Pregamesmanship: TV networks creating more and more NFL analysis shows

Tony Dungy, left, and Rodney Harrison on the Tony Dungy, left, and Rodney Harrison on the set of NBC's "Football Night in America." Photo Credit: NBC Universal

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Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.

The inventory of NFL games has not expanded since the Texans came along in 2002, but television executives have not let that stop their never-ending quest to capitalize on the league's popularity.

Hence a proliferation of studio shows that this season has reached new levels of absurdity, but at least with a sense of humor about itself.

Note the title of a new four-hour entry on CBS Sports Network called "That Other Pregame Show.''

It's on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., meaning it will overlap with CBS' long-running "NFL Today.'' Not to worry; the final hour will focus on fantasy football.

Among the panelists are former Jets linebacker Bart Scott and former Raiders CEO Amy Trask, a groundbreaking female presence as a studio analyst.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus promised the cable arm's pregame entry will be "something different'' from the competition, as its name suggests, but that is easier said than done.

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The show is only one piece of an expanding, increasingly complicated puzzle. CBS Sports Network will return its Monday quarterback-heavy recap show, while new Fox Sports 1 offers a weekday show called "Fox Football Daily.''

Fox Sports 1 also has a pregame show that begins at 11 a.m., an hour before the regular Fox pregame. (Interesting new analyst: Randy Moss.)

ESPN has added a daily "NFL Insiders'' show to its existing "NFL Live'' to keep the studio flames glowing during weekday afternoons. (Interesting new analyst: Ray Lewis.)

"Pro Football Talk'' is back on NBC Sports Network late weekday afternoons.

The pregame show marathon champ, understandably, is NFL Network, which exists for this stuff. It starts things off at 7 a.m. Sundays, a mere six hours before kickoff. "NFL Total Access'' returns as a weeknight staple.

ESPN's "Monday Night Football'' play-by-play man Mike Tirico recently presented an interesting math problem when he said, "I would assume at this point if we added up all the hours of pregame programming with so many people doing daily shows, it might equal the hours of actual football played during the week in the NFL.''

Someone figure that out and get back to us. Meanwhile, there is no end in sight.

"Until people say, 'You know what, I don't want to hear about it anymore,' we're going to get more pregame shows,'' Tirico said. "It's good because the competition, I think, raises the level of discussion and the information available to fans as they watch.''

NBC "Sunday Night Football'' producer Fred Gaudelli said any 24-hour sports network would be "crazy'' not to have an NFL studio show, so naturally they will keep coming.

"When do we cross the Rubicon? I don't know,'' he said. "I don't know how many more shows we can have. But no one has come up and said to me, 'We have too many shows! It's killing me!' ''

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