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Before there was an NFL Network, you could judge the importance of an NFL game by how long the pre-game show was. Back then most regular season games had a one hour preview show that would expand to two hours before the playoffs and balloon up to three hours prior the Super Bowl.
If we used the same barometer today, Saturday’s Cowboys-Ravens game could be considered the biggest game in the history of the universe… or something along those lines.
The NFL Network will unofficially become The Cowboys Network on Saturday, basically dedicating 24 hours to all things “America’s Team.”
This might seem par for the course for many fans who think media outlets already focus too much on the goings on in Big D, but even the staunchest Cowboys fan might need to take a break from this day-long love fest, which begins at 6 a.m. (ET) with a review of every Cowboys Super Bowl championship team and extends through the Cowboys-Ravens game, which starts at 8 p.m. and a post-game ceremony in honor of the last game at Texas Stadium. Considering there will be live shots from the iconic stadium with the hole in the roof as early as 12 hours before the game kicks off, chances are you won’t miss it by the time the ceremony rolls around.
In his most recent Monday Morning Quarterback, Peter King wrote, “Three hours, NFL Network. Three hours of a pre-game show? Stop. Please. Bob Papa, live at 8:03 a.m. Central time, for a 7:25 p.m. Central time game? My two questions: Why not a 24-hour pre-game show? And how does the talent like that 4 a.m. pickup out in Los Angeles?”
It certainly begs the question, when is enough really enough? Is there really a need for a pre-game show that extends longer than the actual game?
While I wouldn’t want to wake up before the crack of dawn to cover a game that won’t start until after sunset, I don’t mind that it’s there and I’m beginning to think more and more that it’s only the beginning of this new trend in specialized sports coverage.
In Toronto the Maple Leafs have their own network, which televises nothing but Leafs programming, which is a slight contrast to the Yankees’ YES Network, which actually sprinkles in coverage of other sports such as Nets games and talk shows. Both networks, however, have done well by giving their fans exactly what they want. Excess, excess and more excess. Even if that means airing a live show around the Yankees’ batting practice as YES does.
With every professional sports league now having their own 24-hour television network (MLB Network will debut in January) how long will it before most teams have their own networks as well? If we can have something called Ovation TV (all cheering, all the time?) why not Cowboys TV? Can you imagine a Big Brother type show with cameras placed around the Cowboys training facility around the clock to capture every fight? What about a Survivor type show where you could watch alliances being formed between the likes of Terrell Owens, Tony Romo and Jason Witten? The possibilities are endless.
If that seems like a long shot now, consider that just this month we had a three-hour pre-game show for a game between the 3-10 Oakland Raiders and the 5-8 San Diego Chargers, which was shown in 3D in three packed cinemas across the country on a Thursday night. That more than anything should show you that when it comes to the NFL on television, enough is never enough.