Ravens telecast: CBS makes boring into tedious

Let's be honest, Sunday's victory by the Baltimore Ravens over the Cleveland Browns was a pretty boring affair in its own right compared to some of the fourth-quarter cliffhangers the Ravens have been involved in this year.

But that said, no one can take boring and turn it into tedious like CBS Sports.

Start with the endless string of promotional messages this network seems absolutely addicted to. After watching the game, I can now tell who and what will be on CBS every minutes for the next three weeks. OK, I'm exaggerating -- a little. But how many promos for "Hawaii Five-O" and "Golden Globe nominee" Scott Caan can a sports fan endure before his or her head explodes?

Answer: Almost as many as you can endure for the "all new, new, new, new, new" version of "The Early Show" on CBS. By the way, in case any of you managed to be out of the room during the 89,000 promotional messages for "The Early Show," the "all new, new, new, new, new" version of "The Early Show" premieres Jan. 3. That's the date that CBS introduces a new last-place morning show to replace the old last-place morning show that should have been replaced three years ago. (OK, the last remark might have seemed gratuitous, but by Jan. 4 of this year, next year, and the year after, it will be true. And I'll stand behind that prediction.)

Oh yeah, the Ravens game, and the way CBS Sports made boring into tedious.

How many holiday greetings from the production workers in the CBS Sports control room and trucks does it take before viewers know CBS Sports wishes them a happy holiday season?

Spare me the talk about these dedicated workers being away their families on a holiday weekend to bring us the game. They have jobs -- very good jobs with great benefits at a time when many folks in the audience don't have them. And this is their job: Bringing us the game. It is not like they are serving in a war zone in the military at Christmas. They are getting paid well to telecast games that are sometimes played on holiday weekends.

And most of all, spare me the shots of the goofballs in the stands acting like fools. In Sunday's game, CBS Sports gave us not one but two sequences of shots featuring a guy in an orange body suit that looked like long underwear. He was posing for photographs, and CBS obliged right down to adding silly comments from play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle and analyst Dan Fouts.

Speaking of Fouts, at his worst, the former quarterback is another key element in the mix of tedium. He regularly lapses for long stretches into a flat, monotone tone of voice.

I swear, earlier Sunday on one of the C-SPAN channels, I heard a historian, who looked to be in his eighties, talking about an obscure battle in the Civil War, and he was more vocally animated than Fouts. Really, Dan, listen to Troy Aikman on Fox. I'll agree that he does seem to get more inherently compelling games, but Aikman always beings a bit of extra excitement to them -- without any phony hype.

OK, Z, think you've complained enough? Can't you say something nice? This is, after all, the holiday season with all those dedicated CBS Sports workers giving up their holiday weekend to bring us the game.

I can say something nice actually.

No one is likely to ever accuse Fouts of being one of the NFL's greatest TV analysts. And yet, I'll take his performance (flat at it was) Sunday over that of Brian Billick last week on Fox.

For all his sins, Fouts doesn't try to use the booth for his own self-aggrandizement or to land another coaching job like Billick or ESPN's Jon Gruden.

On the plus side, Fouts was usually right in his analysis Sunday. He was dead-on in ripping coach Eric Mangini for "ridiculous clock management" when the Browns let more than 30 seconds  run off rather than using one of their three timeouts with only minute left in the half.

He was also correct in his early praise of Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who was playing harder than anyone else in Brown Sunday -- even when he was getting beat by the Ravens' skilled, veteran receivers.

And outside of once calling Joe Flacco "Flake-oh," play-by-play announcers Eagle had a pretty good day as well.

So, let's all take a moment to bow our heads and thank them and the many hard workers at CBS Sports for their great self-sacrifice in working this weekend to bring us a really boring, self-serving CBS telecast.


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