Patriots Use PFW To Protest Non-Call At End Of Panthers Game

This week’s edition of Patriots Football Weekly (owned by the team).

pfw-nov-20

Nice.

It might be a stretch to say that the Patriots are “using” PFW to send a message, but as the paper is a house publication, they at least approve of the the suggestion here.

I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that this is the issue my monthly media column is in. It’s a look at the coverage of the Incognito/Martin incident in Miami, and the work done by the likes of Jay Glazer and Shannon Sharpe on this issue.

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An annoying theme that has seemingly become a running go-to subject to bring up every time the Patriots have a call go against them is to bring up the tuck rule. The Globe in particular is obsessed with the tuck rule. Whether it is Shaughnessy, Ryan or Chris Gasper today, the tuck rule is again referenced as evidence that the Patriots have been the recipient of fortunate calls on their own end.

The difference being, of course, that the tuck rule was an actual rule that was enforced correctly, as opposed to a flag being thrown for an obvious foul and then picked up without explanation.

I find the incongruity of this headline appearing in Globe highly amusing:

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 I heard the “payback for the tuck rule” last year in the regular season Baltimore game, the one Bill Belichick referenced Monday night when he said he had been instructed that asking for an explanation from the officials was not the right thing to do. I heard “payback for the tuck rule” on the “push rule” call in the Jets game. (By the way – that call, which had never been made before and supposedly had been a point of emphasis that week – has it been called since? Or will that be the only time that call is ever made in the National Football League?)

My other bone to pick is the idea that a team “deserves to win.”

I love the “diehard Pats zealots” bit. To me, Ryan was just trolling Patriots fans with these tweets, and I said so on Twitter.

So, if on that final play Brady had managed to connect with Gronk, would Ryan be saying the Patriots deserved to win? Or that they had been outplayed by Carolina?

That was about as evenly a played game as we’ve seen in the NFL. But if I say that, I’m a “diehard Pats zealot” with “blinders” who can’t see the truth.

Maybe it’s expectations? The Panthers played better than many who hadn’t seen them before thought they could, so it means they outplayed the Patriots? The game came down to one or two plays. I have a hard time saying either team significantly outplayed the other. It was a great, evenly played game that the Panthers came out on top in. I’ve got no problem saying that.

Meanwhile, if you had a bad day yesterday, take solace, it could’ve been worse:

NFL Media’s Albert Breer has travel meltdown with U.S. Airways; informed viewers roll their eyes

From The PFW Archives – A Look at CBS’ 50th Anniversary of NFL Coverage

This column originally appeared in the October 27th, 2009 edition of Patriots Football Weekly. Some minor updates/additions are in this version.

CBS Also Golden This Season

By Bruce Allen

When a couple celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary there is often a natural tendency to look back at the “glory days” of the past. In the case of the New England Patriots and CBS sports, you can actually make the case that the glory days are right now. Both entities are celebrating 50 years this season – the Patriots 50 years in existence, while CBS is celebrating 50 years of broadcasting the NFL. Both have come a long way from their early roots.

CBS broadcast their first NFL game way back in 1946, (NBC had broadcast an NFL game as early as 1939 but only had two affiliates at the time.) but it wasn’t until 1956 that CBS did their first full season of games. With the exception of a five year period in the mid-1990’s when they were outbid by FOX for the broadcast rights, CBS has carried each NFL season since 1956. Back in the early days, only each team’s road games were broadcast back to the home market. Home games were all blacked out, every single one, to protect the ticket sales in the home stadium.

During this long run, they’ve introduced many of the aspects of NFL broadcasts that we take for granted now, but that were truly innovative at the time. Think about watching a black and white game with just one or two cameras, no on-screen graphics to show you the score,  no clock for time remaining, no down and distance graphic or how many yards the QB has thrown for in this game. If you went to the kitchen and missed a play, or even turned your head, you missed it for good. It wouldn’t be shown again. There was no yellow first-down line, no play-clock counting down, and no switching to see what was happening in other games around the league.

