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NFL Matchup in jeopardy

When I went to the NFL Films headquarters in January, I was surprised that the respected NFL Matchup show had a presence there, despite being broadcast on ESPN.

But as NFL Films president Steve Sabol explained to me, “The common thing is football.

“It’s all football, and whether it’s on ESPN or the NFL Network, or Fox… My allegiance is to the game itself.”

But as Sports Illustrated reported earlier today, the long-running NFL Matchup show needs help from ESPN. The NFL won’t seek sponsors for the 2010 season, which means it’s now up to ESPN to take over the show.

It would be a travesty if that doesn’t happen because the NFL Matchup show is refreshingly different from so much of everything else on television. Executive producer Greg Cosell and analysts Ron Jaworski, Sal Paolantonio and Merrill Hoge base their opinions on film study. I saw the process in person, when I went to NFL Films to review the Bears’ 2009 season.

For about 90 minutes, I watched Jaworski and Cosell study the championship games, and they highlighted several key match-ups. They projected several keys to the game, which actually proved significant.

There’s obviously a lot of NFL programming, but I’ve always enjoyed the Matchup show because it’s not just a bunch of talking heads. Hopefully, we’ll all be enjoying it for seasons to come.