It’s like the NFL has a checklist of possible fuck-ups and self-inflicted public-relations disasters, and they make a point of marking as many items as possible each week. This pattern makes disliking the NFL easy and fun, if you’re interested in giving it a shot.
This week’s selection includes disastrously poor officiating with lasting consequences; interpretations of the most vital parts of a confusing-as-hell rulebook that err on the side of violence, to the extreme detriment of a marquee player at the NFL’s signature position; a clumsy and poorly-timed memo instructing teams to shift away from transparency on concussions, the issue most dangerous to the league’s long-term health; NFL players and coaches and the hapless commissioner being so lost down the rabbit hole of PR manipulation that they can’t speak consistently or coherently about the election; and a shit-ass franchise getting stiff-armed by a wised-up public after another attempt to extort tax dollars for a billionaire owner.
Now that the election is over, this will be an interesting time to watch NFL television ratings for signs of a recovery. Meanwhile:
I say keep this league in the toilet where it belongs. Here’s some other stuff to watch, instead:
1 p.m. — Golf Channel — PGA Tour Golf: OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Final Round
From the El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Club at the Mayakoba Res in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
2 p.m. — FOX Sports 1 — NCAA Men’s Basketball: Central Connecticut State @ Seton Hall
Seton Hall is outside the top-25, but not by much—they received votes in both the AP and USA Today Coach’s Poll. As with all of today’s college basketball, this should be a blowout.
2:30 p.m. — NBC — NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Can-Am 500
I am told Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson are two men who will compete in this race? Perhaps there are others. Who can say? If NASCAR is your bag, this event takes up a huge chunk of afternoon programming on NBC.
3:30 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Hornets @ Cavaliers
This should be a very interesting game. The Hornets are 6-2, and their plus-7.1 differential is right behind Cleveland’s. Both teams are fresh and healthy. And herein lies the problem with long-term television contracts: with the NFL’s primetime and Sunday ratings in the tank, a more flexible broadcast arrangement would ideally allow the NBA to shift a game like this to a national broadcast, and get a sense of how early season basketball might stack up against another ho-hum slate of football. This wouldn’t even require a last-minute TNT shuffle—NBA TV’s version of a national presentation involves shifting a team’s local broadcast onto their national network. That would’ve been cool today. There are a couple interesting tilts this afternoon and evening.
4 p.m. — ESPN 2 — NCAA Men’s Basketball: UT-Chattanooga @ (6) North Carolina
ESPN mostly mailed it in today, going with hours of something called “2016 Obstacle Course” this afternoon before pivoting to the Crossfit Games. ESPN 2 at least has a slate of bad, non-competitive NCAA basketball.
6 p.m. — ESPN 2 — NCAA Men’s Basketball: Canisius @ (2) Kentucky
This is sure to be a 40-point blowout, but people who like college sports seem not to mind that kind of thing.
7 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Lakers @ Timberwolves
The Wolves aren’t exactly good, but neither are they especially bad—this season, your reason for watching them is for a glimpse of what they might soon become. Despite boners and 50-win projections from certain national NBA writers, the Wolves are still a talent-rich and intriguing work in progress—capable of hanging a 36-point demolition on the Grizzlies, and of dispiriting 20-point blowout losses to the Thunder. But that makes this a potentially exciting matchup: no one yet knows exactly what to make of either of these teams, but they’re both young, talented, well-coached, and capable of playing really fun basketball. And, in a Western Conference lousy with transitioning middle-class squads, one or both of these teams could wind up sneaking into the playoffs.
7 p.m. — FOX Sports 1 — NCAA Men’s Basketball: Robert Morris @ DePaul
Harder to figure out why this game warrants a national broadcast. Break in case of emergency.
9 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Nuggets @ Trail Blazers
The Blazers are all over the place right now—they’re 6-4 with a negative point differential, with all but one of their losses coming against the top two teams in their conference. But! They’re still one of the handful of best teams to watch on a given night, especially in front of their magnificent home crowd. And the Nuggets at least have an intriguing roster full of talented but oddly-matched parts. This could wind up being a fun game.
12:46 p.m. — BET — Martin
Martin was a really funny show with a talented cast, and if BET is bringing it back for a regular Sunday marathon, that would be very fucking cool. Also, Martin Lawrence owns or owned a big farm that is very near my home. Random!
