Last week CBS's NFL pregame show, The NFL Today, was widely panned for its tone-deaf coverage of the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide. While other networks were offering detailed, poignant coverage and showing great deference to the story, CBS was operating in their own universe. The NFL Today delayed addressing the Belcher story and went on with their usual product placements and yearly Victoria's Secret crossover tomfoolery. While NFL Network, Fox, and ESPN were praised for their handling of the story, CBS stood out like a sore thumb with their effort.
This week the NFL was met with another tragedy when Jerry Brown of the Dallas Cowboys was killed at 25 years old. His teammate Josh Brent was driving drunk at the time and has been jailed on an intoxication manslaughter charge. Thankfully, CBS learned their lesson from the week before and dedicated their entire first segment to the news of Brown's death and a serious discussion about the terrible events of the last week in the NFL. It was time CBS didn't devote to serious issues the week before. While CBS was ravaged on Twitter last week, the network was applauded for making a complete turnaround and serving viewers with the proper perspective…
James Brown, Shannon Sharpe & the entire NFL Today crew on CBS should be extremely proud of themselves for that opening segment. Well said.
— Brian Cady (@briancady) December 9, 2012
CBS NFL Today doing what they needed to do to correct what they didn't do last week, wow comeback of the year
— Howard Bloom (@SportsBizNews) December 9, 2012
— Cayce Lubrun (@caycelubrun) December 9, 2012
First 12 min. of THE NFL TODAY a/b drunk driving, "gun culture," domestic violence & responsibility. Think CBS heard last wk's criticism?
— Philip Jones (@philgoodstory) December 9, 2012
Hope the NFLPA just recorded the first 15 mins of CBS NFL today so they can show it to their players. Playing is a privilege not a right!
— Holly (@hockeychic8) December 9, 2012
After getting roasted last wk 4 ducking Belcher story, CBS' NFL Today spent 1st 12 minutes on KC murder-suicide and Brown-Brent in Dallas.
— Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) December 9, 2012
NFL Today on CBS got it right today. No show open, no playoff chat, just straight to Cowboys story. They dropped the ball last wk w/Chiefs
— daveontv (@daveontv) December 9, 2012
The complete 180 at The NFL Today is reminiscent of the way Big Ten Network was able to right their ship after initially dropping the ball at Penn State in the fall.
Give credit to CBS – they took their lumps and learned from criticism. Shannon Sharpe and Bill Cowher in particular delivered strong commentary on the dangers of drunk driving and another death that could have been prevented. James Brown also added an essay on domestic violence that cast a much wider net than the politicized gun control debate that developed out of Bob Costas' halftime essay the week before.
It's so refreshing to see a network actually show a willingness to change their approach when needed.
An excerpted video of The NFL Today's opening segment including the comments from Sharpe, Cowher, and Brown is below…