Can you even imagine a football telecast without highlights? How about instant replay? CBS was the first to use videotape highlights back in 1958, and they invented Instant Reply in 1964, using it for their Orange Bowl broadcast, and then used it for the first time in an NFL game in September, 1965. Two months later, on Thanksgiving day 1965, CBS had the first-ever color broadcast of an NFL game.

Monday Night Football is associated with ABC and ESPN, but CBS actually had the first TV telecast of an NFL game on a Monday night. In 1966, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle began an experiment where one game each season was played on Monday night and televised. On October 31st, 1966, the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Bears played a Monday night game on CBS. The league continued this for the next three seasons, with CBS doing a game in 1967 and NBC in 1968 and 1969 before launching the full-season slate of games on ABC in 1970.

Having invented Instant Replay, they then refined it in 1966 by introducing slow-motion instant replay, allowing viewers to see exactly what happened on any given play. By 1969, CBS and XEROX had teamed up to bring up-to-the-minute team and player stats to graphics superimposed over the TV picture. The following year, the Telestrator made its debut, and though its use has somewhat slowed in recent years, its hard to imagine football broadcasts without it.

Have you ever sat and marveled at a perfectly thrown spiral as the camera follows it down the field? You didn’t see that prior to 1978, except on NFL Films. That year, CBS introduced the “Action Track System” which allowed multi-image display of paths of moving objects during the broadcasts. The Telestrator was taken a step forward in 1982 when the CBS Chalkboard, which was developed specifically for John Madden, was introduced. Using a view from a camera high above the 50-yard-line that showed all 22 players on the field, Madden could diagram plays directly into the view.

Since CBS had broadcast their first game in 1946, and also had the first-ever color broadcast of an NFL game in 1965, it only makes sense that they also had the first ever High Definition (HDTV) broadcast of an NFL game which took place in 1998. In 2004, CBS integrated “Gametrax” information with real time updates of scores and statistics from all games around the league into their broadcasts. “Stattrax” provides continuous in-game player stat updates after every play.

All of these innovations add to the NFL game viewing experience, to the benefit of the home viewer.

CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus is understandably proud of his network’s history with the NFL. “When you look at the names that have been involved with the coverage of THE NFL ON CBS…going back to Chris Schenkel and Ray Scott, Jack Buck, Lindsey Nelson, Frank Gifford, Curt Gowdy, Jack Whitaker, Al Michaels, Vin Scully and Verne Lundquist.” He continued “That doesn’t even include the lineup that we have today with such people as Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, JB (James Brown), Greg Gumbel, etc.  I firmly believe, and I think it is really a given, that when they were doing the NFL together there has never been a better team than Pat Summerall and John Madden on NFL football.”

Summerall and Madden first worked together on a CBS NFL broadcast in 1979, and were paired permanently in 1981. They remained together on CBS until the network lost the broadcast rights in 1993. (FOX immediately hired the duo to be their top NFL broadcast team.) Summerall had been with CBS since 1962, and recalled a production seminar he attended during his first year on the job: “I think that everybody who was at that meeting that day in 1962 has passed away…The Cowboys had just come into the League so there were 13 (teams) then…As I remember each team had its own set of announcers.  It was unlike it is today.  Of all those announcers that were in that room that day, I think I might be the only one still alive.”

For his part, Madden, even though he moved on to broadcast for FOX, ABC and NBC, has always felt a tug of loyalty to CBS “I love tradition and I love history.  This is kind of what it’s all about – CBS, NFL – that just brings back so many great memories of the foundation of the game.  That was my first job in television and they gave me an opportunity.  The people that give you your first opportunity, your first chance in anything, you always have a certain loyalty to them.”

So as you watch the Patriots wearing their throwback uniforms, celebrating their golden anniversary as a franchise, and remembering how far they’ve come from those early days over at Nickerson Field and Fenway Park, think too about how far we’ve come in being able to enjoy the games at home, on television, in the comfort of our own living rooms.

I’m just glad CBS isn’t using throwback cameras to broadcast the games.

From The PFW Archives – An Interview With Jason La Canfora of NFL Network

This column originally appeared in the July 29, 2009 edition of Patriots Football Weekly. 

