About all that has changed for Jim Gray, the best of the NFL pre-game show reporters, is his working address.
The move to NBC from CBS has been smooth for Gray, because he has hit the ground running with solid contributions each week.
For instance, on the opening Sunday of the season, Gray, who was stationed at the Minnesota-Green Bay game, scooped Fox with information that Vikings quarterback Warren Moon had a sty over his left eye that was drained by team trainers, but still was affecting his vision. Moon went on to throw three interceptions in Minnesota's loss.
Gray's diligence has paid off again. He beat all the other football networks to the first broadcast interview with Carlton Haselrig, the former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl guard who left training camp this August and was missing from the team and his family and friends for almost a month.
Haselrig, a six-time NCAA wrestling champion who never played college football, spent time in 1993 in the Betty Ford Clinic after a drunken-driving conviction.
He was found by police in a Monroeville, Pa., motel in September and said he had taken off from camp because he overslept and missed practice and feared that people would think his absence was drug-related.
Gray followed up on a connection he had made with Haselrig on a previous story and reached him at his Johnstown, Pa., home. On the fourth call, the guard agreed to do an interview.
"He's a shy guy who wasn't ready for all that hype," said Gray. "We'retalking about a guy who had never been recruited. He's been a wrestler, which certainly doesn't draw the attention that the NFL does. It was difficult for him to handle."
The interview will run at halftime of the Pittsburgh-New York Giants game, which will air on Channel 2 at 1 p.m.
More pre-game stuff
In the wake of this week's retirement of Merril Hoge, the former fullback for the Steelers and Bears who left the game after suffering two concussions in six weeks, ESPN's "NFL GameDay" (noon) will have a feature from Greg Garber on the long-term effect of football-related concussions, with interviews with Moon, former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson and medical experts.
"Fox NFL Sunday," the noon pre- lude to Channel 45's doubleheader of Washington-Indianapolis and Dallas-Arizona, will carry a Terry Bradshaw feature on the Cowboys, a debate between Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson on the roles of the head coach and the quarterback and a story on Chicago linebacker and gourmet cook Joe Cain from Lonnie Lardner.
The right stuff
Tomorrow's "NBA Inside Stuff" (Channel 2, noon) airs a feature on the preseason game between Charlotte and Golden State from Paris, as well as a piece on Charlotte's Muggsy Bogues and his recent hometown charity game for literacy at the Baltimore Arena.
Monday's Kansas City-Denver game got an impressive 18.1 rating and 30 share in national Nielsen ratings released yesterday, which makes the game a solid candidate for placement in the overall Top 10 when that list is released early next week.
The ABC college football juggernaut also continued with a 9.4/25 for the Penn State-Michigan game and a 7.6/23 for the regional package, headed by Auburn-Florida.
Fox's second NFL game last Sunday (15.5/34) beat out NBC's single game (12.1/32), but its early contests, including the Washington-Arizona and San Francisco-Atlanta games, did only a 5.7/15, meaning that NBC should retain its slight lead over Fox for the season.
Hockey rerun stuff
Just in case your hockey needs have gone unfulfilled, ESPN dusts off the 1980 Olympic semifinal between the United States and the Soviet Union from Lake Placid, N.Y., at 8:30 tonight. Al Michaels and Ken Dryden have the call, and if you know who won, keep it to yourself, OK?