Which 8-8 team delivered highest NFL rating for CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN?

I overdosed on the Dallas Cowboys this year. It seemed like Jerry Jones’ mediocre bunch were featured more in Chicago than the Bears.

Yet there is no denying Cowboys can generate the ratings. Even after all these years, they still are America’s Team.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News reports a game involving the Cowboys pulled the highest rating of the year for CBS, NBC, ESPN and Fox Sports.

Last Sunday’s Cowboys-Washington game on NBC had 30.3 million viewers, the most for a prime-time game since 1996.

Here’s the rundown of the top-ranked games for the network:

CBS -Steelers-Cowboys (Dec. 16): 26.9 million

Fox – Redskins-Cowboys (Nov. 22): 28.7 million

ESPN – Bears-Cowboys (Oct. 1): 16.6 million

NBC – Cowboys-Redskins (Dec. 30): 30.3 million

The Cowboys did not appear on NFL Network this year. Surely if they did, they would have had the top rating there too.

Imagine if Dallas actually was good and made the playoffs.



Hanging with Jimmy Johnson: New NFL Network film examines all of his twists and turns

There are worse assignments than doing a film on Jimmy Johnson. For NFL Films producer Bennett Viseltear and his staff, it meant spending quite a bit of time at Johnson’s home in the Florida Keys.

“We did have one day when the seas were pretty rough,” said Viseltear of going on Johnson’s fishing boat. “It almost was a little too much for our cameraman.”

Thankfully, the crew survived and likely joined Johnson in some post-voyage beers.

The laid-back Keys made for an interesting setting for latest edition of A Football Life, the terrific documentary series on NFL Network. Wednesday’s show (8 p.m. ET) focuses on the complex career and life of Johnson.

Here’s a link with the preview.

You see the various sides of the driven, if not possessed coach in the college and pros, who eventually retreated to the relaxed lifestyle of fishing and hanging out with the guys on Fox NFL Sunday.

The film includes scenes of Johnson taking Bill Belichick out on his boat and interviews with Dallas owner Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Terry Bradshaw, Barry Switzer, and many others.

The film leaves you with the sense that Johnson might have left a few titles on the table by fracturing his relationship with Jones and by retiring for good from coaching in 2000. Yet it also reveals that Johnson believes he made the right decision to get out when he did.

It all makes for a compelling film in what has become one of the best sports series on TV. Make sure to set your DVR so you don’t miss another A Football Life.

Here’s Viseltear on the film:

His view of Johnson: He’s a very complex guy. At the same time, he is no non-sense. He won’t spend a moment on something he doesn’t want to do. As a coach, whether he was using his psychology major or not, he knew people. He was a classic button pusher. He knew what it would take to get the best out of you. I could feel him sizing me up in the first couple days we were with him.

On the scenes with Belichick: We heard he invites some current coaches to come meet with him, and we asked if we could shoot the next one. Belichick usually goes down there once during the off-season. They go way back, and their relationship is quite genuine. I don’t know if they talked more football than usual for our benefit, but it was fascinating to listen to from my point of view.

On Jones’ participation: He was up for it. It was a situation where clearly early on they were great for each other. Jimmy couldn’t have done what he did in Dallas without Jerry’s money and backing. But things didn’t work out. In the end, they just couldn’t interact.

On whether Johnson should have won more: Pretty much wherever Jimmy went, he stayed about five years. He only lasted four years (with the Dolphins), and he probably was done after three. Listen, he went 52-9 (with the Miami Hurricanes), won two rings with Dallas, and got Miami to the playoffs three out of four years. It’s hard to win a Super Bowl. They aren’t too many guys out there with two rings.





Is it possible to get too much of this NFL? Are you kidding? Finally, real games

Remember that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where the people of Whoville stand around the tree and sing that song that I now can’t get out of my head?

That’s how I feel about the start of the NFL season.

Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze!

Welcome NFL, Welcome football,

Come this way! Come this way!

Ah yes, our fest begins tonight and doesn’t end until Super Sunday in February. Dallas at New York Giants on NBC and away we go.

Now more than ever before, we can’t get enough of this NFL. The networks keep feeding us more and more, as if that 48-ounce steak they once served now is a mere appetitzer.

Endless pregame shows, endless during-the-week shows on various networks, and a new slate of Thursday night games. Picture Homer Simpson sucking up a dump truck worth of doughnuts. That’s us.

“If the Cowboys play the Giants in a parking lot in March, it’s still going to be tremendous,” said NBC’s Al Michaels. “Football is king right now. The NFL is hotter than any sport than any time in the history of this country. I can’t wait to get started.”

Michaels’ partner, Cris Collinsworth, agreed.

“You can’t give people too much of it,” Collinsworth said. “Look at all the shows, look at all the websites. Look at all the radio shows. How much more people can take? As much as we want to give them they want more and more and more. I just think the interest is not waning at all no matter what happens.”

The NFL felt bullish enough to expand the Thursday night schedule on NFL Network from 8 to 13 games this year, beginning next week with Bears-Green Bay on Sept. 13.

Obviously, an extra primetime game means one less game for CBS and Fox Sports on Sunday afternoon. When you factor in bye weeks, I asked Fox Sports president Eric Shanks if he had any concerns about the inventory of good games being diminished.

Publically, the answer is no, although I’m sure Fox would have liked that Bears-Packers game.

“You can sit around and poke holes at what (NFL scheduling guru) Howard Katz and his guys do,” Shanks said. “But every year they put together a schedule that blows everyone away. It’s magic what they do. They’ve got it down to a science. It’s really hard to throw stones at the NFL right now.”

Nope, all you can do is sing its praises and ask the NFL to keep on feeding us more. And you know they will.

Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze!…