Moments after the Philadelphia Eagles put the finishing touches on their stunning 38-7 NFC Championship Game victory over Minnesota on Sunday, Fox analyst Howie Long couldn’t contain his excitement. The analyst’s son, Chris Long, is a member of the victorious Eagles squad. And so father Howie, quite understandably, was in his glory.
With his wonderfully telegenic grandson — Waylon James — seated on his lap, Howie Long spoke glowingly about Chris for a moment. And after he was through, host Curt Menefee said to Howie, “Go celebrate with your family.”
It was a decree that came four hours too late.
Howie Long had no business participating in Fox’s broadcast on Sunday. He clearly was not able to remain even remotely objective about the game he was charged with analyzing. As such, it was the job of the show’s executives to keep him from analyzing it.
Sports commentary does not require Murrow-levels of objectivity. But it demands something much closer to that utopian benchmark than what Long exhibited in the postgame on Sunday. How must a fan of the defeated Minnesota Vikings have felt watching that display? (Granted, it’s a stretch to imagine a Vikings supporter with their television on, by that point. It seems more likely for a Vikings fan to have thrown their set off a balcony than have it tuned to Fox at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday night.)
To compound that ridiculous on-set spectacle, Fox’s production team cut to the Long family celebrating twice more during their condensed, 17-minute postgame telecast. One would have gotten the impression, watching this show, that Chris Long was the biggest star on the team. Though a very solid defender who played well on Sunday (highlighted by his helping to force a crucial interception), Chris Long is not close to being the most important player on the Philadelphia Eagles. Not since Kellyanne Conway has someone gotten so much air time crediting them with a victory on which they had such a small impact.
But the most absurd part of the Fox postgame show Sunday had nothing to do with Howie Long. No, it was Terry Bradshaw who was responsible for the show’s lowlight. Bradshaw emceed the NFC Championship trophy presentation over the public address system at Lincoln Financial Field. And as he handed the hardware over to owner Jeffrey Lurie, the retired Pittsburgh Steelers great launched into the Eagles’ fight song — Fly Eagles Fly.
Embarrassing. Thoroughly embarrassing. Bradshaw might as well have been waving Eagles pom-poms.
This observer holds Fox NFL Sunday in high regard — ranking it as the best sports studio show on television, save for TNT’s Inside the NBA. Howie Long, normally, comes off as a measured, astute expert. Jimmy Johnson provides some unique insight. Michael Strahan could well be the most versatile personality in all of television. Bradshaw usually brings just the right amount of zaniness. Menefee is a highly-effective traffic cop.
And that is why it was so shocking to watch the five of them, along with their production team, make an absolute mess of their telecast on Sunday night. Then again, in many respects, the broadcast can be considered a fitting symbol of a football season that was uneven at best.
[featured image via screengrab, videos via Fox]
Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor for Mediaite. Follow him on Twitter (@joe_depaolo)
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.