tampabay.com

Remote Patrol

By SHARON GINN
Published September 29, 2006


NEWSMAKERS

Phil Simms, father of Chris and CBS' No. 1 analyst, has declined to speak with the media this week, other than to release a family statement thanking supporters for their well wishes. Simms has spent the week with his ailing son in Tampa but will be back in the booth Sunday, a CBS spokeswoman said. He and announcer Jim Nantz will call the New England-Cincinnati game at 4:15 p.m. (The game will not be seen in Tampa; Ch. 10 will get Jacksonville-Washington instead.)

ESPN college basketball analyst and Sarasota resident Dick Vitale, 67, reportedly will sign a seven-year extension with the network, good through 2013.

CHANNEL SURFING

Sun Sports' Lightning preseason special airs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, with six more showings throughout the week. The program, hosted by Paul Kennedy, includes a Southeast Division preview and interviews with John Tortorella, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards.

RATINGS WATCH

The numbers suggest the U.S. audience is growing weary of the Americans' struggles at the Ryder Cup. After a weak start Friday and Saturday, the ratings tumbled for NBC's live coverage Sunday of the final round from Ireland. The network earned a 2.7 rating, down 20.6 percent from a 3.4 in 2004 (played in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and down 30.8 percent from a 3.9 in 2002 (played in England). The U.S. team has not won the Cup since 1999.

NBC's Sunday Night Football outrated ESPN's Monday Night Football this week - but not by much. ESPN earned its highest ratings ever (10.85-million homes, 11.8 cable rating) and the biggest audience of the night for the Saints' return to the Louisiana Superdome, while NBC had 11.12-million homes tune in for the Denver/New England matchup. Fox's 4:15 p.m. game coverage (where 82 percent of the country got the Giants-Seahawks) beat both of them, earning a 12.3 broadcast rating, representing 13.7-million homes.

The lower NBC rating is worth noting, because the biggest question about the network's SNF acquisition has been whether fans will be weary of watching football by Sunday nights. Both Desperate Housewives and Cold Case beat Sunday Night Football during the 9-10 p.m. hour.

THEY SAID IT

"If this were Donovan McNabb or Peyton Manning and you saw them in that press conference, you'd say, 'OK, it's a misunderstanding.' ... There is enough of a history here with Terrell Owens that I don't know that I can just dismiss this out of hand at this point. If I were the Dallas Cowboys, before I put him back on the practice field I would certainly want a psychiatrist to have a conversation with him and make sure that he is not really depressed or that he attempted suicide. And I think to do anything less than that would be irresponsible."

- Co-host Cris Collinsworth, speaking Wednesday on HBO's Inside the NFL.

"Curse or no curse, everybody, and I mean everybody, wants to be on that cover."

- Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander, "Madden NFL 07" cover subject and latest victim of the so-called "Madden curse," to the Seattle Times. Alexander was the sixth straight cover athlete to sustain an injury that caused him to miss at least one game.