During the NFL season, the thirst of fans for the latest information and opinions on their teams can barely be slaked by the amount of media and material coming their way. When it comes to thoughts on their team, updates on their fantasy league players and injury updates, fans can't get enough.
When it comes to morning television, fans had been relegated to reruns of NFL Total Access and SportsCenter from the night before, and whatever NFL segments might pop up on shows like ESPN's First Take. While hearing Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith debate through screaming whatever the topic of day might be is not what I might prefer to listen to in the morning, it apparently holds appeal for many.
Perhaps inspired by such shows as GOLF Channel's Morning Drive, the NFL Network announced recently that debuting on July 30th will be a new four-hour morning show titled NFL AM.
"NFL AM" kicks off at 6:00 AM ET each Monday through Friday. The network boasts that "NFL AM will blanket the world of the NFL with seasoned and opinionated talent who will report and debate news and examine the personalities that play the game. The show’s discussion will cover a wide-range of NFL-related topics including the cultural convergence of sports, entertainment and music. Each morning, NFL AM will collaborate with NFL.com to take a look at the latest in fantasy football news and information."
To start things off, the network announced a staff of five: Mark Kriegel from FOXSports.com, former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl-winning cornerback Eric Davis, Brian Webber from FOX Sports Digital, Nicole Zaloumis, who recently left CSNNE here in New England to join the new show, and Steve Wyche from NFL Media.
It would appear from that list the Zaloumis and Webber, with their extensive television backgrounds would serve as the primary anchors on the show. The others there would then offer opinion, analysis and reporting.
The show will be broadcast live from NFL Network’s Culver City, CA studios, meaning that the staff will be on the air at 3:00 a.m. their own local time.
Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY talked to NFLN executive producer Eric Weinberger about the new program, and for those hoping for an refuge against the Bayless/Smith style debates with your breakfast, not so fast...
Weinberger suggests the show, which will replace re-airs of NFLN's Total Access news shows in the time slot, could talk to coaches "before they start their days." There'll be "heavy debate," he says, and some elements might seem "like Fox & Friends meets a radio show." Occasionally news might filter in from outside the NFL world — Weinberger suggests the show would have mentioned the Miami Heat won the NBA title — but with any non-football news "there'll always be an effort to bring it back or compare it to the NFL." Like maybe, would LeBron James be better as a tight end or linebacker?
That cringe-worthy suggestion aside, the idea of getting the early morning news from the NFL is intriguing. Talking to coaches before they begin their day? Might be the best time to catch some of them.
Mark Quenzel, NFL Network senior vice president of programming and production, also weighed in on the new program, claiming "NFL AM will give fans a great reason to look forward to the morning," he adds "We know that our fans are looking for more football and we are excited to provide a personality-driven show which focuses on football and everything around it. There will be no better way to start their day."
"Personality-driven." Don't we have enough of that in today's media? How about "information-driven?" It's probably too much to ask, but then again, most of what the NFL has touched has worked out just fine.