Z on TV: Agitated by Gumbel, Green in CBS telecast of Ravens loss

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie breaks up a pass against Breshad Perriman but is called for pass interference in the fourth quarter during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 16, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie breaks up a pass against Breshad Perriman but is called for pass interference in the fourth quarter during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 16, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (Al Bello / Getty Images)

I was mainly fine with Sunday's telecast of the Ravens' 27-23 loss to the New York Giants until the point when there was only 2:11 left in the game.

At that point, with the Ravens on the Giants' 2-yard line and about to score a go-ahead touchdown, CBS gave us a replay of a controversial pass interference call that put Baltimore in the position to score. The call was against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie defending Breshad Perriman.


Analyst Trent Green told viewers he didn't see pass interference "live" or "on replay" after the first replay was shown. Neither did I.

But when a replay from a different camera angle was shown at 2:11 after the Ravens ran another play, Green said of Cromartie, "Look at the right arm here. It's around his waist, around his jersey, pulling him back. That's what the official called. Good work by our cameras guys getting us that look at it."


Green added a yellow squiggle line presumably to make his point, but it mostly highlighted Cromartie's left thigh, which had nothing to do with the play.

The play was bang-bang, and I praise director Suzanne Smith for getting us all the angles she could and slamming that last one in there between plays while the Ravens were on the 2-yard and fans had to be jumping out of their seats.

But I replayed that last angle at least six times for this review, and I never saw Cromartie's arm around Perriman's waist. And while it looked like Cromartie might have had the front of Perriman's jersey for an instant, it was inconclusive – at least in a one-replay look on TV.

Maybe there's room here for disagreement on what that replay showed, but I hate it when analysts tell me I'm seeing something I can't see and then they are congratulating their telecast for showing what wasn't there to me. Like the old joke asks, "Who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"


In fairness to Green's performance, he was highly engaged and energized in the booth Sunday – though with the back and forth of the second half it would be hard not to be.

Oh hell, forget being trying to be nice. Let me tell you something else I didn't like about Green and play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel.

With about 13 minutes left in the first half, Gumbel told viewers how Ravens coach John Harbaugh had been "pretty staunch all week … and then he re-iterated in our meeting that last night" he didn't know who was going to play Sunday in the offensive line. The reason: he didn't know who would be healthy enough to play.

Green responded by saying when they got the lineups Sunday and saw that there were changes in four of the five positions, they knew Harbaugh had been "telling the truth."

"I'm not implying they don't always tell us the truth. Right, Greg?" he said, as if he might be making an inside joke. "There's definitely a certain level of secrecy that goes on."

I hate that. If you suspect Harbaugh games the press with what he says, tell us that without any wink-wink insider stuff. You are supposed to be working in that booth to enlighten the audience, not keeping secrets for the coach.

Or tell us, "You know what, here's what Harbaugh said in the meeting last night, but I think he's spinning us."

I know it would be blasphemy to ever say an NFL coach is actually lying. But level with us, don't play us. If what a coach is saying sounds dodgy, say that.

Listening to Gumbel Sunday, I realized that's what I really don't like about him: His willingness to report what coaches tell him as if it is Holy Scripture. As for Green, I feel his first allegiance is to the players and coaches, not the fans.

I am not ripping the overall performances of Gumbel, Green or this telecast. Smith is an outstanding director, and, overall, her team again delivered a strong telecast of an exciting game. Her cameras were all over the action, and she gave us almost every angle we needed on every big play.

My feeling on the Cromartie call is that she couldn't give us a definitive shot on the interference, because maybe there was no interference. They gave us the best they could, which was a hand against a jersey.

But I am open to the possibility that seeing it on his monitor Green had a better look than I did on my HD TV.

But, you know what? In a network telecast, it's what the hundreds of thousands or millions of viewers like me see on our TVs that matters. Our eyeballs are the ones CBS is selling to its advertisers for all that money each week.


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