Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inside the Pages: 1976 PRO! NFL game program

For a change of pace, I am going to take a look inside the pages of a 1976 NFL game program. PRO! was the official magazine of the NFL which the league produced and sold at stadiums on game days.

I bought this publication when I attended the 10/31/76 Eagles-Giants contest at Giants Stadium (the third-ever regular season game at this new venue). The issue is labelled Giants Edition and has a cover price of $1. While the program contains a number of color photos, a sizable percentage of the pictures are black-and-white.

As one might expect, the program contains basics such as team rosters, schedules, and statistics. But I'd like to focus on some of the more interesting content.

My favorite piece is the PRO! Talk feature which has a conversion with Tom Brookshier who was in his second full season as the #1 analyst on the CBS telecasts. That article focuses on Brookshier's broadcasting career which started on Philadelphia radio in 1962. It includes a detailed recap of his infamous Duane Thomas "Evidently" interview during the Super Bowl 6 postgame show. The story also covers his TV partnership with Pat Summerall which began with the syndicated NFL Films highlight show This Week in Pro Football. The interview also delves into the decision by CBS to pair this duo together midway through the 1974 season and Brookshier shares his perspective on their early days as a booth tandem. Brookshier incorrectly recalls their first telecast together as being a Giants-Cardinals game in St Louis. (The opponent that day in St Louis was actually the Redskins.) Brookshier also describes the day that he and Summerall were awarded the Super Bowl 10 booth assignment and spends several paragraphs recapping that telecast from January of that year.

Bert Jones and cover subject Ken Anderson were among the active players profiled in the issue. There is also an article on the strongest players in the NFL. That story which attributes the increased strength to weightlifting and Nautilus training reads eerily now with the hindsight of the steroid use in the sport at that time.

The program also contains retrospectives on retired stars such as Chuck Bednarik and Gale Sayers and a look back at the 1962 Texans-Oilers AFL Championship game with the infamous Abner Haynes declaration "we'll kick to the clock" after winning the overtime coin toss.

A sampling of other content:
  • an illustrated chart of 24 official signals from touchdown to unsportsmanlike conduct
  • a section on ground rules which contains field and goal post dimensions and the official specifications for the Wilson game footballs
  • a detailed rundown of how NFL timing rules change inside the 2-minute warning along with strategy tips for running a 2-minute offense
  • a list of the contestants in the Punt Pass and Kick competition that afternoon
  • a preview of the next edition of PRO!
The magazine contains 136 pages, but much of the space is occupied by a mix of local and national advertisements. The full-page ads include 1970s mainstays such as Zenith, Dodge, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Taster's Choice (freeze dried coffee), Getty (gasoline), Salem (cigarettes), Skoal (smokeless tobacco), Schlitz (beer), and Cutty Sark (whiskey). There is also an ad for Bibb NFL officially licensed sheets and pillowcases. One of the local ads bills The Record as New Jersey's largest evening newspaper (bringing back memories of a time when certain papers would hit newsstands in the afternoon).

I found it quite fascinating to look back at the technology ads from that era. Western Union took out a large ad for its mailgram service (1970s Twitter anyone?). Promising next business day delivery, it encourages you to send a mailgram to an NFL player and lists the mailing addresses for all 28 league teams. Royce Electronics promotes their latest CB radio. Panasonic ("just slightly ahead of our time") pitches portable cassette tape recorders in one ad and highlights 19" TVs in another. And Sony has a full-page spot on the new Betamax deck (sort of a 1970s version of a DVR) with a suggested retail price of $1,300!!




In the pre-internet days, publications would often contain several mail-in offers. The magazine has a mail-order form for purchasing one or both volumes of an NFL Films music soundtrack for $6 per LP record. Another one enables you to pre-order an official Super Bowl 11 program ($2.50) or poster ($1.75). There is also a clip-out ballot for voting on the AFC and NFC rookie of the year sponsored by Old Spice.






Monday, August 5, 2013

History of PGA Championship TV coverage (1958-present)

The PGA Championship made its debut on national TV in 1958. That year, the tournament shifted from a match play competition to the current (and more suitable to TV executives) 72-hole stroke play event. 

Here is a summary of my research on how the coverage of this major championship event has evolved since then. All listings of hours refer to scheduled live TV coverage.

<EDITED on 8/8/2017 to bring this up to date as of the 2017 tournament>  

Chronology of PGA Championship TV coverage

1958 - The PGA Championship was televised for the first time as CBS provided a total of 2.5 hours on the weekend with Jim McKay and John Derr on the call. CBS covered holes 15-18.

1961 - Chris Schenkel became the lead announcer on CBS after McKay left the network. The tournament required an 18-hole playoff on Monday, and CBS added an hour of joined-in-progress coverage of that.

1965 - The tournament moved to ABC where it would remain for 26 years. Schenkel, who had recently moved to ABC retained the primary announcer role. Bryon Nelson began a run as lead analyst. McKay was also part of the ABC crew. ABC upped the coverage to 3.5 hours.

1966 - The PGA Championship was televised in color for the first time. 

1967 - ABC added an hour on Monday to cover the end of the 18-hole playoff.

