Airwaves: Mathai an ideal host for postgame show

Raj Mathai, KNTV’s (Ch. 11) Mr. Everything, is doing his usual consistent, good job this year on the local NBC affiliate’s “Sports Sunday Primetime” show which airs every Sunday night following the network’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Mathai, an Emmy award winning host, sportscaster and sports director, does a great job with his rotation of guest analysts. I am personally not a fan of rotating guests. I am also not a fan of present players being regular guest analysts.

However, that being said, Mathai does an insightful job of asking the right questions, keeping a rhythm and assisting when the conversation is not on target.

The three rotating analysts are the great Jerry Rice, Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes. Rice is not a polished broadcaster and it is obvious he does not do too much homework. But he is Jerry Rice, and when the topic is about the passing game or wide receiver play, he is very good and most insightful.

In addition, his engaging smile, dapper clothing and general mannerisms make him an easy listen and watch. This is his fourth season as Mathai’s sidekick, so this duo works well together.

I love Nnamdi as a guy and a player. He is a class act all the way. However, it is hard for him or any other player who just played a game to put it all together on the air. Radio or TV at the stadium is one thing, but in-studio is another. He and Spikes both talk well about their respective sides of the ball after a game, but let’s not expect them to dissect the entire offensive game plan or the NFL.

Mathai is masterful at attempting to keep their dialect in their comfort zone.

This is Nnamdi’s second season and the first for Spikes. Spikes has many things to brag about.

Nnamdi doesn’t deserve the pain of playing for the Raiders at this point in his career.

– This past week ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN360, ESPN Classic, ESPN2 and ABC televised 27 different college football games. That means 54 different teams got national TV exposure. There was one game on Tuesday and Friday evenings, and two on Thursday evening. The other 23 were Saturday.


No need for Cal fans to panic just yet

Here and there …

– Cal fans need to take a deep breath! OK, things are not perfect at Memorial Stadium these past few weeks, but look at the body of work Jeff Tedford and his staff have done over the last few years. Things will get back on track very shortly. What do you want, the great Tom Holmoe back?

– Gotta like the guts of former Cal star Aaron Rodgers. I thought, with the exception of a few plays, he played super against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

– I can’t get myself to like ESPN’s Stuart Scott on TV. Before and after “Monday Night Football,” he sits there with Matt Millen and Steve Young chewing the fat about the game. His demeanor bugs me because he really thinks he knows football, but guess what Stu? You don’t. Booya!

– When will college and NFL players stop pointing to the sky or raising the No. 1 sign after they make a good play? It is old and tired.

– I love the ESPN commercial with super-stud Albert Pujols and the mascots at the copy machine. The ad agency who thought of this whole mascot series should be immortalized.

– NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, who is doing a yeoman’s job taking over for John Madden, made an interesting comment last week about Peyton Manning. “He makes the game look easy,” the former Florida Gator said. Truer words were never spoken. Pro football is a complex game, but with a talent like Manning and a great scheme, it does look easy at times.

– If you are Tom Cable, you must be a bit nervous. Not only is your team playing very poorly, but while you were in the locker room getting ready to play Houston last week, Fox’s Jay Glazer was telling the football world  the NFL is looking into your confrontational incident with wacko assistant Randy Hanson. Glazer, who is great at his job, is very seldom wrong.


On target

Veteran play-by-play man Brent Musburger is having a great year calling the prime-time ESPN/ABC college football game each Saturday night. Teamed with the very talented Kirk Herbstreit, this duo makes a great pair and it is a great way to spend a Saturday night, having a few cold ones and watching ball. Brent is still as pumped up as ever and Herby truly understands college football.


Who said it

Rodney Harrison
“Tom Brady, if you are listening, take off the skirt and put on some slacks, toughen up,” Brady’s former teammate joked on the NBC Sunday night pregame show. Of course, Harrison was only joking because he and Brady are great friends. But some people in the media and Internet morons blew it totally out of proportion to indicate that Harrison was
serious. Just chill out, everyone, chill out.

Vernon Davis
“We came out and did exactly what we were supposed to do, we hit them in the mouth,” the 49ers tight end said after last week’s dismantling of the St. Louis Rams. Davis is playing well so far this year, and yes, the Niners did hit the Rams right in the mouth last week. It was fun to watch.


One to watch

The Raiders will take on the undefeated New York Giants today on CBS at 10 a.m. Dan Dierdorf and Greg Gumbel will make the call. This is a great team for CBS. Gumbel is a real pro, and Hall of Fame guard Dierdorf gives wonderful insight and a true explanation of what is happening on the field. The 49ers-Falcons will have Kenny Albert call their game, and Daryl Johnston and Tony “Goose” Siragusa analyze it. Johnson is very good, “Goose” can be clownish at times. Fox will broadcast this one at 1:05 p.m. today.


By the numbers

1 Wins this season by the Silver and Black (Raiders)

3 Wins this season by the Singletary bunch (49ers)

5 Undefeated NFL teams entering today’s games

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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