NFL AM, the new NFL Network morning show, debuted at 6 o’clock this morning, and by 6:15, a five-person panel was arguing about which is better, winning an Olympic gold medal or winning a Super Bowl.
That had me worried that NFL AM was going to be yet another morning show that favors manufactured debates instead of news that informs or enlightens viewers. NFL Network would be wise to leave that stuff to the local sports radio stations, and to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on ESPN First Take.
As I kept watching, however, I saw the potential for a strong morning program. NFL AM has access to the biggest names in the NFL, and the interviews with Cam Newton and Rex Ryan were the best part of the premiere episode. If NFL AM airs those kinds of interviews every day, plus highlights and analysis once the season starts, it’s going to be worth watching for early-rising NFL fans.
But if it’s all about arguing, it’s just going to be noise, not news. And it’s going to be far too much noise if they can’t find a better way to divide up the workload among the five-person panel of Brian Webber, Nicole Zaloumis, Eric Davis, Mark Kriegel and Steve Wyche. The five-person set looked overcrowded even before it expanded to include a sixth panelist, Michael Fabiano, for the fantasy football segment. I’d be willing to bet that it won’t be long before NFL Network reconfigures the set to alleviate the problem of too many people talking at once. (The set is also overcrowded with Burger King logos, but it’s probably safe to say those won’t be going anywhere.)
NFL Network should also rethink the idea of including a segment called “Our Daily Tebow.” That comes across as a cheap ratings grab, suggesting they’re planning to talk about Tim Tebow every day, whether he does anything newsworthy or not. That’s straight out of the First Take playbook.
Basing NFL AM in Los Angeles was an odd choice, and I don’t envy the sleeping schedule of the folks working on a West Coast show that starts at 6 a.m. Eastern. Given that the staff on the show is probably driving to work before 2 a.m. local time, I have to wonder if NFL AM‘s Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning shows during the season will feature a bleary-eyed panel discussing Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games that they couldn’t stay awake to watch.
But if they’re able to offer real insight into the games, and if they increase the number of daily interviews while cutting down on the number of daily arguments, NFL AM has the potential to succeed. For football fans, there’s no such thing as too much football. And if you’re a football fan and people are having an insightful football discussion as soon as you roll out of bed, that’s something you’ll want to watch.