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TV news to catch up on: Rex Ryan, Benigni and Penguins

Notes left on the cutting room floor, with some new material added:

What do former Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo have in common?

Besides, not making a Super Bowl?

They both will be starting their second careers as broadcasters in the national spotlight.

When CBS recently named Romo to replace Phil Simms as its lead analyst alongside play-by-play man Jim Nantz, critics said it was unfair to put the former Cowboy in that position without having done any regular season games.

The same criticism can be leveled at ESPN now that it officially named Ryan the analyst alongside Beth Mowins for the Sept. 11 Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers.

Mowins is getting most of the national attention because she is the first woman to call a nationally television game and the first woman to do play-by-play on any NFL regular season game in 30 years. At least she has had some experience calling NFL games since she was done Oakland Raiders' preseason games since 2015.

But Western New Yorkers may be more interested in Ryan's performance as a rookie broadcaster working his first regular season NFL game in the national spotlight.

Ryan will be a studio analyst for ESPN on Sunday NFL Countdown for the rest of the season. He will be partially judged on whether he praises as many coaches and players as MNF's regular analyst Jon Gruden. And with his former assistant Anthony Lynn coaching his first game for the Chargers, Rex is bound to be praising him over and over.

Sean McDonough and Gruden will call the first MNF game on Sept. 11 between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.

Mowins and Ryan together worked the Florida State spring game in April, which obviously had much less visibility than the Sept. 11 game will have.

Channel 2's Adam Benigni has the endorsement of outgoing Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin if he gets the job. During a recent interview about his leaving the station after 20 years, Levin had this to say about Benigni: "He is a great guy, the hardest-working guy in the newsroom.  Always has been. Smart, all-around solid guy. I love Adam."

Benigni to take Levin's anchor spot until final decision on replacement

It was nice to see Channel 2's Rich Kellman back on the air last week reporting an extended story on the opioid epidemic.

With all the news swirling around the White House, it sure seemed to be the wrong week for NBC's "Meet the Press" to take a Sunday off. Channel 2 ran a crawl Sunday explaining it was a network decision and not its call.

Am I the only one who didn't clearly hear the lyrics of "Saturday Night Live's" version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" two nights ago during the show's cold open? You almost wish there had been a crawl with the lyrics. The season-finale with Dwayne Johnson as host had a 5.8 local rating on WGRZ-TV, which is impressive considering the show had few bright moments besides the open and Weekend Update. It might have been the worst episode of the season.

"SNL" surely will be missed during its summer break, though President Trump, his family and his cabinet may be happy about it.

The NHL has to be breathing a sigh of relief now that Pittsburgh has taken a 3-2 series lead over Ottawa in the Eastern Conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs would be a killer for NBC since the country's ratings don't count in the United States and much of the viewership comes from the markets of the participating team.

Interestingly, Pittsburgh's 7-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators (4.7) Sunday afternoon had a higher local rating on Channel 2 than Nashville's 3-1 prime-time victory over Anaheim Saturday (4.3).

If Pittsburgh (market 23) and Nashville (29) advance to the final, it will between two teams in medium-size markets, which won't help ratings. But at least Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby and is the defending champion.


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