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Reports from sidelines are a hot topic

By By Will Bardwell / sports writer
Sept. 18, 2003
As Dirty Harry put it, "A man's got to know his limitations." I may have a journalism degree, but I'll probably never play in the NFL, nor will I ever be a gorgeous brunette.
With that in mind, I have officially removed "NFL sideline reporter" from my list of possible career options.
Don't get me wrong. I don't mind ex-jocks on TV. After all, somebody like Troy Aikman or Terry Bradshaw is a lot more qualified to explain the challenges of a corner blitz than a dork like Bob Costas.
But at some point in time, the networks decided that almost everyone associated with sports broadcasting had to be a former athlete. Before too long, every pre-game show was staffed by old players and coaches. Every booth had to have an old, overrated quarterback behind the mic.
Typically, the duties of sideline reporter were relegated to some burned out wide receiver or running back whose public speaking highlight came in a B-rate commercial for used cars. Eric Dickerson, anyone?
The real problems arose when all the former athletes who could speak intelligently (apparently there weren't many) became employed. It was only a matter of time before my television viewing was defiled by people who should never be allowed to speak on camera, much less be allowed in front of one.
Enter Tony Siragusa. Two Sundays ago, I sat in my living room for the first full day of the NFL season and was horrifyingly greeted by the former Baltimore Raven, who is now a sideline reporter for Fox. I guess the NFL retirement plan wasn't paying the grocery bill.
I was indifferent toward Siragusa during his playing days, but I quickly grew to loathe him as a reporter. He's got a horrible New Jersey accent, and unless the topic of triple cheeseburgers comes up, I don't see him contributing any insightful commentary.
Most annoying of all is the fact that every Siragusa sideline report begins with the words, "Uh, yeah, hey, what's up guys?"
Siragusa isn't the only bad ex-jock reporter out there, of course. Take Phil Simms, who worked in the booth with Greg Gumbel for the Eagles-Patriots game on CBS this past Sunday. On a third down and short in the second half, the Patriots defense sent the house at Donovan McNabb and brought him down in the backfield. Simms declared, "Greg, you've never played football, and even YOU knew they were going to blitz!"
Do you really think it took an old quarterback to predict that? A dead chimpanzee could tell me a blitz is coming on third and two. Greg Gumbel may not have been an all-world football player, but neither was Simms (but that's another story).
Just when sports broadcasting couldn't become any more unbearable, I was sent a savior. Welcome to my living room, Lisa Guerrero.
Guerrero, as you may know, was the cute-but-clueless face from Fox Sports Net who graciously interrupted Tom Arnold's nightly drivel with score updates. She's now on the payroll at ABC as the new sideline reporter for Monday Night Football.
I'll make no bones about it. She's not exactly a walking sports almanac. To my knowledge, she has no experience as an athlete on any level, and she certainly never orchestrated a Super Bowl comeback.
But she's hot. Really hot.
One of my co-workers pointed out that, following the Jets-Redskins game on Sept. 4, Guerrero asked Patrick Ramsey what he said to his "former teammate, Lavernues Coles" after the Redskins' victory.
The obvious problem with that question is that Coles and Ramsey are still teammates. Whoops.
I'm quick to excuse her slip. She is, after all, hot.
Still, I can sympathize with Guerrero's detractors. Lack of Redskins knowledge aside, she has big shoes to fill in replacing fellow cutie Melissa Stark.
To those critics, I offer a defense: she's hot. Even if that isn't a real qualification, it's definitely a perk.
Besides, we're talking about a broadcast crew that includes John Madden and Al Michaels arguably the best duo in MNF's history. Michaels is probably the best play-by-play man in the business, and Madden can smell a blitz 10 minutes before it happens on the field.
How many football gurus do I really need? If forced to choose between cute-but-stupid and stupid-but-stupid, shouldn't I be able to choose the former? After putting up with Eric Dickerson for a couple of years, I think I've earned it.
Former all-pro or not, I'll take her over a Yankee meathead nicknamed "Goose" any day of the week.