CBS set the bar on NFL pregame shows 50 years ago, but landscape has changed – Orange County Register

We’re not calling the concept of a modern-day NFL pregame TV show an oxymoron, but …

It’s intent is to inform, but the lure to muddle it with entertainment has boiled it down to where comedians, CGI-animated characters, Victoria Secret models or a top-heavy weather girl have come vital crew members.

It may want to tackle important and controversial issues – concussions, national anthem protests, domestic violence, owner-commissioner discontent. But there’s a sense that they’re all scrambling to avoid a sack by someone at their network who wants to protect the paid arrangement/partnerships for the privilege of carrying live games.

It’s supposed to ignite a Pavlovian adrenaline rush for those shifting their rear ends into a favorite swivel Barcalounger or well-used La-Z-Boy Reclina-Rocker.

And sometimes, all that forced laughter on the set with guys in the suits and ties looks like fodder for a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

Given all that, there’s something to be said for the fact CBS has been in the “The NFL Today” pregame business for 50 seasons. The first half-hour shows came in 1967.

Actually, we can dial it back to 60 years ago you start with the first 15-minute pregames hosted by Bud Palmer in 1957.

Frank Gifford took over in the early-1960s, and Pat Summerall and Jack Whitaker took over the pre-taped shows for awhile. The need to make it an hour-long template came in the mid-‘70s, with Brent Musburger “looking live,” picking games with Jimmy “The Greek” and Irv Cross, Phyllis George or Jayne Kennedy finding their voices.

It’s a remarkable achievement as it rolls along with heightened competition from Fox, ESPN and eventually the NFL Network, messing with the original X’s and O’s playbook by putting the…

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