O'Donnell: Wow -- Fox Sports and Ch. 32 will actually air the correct NFL game Sunday
WHAT'S THE OLD FARMER'S adage?
Even the most feeble man can find a blind squirrel in the rain?
Or was that Booger McFarland?
Whatever, that robo-lite channeling from Fox Sports HQ to WFLD-Channel 32 actually gets it right in the Chicago TV market Sunday.
That's pretty much because those two air-straining munchmates have no choice.
Local viewers will actually get to see a compelling NFL game when -- new-tote tympani, please -- the Bears play the Packers (noon; Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis).
On the third December Sunday of false hope and delusional crypt-kicking out of Halas Hall, common sense finally is forced into the Fox/32 pro football pipeline.
The first two Sundays of the month were brutal, including decisions to air:
• A Green Bay napper over Washington while Jimmy Garoppolo and San Francisco were crafting the game of the season with a wicked 48-46 victory at New Orleans; and,
• An earlier Packers scrimmage against the Titanic-ed New York Giants, this one while Garoppolo, Nick Bosa and fellow golden-gaters were losing a wildly theatrical 20-17 thriller to MVP-bound Lamar Jackson and Baltimore.
Both Sunday Fox windows were available in Chicago because the Bears played Thanksgiving Day at Detroit and the following Thursday evening at Soldier Field vs. the darlings of Dealey -- Dallas.
So what should Fox Sports President Mark Silverman and Channel 32 VP/GM Dennis Welsh receive for their most fortunate blind squirreling?
How about a special holiday-wrapped copy of the Aretha Franklin classic:
WHEN PETE SEEGER AND LATER The Byrds pop-pinged Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 into "Turn, Turn, Turn," they could have added an extra chorus:
To every honor, burn, burn, burn.
Sure, Hawk Harrelson had his day in the sun this week when he was announced as the winner of the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence.
But the Harrleson critics have gradually been steaming in and none has been more steadfast through the years than Jay Mariotti.
Asked his reaction, the Duke of Dissonance didn't disappoint:
"Obviously, this is not the Broadcasting Hall of Fame or Journalism Hall of Fame or Diction Hall of Fame.
"This rewards hillbilly homerism and a career of shamelessly sucking up to the boss of a franchise going on 1 for 40 (in terms of World Series championship seasons) under (Jerry) Reinsdorf.
"Didn't he hit .239 and flop as a GM?"
Now if only peace would tease the planet and Harrelson, Reinsdorf and Mariotti could share a chartered jet to Cooperstown next summer.
Two would be certain to land at an airport.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, Brad Underwood and his Fighting Illini have caught lightning in a 7-foot freshman from Jamaica named Kofi Cockburn.
With the 290-pound pivot starting to dominate inside like Bruno Mars at a production session for Lollapalooza, Illinois is movin' on up with multiple basketball evaluators.
After a week that included a 59-58 loss at No. 3 Maryland and a 71-62 ambush of No. 5 Michigan in Champaign, it's an absolute coin toss whether Cockburn and mates will turn up in Top 25 polls Monday.
This much can be said:
If a holiday region-buster between Illinois and DePaul had been scheduled for the United Center anytime in the next two weeks, the Illini would likely open as favorites by at least 3½ points.
STREET-BEATIN': Notable line move involving the Bears-Packers, with the Bears lifted from 7-point 'dogs to 4½. Matt Nagy and his swervies have been a terrible bet this season, cashable only four times out of 13. (Dr. Rock says GB cruises; Dr. J'eem says, "Don't touch.") ... On the subject of sports gaming, they don't make more insipid programming than "The Daily Line," the NBC Sports Radio video simulcast that's been making Medical Alert commercials look Peabody-worthy since August. There's enough junk on NBCSCH right now that they may have to summon Lamont Sanford and his pickup truck. ... No matter how constricted their audiences have become, Chicago radio sports talkers should ditch almost all substantive chatter about non-sports matters. Mike Mulligan and buttoned-down David Haugh went long and maudlin on the sad passing of young music star Juice WRLD; Les Grobstein showed a completely incomplete knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Sly Stone and his "missed" concert at Grant Park in 1970. (Boys, stick to Kris Bryant and best ballpark brats.) ... Also on the tune 'n run front, a whole lot of contracts are expiring at AM-1000 early in the new year. One key exception is Tom Waddle: The afternoon centerpiece reportedly has close to 30 months to run. ... Megan Rapinoe is Sports Illustrated's "Sports Person of the Year." (That's a long kick from Roger Bannister, the landmark 4-minute miler who was the award's first recipient.) ... ESPN has given extensions to Eduardo Perez and Doug Glanville. (As both an ex-Cub and Penn engineering grad, Glanville qualifies for double ivy everywhere.) ... Could Calvin de Haan's shoulder injury be the final slap shot that exposes the Blackhawks' lack of player development under Stan Bowman? (Part of that imaging battle comes down to a reasonably aggressive written-word media vs. the team's protective broadcast group.) ... Mike Korcek and Annie Glidden are wondering how the fanboy media missed the fact Mitch Trubisky was credited with a tackle following a second-half fumble by David Montgomery vs. Dallas. (Montgomery, incidentally, may be joining a bowling league this winter so he is guaranteed 12 touches per-game.) ... And masterful Mike Conklin, on the navigational difficulties trying to find DePaul's Wintrust Arena, deadpanned, "When you need MapQuest to find the gym, it's not a good thing."
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.