Blog by: George Thomas and Ron Ledgard
For anyone who tools around the blogosphere for anything remotely related to the NFL, coming across speculation related to the daytime partners – CBS and Fox – pre-game shows runs rampant.
Reality has more than a little to do with that, so it’s of little surprise that the Eye Network announced a shake-up Wednesday on the NFL Today. The way they chose to do so proved interesting, sending a press release announcing the arrival of Tony Gonzalez, a tight end who enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.
But they added a by-the-way kind of moment: “While we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe who have contributed greatly to the success of The NFL Today for more than a decade,” said Sean McManus, chairman CBS Sports. “Dan and Shannon are true Hall of Famers on the field and in front of the camera. As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank them for their hard work and dedication and wish them nothing but the best.”
Why the change?
The primary reason: ratings.
NFL Today trails Fox NFL Sunday by 1.5 million viewers on Sundays. That may not appear to be a huge number in the grand scheme of things, but it’s huge for daytime Sundays. Fox averaged 4.8 million viewers, according to reports, and CBS 3.3 million.
CBS is trying to reformulate chemistry. But whether that can be done remains to be seen. That intangible develops amongst a team – including a broadcast team – over time. It can’t be dictated. Some claim that the change was long overdue and they could be right, but if chemistry is an issue the powers that be are dead wrong. If issues existed between a cast that includes James Brown, Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason they never showed on screen.
But take into consideration something else: CBS is getting Gonzalez months after he’s hanging up his cleats. Football changed significantly from the time Marino and Sharpe played. A fresh perspective of what’s happening on the field may be what the NFL Today needs.
Here's guessing Marino and Sharpe won't be out of work for long. They're still knowledgeable, professional and Sharpe especially showed moments of insight during the season - especially during the early stages of the Richie Cognito-Jonathan Martin fiasco.