Football announcers

WIth the NFL divisional playoffs here …

Your team’s made the Super Bowl for the first time EVAR and you can only listen to the game on a cheap AM radio. Who do you want calling that game?

My top 5:

  1. Howard David - used to call Jets games when I lived in NYC; now does radio calls for the Dolphins and also did the radio for Monday Night Football as well as a few Super Bowls. For my money, he’s the both the best and most underrated football play-by-play guy going.
  2. Mike Patrick - ESPN broadcasts would just suck without this guy. He almost makes Joe Theisman and Paul Maguire tolerable.
  3. Al Michaels - For whatever reason, I just dig the excitement in his voice when someone breaks into the open. If only they could translate this into Madden’s calls.
  4. Dick Enberg - You’d rather listen to Greg “ZZZZZZZ” Gumbel call the Super Bowl for CBS this year? Jim Nantz?
  5. Kevin Harlan - I used to love hearing him do radio play-by-play for Kansas City; I’m glad he got picked up nationally.

I dug Pat Summerall, although I’m not sure he’d make this list. The Giants had a great play-by-play guy in the 1990’s, although I don’t recall his name.

There was also a guy who used to be the voice of NFL Films and did play by play for the Chargers at one point, but I’m embarassed to say I can’t remember his name. (Although his play-by-play was a little shaky in recent years, reminding you of Will Ferrell’s Harry Carey imitation at points.)

I won’t even get into a list of announcers I hate. I’d be up all night. Any other suggestions for great announcers?

Usually whoever is near me at the time freaks out if I say anything nice about John Madden, but the voices of he and Summerall really bring back a lot of nice memories about my childhood, Thanksgiving get-togethers, etc., and all of that allows me to just laugh when he says something silly, rather than laugh at him and build some kind of negative opinion. I’d be fine if the two of them did the game. Michaels, Enberg, and Patrick are really good choices. I like Jim Nantz quite a bit as well. If I can draw from college guys (which I have no idea why I’d be able to), I’ll take Keith Jackson.

My strongest “No” votes would be for Phil Simms and the Theismann-Maguire duo that you mentioned. Simms is so damn cynical and negative that he almost takes all the fun out of a football game. That’s a shame too, because otherwise I’d probably find it hilarious when he insults Gumbel, which he does all the damn time.

Oh, does Joe Buck do football? I think so. No Joe Buck. Not even a little. The guy is dumb as a rock.

Does Joe Buck do football?

No not really. He’s just on FOX’s number one team as the anchor guy.

My buddy Mike is the Director of Market Research at FOX Sports. They do all sorts of stuff there, and one of his duties is to “grade out” every sportscaster on the networks–they’re own and the competition. For nearly 5 years, Al Michaels was untouchable; now Joe Buck regularly beats him on their own independent grading surveys (they use “graders” who don’t know what network they’re working for).

I’m not a big fan of Joe Buck as an announcer.

Although I’ll jump sports for a second, I remember a few years ago when David Justice hit a home run off Arthur Rhodes to basically knock the Mariners out of the playoffs. It was, I believe the last baseball game NBC ever did, and Bob Costas’ call was awesome.

By comparison, I thought the Yanks comeback in Game 7 against the Red Sox this year was one of the best moments of this entire Yankee run, but Buck added virtually nothing to it. " A flare into center … Walker won’t get it … the running of Matsui … tie game." YAWN. I guess it could have been worse if he had chattered incessantly while the fans went berzerk, but still.

Michaels has an uncanny knack for taking a great moment and making himself a part of it. Everyone remembers “Do you believe in miracles? YES!,” and I can’t think of the Titans getting stopped on the 1 against the Rams in the Super Bowl without thinking of his call. Hell, I can remember getting goosebumps from calls he’s made during meaningless Monday Night Football games.

I’ve never felt that way about a single call by Joe Buck.

Curt Gowdy and Al Derogatis, best ever!!

If you give me your address Slug, I’ll see if Joe cares, or wants to send you his 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sportscaster.

I think he’s fantastic–funny, acerbic, whimsical–and he knows his shit and has it down cold.

My favorite Joe Buck story: It’s standard practice at the start of FOX’s baseball season to have all the crew–every tech, camera operator, statistician, and soundguy get together with the network guys to brainstorm ideas to enliven the broadcasts during the year. Apparently the meeting last spring was going on and on forever. Just a real drag, with little in the way of useful creative ideas being suggested. Finally, a clearly slap-happy Joe Buck raised his hand with a suggestion: “What if I did all the play by play next season in a Cockney accent and kept referring to McCarver as ‘Guvnah’?”

