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October 15, 2007 5:50 PM

NFL Network Gets It Right

My Sundays are pretty simple. I wake up, slog through a couple hours of work for graduate school and then proceed to watch literally 12 straight hours of football. It usually begins with either a terribly boring Ravens game or a boringly terrible Redskins game. So goes life living in the DC-Metro area without DirecTV.

From there, it’s on to the 4 o’clock games, which, if my prayers have been answered by this point, features more than two touchdowns. By this time in the afternoon, I’ve become very intimate with Yahoo! StatTracker. Also, my legs are beginning to numb.

But wait, there’s more! The fact I have seen roughly 49 previews to the night’s “60 Minutes,” allows me to skip it, feeling as though I already know what will be said, and instead I watch the over-crowded “American Football Night in America. For Americans.” It is pretentious and has way too many former players, but it satisfies my fix for that day’s highlights, for the time being.

But my real “highlight” (hey-o!) comes at 11:30 p.m., East Coast Time, usually just as the SNF game is wrapping up.

If you haven’t seen it yet, and you actually get the NFL Network, do yourself a favor, and check out “NFL Gameday.” It’s billed as “The definitive Sunday night wrap up of the day that was in the NFL,” and it is exactly that.

What makes it so good? They focus on the highlights. Novel concept, right? While ESPN seemingly shows less and less game footage and more and more time spent with talking heads who have NO idea what their own head is talking about (yes, I’m staring directly at you, Emmitt Smith. A leopard has spots, not stripes, you moron), the NFL Network has gone the opposite way, and show basically 90 minutes of highlights, with the occasional interjection from Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci.

But when they do add something, it works. The chemistry between them, and show host Rich Eisen, oozes through the screen. Plus, Deion is pretty funny, especially when he says the Minnesota safety was about to “pop two hamstrings” trying to catch Devin Hester.

As long as ESPN continues its downward slide (remember when “Baseball Tonight” was watchable?), it will to continue to lose viewers. There is a reason the NFL Network is the fastest growing channel in cable-TV history.

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