NFL Network looks like it’s going to lose yet another of its league insiders. First, it was Adam Schefter lost to ESPN, now Jason La Canfora is leaving to join a multitude of platforms with CBS. SI’s Richard Deitsch initially broke the news that La Canfora would join CBS’s NFL Today as their insider, replacing Charlie Casserly while also joining CBSSports.com and appearing on CBS Sports Network.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 10, 2012
The move seems to be a shot by CBS to catch up with their competitors on the Sunday morning pregame shows. Casserly on NFL Today was more of an analyst than a pure insider while Jay Glazer on FOX and the duo of Chris Mortensen/Adam Schefter on ESPN were constantly breaking news on Sunday mornings. Now, CBS has their own insider to compete, although most people might rank La Canfora behind the likes of Glazer, Schefty, Mort, and Peter King on the NFL Insider Power Rankings at the moment (God help us if something like that actually exists).
However, La Canfora is sill a solid addition to give some more chops to the weekly laughfest that is the NFL Today. And, his addition to the online and cable platforms shows CBS is continuing to go toe-to-toe with NBC & FOX to carve their own space on those growing platforms. Look at the names CBS has added in recent months: Bruce Feldman, Jon Heyman, Jim Rome, and others have turned a real weakness of CBS’s sports content into a potential strength.
And as good as the move is for CBS, it’s equally discouraging for NFL Network. SBJ’s John Ourand received comment from NFL Network that Casserly won’t necesarily increase his profile on the channel to replace La Canfora. But even the prospect of replacing another on-air personality is secondary to yet another example of the NFL Network failing to circle the wagons. While they do have some terrific on-air personalities and reporters, the network still can’t seem to hang on to its best assets when other outlets come calling. What will happen when ESPN or FOX or CBS goes after Mike Mayock? Will he also outgrow NFL Network as well, or will the big wigs behind the NFL’s own TV channel finally step up to the plate when it matters. Add this news to the Warren Sapp debacle and the continued failure to work out a deal with Time Warner, and NFL Network just can’t seem to take a step forward without at least one step back.