The Best Sports Show on TV

Perhaps it’s because of the early success of Lovie Smith’s Bears, but I’ve rediscovered HBO’s Inside the NFL this year. Two weeks ago they had a feature on San Francisco 49ers team photographer– and famous Haight Ashbury-era rock photographer Michael Zagaris. (He shot this famous Mick Jagger photo, for instance.) This week, in addition to a look behind the way in which Grossman and the Bears pulled out that come from behind victory, they have a moving (yet not cheesy) story on how Bengals QB Carson Palmer received a knee ligament donated by Julie De Rossi, a woman who died after her car was hit by a drunk driver. The same story in the hands of Fox or ESPN would have beaten the viewer over the head; HBO managed to do it subtly.

I first discovered the show in the 70s era of Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti; in the last 25 years I’ve probably seen it half a dozen times. I like this outfit– Marino, Collinsworth and Carter take the edge of off Bob Costas’ usual annoyingness.

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