I have no desire to enter politics, and am not talking about Harrisburg or Trenton. I’m talking about the gig that “The Gov” has on TV. The former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell has been a post-game Eagles analyst on Comcast SportsNet for 17 years now. The Gov plays the role of Everyman the Common Fan, and sits there after the football game is over offering the kind of insights you might hear among fans in the stands or at a bar.
The Gov has no notes and it’s probably not a coincidence. Unlike the host of the show (usually Michael Barkann) and the two knowledgable panelists – football analyst Ray Didinger and former Eagles’ star Brian Westbrook, he deals in opinion more than fact – but that’s part of the role that he plays. His most telling comments are when he says nothing which, to his credit, occurs with increasing frequency. You can tell that Barkann is semi-amused by The Gov, whereas Didinger and Westbrook do their best to tolerate him. I can imagine what was going through their minds when The Gov put a plastic bag over his head earlier this year.
Born in New York City to Jewish parents with Russian roots, the 71 year-old Rendell came to Philly in his late teens to attend U. of P. undergrad, remaining in the City to obtain his law degree from Villanova University. In this clip from ESPN’s Mike & Mike show, at the 2:50 mark, Rendell fesses up to being one of the fans in Franklin Field who infamously pelted Santa Claus with snowballs.
At the 5:00 mark of the clip, former Eagles’ player and co-host Mike Golic says he loved the passionate and knowledgable Philly fans because when you’re playing well they cheer for you and when you’re not they let you hear about it and boo. The Gov nods his head in agreement.
That brings us to last night’s post-game show where Rendell was appropriate quiet until the host (Ron Burke) reviewed the panelist’s pre-game picks for impact players, and The Gov’s choice of underachieving wide-receiver Nelson Agholor. The Gov quickly changed the topic, and said he wanted to address what he saw as a problem with the fans booing RB DeMarco Murray after only two running plays on which he gained little yardage. After a few moments of pontification he turns on the Everyman Eagles Fan he’s supposed to representing proclaiming: “And fans, you don’t do anybody a service by booing your own players”. Burke asks Westbrook for his reaction as a star having played here, and Brian tells Rendell in very polite terms that he’s full of cr*p — after which he turns to Didinger and asks “Isn’t that right, Ray?”, to which Didinger nods his head in agreement.
So whaddaya think, Gov? After 17 years, are you ready to pass the bag?