Bob: "Thanks, Bill. I'm here with Cris Collinsworth, Jerome Bettis, Tiki Barber, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Peter King, Olympic hero Michael Phelps and a homeless guy we just found on the street. Get ready for one of the most confusing, choppy and incoherent pregame shows in the history of television. Although there is some good news — we finally have enough people on this show for a complete softball team."
Cris: "Actually, Bob, you can have 10 guys on a softball team."
Bob: "Really? Then let's bring in our new humorist, he's going to do some predictable comedy segments for us, and more importantly, he's the man who finally realized Dick Ebersol's dream of spending $100 million on talent for a "Sunday Night Football" telecast when you include what Madden and Michaels are making … please welcome to the show our old friend Billy Crystal."
Billy: "Bob, I'm confused — is this a pregame show or a bar mitzvah?"
(Everyone laughs uproariously.)
Thank you, Bill Simmons, for writing what many of us were thinking: Why did "Sunday Night Football" add Dan Patrick to an already overstuffed pre/post cast? How much airtime can you possibly give him to be effective? This brings even more confusion to SNF, which boasts a staging as complex as Jean Genet's "The Screens." (I like to think the "players' table" of Cris Collinsworth, Tiki Barber and Jerome Bettis actually exists in Bob Costas' mind whenever they cut away to it, as it has kind of an inner sanctum feel being offset from the main stage and enclosed in walls of TVs.)
I know NBC is trying to capture some of the '90s DP/KO magic, but can you graft together a SportsCenter broadcast, a former players' analysis show and an Olympics-style anchor-at-the-desk thing (Costas) and call it a coherent pre-game? Guess we'll just have to see how these goofballs do this week.