Presenting the last sports media notes of the year, with the reminder that, though one size is supposed to fit all, you can try to exchange the column if you have saved your receipt:
So the NFL has gone from dipping its toe into the waters of taking over game telecasts to trying to wade in deeper. Fortunately for all of us, the water was still too cold.
Or, more accurately, too hot.
No one got too worked up last year when the NFL Network started carrying regular-season games, but the rumbles of discontent grew louder this season because of a marquee matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys and tomorrow's New England Patriots-New York Giants game. With the backlash having led to a multi-network, simulcast solution that includes CBS and NBC, let's score one for the little guy with the big foam finger.
We can only hope that the water continues to stay uncomfortable for the NFL, because if things start to go swimmingly (as I stretch the aquatic metaphor to the breaking point), we could expect more games to find their way to the NFL Network at some point when broadcast network contracts permit.
And let us ever be vigilant that we never reach the day when the NFL violates our God-given right to view the Super Bowl on free television.
On the other hand, Cris Collinsworth, who will call tomorrow night's Patriots-Giants game along with Bryant Gumbel, offered a more benign view of the NFL's decision to make New England's shot at 16-0 widely available.
"I have to tell you honestly, it really surprises me, and I'm proud of the NFL that they stepped up and made this game available to everybody," Collinsworth said, according to a transcript of a conference call this week. "I really thought that they would continue to use this as a major sort of power negotiating chip with what was going on in these negotiations [with cable companies]. And the fact that they are allowing everybody to watch it in one form or another is pretty impressive."
Fox has lined up "special pre-game analysts" for each of its college bowl telecasts - Sugar Bowl (Georgia vs. Hawaii), Fran Tarkenton; Fiesta Bowl (Oklahoma vs. West Virginia), Barry Switzer; Orange Bowl (Kansas vs. Virginia Tech), John Riggins; Bowl Championship Series title game (Ohio State vs. Louisiana State), Eddie George and Urban Meyer.
Each has a connection with one of the participants. Tarkenton was a quarterback at Georgia, Switzer the coach at Oklahoma, Riggins a running back at Kansas, George a running back at Ohio State, and Meyer, Florida's head coach, has faced LSU this season.
Plus, if Fox needs to fill time during the Sugar Bowl, it can run one of Tarkenton's old infomercials.
The Ravens are going out with a bang, sort of. CBS is sending its No. 1 announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to do the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you're flipping the channels New Year's Day and come upon a hockey game that appears to be staged outdoors, it's not your hangover blurring your vision. NBC (WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4) broadcasts the NHL Winter Classic on Tuesday at 1 p.m., between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres from Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium. How big a deal is this? NBC is bringing in Bob Costas to serve as host.
"It will feel special because it is special," Costas said in a news release. "It's unique. [Pittsburgh's Sidney] Crosby is a guy who crosses over into the general awareness of sports fans who might not follow the NHL day-to-day. ... Plus 70,000 people in Buffalo on New Year's Day, there's certainly going to be a rollicking atmosphere there. You aren't going to need to know the standings from top to bottom to enjoy this game."
Now, just remind me: What number does Gilbert Perreault wear?