With the Redskins' biggest game of the season usually the Giants at home, and with this the game the Redskins and their fans had been gearing toward since 1942, it seemed logical the local TV news operations would commit half their staffs to coverage of The Game. After all, with two weeks to prepare, it was almost the Super Bowl, right?
Not really. Only Armageddon.
I began my viewing on Tuesday, expecting full-speed-ahead coverage. Instead, there was no mention of the Redskins on 4, 7 or 9. No matter, 5 (the channel that took us shopping back in July with Brian Davis, who was feverishly searching for the right shampoo to bring to training camp) did not disappoint, taking us behind the scenes of Charles Mann's Diet Coke commercial.
But 9 did have its entertaining "Weenie of the Month" balloting at 6, with results at 11. Glenn Brenner introduced five candidates, and it was not hard to figure who would win. In order: 30 seconds on umpire Joe "The Pest" West, as Brenner dubbed him; 50 seconds on Jerry Glanville; 30 on a Raiders fan who seriously injured a Steelers fan at a recent game; 20 on a man who pushed a little kid -- his son -- so he could retrieve a foul ball; and last, but certainly not least, 1:20 on Victor Kiam. And the winner would be. . . .
I listened to Charley Casserly's show on WXTR-FM. He was on a scouting trip to Indiana. "What do you do on a scouting trip?" he asked his audience. "Well, after you get off the plane you rent a car and drive to campus." Fascinating. He said he would watch tape of this season's games and film of last season's. "That's right, Indiana uses videotape this year and used film last year."
Thank you, Charley.
On Wednesday, 4 and 9 had no mention of the Redskins and 7 just said they had officially begun Giants week. Over on 5, there were interviews with Stan Humphries and a couple of Giants.
Perhaps with the baseball postseason and with the Caps in a dogfight for the playoffs, it was just too soon to start coverage of The Game.
(By the way, the four anchors were split on the Roger Clemens ejection: Steve Buckhantz and 7's Frank Herzog for, Brenner and 4's George Michael against. And Jim Vance also was against, taking time to give his opinion. Then, while Michael was showing umpire Terry Cooney's explanation, Vance was whispering "bush, bush." Maybe he had a bulletin on the budget from the president.)
Then there was "The Joe Gibbs Show" on all-snooze WTOP-AM. The station that boasts "we won't keep you waiting, no matter when you tune in" kept us on hold for two days: Gibbs was preempted at 5:18 Tuesday and Wednesday by baseball. Finally, he aired Thursday and discussed the weather. (If it takes a football coach to get some actual news out of that station, so be it.)
Thursday, things picked up, with all four stations devoting more coverage, 9's Ken Meese doing a quality report from Giants Stadium.
Friday was about the same as Thursday, which was okay. With much of the newscasts' time devoted to Hurricane Lili, Brenner began by piling sand bags on his desk. He always talks Friday with Sonny Jurgensen, who talked of The Game by saying his "4 P's are the keys" to victory: Possession, Position, Patience, Poise. Brenner added Parking. I would've thrown in Points.
On 5, Nathan "Oops! I Had My Script Upside Down" Roberts led with the Capitals, then NHL scores, a Redskins feature with fans, a Dexter Manley update, a nice feature on University of Georgia football players helping children with their homework. While throwing it back to the anchors, he mentioned it was 2-1, Reds, in the eighth.
One inning to the pennant, no big deal. We'll see if we have time to get it in. Thank you, Nate.
Earlier on 5, the first of the half-hour Redskins preview shows, "Washington Redskins '90," aired. It was the best.
Buckhantz opened by saying the Redskins were entering a five-game stretch that would determine their playoff situation. He didn't hand them a playoff berth, as many already have. We saw features -- with plenty of tape -- on Gibbs and how he molds quarterbacks, Lawrence Taylor, and The Rivalry. A quick, easy-to-watch show.
Saturday's programs on 4 and 9 were quite the opposite. On "Redskins Report," Michael talked with Gibbs and Gerald Riggs. He asked the coach some tough questions, but a half-hour of nothing but talk is a tough watch. "Redskins Sidelines" on 9 with Brenner and Jurgensen was a bit more fun -- there was an audience. Sunday's "Countdown to Kickoff" on 9 had the same audience (taped at the same time), with Jurgensen and Sam Huff, and guest Jim Hanifan. Yawn.
Come the Sunday recaps, 5's "Sports Extra" with Buckhantz and Roberts provided a crisp nine-minute review. There was a good mix of highlights and interviews, which the anchors let speak for themselves. No hyperbole.
Not so on 7's extended sports, anchored by Tony Martinez. He began with: "The Redskins' nightmarish rivalry with the Giants took a bizarre fourth-quarter turn as darkness fell on RFK Stadium. . . . Here are the gory details."
He made the oft-made mistake of saying Taylor was no factor. Earlier in the week, and in no way referring to Martinez, Gibbs addressed those who say LT had not been a factor in some previous meetings: "They don't take into account you have two guys blocking him. He may not get a sack . . . but there may be three or four guys hitting the quarterback from the other side. There hasn't been a game we played against him when he hasn't been a major factor."
Martinez also said Travis Jackson made the game-saving interception. It was Greg Jackson, Tony.
And he filled us with pun after pun: For Browns owner Art Modell, "it's about time he nipped this one in the bud," meaning Coach Bud Carson should be fired; and Jerry Rice is "San Francisco's treat."
Hey, Tony, it was no treat.