1970 - Dave Marr worked his first PGA Championship, but Nelson remained the primary analyst.

1971 - The PGA Championship was moved to February, but starting the following year has been played in August ever since. Up through 1968 the event was often held in July, sometimes taking place just one week after the British Open.

1974 - Marr became the lead analyst and would retain this role until ABC lost the network TV rights.

1976 - McKay took over as lead announcer. The tournament was delayed by rain and finished on Monday. ABC added 2 hours of coverage that afternoon.

1979 - ABC increased the total coverage to 5.5 hours.

1982 - ESPN provided the first cable coverage of the tournament with 3 hours on both Thursday and Friday. ABC expanded to 3 hours per day on the weekend. 

1984 - There was no cable coverage of the first two rounds. 

1985 - ESPN returned for weekday coverage and expanded to 3.5 hours each day. ABC increased to 3.5 hours on each weekend day. 

1986 - Jim Simpson and Bruce Devlin anchored the ESPN coverage which  increased to 4 hours each weekday. ABC added 2.5 hours of joined-in-progress coverage on Monday to show the conclusion of the tournament which had been delayed by rain. ABC added Jack Nicklaus to its commentary team.

1987 - Roger Twibell took over as lead voice on the ESPN telecasts.

1988 - ABC expanded to 4 hours on each weekend day, providing full 18-hole coverage of the leaders for the first time. McKay sat out the event so Jack Whitaker served as lead announcer for ABC. McKay would return to this role in 1989.

1990 - Twibell anchored the ABC coverage.

1991 - The TV coverage underwent massive changes. TBS took over the cable package and increased the weekday coverage to 6 hours per day. TBS also added 2 hours of Saturday and Sunday coverage. Bob Neal and Bobby Clampett anchored the TBS coverage. TBS also used golf instructor David Leadbetter,  former LPGA player Donna Caponi, and NFL analyst Pat Haden. CBS acquired the network rights and provided 4.5 hours each on Saturday and Sunday with Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi working the 18th tower. Jim Nantz and Gary McCord were part of the CBS crew and have worked every PGA Championship since. Other members of the CBS team were Ben Wright and Steve Melnyk.

1992 - TBS installed Leadbetter as its lead analyst. Gary Bender and MLB analyst Don Sutton were also part of the TBS crew. 

1994 - Nantz took over the lead spot on CBS for the first time on a golf major.

1995 - Ernie Johnson became the primary anchor on TBS with Marr as lead analyst. CBS used former LPGA player Mary Bryan on its telecast. Some media reports at the time claimed that this was the first time a female worked a men's golf major, but ABC used Marilynn Smith on the 1973 US Open.

1996 - Clampett once again assumed the lead Turner analyst role. Bryan moved over to join the TBS team.

1998 - CBS expanded to 5 hours on each weekend day.

1999 - Turner Sports moved the cable coverage to TNT where it has remained ever since. Johnson and Clampett remained as the primary announcers.

2002 - Lanny Wadkins took over as lead CBS analyst.

2004 - CBS and TNT televised the PGA Championship in HDTV for the first time.

2005 - CBS added coverage starting at 10am ET of the Monday finish which was necessitated by rain on Sunday.

2006 - Verne Lundquist filled in on TNT for Johnson who was undergoing chemotherapy.

2007 - Nick Faldo became the lead analyst on CBS.

2008 - Ian Baker-Finch took over as lead TNT analyst.

2011 - Lundquist stepped in for Johnson on the TNT Sunday telecast after Ernie's father passed away.

2012 - TNT added coverage starting at 8am ET on Sunday to cover the end of round 3 after inclement weather stopped play on Saturday.

2016 - The PGA Championship moved to late July because golf was added to the Olympic Games. TNT added two bonus hours on Sunday to cover the weather-delayed conclusion of round 3.

Total scheduled live TV time for the PGA Championship by year

Note: I am not including added coverage (such as 18-hole playoffs) in these numbers, but I did mention these cases in the above chronology.

1958-1964:  2.5 hours (CBS)

1965-1970:  3.5 hours (ABC)
1971:             4 hours (ABC)
1972-1973:  3.5 hours (ABC)
1974:             4 hours (ABC)
1975:             3.5 hours (ABC)
1976-1978:   4 hours (ABC)
1979-1981:   5.5 hours (ABC)

1982-1983:  12 hours (6 on ESPN, 6 on ABC)
1984:              6 hours (ABC)
1985:             14 hours (7 on ESPN, 7 on ABC)
1986-1987:  15 hours (8 on ESPN, 7 on ABC)
1988-1990:  16 hours (8 on ESPN, 8 on ABC)

1991-1996:   25 hours (16 on TBS, 9 on CBS)
1997:              26 hours (17 on TBS, 9 on CBS)
1998:              27 hours (17 on TBS, 10 on CBS)

1999-2005:  27 hours (17 on TNT, 10 on CBS)
2006-2009:  28 hours (18 on TNT, 10 on CBS)
2010:             29 hours (19 on TNT, 10 on CBS)
2011-2017:   28 hours (18 on TNT, 10 on CBS)