The latest episode of my podcast has arrived and it’s sort of an extended remix version of previous podcasts.
First of all, the remix. Dennis Miller returns for another engagement and it could not be more well-timed. You see, Dennis’ predecessor in the Monday Night Football booth twice removed is also on the podcast, none other than Jon Gruden, fresh off his assignment in Jacksonville for ESPN. The one-and-only Grudes opines on his love of the game and his new unique office situation in Tampa. The man still rarely sleeps, watches a ton of game film and appears to relish in the X’s and O’s of it all as much as he did when he was coaching.
It begged the question as to whether Gruden would be receptive to an overture for another head coaching gig in the NFL. His answer was intriguing to say the very least. After Gruden, we enjoyed another wide-ranging, gamut-running riff with Miller that featured his take on Jay Cutler and his beloved Steelers … before spinning off the rails. To wit: listen for mentions of George Burns, Starlight Express, Ron Jeremy, Tom Coughlin’s unique photo inscription and some incredible memories of his time on the Saturday Night Live set with Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman and, yes, Robert Downey Jr.
As for the extended portion of the show: We have three guests on today, one more than the usual. And that’s because our first guest was quite the newsmaker this week: Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice-president of football operations, who had seen enough helmet paint swapping in the Week Six action to put more teeth into the league’s penalties for such violations. Anderson walks us through the genesis of the decision and the decision-making process itself before the league took action by handing out $175,000 of fines to three players in one day. We also ask Anderson point blank what he would say to fans who think the NFL is legislating out too much of the physicality that makes the game so unique.
As always, we don’t just criticize and analyze but make a suggestion. Since so many of these helmet-to-helmet plays happen in the blink of an eye and the on-field penalty of 15-yards is so severe, I suggest to Anderson that the league should make these penalties reviewable under instant replay.
Three weeks ago, on NFL Total Access, I asked the same thing to Jeff Fisher, co-chairman of the competition committee, and Fisher said he and the committee were not inclined to make these penalties reviewable. Undaunted, I pressed my case further with Anderson. Please listen for his answer.
Of course, there’s another podcast appearance by NFL Network senior producer Jason Wormser, a.k.a. The Worm. He’s joined in our Hot Topics segment by NFL GameDay Morning producer Charlie Yook, a big-time Bears fan who also happened to work closely with Gruden when the coach spent time with NFL Network before taking the Monday Night gig.
Yook tells a great story about how Gruden still, if you will, reaches out to him. It’s all quite festive, especially since The Worm finally gets his free pizza from our esteemed sponsor Papa John’s. Because of the extended remix, the podcast is a touch longer and a bit larger in size to download but, in the end, I hope you’ll agree that it was worth it. Enjoy and feedback, as always, is welcome.