I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, but I haven’t pulled the trigger. Now that I’m sitting at home on a Tuesday morning in late December after a dental hygienist spent the better part of a half hour stabbing my gums with metal hooks and then had the audacity to say my gums “looked a little swollen,” I think it’s time I do this.
Announcers are an important part of watching football for me more than others. Obviously, I can’t see the TV as well as others. I have a small window or tunnel of vision with which I have to take in the games. Therefore, I rely on the play-by-play announcers to fill in some gaps that I wouldn’t see unless I was 6 inches from the TV. That being said, I am very knowledgeable about the game of football, so the color commentator isn’t as much of a necessity for me. I know the rules, players, schemes, etc. Now I’m not saying I’m some football wonk who should be coaching a team like that sea cow Greg Bedard, but I can get by.
So I’ve decided to rank the top announce teams for the NFL based on my opinion. Instead of going through all of the terrible backups and D squads for each of the major networks, I’ll just rank the top team from each network, and then give a few mentions to ones I like, or dislike. Anyways, let’s get into it and start with the worst.
Side note: I don’t care about sideline reporters. I think they’re totally useless. I get that some people like them, but I use their mini segments as a time to run to the bathroom or grab a beer. I’ll be leaving them out of this list, because they have little to do with the overall broadcast. If you asked me, I’d like to see Sergio Dipp do all of the games. At least a trainwreck like that would be mildly entertaining.
5) NBC- Mike Tirico (play-by-play) & Cris Collinsworth (analyst)
I can already hear most of you letting out an audible “What?” Before you give me any crap, remember it’s my list. If you don’t like it, then go pound sand. You’ve already given me the click on the article if you’re here, so I got what I wanted from you.
This low ranking is totally biased and has no basis in any kind of fact, or real reason. I just HATE CRIS COLLINSWORTH! I honestly have no idea why. Every time I hear his stupid gravely voice say “Here’s a guy…” or do that stupid slide-in horse shit thing everyone likes, it makes me want to shove a Phillipshead screwdriver in each ear and twist until I become the male version of Helen Keller. This issue with Collinsworth goes back years. I’m not sure if our relatives were enemies or something back in history, but I’ve despised him since the day I was aware of his existence. It's gotten to the point where I’ve considered muting the TV when he’s on a game. Which for me is saying something.
One time back early in my college career, I was at a friend’s house watching the games during Christmas break. It was actually BrendawnoftheDead’s house now that I think about it. Well, Colinsworth came on screen and Brendawn laughed after seeing my reaction. His father then asked what was so funny. We made him aware of my feelings and he asked a question that I’d been asking myself for some time. “Why do you hate him so much?” I couldn’t answer that. So I spent the better part of an hour researching Collinsworth looking for a reason to hate him. I couldn’t find one. What I did find was a lot of good things about him. Apparently, he rescued a bunch of people from a boat fire years back. For some reason, that made me hate him more.
Needless to say, you could put him with the best play-by-play guy in the business and they’d be last on my list.
Oh and Tirico is fine.
4) FOX- Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play) & Greg Olsen (analyst)
There really isn’t much to say about this pairing. They’re generic and boring. Luckily for them, that’s where they score a few points. They don’t get in the way. Greg Olsen still seems to think he’s buddies with all of the players, which is kind of annoying, but he’s not awful. Burkhardt doesn’t have a big fake voice like some of the others in the play-by-play business. These two seem to have been working together for a few years now, and their chemistry is clear. But they’re biggest issue is their lack of big game experience. That will come with time and perhaps they’ll move up the list later.
3) ESPN- Joe Buck (play-by-play) & Troy Aikman (analyst)
I’ll start this entry with a question. Did you know Joe Buck once claimed that he was “addicted” to hair plug surgery? How does that work exactly? I think that explains the kind of vain person we’re dealing with here.
When it comes to the announcing itself, Buck is solid. He doesn’t have a big fake voice. He tells you what’s feeling and even has enough knowledge to throw an opinion out there. He’s also not afraid to call refs into question, which is a big plus. Aikman on the other hand doesn’t seem all that intelligent. He just makes obvious comments that anyone with any kind of football knowledge noticed 3 minutes ago. Now, this probably works for the average fan who is not as knowledgeable about the game as me, and maybe that’s who ESPN is looking to get.
