Something amazing happened last night during ESPN's coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 16-13 overtime
atrocity win over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night.
It wasn't the Chiefs' miraculously hanging well within the 12 point spread on this game (obliterating degenerate teaser bets everywhere). It wasn't the Chiefs' finally taking their first lead of the season during a game all year (To this point, their only lead in 2012 had been at the end of overtime against the Saints.). It wasn't even the
possibly accidental typo of "DRINK AND DRUNK" when the Countdown show was doing a feature on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, although that was pretty damn amazing. (Presumably, they meant "DINK AND DUNK". Presumably.)
No, in fact, the most mind-bending occurrence from Monday Night Football last night was that there were multiple fuck-up's in the post game show, and none of them were the fault of Stuart Scott! Incredible! Let's examine.
First, rather than just be a Negative Nelly (because everyone knows that if your name is "Nelly" you are inherently negative, mostly because you've lived your entire life pissed off at your parents for saddling you a name like "Nelly"), allow me to first say that I think, for the most part, ESPN does a great job with Monday Night Football. To that end, here are the things I like about MNF:
- Steve Young's "Fuck you, NFL, I have a law degree and don't need this gig" candor about the league and its decisions (see: Refs, Replacement)
- Trent Dilfer's always solid analysis, honesty, and self-deprecation. All we need is an on-air admission that he's the gold standard for "shitty quarterbacks who've actually won Super Bowls," and the circle will be complete.
- Mike Tirico's professionalism and "every man" style of announcing. My personal recent Tirico highlight -- when there was a questionable catch call in last week's Philly-New Orleans game and the replay official saw it differently than Tirico, which made Tirico invoke the argument that if you "asked 50 guys in a bar if that was a catch" they would all agree with Tirico. It made me openly wish the NFL would pick a bar each week whose constituency would be the collective replay official. "Looks like Kubiak is going to challenge the call...so let's go to Buffalo Wild Wings in Omaha, Nebraska and see what the patrons there think...." THAT would be awesome.
Now, the reason I wrote this post...
Among the things I dislike about MNF is the inclusion of ESPN.com columnist Rick Reilly in any capacity. A few years ago, ESPN signed Reilly to one of the richest contracts in the history of the company to write his weekly column for ESPN.com and do occasional work on the television side. The end result of the Reilly Experiment, on television at least, has been some of the more awkward anchoring appearances in the history of Sportscenter and several quickly aborted unfunny Reilly segments and features on other shows.
In making every attempt to squeeze whatever dimes they can out of the seven figure sieve that is Reilly's deal, ESPN has added him to their MNF coverage, carving out a few minutes in the post game show for Reilly to blurt out some inane statistics or expound upon news we already know.
In the latest episode of this saga two nights ago, Reilly appeared with Scott, Dilfer, and Young to discuss Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder injury. Roethlisberger left the game against the Chiefs in the third quarter after getting stuck in a sandwich tackle between multiple Kansas City defenders. After the game, the injury to Big Ben was the hottest topic on the show. Thankfully, Rick Reilly was stationed in the bowels of Heinz Field to deliver us news we already knew sprinkled with some non news.
Here is the video, and of course, afterward I will happily Zapruder this:
0:05 -- "Can you say that I had this first on Twitter?" It's not often in the world of videos that you get the money shot in the first five seconds (unless, of course, the video involves Rick Pitino in an Italian restaurant), but in this case, we get it right out of the shoot -- Reilly (along with his friends' "complete lack of stage presence" and "desperation to justify his salary") begging Stuart Scott to attribute the Ben Roethlisberger injury report to him and his Twitter account, not knowing that the cameras and microphones were live.
Never mind that Reilly didn't come close to reporting anything about Roethlisberger's injury first. In fact, Reilly's first tweet on the topic came down at 10:00 pm CST:
Just watched Roethlisberger leave the stadium in his car, wearing shorts and a sling.
— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) November 13, 2012
At least one Steelers insider reported on the injury a half hour before that:
Ben Roethlisberger being evaluated for right shoulder injury, return questionable.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) November 13, 2012
Deadspin has a fantastic overview of the timing of all of Reilly's Twitter exploits in the topic, and needless to say, Reilly's begging appears even more desperate upon further review. (Put in Mike Tirico's terms, if you asked 50 guys in a bar if Reilly looks like an attention seeking douche, they would all say "YES!")
0:12 -- Steve Young begins to openly stare at Reilly the same way that a honey badger stares at any living, breathing, edible creature within a 20-foot radius. Actually, come to think of it, this is the way most human beings stare at their televison set when the screen includes the image of one Rick Reilly! So right now, Steve Young is channeling America. Thank you, Steve Young!
0:22 -- Scott: "Rick Reilly joins us right now. Ben Roethlisberger injured in the game. Rick, you had it first on Twitter. What did you see? What did you say to Ben as he was leaving?" There, Rick, are you happy?!? Stu gave you credit for having something first on Twitter. We are not sure what exactly it was, but let's find out...
0:30 -- Reilly: "I waited outside the Steelers' locker room for about 20 minutes, [Ben] came out, he was in a black cast, I asked him 'How long is it gonna be?' and he just gave me a single shoulder shrug..."
Well, so far, Reilly has the exclusive on Ben Roethlisberger apparently (a) becoming a mute and/or (b) not knowing how long he will be out for. So far, very riveting. Like, popcorn fart riveting. Oh wait...there's more...
0:37 -- Reilly: "I said 'How much does it hurt?' and he went like this [single shoulder shrug again]. He left with his wife, went to the hospital to get an MRI."
So if you're keeping score at home, Rick Reilly got the exclusive on Ben Roethlisberger not knowing how long he would be out for and not knowing how much pain he was in. Basically, Rick Reilly got us a scoop in which we learned absolutely nothing. Good work, there, Cracker Jack!
0:46 -- Wait, did I say "Rick Reilly?" Apparently, according to the graphics on ESPN, we are actually getting this completely uninformative Ben Roethlisberger update from ESPN NASCAR analyst "Ricky Craven." Well, that makes more sense and certainly explains why we never learn a goddamn thing about the NFL from this dude -- he's a NASCAR analyst!
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Thankfully, the video ended before Reilly's riveting footage on the Steelers' concern over Byron Leftwich throwing the "hardest ball in the league." (What does that even mean?) Now, back to your column, Rick. Those bad puns and dated references about MySpace aren't gonna write themselves!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.