NFL on NBC: The winner and still champ; Great games and can start to flex in week 5

Today, I will be breaking down who got what gifts (and potential clunkers) from the NFL.


The winner always is NBC. The traditionally strong Sunday night package will be even stronger this year. The network now will have the option of beginning to flex in week 5, giving Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth an even better chance to call bigger games.

Best games: On paper, they all are pretty good, and some are excellent, starting with Green Bay at Seattle to kick off the season on Thursday night, Sept. 4.

Then NBC quickly jumps on the Peyton Manning train, with his former Indianapolis Colts team visiting Denver for the opening Sunday night game.

The following week, NBC will open San Francisco’s new Levi Stadium with Chicago at 49ers. Local knowledge: Beware of a blowout, because the Bears never … Continue Reading

First for NFL in postseason: Significance of ESPN landing a wildcard game

The NFL had been the last major pro sports league to resist placing part of its postseason on cable. Until today.

It was announced this morning that ESPN will air one of the wildcard games during the opening weekend of the playoffs this year. NBC, which had aired both wildcard games, now will get a divisional playoff game.

The ESPN release included this passage:

“The NFL and ESPN reached a new eight-year extension in 2011 for Monday Night Football and broad studio, multimedia and international rights. The agreement – which began this spring and extends through the 2021 NFL season – provides the NFL with an option to air a postseason Wild Card playoff game on ESPN, which the NFL has opted to exercise this season.”

According to John Ourand and Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily, ESPN will … Continue Reading

Mark Cuban: NFL getting ‘too hoggy’ with TV expansion; ‘Hogs get slaughtered’

Take note, NFL. Mark Cuban is comparing you to pigs.

Yesterday, during a pregame chat with reporters, the Dallas Mavericks owner said there are risks for the NFL in trying to dominate every night of TV. He put it in livestock terms.

From Tim MacMahon of

“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban said Sunday evening when his pregame conversation with reporters, which covered a broad range of topics, swayed toward football. “I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

“I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule number

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My Chicago Tribune story on monetizing Halas Hall: Bears open headquarters with new event center

This falls under the category of sports business. However, it also is a follow-up to a sports media story I did last fall.

I did a piece in today’s Chicago Tribune on the Bears looking to monetize Halas Hall, their headquarters and training facility in Lake Forest. The team built a new event center as part of a 43,000-square foot addition.

You also can access the package, which features a video and pictures, via my twitter feed at Sherman_Report.

The Bears’ new space also includes a state-of-the-art broadcast operation. In October, I did a story for USA Today on how NFL teams also are becoming content companies.

All in all, the league continues to find news ways to print money.

Here is the excerpt to my Tribune story on the facility.


Ted Phillips always was struck whenever visitors walked … Continue Reading

Bart Scott bucks trend; New NFL Today analyst not Hall of Famer, Super Bowl winner

As expected, CBS added Bart Scott to its NFL Today panel this morning.

On the surface, it is a sound move. Scott shined as an analyst on That Other Pregame Show on CBS Sports Network. He seemed destined to get the promotion.

Yet is Scott a big enough name to lure viewers over to NFL Today? While he was a solid player for Baltimore and the New York Jets, he only played in one Pro Bowl during his 11-year career. He never played in a Super Bowl.

Consider the panel on Fox NFL Sunday: Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson. Three Hall of Famers and a two-time Super Bowl winning coach.

NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network also have a wealth of Hall of Famers and Super Bowl winners on their panels.

Now Scott’s new teammate, Boomer Esiason, … Continue Reading

Questions: What makes CBS think Tony Gonzalez will be any good on NFL Today? Is Bart Scott next to join pregame show?

Question, questions….

For starters, let’s begin with the age-old concept of TV networks falling in love with the recently retired big star. They drool at the thought of the future Hall of Famer fresh off the field becoming part of their studio show, or as an analyst on games.

Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe once fell into that category. CBS was thrilled to be able to add them to NFL Today.

Now they are gone as of yesterday.

I bring this up to temper the anticipation about CBS jumping on the Tony Gonzalez train. The tight end was a popular star. He’s good looking and glib.

However, will he make a good analyst on NFL Today?

In an interview with USA Today, there was this passage from Gonzalez:

Gonzalez admitted he only recently felt comfortable with the idea of making

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Media circus: Will excessive coverage deter teams from drafting Sam?

The media circus that likely will surround Michael Sam is a big issue. It definitely will factor into some NFL team’s decision not to draft him.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News likened Sam’s situation to what the Jets experienced with Tim Tebow.

From the moment that more than 200 media members, including 30 television stations, covered Tim Tebow’s introductory press conference at the Jets’ indoor practice field in Florham Park two years ago, his presence became one colossal migraine for the organization. Tebowmania swallowed the Jets, the symbol of the circus that defined their season.

Although Jets players never truly blamed Tebow for his cult following, the daily storylines for a backup quarterback/personal punt protector became irritating to them. He simply wasn’t good enough to warrant all the attention. His teammates, frankly, were annoyed by incessant

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DVR alert: NFL Network to re-air documentary on Jerry Smith, Washington star who was gay

If you missed this documentary the first time, be sure to set your DVR. And if you did tune in, watch it again in light of the news involving Michael Sam.

Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET, NFL Network will re-air its A Football Life documentary on Jerry Smith. Sam should be sure to watch if he missed it the first time around. He would be heartened to hear how Smith’s sexual orientation wasn’t an issue for his Washington teammates. All that mattered was that he could play.

From NFL Network.


 From 1965-77, Jerry Smith was a two-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Washington Redskins. At the time he retired, Smith held the record for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in NFL history. Yet off the field, Smith lived with a personal secret he did not … Continue Reading

At what point does gay athlete issue not become a story anymore? Inside account on who got Sam story

As I said when Jason Collins came out last spring, it pains me that this is a story in 2014. By this time, I had hoped an athlete’s sexual orientation wouldn’t matter anymore.

You would have to be naive to think that there haven’t been gay athletes in the locker rooms in all sports for many years. The recent NFL Network A Football Life documentary on Jerry Smith showed that his Washington teammates were aware that he was gay. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that the guy could play.

Deion Sanders had this tweet last night:

From Bears tight end Martellus Bennett.

Yet in 2014, it still is a major story. As of last night, more than avid football fans know about Michael Sam.

Cyd Zeigler, writing for Outsports at SB Nation, served as an advisor to Sam’s representatives … Continue Reading

Q/A with Sean McManus on NFL Thursday night package: Expects strong lineup for CBS games; No. 1 priority for network

It is raining at Pebble Beach today, where Sean McManus is on hand for this week’s coverage of the AT&T Pro-Am. However, his mood couldn’t be brighter the day after CBS landed the NFL’s new eight-game package of Thursday night games.

Here’s my Q/A with the CBS Sports chairman on the deal:

What is your understanding about the quality of the eight Thursday games that will be on CBS?

I’ve been working with the NFL for 16 years, and they always figure out a way to give all the networks a number of high quality games. That’s why the ratings are increasing across the board. When the NFL (added Sunday night games on NBC), they understood the importance of getting off to a good start. They understand the importance of having good quality games to launch this schedule on Thursday … Continue Reading