Dante has a rule about television: Dante doesn't pay for television. And by "doesn't pay," I mean doesn't pay a monthly fee. I'm just not paying for something that is beamed out for free. I did happen to buy an 32" HDTV a while back but that was only so I could actually read the text on the PC hooked up to my living room TV. About a week ago, my son was playing with the remote and brought up a channel search button. I ran it and found out that my lowly rabbit ear antennae picks up about 5 digital channels. 3 of them are crap. It's some channel set called ION and it let's me watch classics like Mama's Family in absolute digital glory. But I do get NBC so I do get to watch Sunday night football (and the special Thursday night game last night).
The quality is pretty fantastic. I didn't expect to be impressed and was. It's not worth breaking my TV rule to get more, but it is a lot better than the analog version. This is especially true with football since the widescreen lets you actually see linebackers play now. There are some annoyances. For example, instead of a snowy screen you get blocky picture and skipping audio. That's a LOT more annoying. You also apparently can't use your cell phone and pick up a signal at the same time. And here I thought the FCC was supposed to be keeping thing like this from happening.
There are some other downsides that had nothing to do with the TV. For starters, NBC's football crew is terrible. Granted, combined they're only as annoying as Deion Sanders was all by himself but they did manage to scavenge the worst commentators possible. It doesn't help that I never liked Olberman at ESPN. He's a lot better off doing Countdown in my opinion. I actually like Countdown from what I've seen of it. He's just a bit too full of himself these days to be a decent sportscaster.
Then there was the game. What was that about the Saints not falling apart this year, Pat? I want the Saints to do well. I even have Colston on my fantasy team, but I just don't think it's going to happen. Speaking of fantasy football, on behalf of Reggie Wayne owners everywhere, I'd like to thank the Saints coaching staff for covering Wayne all night with a single midget rookie. 3 of the TDs the Colts scored and two of the long passes that didn't quite reach the endzone were against that rookie who had absolutely ho help on his side of the field on those plays because the coaching staff decided that blitzing was a good strategy. Blitzing doesn't work against Indy. To beat Indy, you have to confuse Manning by having your defense run all over the field before the snap. He'll pick up the hot read on a blitz almost every single time. Good job of watching game film.
Then there was record-setting* Drew Brees. Nothing says classy like calling a timeout with 8 seconds left when you're down 41-10 on the nationally televised prime time game. But on top of that, Brees threw for an average 6.8 yards per completion. That's an NFL low for QBs who have thrown 25 passes or more. Just to be clear on this: Jeff George, Steve Pelleur, Akili Smith, Tony Grazziani, Doug Johnson, either Billy Joe, and all other NFL QBs who manage to hurl the rock more than 25 times per game have always finished with a higher average per completion.
* That Brees performance was record-setting came from the mouth of Madden so it might either be wrong or misleading but if that's true, way to go Drew.
So in summary, HDTV is great but it's football. A radio broadcast with a competent commentator would be good enough for it to be enjoyable.