As I was waiting for the debut Sunday night of NBC's much-hyped series of the year -- what was it called again? Oh yes, "Sunday Night is Football Night in America" -- I couldn't help but wonder what a large segment of the audience made of the pre-game show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
How many football fans choked on their bratwurst sausage sandwich, being washed down with their tenth Bud Lite, listening to Olbermann's opening blast at Pres. Bush?
How many turned as blue as the label on an ice-cold Coors Lite bottle as they listened to this madman's continual bashing of the Bush administration?
How many thought they had fallen asleep and died from the brewskis they already had consumed as a warm up for the serious hoisting of a few once the actual game (an exhibition between the Steelers and Eagles) started. It had to be hell stewing in a full hour of a commercial network anchorman unexpectedly going negative on all the things football fans hold sacred, like Rush Limbaugh or celebrity bimbos who forget to wear the fronts of their dresses before they go out driving under the influence of whatever substance they are abusing, and it's surely not football.
There are only two things the average TV football viewer might not like about the Keith Olbermann show: his style and content.
Olbermann is a politically-active cable network news guy who was getting a tryout on the parent network (NBC) Sunday night. His show has been fairly well hidden always on MSNBC at 8 o'clock weeknights, normally buried by The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News.
Keith plays smashmouth commentary. No cow is too sacred for Olbermann to punch it between the eyes.
The average TV football fan's idea of a political cause is to join the Free the Indianapolis 500 movement.
Football on TV is normally a politics-free zone. Football fans are lucky to know all the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner." By that I mean, they are on top of the game if they know the last line is not "play ball."
When it comes to current events, it's our country right or wrong. With Olbermann on Sunday night, they are hearing a man who believes its may be our country wrong and wrong.
Now I happen to love Countdown with Keith Olbermann. It's political theatre on a much higher level than usually heard on cable TV and certainly not on commercial network TV.
But even I find his style a little too smarmy sometimes, supercilious, a know-it- all, self-important, self-righteous. I can appreciate why football fans wouldn't want to be stuck in an elevator with the guy.
Content wins me back. I somehow don't mind the anti- Bush rhetoric which has been the core of his shows for at least the last 1,759 days since the president announced mission accomplished in Iraq, a fact that he reminds viewers at the end of each show, before crumpling his script and throwing it at the camera, digitally shattering the lens
As I say, I couldn't stop feeling sorry for those who tuned in to the pre-game show, expecting the usual good old boy football nonsense talk and were subjected to an hour or fraction of Keith. They come to play football, but this is basketball or some other arcane sport.
I'm sure they are still staggering like they were on the third six pack after hearing some expert suggesting the election will be decided by the discovery of Obama in the basement of the White House a week before Election Day, 2008.
Not only does KO, as he is known to his friends, lampoon the current administration, but his targets include the celebratti, the divas, the Lindsay Lohans and others in the swill bucket of American culture.
I wish the National Institute of Mental Health would commission a study to find out what TV football fans thought of KO's reporting on an astounding discovery of a space out in outer space that did not contain galaxies, stars, black holes, absolutely nothing. "Like Paris Hilton's brains," Olbermann observed in one of his signature witty asides.
What do they make of Countdown's nightly newsreel, called "Oddball," a collection of videos clips where people behave like idiots? Even I was startled to see the cheesecake pictures of the man, who was ID'd by KO as "Vladimir Blowback Mountain Putin." With a little brown paint, the president of the Russian Federation would have fit right in with the crowd in the Dawg Pound at the Cleveland Browns stadium.
I guess I like Olbermann so much I would enjoy him on any night, not only on Sundays and weekdays.
No matter how sick he makes the traditional TV football fan, 60 Minutes should not rest on its laurels. Countdown could be the first serious threat to its dominance at 7 PM Sunday nights since it debuted 37 years ago.
Aside from its quality, it also achieved high ratings because football fans were often fast asleep after over-indulging somewhat in a festive day of eating and drinking during the afternoon CBS Sports NFL coverage. They didn't wake up until the house football widows -- their wives -- came in from the cold and changed the channel.
Countdown with Keith Olbermann is a news information program that, at least, is more colorful than the usual network news production.
I have one word of advice. If NBC dares give KO a second shot once the season actually begins Sept. 9, I would drop the two satirists segments. True, they weren't as bad, perhaps, as whole episodes of the expensive The Half-Hour News Hour on Fox, the political satire show that has just been shut down by Fox as an economy measure so Murdoch can help pay for The Wall Street Journal purchase.
Satire, Olbermann should remember, always dies on Sunday night.