If Tony Romo is successful, NFL TV analyst culture could change

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On Friday, Aug. 25 Tony Romo’s new journey begins taking shape when he debuts as CBS’ No. 1 NFL analyst working

On Friday, Aug. 25 Tony Romo’s new journey, which will bring as much scrutiny as the one that apparently has ended, begins taking shape when he debuts as CBS’ No. 1 NFL analyst working Chiefs-Seahawks.

CBS hasn’t exactly kept Romo in the Witness Protection Program while he prepares to replace Phil Simms, working with Jim Nantz (they’ve done some practice games), but the former (or is it “former”) Cowboys quarterback can expect plenty of doubt and negativity directed toward him when the microphone goes hot for real.

That’s to be expected. When CBS Sports boss Sean McManus announced he was removing Simms, the likeable veteran voice (he also “inspired” his share of negativity), and replacing him with Romo, a cat with no broadcast booth experience, some naysayers raised questions and criticized the decision.

The negative reaction made sense, but under the circumstances was to be expected. Just as it should be expected that no matter how Romo performs he will catch heat. Romo is entering a biz where there are no wins, losses, or statistics. Success is subjective, based on thousands of opinions, including fans who hate the Cowboys.

In terms of broadcast history, CBS’ move is an unprecedented gamble. Making a novice your No. 1 voice takes major Scallions. Still, if Romo flames out fast the scenario is highly predictable. He will get a year to prove himself. If it doesn’t work out CBS will spin the failure and move on.

The more interesting outcome — a much more profound one — is if Romo succeeds. If that happens, the traditional rules of hiring talent for top analysts jobs will change. In a copycat business, McManus’ gamble will be mimicked. Giving Romo the No. 1 gig was based on personality, name recognition, a desire to get younger in the booth and potential. Romo projected a big upside and came with intangibles that were BELIEVED before they were SEEN.

If Romo succeeds, the networks will be free to post “No Experience Necessary” signs.

Not long after Romo was introduced as CBS’ No. 1 NFL analyst, Fox Sports hired Jay Cutler, another QB with no broadcast experience, as its No. 2 analyst working with Charles Davis and Kevin Burkhardt. Unfortunately, Cutler took Miami’s $10 million call and is taking his wonderful attitude and powerful arm to the Dolphins.

Although Romo has said, twice, that he’s “done” playing, CBS suits must be praying for Dak Prescott’s continued health; praying that Romo gets to the booth on time.

Then, literally, the future of the NFL TV analyst business will be in Romo’s hands.

Or is it his mouth?

THE OTHER SIMMS

The ubiquitous Chris Simms is expanding his media role to national TV with NBC Sports.

According to industry sources, Simms, already a fixture at Bleacher Report, is moving into NBC’s Notre Dame studio as an analyst on the Fighting Irish pre- and postgame shows. He will also appear on a weekly basis with Mike Florio on NBCSN’s “Pro Football Talk.”

NBC’s regional sports networks will be another place to see Simms working on a variety of shows during the football season. The moves are good for Simms who has kept busy expanding his brand. He previously did TV work for Fox and CBSSN.

Simms will continue to work at Bleacher Report as its lead NFL analyst. These new assignments will also not interfere with the possibility of Simms potentially replacing Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa on WFAN in January. Simms is one of the candidates who have auditioned for His Holiness’ gig.

WOR-K ON SPORTS

The Mets’ on-field future is not the only thing team executives are looking at as an unsuccessful season winds down.

The team is also considering its radio future.

The Mets’ contract with WOR-AM expires following the 2018 season. Industry sources say the two sides have already begun talking about a new deal.

Just a suggestion: The Mets should consider asking WOR brainiacs to build more of a sports component on the station. As things stand now, the only sports shoulder programming around Mets baseball (including the pre and postgame show) is “The Sports Zone” with Pete McCarthy and Sal Licata.

It’s not enough. There should be more sports-talk, especially on the weekends.

MONEY SHOW

In a recent interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Floyd Mayweather Jr. said his upcoming exhibition match with Conor McGregor is “what the world is demanding.”

Considering tickets for the Aug. 26 “fight” are still available (Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao sold out in a blink of an eye), the “world” Mayweather speaks of must be a small one. Or maybe the public has recognized the staged nature of every press event and how every media opportunity for each fighter is scripted.

Is it possible the Valley of the Stupid is getting smarter?

Is it possible even they have figured out that the fighters in this made-for-TV event are playing the public?

During SAS’ Mayweather chat, Money was absolutely deferential (“He’s still a warrior. He’s still a fighter”) toward McGregor, even saying he believed he would have to go on the offense.

This was not only funny, but a transparent attempt by Mayweather trying to build up his opponent.

Just more concrete evidence this promotion, so far, is not going well.

MOUTHING OFF

It’s no great secret sports talk radio has become predictable and boring.

Yet on rare occasions, some of the Gasbags can provide wakeup calls.

Like Wednesday on WFAN when Marc Malusis and Brian (Mr.) Custer went at it over Colin Kaepernick. The debate points (M.M. anti-Kap, B.C. pro Kap) had been heard before, but the passion displayed, and the twists and turns this spontaneous debate took were riveting.

Too bad this was not simulcast. At one point it sounded like the two Mouths might come to blows.

Fortunately, according to eye witnesses, no one got hurt.

SOUND BYTES

If Randy Levine or Lonn Trost decide to tear down the Judges Chambers does Brandon Steiner get to sell the robes?... Congratulations to N.J. Esiason and Craig Carton on their 10th anniversary. We’re predicting they won’t make it to 20, only because we want to hear the sensitive one, Carton, ridicule us for at least nine more years... Did FAN throw a bash for Benigno & Roberts on their 10th anniversary. Did Benigno and Roberts have a 10th anniversary?... If their recent appearances on ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” are any indication, that new show Bomani Jones & Pablo S. Torre will co-host, scheduled to debut in January, could be a winner.

* * *

DUDE OF THE WEEK: LEN DAWSON

When Len Dawson announced this will be his last season in the Kansas City Chiefs radio booth (his 33rd) it provided a platform for this space to say thanks to a total professional. Dawson, 82, has never been about self-promotion. His national career at NBC Sports provided an example of this. So were his years at HBO Sports where he guided “Inside The NFL” for its first 24 years on the premium cable network. Here’s hoping Dawson’s final season is a great one.

DWEEB OF THE WEEK: GREG SCHIANO

The ultimate cheap shot a former head coach can deliver is saying a college team is superior to a pro squad he once coached. This is what Schiano, who coached the Bucs, and now is Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, did. He disparaged the Tampa Bay defensive line he coached saying the current OSU D-Line is better. “It is. That’s not a joke,” Schiano told the Big Ten Network. His belief might be sincere, but he still comes off bitter.

What Joe Girardi said: “The guys are working at it (improving their hitting). There’s early hitting. They’re doing their cage work. It’s just been a little bit of a struggle.”

What Joe Girardi meant to say: “Even the new face of baseball can’t get it going. And there are no answers in my notebook to solve the problem.”

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