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Doug Wolter: NFL experts on TV still as insipid as ever

NFL football broadcasts are a mixed bag. You get football, but you also get inanity.

Doug Wolter photo
Doug Wolter

After almost two years of studiously ignoring NFL football, I finally succumbed on Sunday and watched three televised games. My wife, Sandy, was gone all weekend visiting her parents in Wanamingo (that’s near Rochester) and frankly, I was bored.

I discovered that the game hasn’t really changed all that much (‘cept for the politics, of course). Pass interference penalties were as indeterminate as ever, and the definition of targeting is still in the realm of vague opinion. Games still go down to the wire as teams foolishly allow their leads to slip away. And expert commentators still make me wonder if they have pigskin for brains.

Truth be told, I believed I could watch NFL games again because I finally had learned to become comfortably numb, as the song goes. I believed I was no longer prone to getting upset over things, as I used to be.

But on Monday night as I watched the pre-game banter for the Philadelphia-Dallas tussle, I was jolted out of my stupor.

The three football geniuses seated with the field as a backdrop (Steve Young was one of them; I believe Booger McFarland was also there) treated us to their excellence while explaining the greatness of new LA Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has set the world on fire in leading the team to a 3-0 record. On Sunday, Stafford was brilliant in dissecting Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the experts couldn’t contain themselves.

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Of course, they agreed, Stafford is and always was a truly great NFL quarterback. Young called him a “generational talent” and they all insisted that he’s a good bet to win the MVP Award. He has always been great, they gushed, and they always knew it.

Uh, really? These are the same people who questioned Stafford’s abilities throughout his previous tenure with the Detroit Lions. They, and others, panned him for his spotty Lions performances and his failure to win a playoff game while wearing the Honolulu blue.

Personally, I’ve always defended Stafford against his many naysayers. I said he was a good quarterback playing on a crappy franchise, and if he could only leave Detroit he might be successful.

Now he’s having success, and the same people who dismissed him are saying they knew he had the greatness gene the whole time. Spare me.

This is the way NFL pre-game broadcasts usually go. Commentators have way too much air time to fill with silly talk, and because they’re supposed to be “experts” they treat their audience as empty-headed rubes. Do they actually think we don’t remember what they’ve said in the past?

No matter how many times they’ve been wrong about someone or something, they keep pretending that they were geniuses the moment they came into the world. I’d forgive them if they ever admitted they’re just as human as we are, but I suppose they’ll always embarrass themselves. Perhaps that’s because if they were ever to be honest and admit they don’t know half as much as they think they do, their employers will see that they’re no more experts than the viewers they talk down to.

OK, so now what do I do? I suppose I can watch next Sunday’s NFL contests, but for my sanity I should skip the pre-kickoff gabfest. Hmmm… Just to be on the safe side, I might hit the mute button when the game begins, too.

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