I like Buck because he doesn’t put himself above the events he’s covering. Pretty much every sportscaster out there “scripts” what he’s going to say if something big happens–Michaels does it, Costas does it sometimes, Musberger, etc. all do it. Joe Buck’s broadcasting teacher didn’t do it, and taught his son not to do it either. He constantly told Joe to just “let it come to you”, and be natural. (The only thing Buck, Sr. ever admitted to “scripting” was his line after McGwire’s 61st homer, that awful business about “Planet Maris” that even Old Irish himself said afterwards sounded pretty lame.) Using such an approach, a guy might be well into the fifth decade of his career before he gets lucky with a career defining line in a game, but then that line (take your pick, “Go crazy folks! Go crazy!” or “I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw!”) carries more weight for it’s spontaneity.

Summerall never did that, either. I really, really miss him, though he was screwing up so much at the end that it was clearly time for the guy to retire. Also, like Jobe, there’s something comforting about Summerall, as he was the voice of CBS’ NFL coverage during the 80s, when I gave a damn about the league. Same reason for my lingering affection for Brent Musberger. Sure, he’s an obnoxious ponce, but I’ll always love him for that “You are looking live!” opening every week on NFL Today. Nothing got me pumped for Sunday games like that. Never missed it. Those were the days, my friend…

Joe Buck is fine doing baseball, but that football announce team of him, Aikman and Collinsworth just gotsta go.

Actually, the problem is probably less the personalities and more of the dopy promos and such Fox producers saddle those guys with. “Joe, act smarmy! Cris, say outlandish things! Hey, there’s Bernie Mac on the Sprint Phone!” Ugh.

Ooh, SNAP! Do you pull that snarky attitude with everybody who dislikes something that you like? That’s just out of curiousity, because I, of course, switched to idolizing Joe Buck the minute you told me that other people did. Is there somebody here whose opinion Joe Buck DOES care about? Is there…nevermind. There’s just no substance to a comment like that.

Was your choice of response down to the above vs. “I’d like to see you do better”?

Thumbs down on Musberger because he always seemed to have an anti-Buckeye bias.

No similar impressions of Phil Simms?

I’ve read all of the accolades for Joe Buck and I simply don’t get it. He just seems like another annoying announcer to me. Perhaps my hatred of all things Cardinals and all things related to the Cardinals has a little to do with it. :)

Anyway, I’ve turned into one of those nerds that listens to the local play-by-play/color guys on my Walkman while watching games. The Titans broadcaters bring a helluva lot more insight into the game. Plus, it really bothers my wife!

Vin Scully is the best sports announcer ever. If he did football, he’d probably be best at that too.

I like Scully doing baseball. I’m also a big fan of Gary Thorne and Sam Rosen (who are both stellar hockey announcers), and I forgot about Musberger, whose play-by-play I like although he annoyed me as an anchor. I’d be thrilled to have any of those guys doing play-by-play for the playoffs this weekend.

For a football game? Madden and Summerall in their prime, which has got to be close to 10 years ago.

Joe Buck is good, but he’s saddled with lesser players. Tim McCarver is a hack, and Collinsworth doing his “ascerbic kook” routine kills that team. He’s like the poor man’s Dennis Miller.

Ooh, SNAP! Do you pull that snarky attitude with everybody who dislikes something that you like? That’s just out of curiousity, because I, of course, switched to idolizing Joe Buck the minute you told me that other people did. Is there somebody here whose opinion Joe Buck DOES care about? Is there…nevermind. There’s just no substance to a comment like that.

Was your choice of response down to the above vs. “I’d like to see you do better”?

Thumbs down on Musberger because he always seemed to have an anti-Buckeye bias.

No similar impressions of Phil Simms?

Gosh! So many questions. I try to answer all my fanmail though, so here goes:

  1. No I don’t pull that “snarky attitude” with everyone. Apparently you do though, huh?

  2. I dunno, I guess Joe probably cares about the opinions of fans who have a critique of him beyond “I just don’t like Joe Buck”. He needs fans to keep a paycheck, and I’m sure he appreciates constructive criticism from those who keep him employed, whether it’s a network guy, and NFL guy, or the voice of the fan.

  3. No. If that was my response, I would have typed the words “I’d like to see you do better.”

  4. Phil Simms seems like a pretty good broadcaster to me, and I greatly enjoy his work.

Thanks for your interest! Always appreciate hearing from fellow sporting enthusiasts on the internet!

(By the way, “Oooh, SNAP!” sounds really really fruity.)

I thought my response was slightly more detailed than that, talking about (a) other announcers who I feel call games with more emotion, and then (b) citing examples of some of Buck’s calls that I wasn’t impressed with. It’s not like I said I hate the guy and then called him a smug little smartass punk.

