For HBO viewers, "Inside the NFL" has brought detailed analysis and game recaps every week of the season and postseason for over 25 years. Dramatically edited and narrated game films are the main reason to watch; after all, you can't see every game every week, and unless you're satisfied with the 15-second recaps on ESPN, you can't get a feel for out-of-market teams any other way. The game films are balanced with commentary, analysis from the hosts and from experts on both the game and the business, some great interviews, and occasional "where are they now" segments.
However, it seems to me that the current line-up is a step down. First off, Bob Costas was brought in to host the show, replacing Len Dawson after 25 years. Maybe Dawson wanted to retire, and Costas is a terrific sports presence. However, Costas is mostly about baseball and seems lost in discussing game elements of football. (He is outstanding on business matters.) Dan Marino is a good but not spectacular addition, replacing Nick Buonoconti, who was also good but not spectacular. Cris Carter replaces Jerry Glanville, which can only be a step up, but not by much. Carter is not suited for this format -- he just seems out of place here. He's much better on the sidelines or in a game situation as a third man. The only continuing presence this season is Chris Collinsworth, an erudite, knowledgeable, and supremely annoying egomaniac. He was easily #3 in the old lineup (only Glanville was more annoying) and has an attitude that he should be #1 in this lineup. He talks over people, talks down to people, and talks around people.
However, Inside the NFL is still heads above the pregame shows on Fox, CBS, and ESPN. The only thing that it gives up to those three is that it's taped on Thursday, so any breaking news after that will be missed. If you already have HBO, you should be watching this if you are a football fan. If you don't have HBO, try catching this on one of their free recruiting weekends (it's repeated several times until game days). It may be a factor in deciding whether to subscribe. Hopefully, by next year there may be another lineup change.
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