O'Neil is also planning to streamline NFL Live!, NBC's pregame show. Last season, the show had half a dozen principals. This fall, it will feature two, host Bob Costas and analyst O.J. Simpson. Simpson is a gamble, given his disappointing performance on ABC's Monday Night Football. Ahmad Rashad and Paul Maguire will go back to covering games.
The focus, however, will be on Walsh. Before he was hired, Walsh went through an audition with Enberg, using a tape of last season's AFC Championship Game. O'Neil says he knew three minutes after the audition began that he had found his man.
Walsh and Enberg will do dress rehearsals at six exhibition games, and the tapes will be critiqued by O'Neil and his cohorts. Walsh will make his debut on a nationally televised game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Chicago Bears on Sept. 10. That's when football fans will decide if he still has x appeal.