Sad.The long run is over for ‘Inside the NFL’
By JEFFREY FLANAGAN
Dawson on the HBO set
T he incredible run is over. After 31 years on HBO, “Inside the NFL” wrapped up its final weekly show on the cable channel on Wednesday night.
Len Dawson, who was there at the start in 1978 and remained on “Inside the NFL” for more than two decades, also was flown in by HBO to tape a segment for the final show.
“It’s surprising in a way that it’s the last show on HBO because I thought it was very popular,” Dawson said by phone earlier Wednesday. “They let me know last weekend and asked me to keep the whole thing quiet because not many people knew it was coming to an end. I was shocked at first.
“But then when you think about it, I’m sure it’s just the right business decision (for HBO). When we started, this was really the first weekly show where you could see highlights of the games. But now, by the time the show comes out Wednesday, people have seen all the highlights on NFL Network or ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPN12 or whatever.”
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said of the show, “It has been a terrific franchise. But the television landscape has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years, and we have to recognize the realities of the business. I’m not sure we had one competitor when the show launched in 1978.”
Now, however, competitors abound, starting with the NFL Network, which is all football, seven days a week.
“The weekly highlights of games, the staple of ‘Inside the NFL,’ will continue through NFL Films,” said Dan Masonson, NFL manager of corporate communications. “And we look forward to finding a new partner, a new outlet this fall.”
Don’t be surprised if that outlet is the NFL Network.
As for Dawson, he has been left to reminisce this week.
“I haven’t been with the show for a while,” he said, “but it’s still a little like when your career comes to an end. You just look back and try to hang on to the memories. It was a big part of my life.”
Pro football tops
A Harris Interactive survey revealed recently what we already know: Pro football rules in this country.
Pro football was the favorite among 30 percent of those sports fans surveyed. Baseball was second at 15 percent, and college football was third at 12 percent.
In the last 23 years, however, baseball’s popularity in this annual survey has dropped 8 percent. Tennis dropped, too, in the last 23 years, from 5 percent to 1 percent.