SBD/September 6, 2012/NFL Season Preview

People & Personalities: All Eyes On Jon Gruden In New Two-Man "MNF" Booth

Gruden will have more time to showcase talents with two-man "MNF" booth
On Long Island, Neil Best noted ESPN's "MNF" is going with a two-man booth of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden after Ron Jaworski was removed from the broadcast. The motivation behind the move “appears in part to have been clearing the inevitable verbal clutter that comes with a three-man booth (fair enough) and better to showcase Gruden, whom the network views as a rising star (we shall see).” Gruden "surely has a dynamic personality -- one that at times dominated at Jaworski's expense -- but he is prone to using too much jargon, and too much gushing praise." There also is the chance Gruden will "return to coaching, forcing yet another booth upheaval” (NEWSDAY, 9/5). Tirico said of Gruden, "Jon, at some point, will go back. I don't know what that point is. I don't know if he knows what that point is. But instead of living in potentially tomorrow land, I live in the present." Tirico: "Do I want him to go back? Hell, no. ... I don't want him to go back but I want him to be happy. I think when this started, very few people thought he would be doing it for this long and here we are in Year Four" (SI.com, 9/5).

YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOLAK: Scott Zolak this season replaces the retired Gino Cappelletti as the analyst on Patriots radio broadcasts, and in Boston, Chad Finn wrote it takes “a moment of adjustment to get used to hearing" play-by-play announcer Gil Santos' voice "accompanied by someone else's other than Cappelletti's." However, the transition last year was "handled superbly by CBS Radio and 98.5 The Sports Hub, with Zolak easing in as the third voice.” Zolak said, “I’m learning Gil and he’s learning me, stuff like getting in and out quick and things like that, because I like to talk. Sometimes he’ll have to put a hand up to let me know it’s time to get back to the action.” Finn wrote it is a "tribute to both Santos and Zolak that they’ve been in synch on the broadcast pretty much from the opening kickoff of the preseason” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/5).

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand noted CBS' NFL coverage this year will include Neal ElAttrache as its "medical analyst." CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that the idea is "not for ElAttrache, the Los Angeles Dodgers' team physician, to opine on long-term injury issues.” The net will not restrict ElAttrache from doing so, but he “will talk on an as-needed basis about recovery time.” ElAttrache, an orthopedic surgeon, operated on Patriots QB Tom Brady's knee in '08 (USA TODAY, 9/5).

SECOND CAREERS: NFL Network hired former QB Donovan McNabb, who will make his broadcasting debut as a studio analyst on “Playbook,” which airs on Friday nights. McNabb will join former NFLers Sterling Sharpe and Brian Baldinger on the shows. The NFC edition airs at 8:00pm ET and the AFC edition airs at 9:00pm. McNabb will provide content on multiple shows (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal)....Former S Brian Dawkins is joining ESPN as an NFL analyst. Dawkins will appear on studio programs throughout the year, with his debut coming on “Audibles” on Sept. 13 (ESPN)….Former Giants OT Shaun O’Hara will be “going to work for the NFL Network” as an analyst after retiring (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 9/3).
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