Fox gives the most everything on NFL coverage — superslow-motion replay, sideline reporters (unlike CBS), even a pregame comedian. What it does not give us, at least much of, is statistics from other games.
With the proliferation of fantasy football leagues, Fox can no longer justify ignoring NFL stats for most of the day. While CBS runs a scroll with stats throughout game broadcasts, Fox does not, instead serving up only scores in the upper right corner of the screen.
Even at halftime, while CBS displays player stats on its scoreboard panels, Fox does not for most games, opting instead to display stats on a scroll during only one brief segment.
Fox needs to adopt the CBS approach and place scores and stats in a bottom-screen scroll throughout the game broadcasts — not only for fantasy leaguers, but fans who are interested. Until then, Fox's NFL coverage won't measure up to CBS'.
AROUND THE DIAL
• Networks often tend to copy each other, even on bad ideas. Some CBS production teams, regrettably, have gone to the behind-the-kicker angle on long field goals. Viewers watching on small TVs, or far from the TV in sports bars, must squint and struggle to see if the kick is good. That rarely was an issue with the traditional behind-the-goal-post perspective.
• It was ironic that NBC's Rodney Harrison — who was fined more than $200,000 in his career and twice was voted the NFL's dirtiest player — called for suspensions for defensive players who make hits to the head. But good for Harrison for saying something. The best points on the issue were made by Fox's Howie Long and CBS' Dan Marino, who said quarterbacks deserve some blame for leaving receivers in jeopardy by throwing crossing routes in zone coverage.
• CBS, which has been bringing in players as guest analysts during their bye weeks, made a wise choice in Week Seven with the Jets' Kris Jenkins, whose candor was refreshing. On complaints about increased discipline on hits to the head, he said, "I'm tired of guys crying and complaining. They're complaining because now their job is going to be harder."
• Predictably, CBS' Bill Cowher came across as a sympathetic interviewer in his chat with his former player, Ben Roethlisberger. No Mike Wallace-type questioning here. At least Boomer Esiason brought a skeptical take to the segment, saying, "The fact he said there is no truth to the allegations, I have a problem with that. Why would you accept the [NFL punishment] and counseling" if you didn't do anything wrong?
• Nobody offers more creative pregame segments than ESPN's "NFL Countdown." After learning that the Chiefs are using port-o-potty drills to improve the reaction time of their running backs on quick pass plays, ESPN's Cris Carter, Keyshawn Johnson and Tim Hasselbeck borrowed a port-o-potty and ventured outside ESPN's studio to show viewers how it works. (Just as the ball is thrown, someone opens the door to the port-o-potty, giving the receiver precious little time to catch it.)
Barry Jackson covers sports media for the Miami Herald.