Meanwhile, NBC had begun to galvanize itself into action. The weekend before the USFL-ABC deal was concluded, NBC President Robert Mulholland, Sports President Arthur Watson and Vice-President Geoff Mason inundated league owners with phone calls. They promised Joe Garagiola would do promos. They said the league was young, so NBC might use one of its top young announcers, like Bob Trumpy. Says Gould, "They'd been asleep at the wheel, so at the last minute they came up with this disheveled approach. It was desperation."
NBC matched ABC's dollar totals but never showed abiding interest. As former USFL Chairman Peter Spivak says, "They offered slogans instead of sandwiches." There's another expression that applies. For years ABC News and Sports President Roone Arledge has been known for his sense of timing in acquiring the rights to major sporting properties. The word is that "Arledge leaves the barn at 3 a.m., while the rest of the animals leave when the sun rises." The USFL being a TV league, that as much as Walker's unexpected presence explains why it's off to a fast start.