Ted Danson, she is good enough for me. Besides she is filthy rich!

– Please, please television Gods, don’t allow cable or networks to show anymore Ultimate Fighting on TV. This past Wednesday, Spike TV gave us a doubleheader with a bunch of meatheads beating each others’ brains in. Last night was a pay-per-view event. Stop the madness before someone dies in the ring. I was in NYC this past Monday and while checking into the Marriott Marquis on Broadway, they had three humongous billboards of this clown Kimbo Slice advertising the upcoming season of the “Ultimate Fighter.” What a waste of money, plus the guy scares me.


ESPN needs to rethink its broadcast teams

Suggestion to ESPN: I applaud the fact that the network is trying to kick off the NFL season with a bang and give the fans a doubleheader between four natural and division rivals. Last Monday night was great stuff.

First, an exciting game between God’s team, the New England Patriots, and America’s unknown and under-appreciated team, the Buffalo Bills. Jon Gruden, Jaws (Ron Jaworski) and crew did a wonderful job of presenting the game across the air.

The Raiders-Chargers game was just as exciting with the guys from Oakland losing their 12th straight to the Bolts. However, that is where the entertainment stopped.

I thought the broadcast was terrible. You, ESPN, put a talented guy like Steve Young in a tough spot. He is very good as a studio analyst and very well-spoken on his radio gigs, especially with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert on KNBR (680 AM) here in the Bay Area. But if you are going to put him in the booth, put him with a veteran play-by-play man and a veteran analyst.

Mike Greenberg was the play-by-play man. Mike Golic was the other analyst. These guys do a very good job on their national radio show “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN.

However, lets never confuse them with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Greenberg is a self-described “geek,” who has no true sports background. He is not observant and one can quickly ascertain he is clueless in calling a game. Golic, the ex-Notre Dame and Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman, tries way too hard to tell the audience how much he knows about football. Last Monday, he constantly talked over Young when he was trying to make a point when talking about the passing game. Problem is that most of the time Golic was wrong!

This whole mind-set hit me on Monday night as I was in NYC watching and listening to the game about 1 a.m. Eastern time. On Saturday, ESPN-ABC assigned the very talented and refreshing Matt Millen to the Notre Dame-Michigan game. I love Millen, but he struggled doing a college game. He had very few recent resources to fall back on. Would it not make more sense for the monster from Bristol to use Millen’s strengths in the booth rather than have him doing a college game or sitting in a chair on the field. Wake up people, this is not that hard.

On target

Terry Bradshaw, the immensely popular co-host of the Fox “NFL Sunday” pregame show, minced no words during Sunday’s opening broadcast by stating: “I will be glad when Brett Favre retires because I am  fed up with it.” Good for you, Terry! Favre is a pain in the neck that takes up way too much air time. By the way, the Fox pregame show got off to a terrific start. Everyone was in mid-season form. Howie Long was tremendous in his “Fired Up” session, as was Jimmy Johnson explaining this dumb wildcat formation.


Who said it

Serena Williams
“If I could, I would take this #@$%&*%# ball and shove it down your $%#@&%$# throat,” the tennis great shouted at a line judge during the U.S. Open last week. OK, she went a little overboard, but normally she just goes about her business and plays the game. I love the fact she showed emotion, plus I love a woman who has a worse potty mouth than me.

Bob Ladouceur
“Offensively we are atrocious, the worst I have ever seen at our school,” the De La Salle High School football coach said last week after getting thumped by Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey 30-6. Although the coach was being hard on himself and his team, this guy is in the top five of the greatest high school coaches of all time. They might not lose another game all year.


One to watch

There is only one thing to watch tonight and that is the Dallas Cowboys. On the NBC Sunday night game, with the great Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth calling the action, Jerry Jones’ Cowboys will host the N.Y. Giants in the first ever regular-season game in the new, spectacular Cowboys Stadium. Jones wants 100,000 people to attend. Forget the rivalry and the importance of the division game, this will be a spectacular show.


Sports by numbers

21.1 million People who watched Sunday’s Packers-Bears game on NBC

20.9 million People who watched Thursday’s Steelers-Titans game on NBC

10.5 million People who watched last week’s USC-Ohio State game on ESPN, most watched broadcast in the history of ESPN

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

NFLOakland Raiders & NFLRadiosports

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