© St. Petersburg Times, published December 9, 2002
You knew you were going to get bombarded with Michael Vick, buried in praise for the Atlanta quarterback, drenched in the effusive love the Fox announcing team was sure to show.
But ... wow.
What in the name of Tim Green was going on here?
While there is much to like about Vick, you had to figure Fox's No.1 team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth wouldn't be so enamored -- a la Green -- that it would talk about the Falcon right up until the final seconds of one of his worst full games of the season.
They did, however, from start to finish. Just as the Bucs kicked off, Collinsworth breathlessly moaned, "I can't wait to see Michael Vick."
Then with 1:35 left, Collinsworth gave Vick one final hug by saying, in his eyes, Vick still was a MVP candidate and God wishes he had Vick's arm, speed and talent.
Okay, we made up the part about God. The point is, you weren't sure we made it up, were you?
By the way, the Bucs won 34-10.
Other thoughts from Sunday's Fox broadcast:
A NEGATIVE WORD: The Fox crew probably would keel over if it had tuned in to CBS after the game and heard Deion Sanders actually have the nerve to call Vick's day "horrendous."
ENCORE, ENCORE: After the Falcons' first drive, Buck said, "Three-and-out with an explanation point on the end of it."
Considering how many times the Falcons went three-and-out, replace that explanation point with a comma.
RIP PLEASE: Collinsworth actually is more entertaining when he's criticizing as opposed to fawning over players.
His criticism of a pass route run short of the first down by Shawn Jefferson and the play of defensive back Ray Buchanan were two such (rare) instances.
ON THE MONEY: Buck was right on when he pointed out the lack of emotion early. It had the makings of a channel surfing Sunday.
Then Joe Jurevicius lightened the mood with the Chicken Dance, and all was well as Buck sang along.
SIDELINE WHAT?: It's time to officially give up on sideline reporters.
While Buck wondered where Warrick Dunn was, Pam Oliver could deliver only ... well, nothing.
Unless you count those probing questions to Jon Gruden coming out of halftime or the insight into how Vick "just chills" on the sideline even though his team is getting blown out.
MORE VICK: The Fox crew raved about how Vick "flicked" a pass (that if not underthrown would have been a touchdown), how Vick showed off his arm strength with a bullet (on an unimpressive short pass), wondered if he was "revolutionary" and, before a key play, excitedly wondered aloud, "What will Vick do on third down?" (Almost throw an interception to Anthony McFarland.)
DUH: Collinsworth haters rejoiced after he decided to spring a trivia question on Aikman, apparently missing the fact the question and answer were on the television screen a few seconds earlier.
Buck called him on it then hilariously rolled his eyes while mimicking Collinsworth's excuse with his hands.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Brad Johnson was outstanding and received too little praise. The defense was its usual scary self. The running game showed life. Jurevicius might have emerged as a third receiving threat. Brad Johnson was outstanding. Simeon Rice should win defensive player of the year honors, which Aikman mentioned three times. The offensive line deserved more credit for Sunday's performance, and Brad Johnson was outstanding.
Next time, maybe such accomplishments won't be obscured by one player on the losing team having a horrible day.