Throughout the Andy Reid era, the Philadelphia Eagles were the darlings of "Sunday Night Football."
They were typically on the No. 1-rated show in all of prime-time television at least twice per year, even making a pair of appearances in the disastrous 2012 season.
This year, the NFL and NBC weren't sure the Eagles were "Sunday Night"-ready and didn't give them a gig in that slot, at least on the original schedule. Remember, with flex scheduling, a late-season Eagles game could still be elevated into the prime-time slot.
And don't forget that the Eagles will still get to play under the prime-time lights at least twice, within 11 nights, as Philadelphia opens at Washington on Sept. 9 and then plays the Andy Reid Bowl at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 19.
However, whether they're on NBC or not this season, lead "SNF" analyst Cris Collinsworth will definitely be watching what happens on Pattison Ave.
Asked about changes in the game he's going to watch for this season, Collinsworth said in a teleconference this week to keep an eye on what Chip Kelly is doing.
"We might see Kelly and Philadelphia do some things this year that will have us going 'What?!' as professional football fans," Collinsworth said. "His belief is you're never going to stop that offense. That's going to be an entertaining team to watch. They will press the envelope and do the read-option, but they are doing things far beyond the way anybody else is doing it.
"If there's a team that's going to change the league in the most dramatic way, it's going to be Chip Kelly and Philly."
The NFC East is going to be front and center on NBC's schedule even without the Eagles, with five games involving division teams, including one each from the Giants-Cowboys, Redskins-Cowboys and Giants-Redskins series.
Why so much interest in the NFC East?
"You've had four different division winners in the NFC East over the last four years, so all of these teams have had their moment in the sun," play-by-play man Al Michaels said. "There's so many unanswered questions there … what's going to happen in Philly with Chip Kelly there and Andy Reid gone, being one of them.
"The great thing about the NFC East is that it probably provides as many stories as any division in football."
NBC's package begins Sept. 5 with the Ravens at the Broncos in what is a rematch of perhaps the biggest game of last year, Baltimore's playoff win at Denver that sent the Ravens on their way to the Super Bowl.
The "Sunday Night Football" package, complete with a new musical intro by Carrie Underwood, begins Sept. 8 with the Giants at the Cowboys.
FRIDAY NIGHT GAMES
One of the things brought up during the teleconference was the possibility that the NFL, at some point, will get into the Friday night prime-time market, thereby further eroding the exclusive hold that high school football has had on sports fans on the first night of the weekend.
College football has already encroached on the high school scene with some televised games, particularly on the West Coast.
"Would I like to see it the old way? I would," Collinsworth said. "I like when even the start of the season goes that way with the high schools — at least where I live [Ohio] — starting last week, the colleges starting this week and the NFL starting the following week. I like a certain order, and platform, for all of the levels.
"I like it when there's a night to focus all of our attention on the kids playing high school ball. That's the cornerstone of who we are as football fans. But I understand the business. I work in television and know that college football, NFL football and even high school is going to become more a part of our lives on every cable sports channel available to us. Do I understand it? Yes. Do I like it? Not necessarily."
Speaking of this Friday night, neither Service Electric nor RCN will televise games due to their commitments to the Allentown Fair. SECTV will have Saucon Valley at Pen Argyl on Saturday afternoon, while at the same time RCN-4 will televise Catasauqua at Wilson.
To Tony Kornheiser on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" for pointing out that the "Outside the Lines" investigative piece, on the very same network, probing a potential scandal with the Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King tennis match of 40 years ago was really much ado about nothing.
The gist of the "OTL" Riggs-BJK piece was that Riggs intentionally threw the much-ballyhooed "Battle of the Sexes" in the Houston Astrodome to satisfy an extensive gambling debt with the mob.
Kornheiser said the rumors about Riggs throwing the match were rampant the very next day, considering Riggs was known as a hustler and a huckster. Kornheiser didn't deny the validity of what was spelled out in the piece; he just said it was old news.
Four decades later, what King's win did for women's rights is still debatable.
However, what it did for tennis is irrefutable. That match along with the personalities of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Chris Evert, among others, made tennis a popular sport in the 1970s into the '80s.
Tennis could use a controversial match like Riggs vs. King to revive the sport's popularity today.
To ESPN and other media outlets for portraying Rex Ryan's press conference after the Giants-Jets preseason game Saturday night as something wild and crazy, or even a meltdown.
Ryan made a mistake by having Mark Sanchez in the game, knew it, and was a little irritated that the media kept asking him about it.
But to suggest it was one of the all-time strangest postgame interviews or a rant to rival the legendary ones by Jim Mora, Dennis Green and Bobby Knight was quite disingenuous.
KEITH'S CAN'T MISS …
It's a big weekend of college football, but the one game that has the stage all to itself is Florida State at Pittsburgh on Monday night on ESPN. It's the Panthers' first game as an ACC member and a showcase for Liberty graduates Devin Street and Anthony Gonzalez.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun