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Let's talk about bad football shows, then you can send in some non-bad questions. The Battle Red Bag is open for business.
That's the best term I can use to describe the typical NFL pre-game show. We have four networks running them, and every one of them involves a staggering amount of idiot charisma.
I long ago came to terms with the idea that I am not really the target of much beyond niche advertising in the grand scope of the NFL. That's fine. I don't have a problem with that. The problem is that, other than the criminally-slotted NFL Matchup (which airs way too early and is only 30 minutes long because Mike Lupica needs a place to preen on national television), there is no pre-game show targeted at my niche.
Every Sunday, I inevitably have these shows on in the background because I'm excited. It's Sunday. Football is about to be played, and stupid sports emotions are about to take center stage in my life. While every one of those guys on the stage may, at one point, have been qualified to give us some awesome analysis, they have actively been trained not to do so. Idiot charisma.
The thing about it is: they win either way. Let's say it's Chris Berman telling me that he doesn't think the Texans are the best team in the AFC, as he did last week. Well, first of all, there's a segment of the population that are all about that selection. Ravens fans, for one. The people who are still angry at the Texans for failing as a popular sleeper team for years. The people who have bought the bizarre theory that the Texans are soft. And so on. So he has their ear. But then, due to the utter lack of any real evidence given, he gets me thinking thoughts like, "I can't believe this guy is on the air."
And that's when they really have me. Despite the fact that they had nothing to really say, and offered only an opinion answer in a black and white world, it made me feel something. Such is the power of these shows, and such is the power of idiot charisma. Maybe Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe and Michael Irvin, have some terrific things to teach us about how certain receivers run routes, communicate with quarterbacks, and so on. But we're never going to hear word one of it, because they have been sent into this studio with the mission of making us feel something rather than making us think.
I'm sure most of you have already seen the obvious problem here, but if you haven't, let me tell you this: it's a lot easier to be manipulated when you're feeling rather than thinking. And emotional attention is much stronger: I might carry a head-grudge against someone for something stupid they said. It's much harder to do that to someone when they make you think. When you're giving them pertinent information that actually matters.
I guess what I'm saying is that the next NFL pre-game studio show that does that will be the first. And I sure hope that, much like All-22 film and snap counts for the public, it is something that happens sooner rather than later.
By the way, my ranking of the four current pre-game studio shows
1) CBS: now with Jason La Canfora replacing Charley Casserly, it's easily the least-offensive show out there for the senses. James Brown is extremely talented at his job.
2) ESPN: Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen break more Sunday stories than any other journalists in the league. The analysis, obviously, I can usually do without. Kenny Mayne can sometimes hit me in the right spot.
3) NFL Network: They do have some decent analysis on Playbook, but generally their studio set just seems uninspired to me.
4) FOX: Asides from the Murdoch influence, I feel like this show's main goal is to try to have Curt Menefee talk over 60 minutes of other people on the set laughing uproariously.
So, if you want to submit a question to the Battle Red Bag, here is the procedure you should follow: