Do Tony Dungy (NBC) and Dan Marino (CBS) work for their respective networks or Stephen Ross? Are the two voices more responsible for serving viewers of their pregame shows or the Miami Dolphins organization?
Ross made these questions legit by selecting Dungy and Marino to serve on a committee (it will meet after the season) to review the Dolphins standards of behavior and make recommendations in the wake of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin controversy.
That both Marino and Dungy, neither of whom will be paid for their efforts, are willing to serve on Ross’ committee is more than admirable. Still, the appointments come with a certain stench. The smell could have been avoided if both men declined the invitation.
“It’s possible, very possible, Stephen Ross, on some level, is looking to curry favor and soften up two prominent national personalities,” one network executive said. “Is it possible they will look favorably toward him and the Dolphins in future televised discussions of this situation? Of course it is.”
Not only that, how forthcoming will either man be when discussing the committee’s inner workings? Or will they simply cop out, saying the committee’s meetings are confidential. Whose agenda does that serve? Certainly not the viewer.
And how will they react to those who already are attacking Ross’ committee. Such as ESPN’s Cris Carter, who said: “They can have Tony Dungy and all of them. (If) You don’t have character in the locker room the committee doesn’t matter.”
While the committee will not start meeting until after the season, the NFL has become year-round programming for NBC and CBS, via their sports cable outlets. The Dolphins will still be very much a topic.
Even now, as the story evolves, Dungy and Marino are part of the conversation on “Football Night in America” and “The NFL Today.” No one can blame viewers if they perceive both analysts are looking at the situation through Dolphins-colored glasses. Marino, the Dolphins icon who rarely whips up on Miami, already has that tag.
Dungy is another story. He is perceived as the NFL’s moral compass. He probably accepted Ross’ invitation with a greater purpose in mind. Network sources said when Dungy signed with NBC, he told Peacock honchos there were important issues he wanted to become involved with on a larger societal level, not just a football level. NBC agreed to give Dungy the leeway to participate in these endeavors.
Dungy likely sees Ross’ committee as a forum where he can have impact — as well educate the public — on the issue of bullying, not just in a locker room but extending to schools and other venues.
Nonetheless, he and Marino are going to have to deal with any negative perceptions their Miami project produces. It raises questions. Only the content of their answers will clear the air.
TV STEP FOR TEBOW
Back in May, in this space, we predicted it would not be long before Tim Tebow decided his future was on TV. Our prediction was there eventually will be a bidding war between Fox and ESPN for Tebow’s services.
Six months later, Tebow and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, have hired a broadcast representative — CAA’s Nick Khan. While no one is blabbing about where Tebow could be headed, it’s no coincidence he’s joined forces with Khan. The agent already has hooks in the TV world of college football with clients such as Kirk Herbstreit, Tom Rinaldi and Samantha Ponder.
ESPN has invested so much time (and baggage) in covering Tebow, it has to be considered the morning line favorite to land his services.
TWO STEPS BEHIND
When you are No. 2 you must try harder.
Proclaimed as a competitor to ESPN, Fox Sports 1 needs to do just that. Such was not the case Monday on “Fox Football Daily.”
Host Curt (Big House) Menefee said Ross was “holding a press conference in Miami right now” and promised FFD viewers “later in the show we will get a live comment from him.”
Problem was, ESPN already did. The network had just finished airing Ross’ press conference — live. The Foxies should have done the same.
NABOB IN A HAZE
LM Otero/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy, long the moral compass of the league, is also asked to serve.
Hazing has spilled out of the locker rooms and onto an NFL TV studio.
Major evidence was provided by Norman Julius Esiason while making an appearance on CBS Sports Network’s “Monday QB.” Nauseated by the loud, whiney stylings of host Adam (Nabob of Nugget) Schein, NJE bolted from his chair and proceeded to, on the air, choke Schein, who was lounging on a recliner with his shoes off.
“What are you doing?” Schein shrieked.
“Shut up, already. You’re driving me crazy,” Esiason yelled while shaking Schein’s neck. “. . . God, he’s driving me nuts.”
Schein survived. But the telling thing here was Phil Simms, whom Schein claims to be tight with, didn’t lift a finger to help his little buddy.
NO GUARANTEED RATINGS
The Knicks’ signature moment so far this season is James Dolan’s guarantee. It’s going to take more than the owner to get his team’s TV ratings headed in the right direction.
Through six games on MSG Network, the Knicks are averaging a 2.65 household rating, down 17% from the 3.19 the team averaged during a six-game period in November 2012. Three November games (11/2, 11/4, 11/5) were excluded from the 2012 ratings because of Superstorm Sandy.
LESS IS . . . LESS
It’s not a given less is more.
Like when you are listening to former NFL players, turned TV blabbermouths, discussing Incognito/Martin. Some, who we want to hear from, decide to take a pass. Such as Jon Gruden. On ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” pregame show, “Chuckie” said he “would reserve any comments” until Martin tells his side of the story. Thanks — for nothing.
Then there’s Fox’s Howie Long, who brings the information but doesn’t go far enough. On FS1’s Fox Football Daily, Long said the Dolphins had long known Martin was “emotionally unstable.”
“I’m being led to believe the Dolphins knew prior to this season there was a major problem (with Martin),” Long said. “As major as you can get.”
What exactly does that mean?
* * *
DUDE OF THE WEEK: MARV ALBERT
For highlighting Knicks’ dysfunction on a national broadcast. With TNT’s cameras trained on a laughing James Dolan Thursday night (Rockets-Knicks), Albert said guarantees like the one Guitar Jimmy made are “foolish.” Dolan’s proclamation, Albert said, put needless “pressure” on Mike Woodson, adding the Knicks boss had already emphasized his team should win a championship. “I don’t know if James Dolan really has checked out the (Knicks) roster,” Albert sarcastically wondered. You won’t be getting this brand of commentary on the MSG Network, where Dolan doesn’t exist — until he fires a Knicks coach.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: SCOTT BORAS
It’s always a treat watching seamhead scribes, like a bunch of trained seals in a feeding frenzy, surround the Avenging Agent to lap up any crumbs he feeds them. Boras swooped in on the big baseball meetings in Orlando, tossing around opinions and suggestions designed to get his name in headlines. As usual, it worked. From suggesting the Rays relocate to urging the Mets to return to the business of foolish spending sprees, Boras made a splash for himself and reaffirmed why it’s always about him and not his talented clients.
What Spero Dedes said (Wednesday during Knicks-Hawks): “Knicks with a heightened sense of urgency to get a win.”
What Spero Dedes meant to say: “I’m not allowed to say this on MSG, but the Knicks better win because Dolan guaranteed they would.”