Olby out of NBC's football coverage?

Here’s a mid-morning palate cleanser for Hot Air’s football fans and/or Keith Olbermann anti-fans from Jammie Wearing Fool, which means a lot less than I think some people will assume.  JWF says that NBC Sports is “dumping” Olby from his gig on their “Football Night in America” show on Sunday evenings, when Olby would provide commentary at halftime and go over the scores and highlights from games played earlier in the day, as NBC’s answer to Chris Berman.  But it’s NBC News that requested the change, not the sports division, and for a pretty good reason, as JWF himself notes:

Multiple media and network television sources confirmed to me Thursday that Keith Olbermann will not appear on NBC’s Football Night In America Sunday evening NFL broadcasts this season. …

I’m told that NBC News officials requested the move, citing Olbermann’s weekday commitment to MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. During the 2009 NFL season, Olbermann periodically did not appear on Friday editions of Countdown.

Network television sources confirmed to me that Olbermann’s departure from FNIA was not due to any conflict with cast or production crew members. I was also given no indication that Olbermann’s politics had anything to do with the move.

NBC’s investment with Olbermann is entirely centered on Countdown and MSNBC.  While they may have thought Olbermann’s sports commentary a value-added effort in theory, having it interfere with their prime-time showpiece on their political network makes little sense, especially when other talent sits on the bench.  Their existing team performs well enough at the task without the celebrity anchor drop-ins.

I’m no big fan of Olbermann, even from his days as a sportscaster at ESPN and prior to that at KNBC, but I’ll give Olby this much.  When he was at ESPN, he and his colleagues gave it an iconoclastic touch that skewered the pomposity and aggrandizement in prime-time sports in America.  I didn’t realize how much I missed that until ESPN gave LeBron James a prime-time tongue bath for over an hour over a contract decision. And for that matter, while I didn’t exactly look forward to his commentary on Sunday nights, I don’t recall him pushing politics during those segments, either.

Now, conservative football fans no longer have to worry about Olbermann potentially infuriating them with a politically-driven ad lib, or just infuriating them with his presence at all.  That change didn’t come from any malfeasance on Olbermann’s part, but just common-sense business decisions by NBC about prioritizing its assets.  I doubt that will matter at all to those cheering the change.

Update:  A few readers note that Olby took an indirect swipe at Sarah Palin in October 2008, which Newsbusters captured at the time.  Fair point, although having to go back that far for an example may show that the failures to separate sports and his politics were few and far between.