For L.A., It’s Another NFL Black Sunday


Here comes the NFL season, and already, on Day 1, Los Angeles fans will be short-changed.

Most of the country will get to see the Minnesota Vikings play the Chicago Bears, an attractive NFC Central matchup, on CBS Sunday. But not L.A.

Only the first game of a CBS doubleheader, the Philadelphia Eagles against the Green Bay Packers, will be shown here.


Why? Because of the NFL’s antiquated TV policies. What else?

CBS can show only one game in the L.A. market because the Rams are playing in Anaheim. The network is going with a 10 a.m. game because the Raiders’ game at Houston will be on NBC at 1 p.m.

One of these years you’d think the NFL would come to its senses and allow a network doubleheader in markets where a game is taking place. How could it hurt?

At the most, maybe half a dozen people would stay home for the sole purpose of watching the other game on TV.

Bill Parcells will make his NBC debut Sunday on “NFL Live.” Then for at least the next four weeks, he’ll be out in the field as Marv Albert’s game commentator.

Parcells volunteered to fill in for Paul Maguire, who is recovering from open-heart surgery after a heart attack. The latest report on Maguire is that he is doing well at his home in suburban Buffalo.

With Bob Costas and O.J. Simpson still in Tokyo at track and field’s World Championships, Albert will join Parcells on “NFL Live” Sunday.

Add Parcells: He’ll also be part of a new weekly show, “Around the NFL,” a joint venture between Madison Square Garden Network and Prime Network. Mike Francesa is the co-host.

The show will make its debut on Prime Ticket today at 5:30 p.m. and will be repeated Sunday at noon. It will be shown at various times during the season.

Another newcomer on television this fall is Buddy Ryan, former Eagle coach and Bear defensive coordinator. Ryan is Vince Cellini’s partner on CNN’s “NFL Preview Show” Sundays at 8:30 a.m.

Ryan is taking his new role in stride.

“I had my own show in Philadelphia for five years,” he said from Hilton Head, S.C., where he was playing in a celebrity golf tournament. “This isn’t much different.”

Ryan is picking the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. “We were only two players away from winning it all last year,” he said, explaining that all that was missing were a couple of experienced offensive linemen.

He also likes the Rams. “I’ll be pulling for the Eagles, Bears and Rams,” he said. “Heck, just about my whole defensive staff is now with the Rams.”

Defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher, linebacker coach Ronnie Jones and secondary coach Tom Bettis came to Anaheim from the Eagles.

Ryan, beginning this weekend, will also be on “Sunday Sports America,” a national radio call-in show on XTRA Sunday evenings, usually from 6 to 8. Ryan will be on the second hour Sunday.

Mel Kiper, publisher of two NFL newsletters, will be on with Ryan each week. Former Charger Kellen Winslow and ABC’s Dan Dierdorf will be regular contributors.

Last year’s lineup on CBS’ “NFL Today”--Greg Gumbel, Terry Bradshaw, Lesley Visser and Pat O’Brien--returns.

One thing different this year, says Ted Shaker, executive producer of CBS Sports, will be a de-emphasis of gossip and rumors. Last year, CBS called that stuff information.

Sportswriter Chris Mortensen of the Sporting News, who was the “information” gatherer a year ago, has been hired by ESPN to work on “NFL GameDay.” Mortensen is a former writer for the South Bay Daily Breeze and the National. ESPN has also hired Greg Garber of the Hartford Courant to work on “NFL GameDay.”

CBS won’t be totally ignoring news, with John Czarnecki, formerly of the Herald Examiner and the National, having replaced Mortensen.

In the good news/bad news department, Fred Edelstein will no longer be a regular on ESPN’s “NFL GameDay,” but he will still appear Mondays on “SportsCenter.”

Also, Norm Hitzges fans will be interested to know that he’s returning to ESPN, but as a football prognosticator rather than a baseball commentator. Hitzges will pick NFL games on “SportsCenter” Sundays at 8:30 a.m.

The best football show on television is “This Is the NFL,” produced by NFL Films. The problem is, Channel 2, the L.A. carrier of the weekly program, bounces it among various and often inconvenient times.

This week the Emmy Award-winning show will be on Channel 2 at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Don’t forget to set the VCR.

“This Is the NFL” has been around since 1967, when Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier were the co-hosts. The host now is Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films.

Narrators on the show over the years have included Mel Blanc, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Burl Ives, Andy Griffith and Dick Cavett. And, of course, John Facenda, called “the voice of God.” Facenda was the main voice of NFL Films-produced shows until his death of lung cancer in 1984.

Another outstanding football show is HBO’s “Inside the NFL,” which will make its season debut Wednesday at 7 p.m. Len Dawson, Nick Buoniconti and Cris Collins-worth return as hosts.

Also back will be “cover story” reporters Lisa Burkhardt and Brian Burwell, and the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers will return with his “Inside Info” segment.

TV-Radio Notes

Sports Illustrated has produced a one-hour NFL preview show that is scheduled to be televised on ABC sometime Monday night, probably about 11:30, following Channel 7’s local news. It was originally scheduled to be shown at 10 p.m., following Todd Donoho’s “Monday Night Live” postgame show. But now ABC plans to televise a news special with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin after Donoho’s show. Talk about a non sequitur. . . . For the NFL preview show, Sports Illustrated bought airtime from ABC, but will use ABC announcers Al Michaels, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf as hosts. Paul Zimmerman, Rick Reilly, Peter King and Jill Lieber are among the SI reporters contributing features. Michael Weisman, formerly of NBC, is the producer.

At Thursday’s deadline for lifting the TV blackout for Sunday’s home game against the Phoenix Cardinals, the Rams were 21,427 tickets shy of selling out. . . . Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy will be the announcers for Sunday’s Raider game on NBC. . . . Brad Nessler and Dan Fouts will work the Eagle-Packer game on CBS. . . . ESPN has expanded its “Sunday SportsDay” to two hours, from 7 to 9 a.m. The first hour will be “SportsWeekly,” with Robin Roberts, then at 8 a.m., “Sports Reporters,” with Dick Schaap, will be on, followed by a half-hour edition of “Sports-Center” leading into “GameDay” at 9 a.m. . . . CNN’s new “College Coaches Corner” Sundays at 8 a.m. will give the new USA Today/CNN Top 25 college rankings. It replaces the UPI Coaches poll. . . . CNN’s “College Football Preview” with Danny Sheridan and Dan Hicks will be on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m.

The Kings have named Brian Engbloom as their radio commentator. He replaced Tom Laidlow last season just before the playoffs. Laidlow left because of a contract dispute with the team. . . . Bob Miller and Jim Fox return as Prime Ticket’s King announcers. . . . SportsChannel’s Canada Cup coverage begins Saturday. . . . Starting next week, there will be a new show, “Baseball Card Talk Radio,” on KORG (1190) Tuesday nights, 6 to 7. The host will be Terry Clanton of Whittier.

The morning after he pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox this week, Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen passed up a national television appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. Instead, he drove his children--Drew, 5, and Brittany, 4--to school. “Now, that’s what I call having your priorities in order,” said Saberhagen’s father, Bob Saberhagen of Chatsworth. “He doesn’t get many chances to spend time with his kids during the baseball season.” . . . The elder Saberhagen said he watched the game with Bret’s in-laws, Neil and Cheryl Inglett, who have a satellite dish at their home in Reseda. “In the third inning, we popped a (blank) tape into the VCR,” Saberhagen said. “We didn’t want to jinx him, but I could tell this game was going to be special.”