Pundit Tree: Good Luck Trying to Get Andrew in the Booth; When the Bedbugs Bite


The chase is yet again afoot. A personable, intelligent, and formerly elite quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts has entered the broadcasting free-agent pool. And, like it’s been with Peyton Manning all this time since his retirement, any pursuit of Andrew Luck would be wasted energy and an exercise in barking up the wrong tree.

The New York Post reports television suits are interested in kicking the tires on the 29-year-old because of course they are. But I’m trying to imagine being an incredibly talented, worldly, intellectually curious person coming off a heart-wrenching and controversial decision to close the door on professional football in order to embrace a more complete, healthy life … only to shuffle back into the press box to analyze the action from afar.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just doesn’t seem to be for Luck. And maybe this is reading too much into it, but this seems to be a reflection of a semi-toxic football hubris that’s becoming more and more exposed as unearned swagger. People involved with football have a hard time believing that it is not at the epicenter of the universe, that there’s other stuff to explore out there.

This is a cousin to the chatter we’ve seen, and will continue to see on the daily talk shows completely overvaluing the attractiveness of the sport to those who have decided to walk away.

It’s no surprise that networks would get a bit frisky at the idea of a young, articulate quarterback in the booth as the quest to find the next Tony Romo remains an insatiable desire. In this case, though, it feels like hustling backwards.


Let’s play a quick game of Scruples. You’re an opinion writer for the freaking New York Times and, sadly, are obsessed with college, college campuses, and whatever distorted obsession with free speech. A person points out a tweet with nine likes calling you a metaphorical bedbug. Do you let it go? Or do you email that person, make sure their bosses see it, get righteously ratioed to kingdom come over it, quit Twitter (again), and go on cable news to cry about it?

There’s no real reason to know or care about Bret Stephens. But folks, I got sucked in about a year ago out of pure curiosity. Following his exploits will make a person repeatedly question how this is a real person, if it’s all a bit, and why the actual hell the most prestigious and powerful voice amplifiers have chosen to amplify this voice.

The story isn’t the cartoonish figure going full Brett Favre retirement when it comes to deleting his account. It’s that the Times and MSNBCare willing to hitch their wagons to his particular brand of performance art out of some bizarre fairness fetish or, cynically, for the rage clicks.

An earnest question: who is this for? Is it for the infinitesimally small cross-section of people who watch Morning Joe and subscribe to The Weekly Standard? Consider how bad things have to be going for a person to have  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Donald Trump both dunking on them to great glee.

This whole episode — which has brought great joy to so many people — is actually indicative of something chilling. It’s about an abuse of station. Stephens ran into a buzzsaw here because he tacitly threatened a person who had job security, nothing to fear, loads of wit, and a willingness to push back. One wonders how many times the Times’ name has been thrown around to exert pressure on someone who can’t fight back.

Dying for Skycam

Fred Gaudelli, arguably the most respected live sports producer in the business, told reporters this week that NBC has not fallen in lovewith the Skycam. The angle will once again be used judiciously this season. And you can bet that, even in limited use, people at home will get up in arms. It’s clear people prefer the traditional angle.

Short, sweet, and devastatingly accurate rebuttal here: people are wrong. The Skycam should be employed more, not less. It allows viewers to see what is happening in the play, appreciate the difficulty of playing quarterback, and is a more exciting look at the action.

Unimaginative football fans have hundreds of games each weekend to watch their preferred angle. Can the adventure-seekers among us get thrown a damn bone here?

Bagels and blocks

Playing Pac-12 football at 9 a.m. is proving to be a hard-to-kill idea. There won’t be any games scheduled at the early hour this year. Next year, though, could be different. John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal explains the attraction as tapping into a novelty event like the Winter Classic or playing on an aircraft carrier — only way less cool.

Two major matchups on the schedule that could be moved to go with eggs and toast are Michigan-Washington and Ohio State-Oregon. It’s no secret that Fox is trying to win the noon ET window and having these shift there would be a dream come true. Stay tuned.

And finally …

Let’s pause for a moment and think of the real victim in Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement. No, not him or the fans or Millennials or O.J. Simpson. I’m thinking of @CaptAndrewLuck a parody account on Twitter that made the same joke over and over again for 543,000 followers. It died doing what it loved: not making me laugh and getting a ton of attention. To wit: ESPN wrote a news article about it, Peter King gave the mythical figure space in his MMQB at NBC, and, regretfully, The Big Lead sports blog even chronicled how some randos felt about it.

Look at the success of this account and tell me we don’t live in the best and worst country in the world.

NOTEBOOK: Extremely funny that Kyle Brandt got top billing over Julia Louis-Dreyfus on a Bill Simmons podcast … Gus Johnson tells The Athletic he wants to get back to calling NBA games … Monday Night Football is not expected to give an open-armed embrace to gambling references … Urban Meyer‘s enunciation is not in midseason form and it’s leading to some confusion.