David Zurawik

Poor play, Rich Gannon's ego doom Ravens telecast

Six seconds into Sunday's game, CBS analyst Rich Gannon told viewers authoritatively that the Ravens "can't afford another pedestrian start."

But the Ravens were worse than pedestrian until the fourth quarter and they could indeed afford it. All things considered, they did just fine in beating the Cleveland Browns, 20-10, and making the playoffs thanks to a loss by the San Diego Chargers to the Kansas City Chiefs.


Gannon makes a lot of pronouncements like that during a telecast. And on a bad day, he sounds like as big an ex-jock gasbag as there is in any NFL booth on any network on any given Sunday. He can become so obtrusive running his mouth about when he played that it's hard to focus on anything else in the telecast.

But, in fairness, he and the rest of the CBS crew said and did enough things right in an uninspired broadcast to get a passing grade Sunday. Barely passing, but they were, after all, covering three quarters of pretty uninspired football – from the Browns and the Ravens.


The best thing CBS did: Regularly update viewers with the score of the game between San Diego and Kansas City until at one point, they put it at the bottom of the screen and left it there.

They could have left it pinned to the bottom screen non-stop all day for my money. But at least they kept me updated on the most important NFL news not being made at M&T Bank Stadium.

As for Gannon, I liked that he called out Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and two of his teammates who were disciplined for being late for medical treatment and walkthroughs Saturday – after they attended a party thrown by Manziel Friday night.

But I'm not crazy about the way he did it – by comparing them to himself.

"I just think it's really a disgrace," Gannon said. "I played 17 years in the league, and I was never late. Like I said, if you're early, you're never late. Manziel and some of these guys been in the league 17 weeks, and they're late. It shows a lack of professionalism, a lack of accountability. And his teammates are angry. And that guy right there, [coach] Mike Pettine, [he's angry] and he should be."

A few minutes later, he added, "I don't want to spend the next 30 minutes bashing Johnny Manziel. But I'm really disappointed in some of the things I've heard in terms of what's taken place in the last 48 hours."

Again, you can't hammer Manziel enough for my taste. He defines an all-show, no-go hotdog. The faster his hype ends and he's out of football, the happier I will be.

So, good for you in voicing your disdain, Rich. I'm totally with you on that.


And, by the way, good for CBS Sports in being the first to report the party, according to, a competitor. CBS and ESPN both have contractual relationships with the NFL that have made me wonder what they don't report so as not to threaten those relationships. Here's something one of them did report.

But, in terms of Gannon, I couldn't care less if he's "disappointed." What does that mean anyway? Coaches get disappointed in players. Parents get disappointed in their kids. Getting "disappointed" has nothing to do with being an analyst. So I don't care if he's disappointed or not.

And I also don't care, Rich, if you were or weren't ever late. You are not the yardstick for anything. Explain the game to us. Don't tell us how good, accountable or professional you think you were.

That era of here's-what-I-did-when-I-played analysis is over. I hope it ended with the blessed retirement of Dan Dierdorf last year.

NFL telecasts have changed the last couple of years with a wide range of voices now commenting and offering analysis on social media. Steve Beuerlein and Steve Tasker, the CBS analysts we had last week, got the message and are now totally trying to serve the fans with analysis that explains the game and enriches their viewing experience rather than serving as a vehicle to recite greatest on-field moments.

Speaking of last week's CBS crew, Sunday's play-by-play announcer, Kevin Harlan, needs to take firm control of the telecast the way Andrew Catalon did last week. That means he has to quit referring to Gannon's on-field career and start pushing him for better analysis.


Better than what?

Gannon's pregame analysis of the Ravens on Sunday ended on this note: "Baltimore needs more from Flacco [than it got last week]."

Gee, you think?