Week 1 Observations: NBC Shies Away From Elliott Case, CBS Jumps Into Storm Coverage
NBC made it "abundantly clear early" in last night's Giants-Cowboys "SNF" game that there would be "no chatter about the extracurricular trials and tribulations" of Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, according to Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Elliott on Friday had his six-game suspension for domestic violence blocked by a federal judge, and after Elliott picked up a first down late in the first quarter, NBC's Cris Collinsworth said, "I know we have a lot to talk about off the field. You'll forgive us tonight if we just talk about him as a football player." NBC's Al Michaels "finally got to some of the off-field facts early in the fourth quarter." Horn: "He had to. Someone had to" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/11). Etihad Airways Sponsorships Manager Harry Poole tweeted, "NBC first mention of Ezekiel Elliott's suspension comes with 12 mins left in the 4th quarter. Would think it'd be a major story, no?" Baseball Prospectus' Jarrett Seidler: "I'm torn between wanting NBC to acknowledge the Ezekiel Elliott situation and being preemptively horrified at what they'd say" (TWITTER.com, 9/10).
SHELTER FROM THE STORMS: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote CBS' "The NFL Today" began with a "cold open from longtime host James Brown that sent viewers immediately to CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor covering Hurricane Irma." That report was "immediately followed by the 'NFL Today' cast offering their personal connections on Irma." The studio show then "moved to analyst Steve Tasker for a report" from Jaguars-Texans, the league’s "biggest game of significance given those that suffered" in Hurricane Harvey. It was a "thoughtful and journalistically cognizant opening 10 minutes." It was also "very smart" of CBS to "have all its games go to Houston for a moment of silence for Harvey victims." Meanwhile, NBC had "information to donate to the Red Cross on the score scroll during 'Football Night in America.'" They also decided to stream Giants-Cowboys to all "given the recent storms in Texas and Florida" (SI.com, 9/10).
KAP SPACE: Colin Kaepernick's absence from an NFL roster was discussed on all the pregame shows, and SI.com's Deitsch noted each CBS analyst agreed that Kaepernick "should make the case for himself publicly, with analyst Bill Cowher being the most outspoken on the subject." Cowher "dismissed the idea that Kaepernick was being blackballed by NFL teams." He said that the reason Kaepernick was not playing was "due to his play last year, and question marks about his passion for the game." Deitsch noted the show’s take was "overwhelmingly pro-ownership." Deitsch: "None of the analysts discussed the specific quarterbacks with far lesser resumes that had been signed over Kaepernick and the idea that Kaepernick ... has to publicly justify his passion after playing in the league for six consecutive years is absurd." Meanwhile, NBC's Mike Florio on "Football Night In America" reported that people close to Kaepernick "told him that the quarterback has not spoken publicly because he did not want his words to be more of a distraction" (SI.com, 9/10). Cowher said that Kaepernick "must prove to him that his dedication to his craft means as much to him as his cause." But USA TODAY as part of its weekly 40 things it learned from Sunday's games writes, "How is he supposed to do that if nobody gives him a chance? #justwondering" (USA TODAY, 9/11).
TALENT POOL: In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes CBS has "done a good job of deepening its bench" and bringing on "younger and more enthusiastic play-by-play announcers and analysts." Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta called the Ravens’ 20-0 win over the Bengals, and while there was "nothing terrific about either of them," they were "informed, largely held their focus and did not run their mouths about their careers or personal feelings." Dedes "made some mistakes," but he "instantly corrected himself." Archuleta’s "most-perceptive analysis of the day involved him talking about how Ravens pass defenders 'seemed to know what is coming before the Bengals do ... and are in perfect position.'" Sideline reporter Melanie Collins "made the most of her on-air time." She "did a good job of getting details and explaining" why Ravens QB Joe Flacco was in the "medical tent on the sidelines at the end of the third quarter" (Baltimore SUN, 9/11).
STUDIO FILM: SI.com's Deitsch wrote he like the pacing of "The NFL Today" and how the show "rotated each studio member to talk on a different subject via a box in the right corner." Newcomer Nate Burleson is an "excellent addition, an intellectual voice in a genre that still tends to locker room-it-up way too much." Meanwhile, the panelists on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" have a "lot of work given multiple sets, intros and outs, and discussion points," but Sam Ponder "did a nice job given this is her first year working NFL content." Deitsch: "I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an NFL host walk a set more than Ponder did on Sunday. ESPN remains a little too obsessed with its studio space" (SI.com, 9/10).