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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
It's 'The Longest Damn Pregame Show'

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Once upon a time, the only thing fans looked for in an NFL pregame show was a 30-minute rundown on the league and a few highlights from the past week. No longer. With each passing year, these shows become less a football preview and more an entertainment extravaganza, featuring comedians, weathergirls and "very special guest stars."

And we haven't seen anything yet. By the time the next TV contract rolls around, we no doubt will be seeing something like this ...

[FUNK MUSIC BLARES AS A MONTAGE OF DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS BOUNCING ON TRAMPOLINES IS REPLACED BY A HAND-HELD CAMERA ZOOMING QUICKLY INTO THE WB STUDIOS, OVER THE APPLAUDING LIVE AUDIENCE, PAST THE BAND, ACROSS THE SET AND TO ANNOUNCER JENNIFER GARNER.]

Yasmine Bleeth
Yasmine Bleeth has some late-breaking news that might affect your fantasy lineup.
GARNER: Live from The WB studios in Burbank, Calif., it's "The WB's Longest Damn Pregame Show Ever!!!" featuring Kelly Osbourne and The WB GameDay Orchestra, and Michael Flatley and his Victoria's Secret Irish Dance Team, another "wacky'' trip to Ravens training table with funnymen Tom Green and Joe Piscopo, plus special guest appearances from Sara Michelle Gellar, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Freddie Prinze Jr., Nicky and Paris Hilton and Jonathan Lipnicki!

And now ... your "Longest Damn GameDay Show Ever!!!" hosts: Greg Gumbel, Terry Bradshaw, Cris Carter, Bill Belichick, Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Phil, Foghorn Leghorn -- and joining us via satellite from his home in the North Carolina State Correctional Facility, GameDay's own Rae Carruth!

GUMBEL: Thank you, Jennifer! Folks, we've got a great show for you today, but first, we have some breaking news. So let's go right to correspondent Yasmine Bleeth and the WB/Federal Express Fantasy Football Report, sponsored by Daimler/Chrysler/Toyota, makers of the new Chevy Behemoth, the only SUV in its class capable of carrying an entire youth soccer team.

BLEETH: Greg, there is a major late-breaking development fans should know before e-mailing their starting lineups. Randy Moss has upgraded his motivation for today's game from questionable to probable. Back to you, guys.

GUMBEL: Great update, Yasmine! Speaking of Randy Moss, I want to ask Cris about his old teammate, who told reporters this week that he's having trouble relating to the younger players, calling them "lazy and disrespectful" and saying that he can't stand their music.

CARTER: Well, Greg ...

GUMBEL: Hold that thought, Cris. Our lovely WB weathergirl, Kelly Clarkson, just walked onto the set, which means it's time for today's WB/Miller Lite forecast, presented by General Motors/BMW, makers of the Cadillac Armageddon, the only SUV in its class with a detachable fuel tanker-trailer. What's the forecast for today, Kelly?

Kelly Clarkson
It's not too late to vote for which song you want to see Kelly Clarkson sing later in the show.
CLARKSON: It should be a mostly pleasant day for football around the NFL, Greg. The Homeland Security Office has declared a guarded blue state of alert for much of the country, with patches of magenta in New England, green in the Midwest and an area of beige in the Southwest. But a small group of Islamic militants are bringing a condition red front into South Florida overnight that could halt all air traffic, close freeways, restrict access to federal buildings and delay the kickoff to the Monday night game between the Dolphins and the Chiefs.

GUMBEL: Thanks, Kelly! And remember fans, you can decide which song Kelly will sing during her updated forecast in our fourth hour. If you want Kelly to sing, "(Oops) I Did It Again," call 555-932-6201, and if you want to hear "Mustang Sally," call 555-932-6202! While we're waiting, I'd like to ask Foghorn which replica jersey and face paint he's going to wear for today's Cowboys-Jets game.

FOGHORN: Greg, I say, Greg ...

GUMBEL: Wait a minute, Foghorn, the old clock on the wall is telling me that it's time for Kreskin and the WB/Nokia Pregame Scoreboard, sponsored by Ford/Honda, makers of the new Lincoln Brobdingnagian, the only SUV in its class with six-wheel drive and driver's side child-protection seats.

KRESKIN: Greg, the Patriots will trail Denver late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers will blow a 14-0 third-quarter lead to Buffalo, and the Rams will rally to beat the Bears with two late field goals. I also see a 38-35 score somewhere, but I can't quite make out the uniforms, although I think one team's jerseys are green and the other team's pants are, I believe, silver. Could I ask our studio audience to concentrate harder, please? Yes, it's becoming clearer, think hard, think harder, please -- it's clear now! The Packers over the Lions, 38-35. In overtime.

GUMBEL: Great vision, Kreskin! That Green Bay victory will just about lock up the NFC Upper Midwest title for the Packers. And I want to ask Bill about how important it is to clinch early and have home-field advantage through the playoffs.

BELICHICK: Well, Greg ...

GUMBEL: Just a minute, Bill, first we need to go Emeril Lagasse and the WB/Maxim Kitchen, sponsored by AMC/Audi, makers of the new Gotterdammerung, the only SUV in its class with removable tank treads, a 360-degree gun turret and shell-resistant cupholders. Emeril, what is that incredible aroma?

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice has the official word on the wild-card race.
EMERIL: It's my special Tailgate Etouffee, Greg, and I'm kicking it up a notch for today's game with Chipotle pepper, Vidalia onions and Essence of Emeril. BAM!

[A BIKINI-CLAD WOMAN WITH A JAGUARS TATTOO ON HER REAR END TAKES A DISH OF THE ETOUFFEE AND SERVES IT TO THE "GAMEDAY" HOSTS]

BRADSHAW: MMMmmm-delish!!! Emeril, you've added 20 pounds to me this season alone.

GUMBEL: Same here, Terry! Remember, you can get Emeril's recipe by logging onto our website at LongestDamn.net. Now, just as soon as I finish, I would like to ask Condoleezza who she thinks will get the sixth and seventh wild card spots.

RICE: Well, Greg ...

[SUDDENLY THE BAND BEGINS PLAYING AND THE DANCE TEAM ROMPS DOWN THE AISLE AND ONTO THE SET, SEDUCTIVELY MOTIONING FOR THE HOSTS TO LEAVE THEIR SEATS AND JOIN IN A POLE DANCE]

GUMBEL: Sorry, Condoleezza, but that's it for this edition of "The WB's Longest Damn GameDay Show Ever!!!'' We'll see you back at halftime of today's game between the Los Angeles Raiders and the San Antonio Vikings. Until then, good night and God Bless!

[GUMBEL TUGS HIS EAR]

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at cuffscaple@hotmail.com.