24-hour NFL Network Can’t Touch This Midseason Report
November 3, 2003
by Ward Lowe
As the NFL hits its midseason stride, league officials want to know: Are you ready for 24 hours of football?
They’re so sure you are that the NFL Network debuts Tuesday, Nov. 4, with 24 hours of programming to bore even the most dedicated football fan. Rich Eisen hits the airwaves at 8 p.m. EST with NFL Total Access. Access, according to NFL.com, will “take advantage of its Los Angeles studio location by adding celebrities to the mix—showing the connection between Hollywood and the NFL experience.” Apparently, football players aren’t entertaining enough for the NFL Network.
If that’s not enough to keep you glued to the TV, don’t miss Tuesday night’s in-depth features about the National Anthem and the butt slap. That’s right, the NFL Network promises to reveal everything you wanted to know about the role of the butt slap in football, but were afraid to ask.
The one thing strangely absent from the NFL Network’s debut is football game analysis. That would explain why you’re reading this column. So, with that in mind, let’s take a spin around the league after Week 9.
In the East, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looks like a genius for hiring Bill Parcells. The Tuna has Dallas sitting pretty atop the division at 6-2, but fumed this week over the ‘Boys four first-half turnovers. Luckily, Dallas was playing Washington (3-5). The Redskins’ “potent” offense put up 11 first-quarter yards and finished the half with minus-11 passing yards. After this season, look for Washington coach Steve Spurrier to return to the NCAA and owner Daniel Snyder to return to Munchkinland.
Brett Favre Sunday night defied his sorry 3-8 record in the dome and a broken thumb on his throwing hand to put up a big win at Minnesota. Green Bay (4-4) now trails Minnesota (6-2) in the North by only two games and has made the division picture much more interesting. Incidentally, Green Bay also ruined my chances in this week’s office pool. Viking owner Red McCombs, who last week lambasted his team after its first loss of the season, decided to refrain from another “motivational” speech.
After this week’s victory, New Orleans (4-5) is 3-0 against Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay (4-4) in the last two seasons. Too bad the Saints are 10-12 against everyone else. The two are battling it out for second place in the mediocre South, hoping Carolina (6-2) gets hit by a bus.
By the way, shouldn’t everyone have seen the Houston (3-5) upset of Carolina coming? Texans head coach Dom Capers, who is rallying his expansion team to respectability in only its second year, comes up against the team who fired him. I’m sure there was some extra motivation on the Houston sidelines.
The East has been the AFC’s tightest division in recent years. This year, the Jets (2-6) are trying to loosen things up, but Miami (5-3) won’t cooperate, dropping a game at home to the steamrolling Colts (7-1) of the South. Indianapolis showed more than a flashy offense; its defense picked up five sacks and held Miami’s Ricky Williams, the 2002 rushing champ, to 36 yards. Miami coach Dave Wannstedt will lose his job if the Dolphins fall to .500 this month.
Will anyone win the North? Baltimore (5-3) is the only team in the division over .500, and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis may single-handedly keep them in first place. Sunday, Lewis had 13 tackles, forced a fumble and an interception, and broke up a pass that sealed Baltimore’s win over Jacksonville.
Out in the wide-open West, Kansas City (8-0) cooled its heels with a bye this week and watched as Super Bowl runner-up Oakland (2-6) continued to self-destruct. After losing Sunday to Detroit (2-6), Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson ripped his coach, Bill Callahan, saying the coach was causing the team to fall apart. Some Oakland players defended their coach, while others refused comment. Good times, good times. No word yet on when Raider owner Al Davis will blame the poor season on the antiquated Oakland stadium and threaten to move the team if taxpayers don’t build him a new one.
Ward Lowe is a writer and editor in Austin, Texas, who believes that 2004 will be The Year for his beloved Boston Red Sox. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.