Things are in a desperate state.
Is there a more loathsome, irksome individual than Jimmy Johnson, the cement-haired coach of the Cowboys? How much of him can the network cameras stand in this week of Super Bowl build-up?
We must be at the end of civilization. I sense we are about to go over the edge.
John Madden is . . . big . . . crude . . . almost slobbering. For obvious reasons, Madden, who enjoys acting like a clown, connects with the marginal illiterates who watch Sunday football while making beer runs back and forth to the refrigerator.
In essence, Madden is nothing more than a loud lout who can't contain his excitement. If he sat next to you in the stands, you would have to move away from him because his constant yawping would make it impossible to enjoy the game. Madden belongs at a wrestling match rather than a football game.
And yet, Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network will pay Madden $7 million a season starting next year to broadcast various National Football League games around the country. He cannot possibly be worth all that money.
To think that I thought Kevin Johnson was overpaid when I learned the Suns were paying him $1.9 million a year.
At least KJ is signed on for an 82-game season plus the playoffs.
Just how many hours do you figure Madden will work under the terms of his new contract?
Say he puts in 12 hours on game day. Give him another day of preparation. If Madden works 24 hours in any given week, it will be a lot. And for this he will be paid $7 million annually?
I watched the close of the final Madden broadcast on CBS last Sunday. He and Pat Summerall had been together quite a few years. You expected something interesting might take place between them.
There was no real chemistry displayed.
When Madden said goodbye to his sidekick, they might have met for the first time over breakfast on that very day.
"I'm not gonna tell you I love you," Madden said to Summerall, "but I do like you a lot."
Next came Terry Bradshaw, the former quarterback, and Greg Gumbel, brother of the NBC morning ogre.
They seemed on the verge of tears. It was their last football game for the CBS network, too.
What is all the sadness about? Were they actually engaged in an endeavor that was worthwhile? Certainly not. They were to television news what the National Enquirer is to the New York Times.
Someday, when they are all sufficiently removed from the hoopla, they will perhaps understand what a big con it all was. Nothing meant anything. Only the fans, racing back and forth to the refrigerators for more beer, were sincere.
The only thing Madden and Summerall were doing was shilling for beer and automobiles. Did you ever notice that nothing ever happened on the field that possessed as much grace and timing as the commercials?
"The game is so great," Bradshaw said, "and we had the greatest job. We had 32 monitors here in the studio and we could switch to any one of them."
He is absolutely wrong. The game is not so great anymore. In fact, an interesting game has become an exception.
As the studio duo, Bradshaw and Gumbel had the task of doing the overview of all the games played. Who knows if either will ever be hired to do anything like this again? I had the feeling that Bradshaw was always repeating the same thing over and over for every game. Or is this because all the games in the NFL really are so much the same?
The job certainly beat working.
It wasn't until the cameras started to roll and show some of the great moments of the last 30 years that I remembered the magic.
There was Vince Lombardi on a frigid field at Green Bay. There was the young Joe Montana throwing the pass that resulted in "The Catch" by Dwight Clark.
And suddenly, I don't know why it caught my eye, there was footage of an announcer named Frank Gleiber calling a Cleveland Browns game 30 years ago.
Those were the days when every team had its own announcers doing the television coverage. Back then, when you watched a team like the Cardinals on the road, the game would be broadcast by announcers you had listened to for years. They would be men who actually knew the players they were talking about.
Jack Buck did the Cardinals. Ken Coleman did the Browns. Jack Brickhouse did the Bears. Whenever you turned on the tube to watch your home team, you had these hometown guys who had traveled with the club to Philadelphia or Houston or what have you. It gave you a sense of closeness that was taken away a long time ago.
This is what CBS and NBC did to us, the fans. They took away our game from us. They ran everything from New York and took our teams away from us.
Instead, they gave us Madden and Summerall, and we are supposed to like it?
What, after all, did Madden ever care about the Cardinals or the Bears? In fact, Madden was so important and puffed up that he rarely ever made it to a Cardinals game because they were held in such low esteem.
I find it very hard to feel any sympathy for Madden and Summerall, for Bradshaw or Gumbel. They had a very easy gig and were paid obscenely for it.
And when they look back on it, they will have to admit they took part in a process which steadily demeaned the sport that provided them with such a lucrative living.