Tom Curran is an informative reporter and interesting football analyst for NBCSports.com. I’ve enjoyed the contributions of Curran, formerly of The Providence-Journal, to the discussion on WEEI. Having said that, Curran made arguments over the last few days that demonstrated that he may know sports but lacks a fundamental understanding of popular culture and the public mood.
Following the NFL’s announcement last week that it would televise the Patriots-Giants game on NBC and CBS, Curran took to the airwaves to minimize the implications of the move. Curran thundered at Pete Sheppard that speculation over the ratings for the game was overblown. He was vehement that the Saturday night game was “meaningless” and that much of the world outside of New England would ignore the contest. He criticized the myopia of New Englanders for thinking the game might be a happening outside our region.
I found this reasoning completely perplexing and entirely unconvincing. After all, hadn’t John Kerry, for once, demonstrated some keen political instincts in championing the right of those without the NFL Network to see the historic game, a fact noted by this blog. And hadn’t the NFL broken precedent, and presumably contract law, by simulcasting the game on two television networks. And, finally, hadn’t two television networks opted to show the game in the midst of a writers strike which has left broadcast television bereft of fresh product. None of this seemed to matter to Curran, who did appear to backtrack somewhat when he was interviewed yesterday on WEEI and said that much of the nation would change the station if the game became a blowout. He also attempted to mitigate his argument by stating that this was a “peripheral” discussion. Whatever that means.
Well, now the ratings are in, and we now know whether Curran was right. And, of course, he wasn’t. According to TV WEEK, the Patriots-Giants broadcast was the most-watched television program, not just of the NFL season, but the entire television season.
“The three-pronged multicast of the Patriots’ undefeated season Saturday night on CBS, NBC and the NFL Network scored as the most watched program of the current television season.The come-from-behind victory for the favored New England team over the New York Giants also became the most-watched NFL regular-season game since 1995, with an average of 34.5 million viewers tuning in to see the action.”
The only explanation I can come up with for the combination of Curran’s passion for his argument and the inanity of his position is that WEEI needed a straw man to Sheppard. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make any sense.The undefeated Patriots are a huge story this year. It won’t be one Patriots fans will like until the team wins its next three games, but the nation as a whole will watch to see if the club wins or loses.