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CBS lets Bill Cowher loose in booth

Bill Cowher, right, talks with safety Troy Polamalu

Bill Cowher, right, talks with safety Troy Polamalu during the last day of mini-camp in Pittsburgh. (May 15, 2006) Photo Credit: AP

TV networks rarely use programming gimmicks for NFL games, mostly because when you have a ratings juggernaut in hand there isn’t much point in tinkering.

But CBS is going that route Sunday, in a way that actually sounds sort of interesting – or at least harmless.

Three of its studio stars – Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe – will join established game booths to work games involving their former teams.

Bart Scott and Amy Trask of CBS Sports Network’s “That Other Pregame Show’’ will fill in on “The NFL Today.’’

The headliner is Cowher calling Steelers-Jets with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, whose son, Matt, is the Jets’ backup quarterback.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to have some dialogue with Phil and Jim about the state of both these teams,’’ said Cowher, who recalled once visiting the TV booth at the U.S. tennis Open and even during hockey game. But he said this will be an NFL first for him.

Cowher called it "astounding" that the Steelers have not forced a turnover this season. But he sees rays of hope, at least compared to another winless team representing an iconic franchise.

"It looks a lot brighter from the Pittsburgh standpoint than the New York standpoint," Cowher said, referring to the Giants. And that was before Thursday night's loss to the Bears!


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