I felt like one of the few people that really enjoyed Matt Millen on NFL Network’s Thursday Night broadcast, and defended the Millen-Bob Papa booth any time I could. They had good chemistry and you could learn something about football if you stopped making Millen jokes for a minute.
The booth will be a lot tougher to defend this year. Or learn something from.
Richard Deitsch of SI.com first reported Monday that the NFL Network was adding Joe Theismann to form a three-man broadcast booth. The Network has since confirmed the news.
“Joe is one of the premier analysts in the business,” said Eric Weinberger, executive producer
NFL Network said in the announcement of Theismann’s hire.
This is one of those decisions that makes you question everything about sports television executives. They decided to add a lot more money to their budget in order to drive a significant portion of their audience crazy.
The reason? We suppose they think a “name” will attract viewers, impress advertisers, or make NFL Network somehow look more legitimate.
Theismann dominates the airtime whenever he gets the chance. Unlike Millen, he rarely tells the viewer something we don’t already know. The focus is often on Theismann, not the game. Even worse, he sometimes seemed unprepared during Washington’s preseason telecasts this year.
Time that Theismann blows hot air will just take away from Papa and Millen, who are both pros. NFL Network had many far better options in their own stable of analysts if they wanted to add a third member.
NFLN hasn’t stuck with a consistent lineup for their Thursday Night broadcast for various reasons and we suspect this three-man booth won’t last long either. Fans will revolt, and eventually the Network will listen.
We just hope they don’t wait two years, like they did with Bryant Gumbel.