It was horrible, and he didn’t hide his feelings. As ESPN cut to a commercial in the third quarter, Tirico said bluntly, “A bad punt in a bad game.”
If I’m ESPN, and paying something like $50 million per Monday night game, I’m on the phone with the NFL today. The league blew it by scheduling a Jets-Titans game for primetime so late in the season.
Neither team made the playoffs in 2011. The Jets were a measly 8-8, while Tennessee wasn’t much better at 9-7. What made the schedule-makers think that this match-up would be worth watching in late December?
The potential definitely was there for Tennessee to be a dud, and who knows with the Jets? Even so, nobody thought they were Super Bowl contenders.
Meanwhile, over at NBC, Al Michaels and company had the New England-San Francisco game on Sunday night. Now at the beginning of the season, you would have to say that looked like a pretty good game on Dec. 16.
NBC gets the flex scheduling option beginning in week 10. However, its schedule has been so strong, this Sunday will be the first and only flex of the season. The NFL decided to switch from San Diego-Jets (enough with the Jets!) to San Francisco-Seattle.
NFL can’t flex for ESPN since much more is involved in moving a Monday night game. However, if it had been in play, I bet the league would have flexed off three ESPN games: Pittsburgh-Kansas City (1-8 going into game) on Nov. 12; 2-8 Carolina at 3-7 Philadelphia on Nov. 26; and last night’s game.
ESPN closes out its season Saturday with Atlanta-Detroit. The game has lost considerable luster with the Lions playing out the string at 4-10. But with Detroit coming off a playoff run in 2011, at least this match-up made sense for prime time at the beginning of the season.
Jets-Titans didn’t. ESPN and the viewers (those who tuned in) got stuck with a terrible game.
We all deserve better, especially Mike Tirico.