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ESPN's Rushing Game

ESPN's revamped Sunday NFL Countdown premiered this week, and it was interesting to see how the best of all the NFL preview shows (CBS and Fox? Don't make me laugh.) transmogrified itself during the offseason.

First off, Bill Parcells (now coaching a penny-ante football team) and Sterling Sharpe have evaporated away. Newly coalesced at the ESPN desk is Michael Irvin, late of Fox Sports Net. Sharpe always used to shout everything he said at the camera, and Irvin is a bit of a shouter, too. He's also not too interesting, at least not yet. But there was one moment when Irvin showed a good sense of humor: his sheepishness at picking Atlanta over his beloved Cowboys. Still, I could live without him. Give me more Tom Jackson any day.

The show's second addition is Rush Limbaugh. That's right -- the radio's most famous conservative pundit is on the NFL tip now. Limbaugh's initial commentary seemed pretty fair, even a bit wimpy, but totally out of place. However, the show's other premise was amusing: three times during a show, Limbaugh gets to throw a (virtual) red flag and challenge the ruling on the field, or in this case, in the studio. In those give-and-take sessions, he was better.

But still, ESPN continues to dilute the purity of this great show. Give me a toned-down Chris Berman (please), the great Tom Jackson, and Chris Mortensen with the up-to-the-minute skinny, and I'll be happy.


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