Tony Romo’s excellence is CBS’s good luck — not CBS’s design

Tony Romo’s excellence is CBS’s good luck — not CBS’s design

January 25, 2019

Given that we’re all members of the human race, we’re all related. Thus it stands to reason that if we’re all related, everything is relative.

And so, this question: Is CBS’s Tony Romo, currently riding a rocket as a foresighted NFL analyst well worth our attention as he speaks to us in relaxed, regular-guy English, a good analyst because he’s a deviation from the norm, or because he’s that good, thus stands out like a Sunday Statue of Liberty?

Romo seems to know that making pre-snap sense is less important than being right. So he gives both a shot. And Sunday, during Pats-Chiefs, he repeatedly hit the double.

Was Romo, who last season debuted with a let’s-have-some-fun approach and alert pre-play vision, a matter of design or a matter of volume, the blind squirrel eventually finding a nut? After all, while all networks spend a fortune in money, thought, data and technology to be distinguished as the best, none has succeeded; they mostly work off a copy of the same plan.

Consider that in Sunday’s first game, Rams-Saints, Troy Aikman sounded much as he did during his first telecast, in 2002, as Fox’s lead analyst: Dreary, wordy, uptight, cliché-ridden. His predilection to tell us that players have to “step up,” plays must be “dialed up” and that there are those who “play with a chip on their shoulder” — whatever that means; he leaves it at that — should have been cured 15 years ago.

And that kills me. To speak with Aikman is to hear an engaging, good-humored man, nothing close to how he’s heard on Fox. That means from Day 1, he — and we — have been victimized by one of three things.

1) No coaching. 2) No good coaching. 3) Ignored coaching of either kind.

Given the redundancy of unimproved analysts among all networks, I’d stake my any-day-now FanDuel fortune on 2.

As Rick Barry explained of his long career as a CBS NBA analyst, after every telecast he was told, “Great job,” until he was told, “You’re fired.”

Aikman, by now, should be a welcomed voice. But who is there to help him? The same guys who hire “talent” because they shout? Or hire ex-players because they were trash-talkers, headhunters, showboaters and lawbreakers?

If executive producers and other shot-callers knew football, why would they decorate our screens with distracting, irrelevant, misleading and just-plain stupid stats? If they understood the game, if they watched and heard from where we watch and hear, if they knew good from bad, Romo would be one of many.

Consider that Cris Collinsworth, who acceded to NBC’s top analyst, has receded. Once enjoyed as credible and concise, he’s now insufferable as a know-it-all who, over three hours, won’t cease talking. Is there no one at NBC to stop him? Or are the bosses good with that, unaware that he has become a burden?

ESPN’s lead college football analyst, Kirk Herbstreit, once held promise as a see-it/say-it guy. Now he operates from the corner of Inane and Arcane, ceaselessly attacking the good senses with absurd faux-slick idioms about the need to “get up the field vertically.” Perhaps in the mistaken belief that he’s an attraction, he, too, has grown worse.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” has exceeded the furthest boundaries of logic and practicality as a form of sustainable — forget enjoyable — viewing.

From six years of having to indulge Jon Gruden’s inattentive, say-anything nonsense — he’d still be at it if he hadn’t left for the Raiders — to windbag rookie Jason Witten, who excitedly made non-stories long, to Booger McFarland, who shouted the self-evident while relegated to a lunar module-like chair that best served to obstruct the view from those in expensive seats, to frequent injections of artificial additives, cutaways and sells, ESPN has crafted MNF into a cruel national joke.

After 17 years, no one at Fox has prevailed upon Moose Johnston to stop delivering speeches after every play? Or does such analysis — can’t spell it without “anal” — meet with Fox’s annual approval?

And now, in Ronde Barber, Fox has another who labors under the misconception that we tuned in to hear him talk, talk, talk until much of his analysis, inevitably, becomes contradictory.

And so I put it to you that in Tony Romo we have a serendipitous TV accident. Blind squirrel. We were due.

NFL’s rule and unusual punishment

As the late George Young and a young Mike Pereira predicted, “instant” replay rules would change the perception of the NFL from reality — the human condition that sentences us all to commit errors — to the utopian fantasy of “getting it right,” although that becomes a matter of lengthy delays, second opinions, disagreements and debates.

One man’s conclusive proof is another man’s maybe and another’s no-way. That’s why the assessments of slow-motion evidence among retired refs working NFL telecasts often don’t match the eventual post-replay calls.

The NFL is now so top-heavy with changing and added rules that every game can only be officiated extemporaneously — rules guessed at, ignored or enforced on a per-game or per-play basis.

That non-call in Rams-Saints appeared to be horrible. So now what? That’s life; that’s what all the people say. Or used to say. But the NFL planted in its fans a sense of unrealistic, more-replay anguished entitlement.

A lawsuit in Louisiana has been filed to have the game restarted from the point of the non-call reversed. But first, upon further review, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton after the 10-step clock expired. Do-over!

Commissioners for sale: So the steroid gang is facing resistance to Hall of Fame enshrinement. Good.

Yet, Bud “Bottom Line” Selig, who measured his success on increased revenue at the cost of The Game’s integrity, green-lighting the Drug Era with a look-away pass, was fast-tracked into Cooperstown.

Then there’s bogus PSL-pusher Roger Goodell, who claims it’s “all about our fans” when it’s all about the TV money.

Sunday, if the fans counted, Pats-Chiefs, played outdoors at night in Arctic conditions, would have been the early game. Rams-Saints, under a dome, would have been the late game. But at roughly $40 million per, Goodell has little incentive to tell the truth.

With one game left in a season in which self-declared football genius Mike “My Picks Have Value” Francesa’s selections were correct at about 30 percent — impossibly dreadful even by the standards of a chimpanzee that prefers hockey — he’s going to make good on his latest colossal, lost-tapes failure.

He’ll now give his app subscribers his daily roulette number picks. This way 1-for-38, if he’s lucky, won’t seem that bad.

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