- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2006

The Redskins may be one of the more depressing teams in the NFL, but Fox still views the team’s showdown Sunday with the Cowboys as appointment viewing. They’re bringing their No. 1 broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, and the network’s top-rated pregame and post-game shows will air live from the parking lot of FedEx Field.

I sat with Scott Ackerson, the coordinating producer of the shows, to talk about taking Fox NFL Sunday on the road. Ackerson, a former producer with ESPN, has been with Fox since it began broadcasting football in 1994. Aside from learning that he was a pretty engaging fellow, I discovered that he has a golf handicap of 2 and a bowling average of 208.

Here are some highlights of our conversation, which took place inside Fox’s mobile “green room,” where Fox’s broadcast crew will watch several NFL games on a large projection screen.

On moving the shows from in the studio to live on site: “Some people — from other networks — thought that we’d be an unmitigated disaster. I think that’s the term that they used. And they’re just wrong. We’re going to be doing this for the rest of the year.”

On one advangtage to being on-site on Sundays: “The guys get a chance to talk with some of the coaches. If they’re in the studio, it’s usually on the phone. Now they can walk over, meet on Saturday, go to practice. It’s one thing if you’re talking to a guy on the phone, but it’s another thing if you’re actually taking to him face-to-face. If he’s telling you something, you can look in his eyes and get a feel for whether or not he’s — not that NFL coaches would lie, I’m not saying that — but you might have a better chance of finding out if everything is 100 percent factual if you’re actually talking to the person face-to-face than if you’re on the phone.”

When asked whether Fox was killing Joe Buck slowly but surely by asking him to anchor the pre-game and post-games shows in addition to doing play-by-play: “Joe Buck’s [37] years old man, c’mon! Are we killing him? He gets to stay in nice hotels. No, I’m not worried in the least that we’re killing Joe. In fact, I’ve been very pleased and pleasantly surprised at how well Joe’s adapted not only to the pre-game show, but the OT, our post-game show. Coming down to executing the show basically three or four minutes before we go to air, that is an unbelieveable talent that is very underrated.”

On why Fox NFL Sunday has consistently been the top-rated pre-game show: “Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Chris Collinsworth … basically I’ve had great talent to work with. They’re personable, they’re fun, they can laugh at each other. They like each other. They really do like each other. If you don’t like the person sitting next to you, unless you are an Oscar-winning actor, it ain’t working. It’s not an act. It couldn’t be an act, because if it was an act, it couldn’t work. It’s not like the old Boston Red Sox with 25 cabs for 25 guys.”

On differences between Fox and ESPN: “They’re more statistically driven than we are. We’re more opinion-based, not getting into the minutae of thing like ‘this team is great on third downs.’ It’s like, whatever. I have guys that either coached or played in the NFL and spend 30 or 40 years in football. I don’t want them just ripping off stats. I want them to give us their knowledge that they have.”

On the departure of former host James Brown, who is now with CBS: “I miss James Brown personally, but I don’t worry about that. Decisions are made, you live with decisions and you move on. JB, for a number of different reasons, went to CBS and we wish him all the best. I miss him personally, because he was a friend of mine for 12 years and I still consider him a friend. But I don’t miss him in terms of the show. That’s not going to do any of us any good. It’s like the quarterback who gets traded. It is what it is. It doesn’t do any good to sit there and [say], ‘Oh, God, I wish JB was here.’”

On how the NFC season has played out: “I’m not as surprised about the NFC as others. The only thing that surprised me was Dallas’ struggles. I thought Washington was overrated, and it’s kind of bearing that out. The Giants getting through their early schedule as well as they have — there were some people who said they’d be 1-5 through their first 6 games — it would not surprise me if the Giants were a minimum of 12-4. And the NFC Championship game is the New York Football Giants against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, with temperatures a balmy, unseasonable 50 degrees.”

On whether the Colts or Bears will go undefeated: “Well, Indy’s going to lose on Sunday. And the Bears are going to lose a road game. They should have lost to Minnesota, could have lost to Arizona. So they’re going to lose one or two of those road games, maybe more. The Colts are not going to be in the Super Bowl, because at some point you have to [play better defense].”

On Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles: “It’s like the old Seinfeld episode where he says, ‘If something good happens to me, something bad will happen. It all evens itself out.’ I think it’s God’s way of saying, ‘OK, you won 13 of your first 14, you won the Super Bowl in your second year. I’m going to bring you down a little bit.’ Maybe the man upstairs is evening things out a little bit for Ben, and giving him a little bit of humility.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide