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Sound bites

JOHN C. COTEY
Published November 25, 2003

Fox, CBS and ESPN had their chance Sunday. ABC got its shot Monday night.

Addressing the Keyshawn Johnson issue, analyst John Madden, buoyed by shots of Johnson yelling at Gruden and then Gruden hugging Johnson, said that if bad behavior is going to be tolerated when a team is winning, it will become a cancer when losing.

"Instead of hugging after the game, the conversation should have been, "We have something to talk about,' " Madden said.

Solid point.

If Monday Night Football really wanted to tweak Johnson, it could have shown Charles Lee's first TD catch over and over. Get this: Lee caught a pass over the middle - over the middle! - and used a burst of speed - speed! - to fly past the safety who would have tackled Johnson. Keenan McCardell delivered a big block - other wide receivers can block! - as the Bucs took the lead.

It was almost enough to remind viewers of one fact, said best by Madden: "(Keyshawn) was a blue-collar receiver; he's not an all-star receiver."

Madden and Al Michaels were at their best discussing the situation, or "inactivation" as Michaels called it (as opposed to deactivation).

Now that everyone has had his say, can we move along?

Some other thoughts and observations from Monday's broadcast:

JUST CALL IT, AL: Michaels is one of the best in the business, but he was not as sharp as he was in the previous two MNF telecasts involving the Bucs. He seemed to miss the little things, like calling a pass complete that was obviously dropped, announcing a timeout that wasn't and missing Thomas Jones' personal foul in the fourth quarter.

BAD CALL: The Horse Trailer Player of the Game was McCardell, but it should have been Dwight Smith. He laid a ferocious hit on Amani Toomer to break up a sure touchdown, the effect of which led to Toomer short-arming a pass later that also would have been a sure touchdown. He also had an interception but got no MNF love.

FOOTBALL FOLLIES: ABC's graphics showing the futility of both the Bucs and Giants, mainly the way they have lost games in zany ways, were excellent.

OVER AND OVER: Madden said a Giant's personal foul belongs "under the category" of stupid, then a play later said the same of Jones' personal foul, and two plays later said a fumbled snap fell "under the heading" of consistency.

We'd have to put all that under the heading of "repetitiveness."

LET IT GO: Michaels and Madden spent way too much time discussing a Michael Strahan penalty that had been declined and a catch by Lee that was ruled complete and not challenged by the Giants before the next snap.

OBVIOUSLY STUPID: Prefacing it by saying it was the obvious question, sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero asked Ronde and Tiki's mother, Geraldine Barber, "Who are you rooting for?"

Must ... not ... throw ... shoe ... at ... TV.

Mom gave the only answer she could, which is why the question shouldn't even have been asked. It appears to be an obsession of Guerrero's to find out who her interviewee is rooting for, as she asked Joe Montana and his son last week if they were rooting for - duh! - San Francisco.

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