Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Pains of Enduring an NFL Broadcast

Confession: I love the NFL. It's a perfect sport... a short season where every game is meaningful, where macho players sooner or later are felled by injury or failure, where nearly every game can turn on one great play.

The funny thing, though, is that football has become much better to watch at home than in the stadium. Seeing a game in person is always fun, but you're often surrounded by strange drunken louts. At home, you can be around drunken louts you know, which is always a better option. Plus, at home the food/beer is much cheaper and there's no traffic to fight.

Also: TV has football covered fantastically. Every camera angle in HD makes you feel like you've got a seat in every part of the stadium. And, with DVR, you can decide when you want a reply.

The problem, friends, is a great deal of the announcers just plain stink. I'm not talking about the loudmouth studio shows. It goes without saying those are a waste of your time. I mean what we have to endure during the games. Because, too often, it sounds like this:

That was a game from last year. In the first week. Now, granted, it was a cool play to end the game. But Gus Johnson makes it sound like he just conjured gold from thin air. His level of excitement in no way matches the context of the game. Nothing was at stake. In fact, the loser of this game (the Bengals) made the playoffs last year, despite the "amazing" play. The Broncos did not.

Now, let's see how it should be done. Bear in mind, what you have here is a radio call so more words are required by default:

That play happened in the SUPER BOWL. Where the Giants had a broken play (their QB was nearly sacked) on a long third down where, if they failed, with little time remaining, they would've likely lost the Super Bowl to the undefeated New England Patriots. Instead, David Tyree made a ridiculous catch that he barely held on to. Anyone watching the game who knew all the context was aware they may had just seen a play that could turn the entire game (it did. The Giants scored to win shortly after that catch) and possibly a play people would remember for years because it ended New England's "perfect season" (and that has come to be).

Marv Albert gets excited in that call, but only within the bounds of the moment's context. And he doesn't sound like a yelling idiot like Gus Johnson.

Anymore, announcers try to make themselves part of the game. It slays me. And good announcers (like Fox's Sam Rosen) get buried on lower tier games. It makes no sense.

In my mind, Pat Summerall, for all his alcoholic foibles, was the ideal football announcer. Low voice, reasonably monotone. His calls went like this: "Montana. Rice. Touchdown." That was the whole play. He let the game take center stage, the sound of the crowd booming into your living room. If Fox's Joe Buck were calling games in the 1980s the way he doe snow, the same play would be filled with whatever drama Buck wants to add on his own. He'd preface it with some hyperbole "And it looks like this is going to be it right here... one play." Then he'd get overly excited "Montana LOOKING DEEP... AND HE HAS RICE!!!!"

Yes, thanks, Joe. I can SEE that.

My dream? I want HBO to bid for Monday Night Football... take it away from ESPN. This won't happen, because HBO is too smart to spend a billion dollars to broadcast one football game each week. But in my mind's fantasy land, they do. The move game time to 8 p.m. Eastern. They go commercial-free to eliminate TV time outs. And they hire Marv Albert and pair him with Dan Dierdorf and they just call a nice and easy game.

But, alas. I'm stuck with loudmouths. There are beacons of hope... Mr. Rosen, Greg Gumbel and Dick Enberg still call a good game. Dick Stockton and Marv's son Kenny are pretty good.

Otherwise, it's a sea of loudmouths. Please make it stop.


Ceylan said...

I may be slightly biased, but Troy Aikman calls a good game.

Jay said...

I think Troy's multiple concussions force him to slow down and be quiet. So, yes, you're right.