When the Bills open their season in Chicago next Sunday, there will not be a CBS broadcast team in Soldier Field. Though the Bills are an AFC team playing on the road, the game will be carried on Fox. It is part of the NFL’s new cross-flexing policy, in which the league can move games between the two networks in order to balance the TV lineup of desirable games on a given Sunday.
The Fox team for Buffalo’s opener is Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa. It will be interesting to hear an early read on the Bills from Johnston, a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame who starred at Lew-Port.
Another Bills road game, Oct. 5 at Detroit’s Ford Field, will also be carried on Fox. Buffalo will have 11 games on CBS, a total of four on Fox, and one on NFL Network, the Thursday night game in Miami on Nov. 13. It will be the Bills’ fifth straight season without a prime-time game on Sunday or Monday nights.
NFL teams may keep things vanilla during preseason, but not CBS’s Boomer Esiason. In a media conference call last week, Esiason was pretty outspoken for a network analyst in sizing up the pressure facing EJ Manuel as he enters his second season as the Bills’ quarterback.
Manuel “has not looked good this preseason at all,” Esiason said. “When I look out there and see the players he’s out there on the field with, Chandler, Watkins, you name it, these are all top-quality players. You look at C.J. Spiller, Freddy Jackson and all the weapons they’ve got there, a solid offensive line, a solid defensive line. It really comes down to what it comes down to for all these teams, that’s who’s playing under center.
“Given the fact they did invest a first-round pick in him, and the fact he has not played great this preseason, he’s one of those players who will be under the brightest of lights and the closest of microscopes, because he can make or break their season.
“He’s got to grow up quickly. There’s not a lot of time these players are afforded these days, unlike when I played, where you could sit on the bench a couple of years before you played. He really has got to step up his game.
“Buffalo is a CBS team, if you will; we’ll be watching him closely. He’s going to make or break the season for them. And quite frankly, if he plays like he played in the preseason, Buffalo’s not going anywhere.”
Some other fun football facts to chew on while winterizing your recliner for the long season ahead:
• Kenny Albert’s dad, Marv Albert, announced in late May that he was giving up his NFL duties for CBS. Albert had lost something off his fastball, as they say, in the last couple of years, but he is one of the all-time announcing greats. When he worked on Monday night games for Westwood One Radio, hearing him blare, “This is Marv Albert with BOOMER Esiason!” was as good as it gets. Kevin Harlan will take Albert’s place for CBS alongside Rich Gannon.
• Steve Tasker is paired with Andrew Catalon and Steve Beuerlein in the CBS lineup. Catalon, who lives in Albany, has been working college football and basketball games for CBS Sports Network.
• The retirement of Dan Dierdorf left Greg Gumbel without a partner on CBS. Gumbel will work with new hire Trent Green this season. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts move into the No. 2 slot for CBS, behind Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.
• NBC Sports continues to serve its online audience by streaming each Sunday Night Football game live. The stream can be found at NBCSports.com/liveextra. Green Bay at Seattle, the NFL’s opener on Thursday, will be broadcast like a Sunday night game on NBC.
• The 16 regular Thursday Night Football games this season – beginning with Steelers-Ravens on Sept. 11 – will be produced by CBS Sports, with its broadcasters and production team. A CBS release explains: “Weeks 2-8 and one of the Saturday games from Week 16 will be broadcast by CBS and simulcast on NFL Network. Weeks 9-12 and 14-16, including one of the Saturday games during Week 16, will be televised on NFL Network.” The Bills-Dolphins game is in Week 11.
• “Inside the NFL” will make its season debut Tuesday evening on Showtime. Former Pro Bowl defensive back Ed Reed joins the crew this year, alongside new host Greg Gumbel. Brandon Marshall, the current Bears receiver, also joins the broadcast, along with Boomer Esiason. Phil Simms is part of the team, also.
• Yahoo Sports’ “Fantasy Football Live” streaming show is coming to NBC Sports Network, airing Tuesday through Thursday nights at 6:30. Fantasy analysts from Yahoo, NBC Sports and Rotoworld will opine on the week’s football action.
Other media notes
• Sports from a female perspective will be the emphasis when CBS Sports launches “We Need to Talk,” the first nationally televised, prime-time sports show with an all-female cast. The show will debut Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Lesley Visser, Amy Trask, Tracy Wolfson, Dana Jacobson, Allie LaForce, Andrea Kremer, Laila Ali, Lisa Leslie and Summer Sanders have been announced as regulars for the show.
• Chris Schenkel, the longtime voice of bowling and many other sports at ABC, will be inducted posthumously into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. The ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 16 in New York. Schenkel died in September 2005.
• Keith Olbermann’s weekday show, “Olbermann,” will shift to a late-afternoon time slot on Monday, Sept. 8. “Olbermann” will air at 5 p.m. on ESPN2, followed by “Outside the Lines” at 6 p.m.