Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I usually despise columns that start off
catchy song verses or a song title. It almost always means the writer had no
idea how to start off.
But in this case, a song title kind of works. Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of
Silence" (yes, it's "Sound of Silence," not "Sounds of Silence" - thanks
YouTube) fits perfectly.
So, of course, today we're talking about NFL football. Let me explain.
Way back (for some of us), 32 years ago, the NFL televised a football game with
The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, two teams going nowhere, had a game in
Miami with nobody to talk about it.
NBC, which broadcast the game, had a young Bryant Gumbel, circa 1980, give some
introductory remarks to let folks know what was about to happen and then he
walked away before kickoff.
Yes, it was a publicity stunt, and it did give a nothing game some juice, but
others also believed that some announcers talked too much.
Regardless, NBC filled the screen with all sorts of graphics and spliced in
taped interviews with the coaches to fill time.
Obviously, the no-talk game didn't catch on, but my question is, what would
happen if it was tried again today?
Not that it will, but, boy, it would be a lot easier than 32 years ago when
television graphics were horrendous.
What else do we need that the screen doesn't give us now?
We have the score.
We have the game clock.
We know halftime lasts 12 minutes (plenty of time to go to the bathroom and
feed the dog).
We have markings that tell us how many timeouts each team has left.
We have instant score updates from every other game running on a continuous
crawl along the bottom of the screen.
And for fantasy football players, we get stat updates for every player and
every scoring play.
Last but far from least? The yellow line. The greatest football on television
innovation since the instant replay. Think about it, nothing else is even
With the yellow line, we know exactly how far a team has to go for a first
down. And you have to chuckle because each time a team is close to a first
down, the television talking head will say in a deep baritone, "Remember, the
yellow line is not official."
Well, have you ever seen the yellow line be wrong? I haven't, either. That
thing is on the mark every time, without fail.
So, all of this stuff leaves us wanting what exactly? I can't think of anything
else (well, no commercials would be nice) that we need.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the best ways to watch an NFL game is by
yourself, with the door locked, the telephone hidden and the kids at the park
It's not exactly a fancy man cave, but you get the idea. Let me be. Let me be
alone to cheer and to complain. To curse, if need be, and pump my fist when
things go right. Do I need a play-by-play guy and a color commentator telling
what a nice tackle the strong safety just made? Nope.
The only person needed to enjoy a game is me. Sound selfish? OK, it's selfish,
but it's the truth.
Tell me, if your team makes it to the Super Bowl, do you want your wife
throwing a big party to celebrate the occasion? Absolutely not. Trust me, that
happened to me a few years back and it was dreadful.
You're more worried about there being enough ranch dip and not whether your
team can convert on third down.
The next time it happens, and I hope it's soon, I'm vetoing the Super Bowl
party idea and locking the door and pulling down the shades. And turning off
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
The Sports Network