Boldly predicting the outspoken Bryant Gumbel “will be a problem” for NFL ownership when he returns to play-by-play for a handful of NFL Network games this autumn, the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman recaps a recent Gumbel editorial, delivered on HBO’s “Real Sports”.
As long as everyone will be offering Roger Goodell advice, Gumbel reasoned, it was his duty to put his two cents in too.
“So Roger, before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw’s leash,” Gumbel cracked. “By making the docile head of the players’ union his personal pet, your predecessor kept the peace without getting players the kind of guarantee other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch.”
Gumbel was just warming up. Next, he hit the men who fund the NFLN and pay his salary – NFL owners.
“Roger, try to keep a close eye on the ugly owners’ split that surfaced last March,” Gumbel said. “Gently remind those millionaires who gave you the job that they are already making obscene amounts of money.”
Gumbel told Goodell his priority should not be about putting a team in Los Angeles, but recognizing that abandoning “recovering” Louisiana would be disastrous. Gumbel said games should be made shorter and commercial inventory should be decreased. He also said the NFL replay system is flawed.
Then, Gumbel bashed the league, saying it is uptight.
“Making the NFL fit Dick Cheney’s demeanor can’t serve you well in the long run.” Gumbel said. “Yeah, football is a business, but it’s also a game. Legislating individuality out of the NFL may have been Paul’s thing, but it need not be yours.”
This is only the tip of the ice sculpture. Gumbel has a plan here. And he ain’t waiting for Thanksgiving night to implement it. In April, Gumbel said he did not go out seeking the NFLN gig. And Gumbel probably didn’t take the job because he needs the dough.
No, this is about a guy who has a well-documented history of using a variety of high-profile TV platforms to stir the pot and send a message that often gets under people’s skin. He had any number of topics to end “Real Sports” with the other night, but he chose to target the NFL.
What a coincidence.
Ahh, it could be worse. If Gumbel was really hellbent on freaking out NFL Network viewers, he’d slip in a tape of Rich Eisen’s old standup routine.