As someone who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s loving sports, it was easy to figure out which TV network had my favorite sports.
College football games were on ABC. Major League Baseball games were on NBC. NBA games were on CBS.
And on Sunday afternoons, I knew that the NFL's AFC games were on NBC and the NFC games were on CBS.
In the late '80s and early '90s, though, the sports television landscape began to drastically alter.
CBS began airing major college football games, and NBC picked up Notre Dame's home games.
The NBC baseball "Game of the Week" was no more after CBS landed the MLB rights, which turned out to a disastrous move for CBS as the network, well, didn't show games every week and had very little promotion. Then CBS lost the NBA package to NBC, which went all out to further enhance the growing reputation of the league, right down to the broadcast's iconic theme song.
But NFL games remained a constant, on the same networks it had been shown on for decades.
That all changed 25 years ago this week, when the FOX network shocked the sports world by landing the rights to the NFC package, outbidding CBS for the rights.
To this day, it remains the biggest story in the modern-day history of televised sports.
I know what everybody was thinking back then. Tradition-rich CBS was losing the big-market teams in Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington and San Francisco to........Bart Simpson?
FOX had no sports programming. The network was hard to find on several TV sets, even in bigger cities. While there were a few signature shows the network developed, there were just as many flops (does "The Chevy Chase Show" come to mind?) that FOX would still rather forget.
And all of a sudden, there were going to be NFL games on this still-upstart network? Color us skeptical. I know I was among those that thought FOX didn't stand a chance.
Of course, nearly 25 years later, FOX knew what it was doing all along.
The network took full advantage of its greatest acquisition.
They landed perhaps the greatest NFL announcing tandem of all time, Pat Summerall and John Madden from CBS. They developed an entertaining and lively pregame studio show. They brought new innovations to the table, like the score box. They appealed to the younger demographic without totally alienating the older, hardcore football fans.
In the meantime, many TV network stations, including in big cities like Dallas, New Orleans and Kansas City, switched over to FOX. Gradually, due in large part to landing the NFL, FOX expanded its sports division, eventually picking up MLB and college football and basketball telecasts.
The network also was able to (some may call it excessively) promote a ton of new shows on its NFL broadcasts, such as "American Idol," "24" and "Family Guy," all of which made a cultural impact.
Has it totally been perfect? Well, not really, but then again nothing is.
Maybe FOX should stop using its NFL theme on its baseball broadcasts. Maybe FOX should ditch that dancing robot character. And then there's the ubiquitous presence of Joe Buck, perhaps the most polarizing broadcaster on the planet.
By and large, though, FOX exceeded everyone's expectations when it got into the pro football broadcasting business. And as it turned out, the NFL made FOX a legitimate and respected entity while the network did its part in revolutionizing NFL coverage.
While there's still times when I miss the days of the NFC games being on CBS, I've gotten accustomed to FOX and know that the NFL is still in great shape with the quality that the network brings on its telecasts.
It is the very same network that still gives us Bart Simpson. But it's also the network that gave us Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner and the network which now gives us Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, Larry Fitzgerald and Khalil Mack.