Ravens telecast full of prime-time promos, shameless PR and revisionism
By By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun|
Sep 18, 2011 at 4:43 PM
There is no doubt that the flat performance of the Baltimore Ravens Sunday played a major role in making the CBS telecast of the Ravens 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans such an unpleasant TV experience.
But there were at least three aspects of the telecast that also contributed to my misery in front of the tube -- and all of them were the fault of CBS and its announcing crew.
The first and most recurring problem involved the endless promos for new and returning CBS series. I suppose with the fall season starting Monday night some will excuse the non-stop promotional noise. But CBS does this all year along, and I forgot how annoying it is to see the same spots over and over while hearing the official Voice of Institutional Hype announcing time and again, "Thursday night, only on CBS."
I have screened these new series, and I know how uninspired (I am being nice) some of them are. So maybe this endless carnival-barking grated on me more than it did on others in the audience.
But last season, the network squeezed so many in-house prime-time promotions into the football games that they were clipping kickoffs, to show promos for the third or fourth time while reminding us, "Thursday night, only on CBS."
That kind of clip appeared to happen on a Tennessee kickoff in the third quarter Sunday, but I can't be sure since my recording of the game misfired. Whether live coverage of the kickoff was missed or not, the hype for the new season was excessive.
But there was another kind of PR-hype that is even more problematic as far as I am concerned. This one involved CBS Sports analyst Steve Tasker telling the audience what a fine and "honest" human being Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt is.
After a passing mention of Britt having had a "few scrapes with police," Tasker took it upon himself to tell viewers, "People get the wrong idea when they hear that."
Britt "could not have been more honest when he talked with us," Tasker said, after essentially serving as a character witness for the receiver.
Look, Britt was terrific on the field Sunday. But if you look him up online for 30 seconds you will see that the "scrapes" he has had with police, include a felony charge and police allegations of car chases and drugs.
According to AP, the felony charge was later dropped after he entered a guilty plea to misdemeanors charges. This summer, he was arrested twice in New Jersey and had two arrest warrants out for him in Tennessee.
The NFL and CBS have been shameless in minimizing the criminal nature of players and coaches who drive drunk or stoned, assault people and/or resist arrest.
I understand how being honest about employing criminals might be a bad business strategy compared to falsely celebrating them as "honest" citizens and even heroes. But come on, show some sense of social responsibility.
If you want to ignore their "scrapes with police," fine -- ignore them. But don't minimize or try to apologize them away and then tell the young people in the audience what great and "honest" men these players who break the law are. There are societal consequences to that, and we are living with them every day in cities like Baltimore.
So, quit being apologists for people who break the law -- people who are by definition criminals.
Finally, a small and more traditional complaint: revisionism.
Tasker and play-by-play announcer Bill Macatee opened the telecast with wall-to-wall raves for the Ravens based on last week's win over Pittsburgh. I did not hear a negative or worried word from them.
But with 12 minutes and 40 seconds left in the second quarter and it all but impossible not to notice how amped up Tennessee was compared to the Ravens, Tasker said, "You wondered if Baltimore might not have a hangover from too much good stuff last week."