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Super Sunday lands a few weeks early

Published January 18, 2004

This is Super Sunday. More super, I think, than two weeks from now. My favorite football-watching day.

Two games, two networks, seven hours and meaning that can't get any bigger. Intensity higher than for most Super Bowls.

"Getting there" is so golden.

TV is sure to deliver too much hype, too many cliches, too many babbling jocks and enough warmed-over "highlights" to bring cramps to the strongest NFL stomach.

We can take it. It'll be worth it, checking in first on frosty Foxboro, then frenzied Philly. How big? Did you catch the sincere, low-volume agony of Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez after his Chiefs were eliminated last weekend?

You felt the meaning.

Athletes do make too much money. They show too little humility. Most are far too self-absorbed. Arrogance is commonplace. But, at the championship-game level, there is a rekindling of old-fashioned spirit. An honorable hunger. Doing it mostly for the honor.

Before the real stuff begins, we will be asked to inhale a flood of prekickoff analysis and opinion. I'm ready. My favorite gabbers are the "Fox Four" of Brown-Bradshaw-Long-Johnson. They have fun while addressing most prime issues with strong credibility.

Funny, with so much programming on the regular Fox network that I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot satellite dish, my first pick is also Fox for an NFL broadcast troika.

Jack Buck's son, Joe, does comfortable and dependable play by play, blending with opinions from a truly candid, nonhouse-man jock, Cris Collinsworth, plus a nonshowboating, solid-citizen former Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman.

I'm about ready. Soft drinks. Beer for dropins. Chips. Dip. Popcorn. Remote control. Am I ready for some football?

Whatever happened to Vinny "Microwave" Johnson?

* * *

MORSELS: Howard Dean we now know, but who are the next most famous living Vermonters? My sweet guesses are Ben and Jerry. ... Are you with me yet in feeling that the Colts' Marvin Harrison, in comparison with the 49ers' Terrell Owens, is twice the receiver and five times the human being? ... Trivia: Who is the only inductee in both the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown and Canton? (answer shortly). ... David Duval is about to get married, so I predict new stability plus the healing of a splattered mind will spin the world's most sinking golfer back into a PGA Tour contender before '05. ... Cold case files: No wonder there's so much worry about bitter NFL playoff weather, with no teams from California or Florida surviving the regular season. ... Double dipper in Halls is Cal Hubbard, a 1927-36 tackle with the Giants and Packers who also played a little baseball with the Pirates, but earned that game's Hall as a 1936-51 umpire. ... We know who won't win the Iowa caucus - the Florida Gators.

HEY, HUBERT!: E-mail from Barry Tate of Tallahassee says, "You're an even bigger jerk than Steve Spurrier to suggest he become coach of my FSU Seminoles."

REPLY: Hey, Barry, it was a joke ... anyway, these days there are a lot of people being ranked ahead of Ol' Ball Coach.

HEY, HUBERT!: E-mail from Gerald Casey of Tampa asks, "Since you were often a supporter of Pete Rose being put in baseball's Hall of Fame, despite charges against him, let's hear how you feel since Charlie Hustle admitted to betting on his sport."

REPLY: I'm still for Rose having a plaque in Cooperstown, based solely on his extraordinary playing career. I wrote during the O.J. Simpson trial that, even if he were judged guilty of murder, I would not endorse removing him from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

To me, Gerald, these are not halls of morals. Otherwise, many would merit ejection, like raging bigot Ty Cobb. As a man, I think Pete's reputation is more sad and scarred than ever. I do not think he should ever be allowed a job with any official connection to MLB.

THE LAST WORD: There's something I don't like about Fox's coverage. It's Tony Siragusa, a 350-pound former NFL defensive tackle whose TV act is useless, boring and deserves termination by nightfall.

Goose was a colorful player with the look of a dropout from bartender school. Entertaining in brief doses but, in retirement, a waste as a fourth announcer doing empty, nonfunny reports from sidelines.

Sideline reporting is a ticklish business. Just ask Suzy Kolber, who must interview and fend off people like an overloaded Joe Namath. Chatting with coaches at halftime is an akin-to-useless obtrusion. Let the reporters update injuries, bring true insight, but not fluff, and otherwise clam up.

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