Last night I made the mistake of having my television stuck on ESPN while I was caring for my 11-day-old daughter, Lillian. Too preoccupied (and too comfortable with her sleeping in my arms) to change the channel, I was subjected to a few hours of what used to be the coolest sports broadcasting on the planet. Like many of you, in recent years ESPN has completely lost me as a viewer. Maybe it’s the transparent pimping of their latest “broadcast partner” (when they televised golf, you couldn’t turn on the channel without seeing Tiger Woods’ mug; now it’s stock cars going around in circles) or their 40-year-old stuffed suit studio anchors awkwardly inserting hip, urban lingo into their game recaps. For whatever reason, ESPN just doesn’t reach me anymore, and that’s coming from a guy who had every t.v. in the house tuned to it from 1982 until the late 1990’s.
So even though my distaste for ESPN’s current form of broadcasting was doing its best to distract me from the actual content of the shows, I was able to pick up a few Ravens-related nuggets, including:
- During “Pardon the Interruption” (which is actually a very good show), former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman disclosed that he was very close to coming out of retirement a few years ago, but the team with which he was ready to sign “changed their mind” at the last minute. Neither of the show’s hosts (Michael Wilbon and Rick Reilly) pressed him to expand on that comment, but I couldn’t help wondering if he was referring to our beloved Ravens. The addition of Aikman certainly would’ve made the past couple of years very interesting, and probably would’ve prevented Steve McNair from ever playing in Baltimore (except when he was winning playoff games here with the Titans of course).
- In the pregame show for last night’s Bengals-Packers preseason game, ESPN decided to take a look around the league and show a few quarterback competitions currently taking place in NFL training camps. They showed three highlights from the Ravens’ game vs. New England last Thursday: Klye Boller throwing a pick, Troy Smith hitting on a deep ball over the middle and Joe Flacco fumbling. While I can’t fault them for the Flacco clip because it accurately summed up his night, you have to admit that the Boller and Smith highlights they chose to air were a little misleading. Boller was 11-15 for 104 yards and Smith (who I would like to see win the job) completed just five of the 12 passes he attempted. While the Ravens still haven’t decided who their starter is for Sept. 7, it seems clear who ESPN wants in there. Given that, can we ever assume that ESPN (or any other national media outlet that caters to people with limited attention spans) is giving us a thorough, unbiased view on any subject?
- But this was the biggest head-scratcher of them all: Ray Lewis is apparently so confident in the Ravens’ chances this year that he’s spending his free time helping out our division opponents. According to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Ray Ray recently had a heart-to-heart sit-down with disgruntled Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, and the Bengals coach credits this conversation with making Johnson a happier, more team-oriented participant in training camp. What’s next, Ray Ray giving Ben Roethlisberger motorcycle riding lessons?