Buck and Aikman have good chemistry, which is obvious because they’ve been a team for quite some time. They’ve done Super Bowls for FOX and it seems like a big game when they’re on the call. That’s why it seemed a little odd when they moved to ESPN from FOX. ESPN doesn’t get the big games like FOX, CBS and NBC get and Buck and Aikman would be done announcing after the WIldcard round. I guess money talks. And a lighter schedule does seem alluring.
2) AMAZON- Al Michaels (play-by-play) & Kirk Herbstreit (analyst)
Now this one will be a little controversial. If you look at these two individually, they may be the best of the bunch. Al Michaels may be the best play-by-play announcer ever and Kirk Herbstreit has been the best college football analyst for years now. Their individual talent brings them close to the top of this list.
But what makes them so good, actually brings them down. These guys are both so good, that them being together makes it weird. It’s like when two great actors make a film together, and it kind of stinks because they are both trying to outdo each other. There seems to be some one upmanship going on in the booth. There have been times where it seems like Michaels and Herbstreit don’t like each other, which I find entertaining. But the broadcast suffers a little. It doesn’t help that they usually have horrendous Thursday Night Football games and are forced to banter back and forth when the game is moving at a glacial pace. Chemistry is important. Maybe they’ll get it eventually, but I don’t see it.
1)CBS- Jim Nantz (play-by-play) & Tony Romo (analyst)
You knew this was coming. Nantz and Romo may be the 2nd best at each of their jobs on this list. But their chemistry together is what puts them over the top. They clearly like each other and it shows on screen.
Jim Nantz gives off big douchebag vibes, but is incredible at his job. When you hear his voice on the game, you know it’s a big one. It was even reported when Phil Simms got moved away from the broadcast, that Nantz could do it by himself. He paints a great picture and knows when to stay out of the way in big moments. That makes him better than most on this list.
When Romo was announced as Phil Simms replacement on the CBS’s A squad, many rejoiced. Anyone is better than Phil Simms. Although Phil’s nonsensical rantings were sometimes incredibly entertaining, it was becoming a bit much. Romo injected some youth and enthusiasm into the booth that had been missing for some time. Now, there were some growing pains. Romo tried to do too much at times. He would make these strange noises and try to predict every play. Now that he’s a few years in, he’s learned that he doesn’t have to do that. Sometimes, he does go back to this, but it’s getting less and less. Not only that, Romo isn’t afraid to make fun of himself or point out when he gets things wrong. That sense of humor goes a long way with me.
There you have it, my rankings of the top announce teams. Now I want to give you a few individuals I just kind of like on the broadcasts.
Pre/Post Game Shows
When it comes to the pre and post game shows, I prefer FOXs lineup. I find Terry Bradshaw unhinged and on the brink of a mental breakdown, which is entertaining as hell. Michael Strahan knows what he’s talking about and has TV experience. Although I don’t know why he hasn’t had that gap in his teeth fixed. Now I don’t watch these too often, but if James Brown from CBS would just move over to FOX, it would be perfect.
I do have one play-by-play announcer that I really like but isn’t on the top pairings of any of the networks. Greg Gumbel has a nostalgic appeal to me. He’s got a deep voice that reminds me of a meaningless December Patriots/Bills game in 2003. He’s usually paired with a terrible analyst which ruins it for me a little, but I just like him
Analyst This one might come from my playing of Madden in the mid to late 2010s. Charles Davis is a pretty solid analyst. He’s not great at anything, but brings a unique perspective from being a defensive back instead of quarterback like most of the other announcers. He seems smart, and doesn’t get in the way. There’s not much else to say about it. He just seems solid to me. I wouldn’t be shocked if he isn’t upgraded at some point.
So there ya go. I’m sure some love my rankings and most hate them. That’s fine. My life will go on. I have plans to go to my favorite pizza place tonight. I’ll be enjoying my onion pizza and a few cold beers and be a very happy Owl. If you feel like bitching and moaning about it, well put up or shut up and send me your rankings. Maybe I’ll post them up here too.