With the NFL at midseason, we grade the Sunday-morning football shows.
? ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown The set's overcrowded, but the m�lange of strong personalities ( Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Bill Parcells, Sterling Sharpe and Steve Young) creates sharp debate and humorous moments. ("J-E-T-S, Just End The Season," Young cracked before New York upset the Chargers last week.) Add ace information man Chris Mortensen and strong reporters such as Andrea Kremer, Sal Paolantonio and Ed Werder, and Countdown remains the top destination for the football-obsessed fan. Grade: A
?FOX NFL Sunday Landing Jimmy Johnson to join James Brown, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long rates as the move of the year among the pregame shows. No analyst has a better command of the league. Fox overwhelms viewers with graphics, but the network often comes up with a creative gem, as it did on Sunday by using the classic kids' game Operation to diagram the Bucs' injury woes. The ratings leader remains a hoot to watch. Grade: B+
? CBS's The NFL Today The pooh-bahs at CBS think Deion Sanders is the next great TV sports personality, which explains why so much of the show revolves around Deion's flashy outfits and Deion's interviewing subjects about Deion. Last week Deion, wearing a Michael Vick jersey, asked Vick who he thought the greatest Falcon was. (Now there's a relevant question.) Deion is loud and unfunny, a brutal combination unless you're a fan of Carrot Top. The capable Jim Nantz, Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino are also on this show. We think. C+