La Canfora Hits The Ground Running At NFL Network

By Bruce Allen

Since the NFL Network was launched in 2003, viewers have become accustomed to seeing and hearing from the well-connected and enthusiastic Adam Schefter, who seemed synonymous with the network. Schefter however, was unable to come to terms with the network on a new contract this offseason, and ended up joining ESPN.

His replacement at NFL Network is 35-year-old Jason La Canfora, who spent the last several years covering the tumultuous Redskins beat for the Washington Post. La Canfora started at the network in June of this year, and has had to hit the ground running, stepping into the role vacated by Schefter. Gracious enough to speak with Patriots Football Weekly recently, La Canfora says he was “humbled and thrilled” when he found out that the NFL Network was even considering him for the position, which he describes as a “life-changing opportunity.” With the newspaper industry facing very difficult times at the moment, the decision to jump to NFL Network was an easy one, though he notes that the move made so much sense for he and his family that he would’ve made the same choice “in any economic climate, regardless of the issues facing newspapers.”

When asked how the transition from the newspaper to world to the world of network television is going, La Canfora answers: “I’m getting a better feel for what my schedule is going to be like, what an average work day feels like, etc, but once camps open and then the regular season begins, well, everything will change. It’s just incredibly exciting to be doing something new, working on a schedule outside of what a typical newspaper NFL beat feels like, getting to exercise new muscles in terms of information delivery.” The reception he has gotten from his new co-workers has been so welcoming that he says that “it really feels like being part of a family.”

A native of Baltimore, La Canfora will continue to make that his home base, even as he jets around the country in his new job. Despite growing up in Baltimore, he is a rabid Boston Red Sox fan. How does a kid from Baltimore end up part of Red Sox nation? “It’s kind of lame, I agree, but I promise I am not a bandwagon, jumper.” He explains: “I was sitting out at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in the mid-80s with my Roger Clemens jersey on. Sadly, The Rocket’s ascent was a big part of why I was drawn to Red Sox nation, and since he’s left I’ve never been able to stomach the man. But his 20 strikeout game was a big deal for me – I was 12 at the time – and the Sox obviously went on an amazing run that season and I shed many a tear during the ’86 ALCS – my dad ran upstairs, while I was crying into a pillow – to tell me about Hendu’s homer. And then Games 6 and 7 of the World Series, well, I still can’t watch highlights of Ray Knight and Mookie Wilson and Jesse Orosco throwing his glove in the air without feeling ill.”

His cheery, bespectacled exterior belies a competitive, sometimes combative nature. While covering the Redskins, La Canfora drew the ire of team owner Daniel Snyder and GM Vinny Cerrato for his candid reporting on how the Redskins franchise was being run. Cerrato blasted La Canfora on his radio show, and La Canfora shot back at the organization. According to DCProSportsReport.com, the incident “led some Redskins fans to regard LaCanfora as hostile to the team.” The site notes though, that La Canfora was, in reality, “only hostile to the incompetent and hyper-sensitive team management.” Ironically, now that he is with the NFL Network, 1/32 of his paycheck will be coming from the Redskins. La Canfora says he doesn’t view it that, way, but rather approaches this job as he would any other reporting job. He says “Eric Weinberger, the executive producer of the NFL Network – and someone I am very grateful to for giving me this opportunity – told me that he was interested in me because of the kind of journalism I have produced, and that the expectation would be that I continue to dig deep and look for the best information possible to serve our readers and viewers at NFL Network and NFL.com. He adds: “As with everything else, fairness and accuracy must carry the day, and my goal is always to provide all sides of an issue, inform as best I can, and fans will form their own opinions.”

Finally, asked for his thoughts on what to expect from the Patriots this season, he responded: “I think they are the team to beat. I have so much respect for that organization, the way they build a team, how shrewd they are, how they value draft picks, the overall sense that no individual is bigger than the collective – save for Bill Belichick, perhaps, as it should be.” Any potential weaknesses fans should be concerned about? “I don’t see much glaring in terms of what they lack. The running game will be under scrutiny as will some additions to the secondary, but I thought that Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs were two of the best values out there as veteran corners, and both ended up with the Pats. The passing attack could be as explosive as it was two years ago, and I love how the defense has transitioned, especially with Mayo now in the middle. To me they go into the season as favorites.”