Talk Centers on Unbeaten Saints, Colts
With the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints remaining undefeated, turn up the volume on this: Should they focus on keeping those streaks alive?
It's not often that the idea of trying to win in the NFL becomes debatable. But CBS studio analyst Bill Cowher suggests the big picture - preparing for the postseason - should take precedence over potential regular-season perfection. "You've got to keep your players healthy for the playoffs," the ex-Pittsburgh Steelers coach said in a Sunday phone interview. "You could look at games almost like exhibitions; let (starters) play solid football for a half. I don't think the players need to know going in what the plan is, because you don't want to lose your edge. But you're out to win a championship, not get a record." And he expects the teams to take that tack - although neither "might admit it publicly."
Tom Jackson, Sunday on ESPN, agreed: "I don't care about perfection. I care about winning the last game of the season. Period!"
That's no fun, suggested CBS' Boomer Esiason in an off-air Sunday interview. "They each need to go all-out. All the players want to do it." And given 53-man rosters, "you'll have to have starters playing anyway." Besides, CBS has the Super Bowl: "And given our schedule so far, CBS deserves undefeateds in the Super Bowl."
Sean McManus, who oversees CBS' sports and news divisions, said undefeated teams in the Super Bowl could be "the difference between an excellent rating and a spectacular rating" - although there are other promising Super Bowl possibilities, such as getting Brett Favre.
With two 13-0 teams for the first time, everybody will end up weighing in on-air.
NFL Network's Michael Irvin seemed to have the oddest opinion. "I would turn in all three of my Super Bowl rings and my Hall of Fame bust for one undefeated season," he said Sunday.
Inside the biz: ESPN, said spokesman Mark Mandel, will announce today that Byron Scott will rejoin ESPN starting in January, appearing on various studio shows. Scott, fired as the New Orleans Hornets' coach after nine games this season, was an ESPN analyst during the 2003-04 season. . . . CBS' McManus on Sunday on how Tiger Woods' saga might affect CBS' golf ad sales: "It hasn't yet. Our sales for 2010 are actually appreciably better than 2009. . . . But we're in a wait-and-see situation like everybody else." . . . NBA Commissioner David Stern told SI.com that national legalized betting on NBA games is a possibility and "may be a huge opportunity." Wow, that could pep up TV ratings. . . . Richard Carrion, who negotiates U.S. TV deals for the International Olympic Committee, told the Associated Press he expected at least three U.S. bidders for the 2014 and 2016 Games, and "it's very likely we'll (do those deals) in 2010 sometime." . . . With football's TV ratings up generally, CBS' Army-Navy game Saturday drew a 4.2 overnight rating, translating to 4.2% of TV households in 56 urban markets. That's up 75% from last year and the game's highest overnight in a decade.
Spice rack: TNT's Charles Barkley said, "Sometimes people don't watch our show because I've been saying for three years that the Wizards stink. Was it Charles Barkley or Einstein that said if you keep doing the same thing over and over, that's insanity?" Fortunately, their contrasting hairstyles help you remember which is which. . . . CBS' Esiason on Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who has been fined four times this season: "He's an absolute sideshow. He's an embarrassment to the franchise." But also positioned to someday become a TV analyst. . . . Forget X's and O's. "Your team takes on the personality of the coach," said Fox's Michael Strahan before the Dallas Cowboys lost to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. "And right now, (Cowboys coach) Wade Phillips is getting pushed around, so the team is getting pushed around." . . . Charles Tator, a Toronto neurosurgeon, has a novel theory: Announcers can cause injuries. Tator suggested Don Cherry@, a famed announcer on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, does so as he "preaches" for "aggressive, lack-of-respect hockey." . . . Fox's Terry Bradshaw suggested the Jacksonville Jaguars, having problems drawing fans, draft Florida's Tim Tebow to save the franchise. Given the mixed reviews of Tebow's pro potential, Fox's Howie Long sounded more sensible: "I don't think that's fair to Tebow, and (it wouldn't) save the franchise."
Say what? Tiger Woods on Nov. 27 talked to New Zealand's Sky TV. Woods, in an online preview on skytv.co.nz, was concise when asked whether family first is his priority: "Always!"