I am actually very impressed with Joe Buck. He’s an extremely competent, professional announcer and it’s hard not to be impressed at how far he’s climbed the ladder at his age. But there’s some element missing for me – I watched today’s Packers/Eagles game and just don’t feel he brings enough excitement to the game.

And you know what, Triggercut? There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re simply BS’ing about different announcers. If you like Joe Buck, feel free to jump in and tell us why. But if you want to piss on other people’s opinions … well, you should be prepared for lots more reactions like Jobe’s above.

So Joe Buck kids around during broadcasts, it’s not that bad. Thank God he’s there, or Aikman would fall over dead, killed by his own stiffness. I like Aikman, but he needs a dude like Buck to loosen him up a little. And why is Collingsworth there? To make lame QB jokes so Aikman will be forced to counter with a lame WR joke (usually, he just agrees sarcastically). The rest of the Fox pregame team obviously hated him (at least Howie Long did, he always sat with his back (or at least his left shoulder) to Collingsworth). I guess the fear was Aikman needed a color assist, but three guys in the booth is annoying. Though, oddly, I like the Sunday Night team. Mike Patrick is great, the excitement he gets in his voice is as infectious as Michaels’ (my favorite Michaels quote: “He did what?”), and for no reason at all I kind of like listening to Theisman and MacGuire argue like an old married couple:

Theisman: “What they should do here is punt.”
MacGuire: “NO! It’s fourth and one on the 35; if you can’t get one yard, YOU DON’T DESERVE TO WIN THIS GAME.”

That and Thiesman’s amazing ability to read QBs’ minds: “What Pennington is thinking here is…”

The one thing I like about Simms and Gumbel (maybe it’s CBS as a whole) is the limit of whizbang transformeriffic graphics showing a bunch of shit I don’t care about (the best this postseason: a graphic showing the distance Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins thinks he can kick. It said 55 yards. Well, that 51 yarder was short. Whooh, that graphic sure helped!)

Guys I really don’t like are what I call the Lunchboxes. Big dumb lumbering sides of beef like Bill Maas, Dan Dierdorf, and Tony Siragusa. And whoever hired Michael Irvin and Bryan Cox to do analysis on ESPN should be fired. Here’s Cox with some scintillating insights on the Jets earlier this season:

Cox: “One good thing about Pennington is he makes great vision.” THE GRAMMAR POLICE ARE COMING BRYAN. That was followed up with “But I hope they keep Testaverde as the starter. Cuz he’s my friend.” Delivered with a straight face. Your astute trustworthy ESPN analysis, ladies and germs.

Lastly, I hate Stuart Scott. His exchanges with Madden on Monday Night Countdown are excrutiating:

Stuart: “John, how bombdiggity or lack thereof is the Falcons’ heezy without the Vicktabulous Michael?”

Madden: “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…Stuart, this game is an interesting matchup of backup QBs thrust into the spotlight due to injuries to the starters…”

This is Bill reminding Stuart to shut. Up.

I hate Joe buck, he is another Bob Costas with baseball for - Lets mention the New York team every chance we can get. During a Baseball All-star game, he would skip entire at-bats for players, just to keep talking about the New York teams.

I also do not like collinsworth, during the year he often covers browns games and has a great hatred for the browns and does not hide it in any way while covering the games.

I like Al Michaels, and who can forget his call during the OJ Bronco run - “Peter, I believe that last call was fictitious”.

Steelers radio has some crazy old coot on that I would love to hear do a national game, I forge the guys name, but once you hear his voice, makes you want to turn off the radio, yet he keeps going.


Aikman’s a bit stiff, but he’s actually critical of players and says some pretty interesting things. He was one of the first people to complain about McNabb’s lack of accuracy at times.

I like Madden, but Michaels and Madden just doesn’t work that well. Michaels wants to talk too much.

I actually prefer the ESPN crew, Maguire, Thiesmann, and the other guy. They seem to work well together.

I’m suprised none of the MLB video games has snatched up Bob Uecher. He’s the Brewers voice and, well, he’s actually really, really, good.

Listening to Collingsworth announce Niner games is terrible too, obviously someone hasn’t gotten over losing to them in the Superbowl. Oh, did he ever brag after the Bengals-Niners game earlier this year.

Ugh, radio announcers. ESPN radio had a guy covering the Panthers-Cowboys game last week, and he critisized the Panthers for kicking a FG instead of going for it on 4th and goal in the first quarter when it was nothing-nothing. That would be the Panthers who won half their games this season by 3 points or less. A guy on ESPN radio today referred to Tony Gonzalez as a “World Pro TE,” whatever the hell that means. I guess he is, since the only other places he could be a pro TE would be in the Arena, Canadian, or NFL Europe leagues, and I suppose you could assume he’s better than any of those guys. Still, it’s stupid.