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Spicing up the schedule

Five ideas to improve the NFL Network's programming

Posted: Monday August 22, 2005 4:05PM; Updated: Monday August 22, 2005 4:35PM
Tom Brady
Tom Brady, reality star?
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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The most surprising development this summer -- besides Jeff Francoeur becoming the white Vlad Guerrero, and a certain veteran pitcher not failing his steroid test last week despite overwhelming rumors to the contrary -- has to be on VH1's brilliant slate of programming. While MTV and VH1 have each gone from showing videos to not showing videos, at least VH1 revels in the garbage, signing up as many has-been celebs as possible and giving them airtime to be weird. While The Surreal Life, showed promise, the Janice Dickinson-Jose Canseco pairing is too surreal. I enjoy Hogan Knows Best, but I'm more intrigued by Gene Simmons' Rock School, a blatant cover of School Of Rock where Simmons goes to a classical music academy in England to teach the kids to rock. The breakout performer appears to be a young tone-deaf outcast who dubbed himself Emperor and won the slot as the band's lead singer.

Overall, though, this summer's best show is Celebrity Fit Club, where Gary Busey consistently entertains. Not only did he lose more than the weight they asked him to lose (he lost more than 30 pounds), he did it with several weeks left in the show. This gives him even time to stumble around and spout new-age maxims and acronyms, sounding like Deepak Chopra after a motorcycle accident. Honestly, TV doesn't get much better than Busey sparring with a professional boxer and then telling the Snapple lady to shut up.

Anyway, the NFL season starts in two weeks, and I was trying to think of ways for the NFL to promote itself to a broader audience, using VH1's example of brainless TV. Utilizing the NFL Network seems like a logical move. Here in Manhattan, I don't get the NFL Network, but looking at the broadcast schedule, it doesn't appear compelling, at least not to the general viewer.

So, I came up with five possible shows for the NFL Network to use. I'm not asking for any credit here, just trying to help everyone involved.

1. The Patriot(s) -- Back in 1776, a group of underdogs from New England banded together to fight and best a bigger, richer army. In this weekly hour-long docudrama-reality series, Tom Brady and several members of the New England Patriots take part in Revolutionary War reenactments, with Brady asked to go from being a regular guy to a war hero. Watch for the terrific dramatic twist at the end of week eight, when Thomas Gage, the leader of the British forces in Massachusetts, is revealed as Brady's real-life mentor Bill Belichick. Also, don't miss week five, when dysentery sweeps through the Pats quarters and Paul Revere (played by Corey Dillon) misplaces the camp's ration of hard tack.

2. Manning Knows Best -- Documentary-style footage follows the Manning family jammed in a station wagon on a summer vacation to the Grand Canyon. Non-football playing brother Cooper is shown to the be the brains of the brothers, quick with a quip or joke, sitting in the back seat, always on the cell phone monitoring the family investments. Peyton and Eli sit in the middle seat, bickering non-stop, with Peyton always getting the final word. In the driver's seat is Archie. Watch him sing along to an Elvis' Greatest Hits, a can of Tab in the drink holster, never hesitating to pull the wagon over to deliver a life lesson to the boys and making them run laps around the car whenever they get too boisterous.