12:57 p.m. — Comedy Central — South Park
Comedy Central is running a day-long South Park marathon today, which beats the hell out of a lot of their recent programming choices.
1 p.m. — USA — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
No changes here.
1 p.m. — TV Land — The Golden Girls
As per usual, enough episodes to get you through the early games.
4 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
Episodes today include “Homer’s Triple Bypass,” which is very near the last moment when this show was anything but a sad, increasingly desperate shadow of its former self.
4 p.m. — Logo — Roseanne
And, like that, Logo is out of the Golden Girls business altogether. Dang.
8 p.m. — Comet — Mystery Science Theater 3000
Comet is apparently now distributed to something like 74 percent of all American households, which really grinds the gears if, like me, you manage to fall outside of that coverage area.
11 a.m. — Spike — Saving Private Ryan
I don’t often include movies that start before noon, but this one is so damn long it’ll still cover most of the early afternoon games. Spike dives right back into its regularly scheduled Bar Rescue Sunday marathon once this wraps up.
11:30 a.m. — FX — Iron Man
FX is running a marathon of Iron Man movies today, which, compared to TBS’s ghastly slate of throwaway comedy garbage, is a fine idea, even if the two sequels are mostly forgettable.
12:30 p.m. — MTV Classic — Space Jam
This is mostly a garbage movie, but basketball Twitter has decided to ironically like it.
1 p.m. — REELZ — JFK
Nothing like four hours of Oliver Stone to fry your brain on a sunny Sunday.
1 p.m. — Ovation — Mississippi Burning
You’ve really gotta wonder about a movie about civil rights clashes in the deep south at the height of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that has, I shit you not, one single named black character. At least 14 named white characters; ONE named black character. This is a well-made and well-acted and compulsively watchable movie, but come the fuck on.
1:55 p.m. — MTV — Friday
Now suddenly MTV is jumping into movie counterprogramming. I guess the regular marathon of Ridiculousness wasn’t doing the job?
2:15 p.m. — IFC — First Blood
This has gotten a surprising amount of burn over the past few seasons. IFC’s Sunday slate is otherwise awful.
3 p.m. — BBC America — The Bourne Identity
It feels like BBC America is good for at least one of these Bourne marathons per football season. They happened to leave off The Bourne Ultimatum today, electing to run back Identity a second time. This is a good choice!
3:10 p.m. — FreeForm — Finding Nemo
Can’t go wrong with a Disney-Pixar classic.
3:30 p.m. — E! — Pretty Woman
Huh. E! delayed their normal Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon until 6 p.m. to get into the movie game today.
3:15 p.m. — Sundance — Carrie
This is the original. Sundance’s Sunday horror lineup is oddly timed, coming, as it is, two weeks after Halloween. I guess there are people who didn’t get it all out of their system last month.
5:30 p.m. — BBC America — The Bourne Supremacy
Hey! Paul Greengrass sucks. Maybe one of his movies wouldn’t be better if it’d been directed by someone else, and it ain’t this one.
6 p.m. — Sundance — The Lost Boys
This is a perfectly fine movie.
6:30 p.m. — Syfy — Insidious
This is a fine bit of counterprogramming, even if commercial breaks will break up the extremely well-earned and nearly-unbearable tension this movie builds over its runtime. Syfy is otherwise running a day full of crummy sequels and forgettable horror junk.
6:30 p.m. — TNT — Edge of Tomorrow
I would swear they retroactively renamed this Live Die Repeat. Literally the only thing wrong with this movie is the title, which they never exactly got right. I love it, I watched it again last night, it does extremely well on network television.
7:45 p.m. — FreeForm — Aladdin
Can’t go wrong, for that matter, with any Disney classic.
8 p.m. — FX — Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
This is a fine movie, even if I felt like the hype upon its release overstated its quality. The performances are fine, and it’ll keep your attention.
8 p.m. — Sundance — The Matrix
Sundance follows its day of horror with the first two Matrix movies, if you’re interested.
Autumn is behind schedule. It’s chilly, but where’s all the damn rain? At any rate, get out there and build yourself a leaf pile, then jump into it.