The biggest Jets aficionados in all likelihood are not WFAN’s Joe Benigno and College Point super fan “Fireman” Ed Anzalone, but rather CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves and CBS News & Sports President Sean McManus. Moonves and McManus may not have been fans of Gang Green since childhood but they’re now wildly cheering their success because the network has the broadcast rights to the NFL’s American Football Conference games.
Anytime the Jets do well, it’s obviously great news for CBS because New York is the nation’s biggest market. The Jets, though, have also delivered huge ratings for the Tiffany Network because of the team’s colorful head coach, Rex Ryan, whose brash statements and certain off-the-field personal interests have generated significant attention well beyond the New York area.
When I was in Cancun last week, I spoke with a couple who were vacationing from Denver who were, of course, Broncos fans, and normally don’t watch games if their team is not involved. They told me they would absolutely tune in the Jets-Patriots playoff game because they wanted to see if Ryan and his team could back up their war of words with Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and his QB, Tom Brady. You can be sure they were representative of a lot of casual fans.
Since Rex and his guys backed up their talk in Foxborough last week by beating the Patriots, CBS will get another ratings bonanza Sunday evening when the Jets take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The network is hoping its football audience will stick around for an episode of freshman show “Hawaii Five-O,” which started out strong in the ratings but has faltered a bit since its fall debut.
Earlier this year the Jets were involved in an unfortunate incident in which some of their players mocked Inez Sainz, a reporter from Mexico’s TV Azteca network, which broadcasts certain AFC games south of the border. The players claimed that Sainz went out of her way to dress provocatively and did not speak to them in a professional way.
At the time, I criticized the Jets for acting like an out-of-control frat house. But having seen a TV Azteca promotional ad for the upcoming Super Bowl, that was filmed at Cowboys Stadium, I now think I may have rushed to judge without having all the facts. In the spot, an announcer is screaming in Spanish, “She’s at the 30, the 20, the 10, touchdown!” as a gorgeous woman in an evening gown struts down the sideline as if it were a fashion runway. The camera then closes in on Inez Sainz, who coquettishly winks at the camera. Could you imagine the outcry if ESPN had filmed a promotional spot utilizing Erin Andrews in the same manner?
The NFL was quick to fine the Jets and make the team institute a workplace conduct program. Commissioner Roger Goodell should call TV Azteca executives in on the carpet ASAP. Fair is fair.