Fallout, reaction and thoughts on significant recent media moves:
▪ With Tony Romo lacking any broadcasting experience, it’s clearly a risk for CBS to insert the former Cowboys quarterback as Jim Nantz’s new partner on its lead NFL announcing team, replacing Phil Simms.
But CBS sports chairman Sean McManus said: “It’s a very manageable risk. Tony will be having all sorts of work this summer, whether it’s doing practice games … preseason games or looking at film and tape of other analysts. It will be a full-time job for Tony starting this summer.
“Will he be better Week Six than Week One? Yes. But if we didn’t have faith in the fact he could be an outstanding analyst, we wouldn’t be taking this risk.”
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Romo, who has stopped short of saying he’s retiring but also said he doesn’t expect to play again, acknowledged “this is going to be a great challenge. I’m going to have to improve and improve quickly. I’m excited about trying to be pretty good at this.”
He cited the chance to be a No. 1 analyst immediately as “obviously a big draw”; Fox had offered him the No. 2 job behind Troy Aikman.
▪ McManus met Romo at a party a couple days before Super Bowl 49 and was impressed how Romo broke down that New England-Seattle matchup in a casual conversation.
McManus walked away from that exchange telling CBS Sports president David Berson that Romo would be a lead analyst some day.
▪ Here’s why McManus believes Romo will be very good at TV:
“He is remarkably articulate. I had a lot of conversations with him not only about football but also about life. He is passionate about the NFL. He’s very likable and you can’t teach that. You’re either likeable or not likable. …
“He has a really good sense of humor. Doesn’t take himself too seriously. It’s hard to [succeed] in this business if you have a big ego and lacking a sense of yourself.
“He’s someone who has his priorities in order. You take these attributes together and it [creates] an incredibly good analyst.”
▪ Romo said he will not be reluctant to criticize when needed.
“I enjoy critiquing players,” he said. “My hope is to make it enjoyable to watch, teach the game a little bit.
“As far as coming right in and being the lead analyst, I expect it to be difficult.
“If there’s one thing I’ve felt is a strength of mine, it’s my ability to learn. It reminds me of my rookie year where you really don’t know anything. I could kind of play the game. I can kind of talk.”
▪ McManus said he and Simms are discussing “a number of different roles,” and he hopes Simms remains at the network.
▪ From my perspective, this risk makes sense for CBS not only because the Nantz/Simms pairing had grown stale (CBS executives were sensitive to the pounding Simms took on social media during the later years of his 19-year tenure as lead analyst), but also because of Romo’s enormous upside.
Romo was very impressive on last week’s conference call with sportswriters, offering impromptu analysis of the adjustment Bill Belichick made with his defensive line that helped the Patriots’ run defense in the second half of this past Super Bowl.
Simms might have benefited from a co-analyst, but McManus isn’t a fan of three-man NFL booths.
▪ Tony Gonzalez is leaving CBS’ NFL pregame show, having rarely said anything that wasn’t already obvious to most serious fans.
▪ Michelle Beadle is replacing Sage Steele as host on all ABC/ESPN NBA games, including the Finals, and it’s a potential upgrade in this regard:
Though Steele was polished and professional, her interaction with her studio analysts often seemed clumsy and awkward and programmed, without much give and take.
Steele often would ask Jalen Rose or Doug Collins a question, they would answer, and Steele usually wouldn’t have anything substantive or witty or interesting to say in response.
Conversely, Beadle seems more skilled in sustaining back and forth dialogue — both playful and serious — with Rose, Chauncey Billups or whoever else is working alongside her.
This is yet the latest change on an NBA studio show that has been marked for years by instability and turnover.
This season, Collins moved to games (where he’s very good), Billups received a more prominent role, and Magic Johnson returned for a second stint on the program before leaving to take over as head of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
ESPN says Steele will focus on hosting “SportsCenter’s” coverage of big events, including the NBA Finals.
▪ ESPN could draw new viewers to “Sunday NFL Countdown” by replacing Chris Berman (whose shtick had grown old) with the likable Samantha Ponder and adding Rex Ryan.
But those expecting Ryan to elicit as many laughs as Charles Barkley does on TNT probably will be disappointed. The question is whether Ryan will say what he really believes or curb his candor to protect future job interests.
ESPN’s best move was giving deserving Suzy Kolber the “Monday Night Football” host job, replacing Berman.