With CBS having the rights to the AFC package, you would think that they’d have a respectful, comprehensive view of what went down on Saturday, December 1, when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, and later, himself in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium.
Surprisingly, it was Fox, the owner of the NFC package, that did a far better job than CBS in this department.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that Fox happened to be airing the game, as this week, the Chiefs host the Carolina Panthers.
Still, it was no excuse for CBS to literally urinate on the proverbial grave of a very tragic situation in Kansas City.
“The NFL Today” opened with a piece on NFL teams’ road to the playoffs – with a tie-in for GPS manufacturer Garmin. Get it, “road to the playoffs”?
As the show went live, host James Brown continued the shameless shilling for Garmin.
“As we welcome you to ‘The NFL Today’,” Brown told viewers, as he held up a Garmin model, “we’d like to thank our friends from Garmin for helping navigate our open.” He then asked Dan Marino, “Am I holding that good there?” And then he asked a staffer, “Can I put that down, Tony?” Then, as he introduced his deskmates, he referred to them as “four friends who are always guiding me in the right direction.”
There would be talk about the playoff pictures in the AFC and the NFC, and the fact that Bill Cowher and Shannon Sharpe were wearing gold and purple ties, respectively, with another Steelers/Ravens game on the horizon, before Brown finally informed viewers of the tragedy that unfolded in Kansas City on Saturday.
Brown then sent it to Lesley Visser at Arrowhead, who chatted with Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt about the horrific events.
In a subsequent segment, CBS went on with their weekly segment with a Victoria’s Secret model, Lily Aldridge, joining the “NFL Today” crew in their weekly game picking segment (the tie-in here is that Aldridge is promoting a Victoria’s Secret “fashion show” special airing on CBS later this week).
And as was pointed out, the Victoria’s Secret segment got exactly four minutes more face time on “The NFL Today” than Visser’s report from Arrowhead (I clocked it at 5:20 to 1:20).
But it was the supermodel’s rambling about this year’s class of rookie quarterbacks that might have shown the ultimate disrespect to the families that will be affected by the Belcher murder/suicide.
“I think it’s the year of the rookies,” Aldridge commented. “The rookies are just killing it.”
“Killing it.” Nice job, Lily.
Given the events that unfolded 24 hours ago in Kansas City, does anyone think that choice of words is in bad taste?
Of course, since this week’s Chiefs game is airing on Fox, perhaps that gets CBS off the hook. I wonder if they’d treat the Belcher story with as much respect as Fox did, had CBS carried the game, just as they have been carrying Chiefs games for the other thirteen weeks of the season.
When Fox opened their pregame show, “Fox NFL Sunday,” the trademark scream of “We Are! Fox Sports!” that leads into the “Journey” bit or whatever Fox has cooked up that week for the open, was missing. The show started with a live shot of Arrowhead Stadium and Curt Menefee discussing the Belcher situation, then brought on Ron Pitts and former Panthers head coach Mike Martz, calling this week’s Panthers/Chiefs game, in on the discussion. That was then followed by Jay Glazer with more developing news on the Chiefs tragedy, and after that, Menefee talked about the Belcher muder/suicide with his deskmates.
It was at the seven-minute mark that Fox went to its first commercial break of the hour. No bells or whistles (a preview piece that usually follows the first segment was appended to the end of the second segment), just Menefee telling viewers, “When we come back, we’ll talk football.” Fade to black.
Seven minutes. Or over five times as much time devoted to the story in their opening segment (the entire segment, in fact) than CBS.
Even ESPN was more respectful to the Belcher situation, with their new funnyman Frank Caliendo deciding to 86 a segment that he felt would be in bad taste, given what happened in Kansas City the day before (it will air next week).
And in case you were wondering, Fox’s Caliendo counterpart (replacement) on “NFL Sunday”, Rob Riggle – who wears his Chiefs fandom on his sleeve – did do his scheduled comedy bit as planned, for a “Riggle’s Picks Platinum” service. In lieu of Chiefs apparel, Riggle was clad in a fur coat – as was fitness guru Richard Simmons, who had a cameo in the bit. There was no reference to the Chiefs at all, yet he had a taunting line regarding the quarterback of this week’s Chiefs opponent.
“I scooped you, Jay Glazer,” Riggle says on a telephone to Glazer, who also had a cameo in the bit. “I bet you didn’t even know Cam Newton was pregnant,” he said, referring to a tip he received from a fictitious homeless person (portrayed by UFC boss Dana White). An on-screen graphic identified Riggle as “potential godfather to Cam Newton’s baby.”
“How is that a scoop?,” replied Glazer. “It’s not possible.”
Sadly, a quarterback bearing a child was more possible than CBS bearing grief for the Jovan Belcher tragedy.
Of course, we all remember how CBS bungled the death of Joe Paterno, don’t we?
And for the record, I’m not alone in CBS’ poor judgment in this week’s edition of “The NFL Today”.