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Chargers QB's passion for the game looks good on camera

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Thursday, December 25, 2008
    by Jay Posner

    NBC won't have a camera on Philip Rivers from the moment he drives into Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday afternoon until the time he leaves the field after the Chargers-Broncos playoff-before-the-playoffs Sunday night.

    But it might be close.

    Love him as most Chargers fans do, or hate him as many outside San Diego do, Rivers makes for great television. If that wasn't evident before last Christmas Eve, it has been ever since that night, when an ESPN camera captured him (and two teammates) taunting Jay Cutler, his Denver counterpart.

    Add his “discussion” with fans at the Indianapolis playoff game and his courageous torn-ACL performance the following week at New England in the AFC Championship Game, and Rivers became must-see TV for producers everywhere.

    Don't expect Sunday's AFC West title game to be any different. Fred Gaudelli, NBC's outstanding “Sunday Night Football” producer, said this week covering Rivers reminds him of how he used to approach games with Dan Marino.

    “We would keep a camera on Marino all the time, whether he was on the field or not,” said Gaudelli, who produced Sunday night games for ESPN during much of Marino's career. “He had that fire inside him. That's how I look at Rivers.

    “Cutler is pretty placid. He doesn't show his hole card too often. Philip is passionate. That comes through all the time. I look at it as passion, not that he's a hothead.”

    Last year's incident – “probably too strong a word,” Gaudelli said – is only part of the story, of course. More interesting to Gaudelli is that Rivers and Cutler are early in what could be a long rivalry, given their talent and their proximity in terms of career path and geography. They could be squaring off twice a year for a long time. “(Jim) Kelly and Marino come to mind,” Gaudelli said by way of comparison.

    But Rivers' passion won't be the only story line NBC will be following Sunday. Among the others, with comments from Gaudelli:

    Rivers' Pro Bowl-level (voters be damned) play this season. “How consistent he's been and how great he's been in December.”

    LaDainian Tomlinson, the future Hall of Famer who is having the worst season of his career statistically. “I don't think LT is near done. Next year we'll see if this is an aberration; I think it probably is. I'm not shoveling dirt on this guy yet. I think everyone is spoiled by what he's done. He still has more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards (rushing).”

    Gaudelli also noted this will be LT's last regular-season game before his 30th birthday (in June). “We'll take a look at what he's done before 30; he's in an elite group. This is his eighth straight year with at least 50 catches and 1,000 yards. No one's ever had eight straight.”

    The Broncos' potentially historic collapse. “Denver's been in sole possession of first place for 16 weeks and may not make the playoffs.”

    Ed Hochuli. Of course. Yes, San Diego, you will get another look at THAT play. “I don't know how you don't talk about it; it's one of the most infamous calls ever. I was trying to think of another one where a referee admits he cost a team a game.”

    If all goes well for the home team, Gaudelli, his crew and announcers Al Michaels and John Madden could be right back at Qualcomm on Jan. 3 for a Chargers-Colts playoff game. Nothing's been determined, of course, but it's certainly plausible that the NFL would pick that matchup for prime time; after all, the two teams have played three tremendous games in the past 13½ months.

    “Why wouldn't you want it?” Gaudelli said. “Those have been unbelievable games. We've done two of them – (and) in between was a playoff game that was unbelievable.”

    First things first, though. NBC's pregame show starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, with kickoff coming about 5:20. The game also will be streamed live on NFL.com and NBCSports.com. (Oh, and if for some reason you want to relive the Week 2 matchup, NFL Network will show it tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. and 5 and 9 p.m.)

    Flipping channels

    KFMB Channel 8 can't be happy but the rest of us should be thrilled that the NFL gave Chargers-Broncos to NBC. If the game stayed at 1:15 p.m., the NFL's moronic TV policies would have restricted San Diego to just that game at that time. But now we get Dolphins-Jets on CBS and Cowboys-Eagles on Fox. That follows a morning doubleheader with Patriots-Bills on CBS and Giants-Vikings on Fox.

    After nothing but NBA Thursday, the bowl feast continues today with at least one game for the next 10 days – and generally more than one. The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl arrives at 5 p.m. Tuesday with Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Erin Andrews announcing on ESPN and Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore and Dave Ryan on ESPN Radio 800.

    Hopefully ESPN will spend more time focusing on the game at hand and less on promoting its other games. Last weekend, I couldn't tell at times whether I was watching the New Mexico Bowl or a commercial for the Poinsettia Bowl.

    Speaking of the Poinsettia, ESPN actually was scrolling fan comments across the top of the screen during the game. Is that what it's come to now? I need “WolverineinSB” to tell me “TCU is coming back” or “Mikegermain1212” to counter with “TCU is not going to pull this off”? Can't we just watch the game. (Yes, that was rhetorical.)

    If you want something other than bowl games on Jan. 1, MLB Network launches at 3 p.m. that day with a re-air of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Also, NBC presents its second “NHL Winter Classic,” with Chicago and Detroit playing at 10 a.m. at Wrigley Field. Let it snow.

    Need a Tiger Woods fix? With Woods turning 33 on Tuesday, Golf Channel will celebrate with more than 50 hours of Tiger-related programming beginning Monday. A one-hour special recapping this year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines airs at 7 p.m. Monday.

    Bill Werndl and Joe Tutino are gone for good at XX Sports Radio – really. A new lineup will debut Jan. 5.

    Real catchy that ESPN's Chris Berman was singing “Our Caissons Go Rolling Along” as Antoine Cason returned an interception for a TD at Tampa Bay, except the Chargers cornerback pronounces his name “KAY-sun,” not “kay-SAHN,” and Berman didn't make that distinction even after the play. Never let the facts get in the way of a good bit, though, right?

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