Bland NFL helps out with holiday shopping

There are those among us who think the interests of the NFL begin with the balance sheet and end with the profit and loss statement. They would have you believe that the almighty buck is pro football's lone motivation.

Balder--, I say, and I come armed with proof to debunk the theory that the league is a cold, ruthless, money-making machine totally lacking in heart and sensitivity.


Just take a look at the list of games scheduled for telecast this weekend and tell me it wasn't designed to send fans out to the shopping malls to help jump-start the economy.

Tomorrow (12:30 p.m.), it will be the Oilers vs. the Giants, followed by the Vikings and Packers at 4. Sunday, at 1 p.m., the Jets play the Dolphins. Then, at 4, two games: the Redskins vs. the Eagles and the Chiefs vs. the Raiders. The Bears and 49ers cap it on Monday night.


Mull those pairings again. Hardly a compelling contest bearing playoff implications in the lot, unless someone wants to admit he or she cares one whit about those ghastly Jets.

* Home Team Sports plays a 90-minute year in review program Christmas night (7:30) with area team general managers Roland Hemond of the Orioles, Charley Casserly of the Redskins, David Poile of the Capitals and John Nash of the Bullets filling in the whys and wherefores. It was the last show shot at HTS's studio in downtown Washington; it has moved operations to plush surroundings in Bethesda. Station honcho Bill Aber described the old place as "an air raid bunker in Beirut."

* For pure hoops, how is anyone going to beat ESPN's lineup tomorrow? Indiana takes on St. John's (2:30 p.m.), then, in the evening, it's Ohio State-Southern Cal (7:30), Kentucky-Georgia Tech (9:30) and Virginia-Stanford (midnight). Makes you wonder how NBC analyst Al McGuire can say, "The best thing about my life is that I don't get ESPN."

* It's difficult figuring out which is worse about NBC, the soap opera-like drama of its studio analysts getting back into coaching (Bobby Beathard, Pat Riley, now Bill Parcells), or the network digging into its archives to come up with fill for weekend afternoons.

Last week, the net showed figure skating from a Capital Centre show in 1990 and tomorrow (4 p.m.) it will carry a repeat of the exhibition performances by the world figure skating champs of last year. Remember when the nets, like NBC, used to scoff at some of the stuff ESPN ran?

* Air pollution awards of the week go to Dick Stockton (CBS), who, during a Bears-Buccaneers game, said, "It's not a bad punt. In fact, it's a good kick. It's a line-drive kick."

Meanwhile, on NBC, Dick Enberg was saying of skating champion Brian Boitano, "He's a native of the Bay Area and is a big fan of Joe Montana and the 49ers." Oh, my!

And over on Black Entertainment Television (BET), ex-basketball player Spencer Haywood was telling an interviewer, "No, I wouldn't do anything differently in my life, not even the drugs I PTC did." Got that, kids?


And, back on CBS, Billy Packer said of one of Michigan's #F vaunted freshman hoopsters: "He did not want to come out of the ballgame; that showed me something."

Just missing out was Bob Costas, in the NBC studios in New York, referring to "the continuing quarterback controversy saga in Kansas City."

* If the spirit moves you, mush on over to ESPN tomorrow (12:30 p.m.) for an Alaskan special on "Scholastic Sports America." Featured are a 10-K for high schoolers up a 3,000-foot mountain and back down (no trails, please) and glimpses at other unusual games practiced by native Alaskans. A hoops tourney pitting four teams from the lower 48 against Alaska's best is included.

Monday at 6 p.m., ESPN is showing the Kinney Cross Country Championships, the one that saw Amanda White of Dulaney finish runner-up.

* "Hoops," the Monday night gab session on WCAO-AM at 10 o'clock, continues to have an interesting mix of guests. Chris Wallace, publisher of the "Blue Ribbon Basketball Annual," and UMBC athletic director Charlie Brown join the Paul Baker-Stan Charles party next week.

* Obviously the Skins Game is a lot more than a putting contest, as some contend. This year's showdown, held Thanksgiving weekend on ABC, garnered the highest Saturday afternoon rating ever for golf. Additionally, it finished second to the Masters overall for 1991.